Wednesday, March 26

Bacon Chops, Chestnut Mushrooms, Spinach & Cream

I stopped off in Salisbury the other day. Not out of cultural interest, more that my son was screaming in the back of the car and I could take no more. What a great little city this is, so much history and a cracking little farmers market. I brought all the main ingredients for this dish from local growers. The pigs are reared in the New Forest, the mushrooms cultivated nearby and the vegetables came from a farmer who lived just down the road. It is great to see a practical farmers market being well used by the locals. So often you find that farmers markets do not have the breadth of stalls to do the weekly shop. You can't create a meal from a couple of cup cake stands and a chutney stall…..take note market organisers!

Bacon chops are not that common but your butcher should be able to source them for you. They can be a bit salty, so if you are not partial to heavily salted foods then try soaking them overnight before cooking. For two:

Bacon chops - 4, each weighing approx 100g or a bit more if bone in.
Spinach - 2 large handfuls, large stems removed, washed & shredded
Garlic - 1 small clove, peeled and finely grated
Banana shallot - 1 large one, peeled and finely chopped
Chestnut mushrooms - 100g, sliced
Butter - a good knob
Chicken stock - 250ml (shop bought is fine, a cube is not)
Cream - 100ml
Mushroom Ketchup - 1 tbsp

Heat a roomy frying pan over a medium heat and add a tiny splash of oil. Pan fry the fat on the bacon chops first to give colour to render some of the fat. I lined all four chops up and held them together with tongs to fry the fat. Turn flesh side down and pan fry on one side until golden, flip over and repeat on the other side. Remove from the pan and transfer to a warm oven (140c) to cook through whist you cook the sauce.

Pan fry the mushrooms in the butter until starting to colour. Add the onion and continue to fry until softened. Add the garlic and cook out. Deglaze the pan with the stock and reduce by half. Add the ketchup and season with pepper only (the chops are salty so you need to under-season the sauce). Add the cream and reduce until the sauce looks a little too thick. Add the spinach and allow to wilt, the liquid from the spinach should return the sauce to the correct consistency, e.g. coat the back of a spoon thick. Serve the pork on some rough mash with the sauce and vegetables spooned over. 

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