Bay & nutmeg root veg gratin, slow-roasted pork, and oysters in champagne – because what the hell, let’s just start Christmas now …
Pork shoulder in Jasnières with fennel, mushrooms, cream and chestnuts
Jasnières is the nearest wine appellation to my little patch of France. A Chenin Blanc, part of the Loire valley family, it’s fresh and zesty and just as wonderful with rich, creamy dishes, the robust flavours of andouillette or with a tangy goats’ cheese. Here, I’ve used it to slowly cook pork shoulder with a touch of fennel. It’s lovely served with the root veg gratin.
15 minutes preparation
1.2kg diced pork shoulder
2 onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
250ml Jasnières wine (or another Chenin B)
300g button mushrooms
400g cooked chestnuts
3 or 4 tablespoons crème fraiche
Salt and pepper
Heat the oven to 150C.
Heat half the butter in a heavy based pan and brown the pork on all sides. Remove it (or push to one side in the pan as I do!) before adding the onions and letting them brown a little in the butter and pork juices. Mix everything together again, add the fennel, and let it all cook on medium heat for another few minutes until nicely golden.
Deglaze with the wine, stirring well and scraping the bottom of the pan.
Season, top up with water or stock to just cover the meat and cook in the oven for an hour and fifteen minutes, until the meat is tender. Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms in the rest of the butter and reserve.
Remove the casserole from the oven, add the chestnuts and the mushrooms, stir well and heat again until everything is nice and hot. Mix through the cream, give it all a last little blast of heat and serve.
Root veg gratin with nutmeg and bay
Really more of a serving suggestion or a reminder, than a recipe. Bay in particular, goes so well with root vegetables.
10 minutes preparation
35 minutes cooking
2 medium potatoes, peeled, sliced thinly longways
2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced thinly longways
2 medium parsnips, peeled, sliced thinly longways
5 or 6 fresh bayleaves
Salt, pepper, grated nutmeg
200ml single cream
Set the vegetable slices, alternating them as you go, into a gratin dish. Tuck the bayleaves in between the slices. Season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg, then pour the cream over, letting it sink into the layers. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the vegtables are tender and the top is slightly golden. Serve hot or warm with the pork.
Oysters in champagne
Another in my series of « cook with some of the bottle, drink the rest » for the chilly weekend ahead. This is a little fiddly, but such a treat! A good way to spoil guests when there are just four of you around the table.
For 4 as an appetiser
30 minutes preparation
5 minutes cooking
500g or so of coarse salt
150ml champagne or dry white wine
1 small shallot, very finely chopped
2 egg yolks
150ml double cream
Open the oysters, being careful to collect all their water and remove all pesky pieces of shell. Discard the top part of the shell.
Spread a layer of salt in a low dish and set the oyster shells snugly in it, keeping them as flat as possible.
Put the oysters in a pan with the wine and bring to a simmer. Let the oysters poach for a couple of minutes, until slightly firm to the touch. Remove with a slotted spoon and pop them back into their shells.
Add the shallot to the pan, simmer gently for a few minutes to reduce the cooking liquor by about half. Remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks with the cream then pour into the hot oyster liquor, stirring well.
Heat the grill to as hot as it will go.
Put the pan on a low heat and stir the sauce constantly until it starts to thicken, (like you would with custard). Be very careful not to let it boil and curdle. Once the sauce is nice and thick, season with pepper and spoon it over the oysters.
Pop them under the grill for a few minutes until golden spots appear. Serve immediately. You can garnish with chives if you like, or caviar isn’t bad, either.
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