As the summer draws to a close and autumn approaches, there is a wealth of ingredients and dishes that make this season the most exciting for the ambitious cook. The harvest season is upon us, both in the fields of Britain and in the vineyards of France. For me the most exciting indicator of Autumn’s arrival is the appearance of perfectly ripe, local apples at the produce stand; that and the annual November jaunt to Burgundy!
Cooking with apples is a great thing to do. Not only do they have a beautiful flavour in their own right, contributing sweetness and richness, but they also interact brilliantly with spices. The classic combination for apple is of course pork. It is among the most satisfying combinations but can be vexing to get all the flavours just right.
"The classic combination for apple is of course pork. It is among the most satisfying combinations but can be vexing to get all the flavours just right."
This is an easy recipe that is nine-tenths patience, as it takes a good five-and-a-half hours before serving. However if you’re hosting it is absolutely perfect - the ingredients are cheap and if executed well, there are few roasts more succulent and decadent. Laden with heady herbs such as the and sage, and accompanied by a delicious apple chutney, it is a classic mid-autumn feast.
The cut for this slow-roast recipe is rolled hand and spring. It is inexpensive and has great flavour. First you need to heat the oven up to about 220. While it heats, score the pork’s exterior and massage well with olive oil and sea salt. This will help create that lovely, crackly crust that makes a tasty pork roast into an impressive showstopper.
Put the pork in a large roasting dish and in the oven for about 30 minutes with parsnips, carrots and leeks and about 500 ml of cider and chicken stock. After 30 minutes, take it out and cover tightly with foil then return to the oven, turning the heat down low to about 130. It will do it’s thing for 4 hours now so you can turn your attention to the apple jam.
For the jam, you’ll need 4 large cooking apples, cored and chopped as well as a spoonful of lemon juice, a sachet of pectin, a teaspoonful each of allspice and nutmeg (you can add just about anything you fancy as well!), about 100g of soft brown sugar and caster sugar equal to about 1.5 times the weight of your apples. Stir together the water, chopped apples and lemon juice and simmer until soft but not losing their shape. Next add the pectin and turn up the heat. Once it’s reached a boil add your caster sugar and cook until it’s entirely dissolved. It should only take about a minute or so but be sure to keep stirring to get the right consistency. Once done, turn off the heat and stir in your spices and brown sugar.
Decant your jam into a serving vessel and once your pork is done you will have a beautiful, show stopping combination. Serve with a big acid fresh red like a Barolo, though I’ve been enjoying the Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo of late. You could also get away with a more restrained Pinot Noir or Loire valley red.