One of the greatest meals I ever ate was a slow roasted piece of Welsh belly pork . Though incredibly simple, it was the first meal my boyfreind and I ever cooked together. It was November and we were staying in a tiny cottage in Wales and it was so delicious I barely noticed overlook the cottage’s lack of heating or hot water.
So when choosing ingredients for a True Taste of Wales for old times sake I spurned the tempting traditional welsh lamb and opted for some Pork Chops from Welsh Farm Organics . This online store will deliver beef, lamb pork and poultry throughout the UK sourcing from small producers in Wales.
For me Pork begs to be cooked with cider, and Wales produces plenty of it , apples (and pears) swollen by the ample rainfall. Gwynt Y Ddraig ‘s Orchard Gold Cider is fresh and crisp oak matured cider a million miles from those strange sweet luminous creations now bizarrely served with half a iceberg in the glass. Another small Welsh cider and perry producer Toloja Orchards uses sweet herbs from their apple orchards to produce a fragrant glowing mustard which is also a great bedfellow with pork .
If I had temporarily spurned lamb, I had to sneak leeks (a national emblem of Wales) into the dish and though I was tempted by some mashed potatoes here braised lentils and they suck up the sweet mustard cider and pork juices mixed with softened aliumns.
Cider Mustard Braised Pork Chops with Leeks and Lentils
2 pork chops
500ml of cider
200g of brown lentils
3 tbsp of sweet mustard
2 medium leeks finely chopped
Salt and Pepper
- Soak the brown lentils in water for an hour ( this will allow them to swell and reduce the cook time required.)
- Turn the oven to 190degC.
- Cut notches in the fat of the porks chops this will prevent them from curling up when cooking. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and smear one side with mustard.
- Fry to chops first on the side without the mustard for a few minutes in a large pan.
- Turn the pork chops and add the leeks cook until the leeks are begining to soften
- Remove the pork chops from the pan , place then in a large oven dish , pour over half the cider and pop them into the oven .
- Add the other half of the cider to the pan to deglaze add the lentils and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Pour the lentils and leeks over the pork chops and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes allowing the lentils to soak up the pork and cider juices
One wholly traditional Welsh Ingredient I had never tried is Laverbread , an ingredient made from seaweed gathered from rocks , washed and cooked until it becomes soft. Rich in a massive range of vitamins and minerals
Parsons Pickles manufacter Laverbread in Burry Port to an authentic recipe. The mixture is them tinned and exported for Welsh Breakfasts anywhere. Traditionally the laverbread is eaten warm or fried coated with oats and eaten with bacon and cockles . Since this is the same seaweed that the Japanese use for sushi and rice cakes I decided to use it for some appetisers.
The oatcakes turned out a beautiful pale green topped with a soft Welsh Goats Cheese and more Laverbread. I had expected it to be salty but it was actually a delicate creamy unami. I definitely want a go at making my own Laverbread on my next trip to the seaside.
200g rolled oats
6 tablespoons plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
50ml of laverbread
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tbsp of unsalted butter
100ml of milk
- Preheat the oven to 190degC
- Put the oats into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, baking powder, and butter and pulse until mixture resembles a crumble mix.
- Add milk and laverbread and pulse until a dough forms
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1mm thick cut into 5cm rounds
- Arrange oatcakes on baking sheets ( they don’t spread so can be quite close)
- Bake in middle of oven 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly brown
- Transfer oatcakes to a rack and cool completely.