Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fruit n' Nut Pork and Greens - Chuleta de Cerdo y Acelgas con Pasas y Pinones

This meal is just a way of dolling up simple pork chops with a side of simple sautéed spring greens
The meal itself is a nice variation on the Northern European theme of pork and brassica like our bacon and cabbage or Dutch Rookwurst and borecole.
The greens are the main part of the meal, based on a Catalan dish called Acelgas con Pasas y Pinones.
Normally its made using chard and other greens sweetened with raisins and crunch added from nuts.
It’s a seasonal meal for me as I used the pine nuts left over from the nettle pesto and tidied up the leaves on my Tipperary Turnips and winter cabbage’s. I use a real mix, a medley of greens.

This meal serves 3-4.

The Pork could not be simpler. Its flavours are based on sage and onion stuffing.
You will need:
2 pork chops cut into cubes about 2cm
2 good sized apples, cored and cut into good sized chunks
About half an onion, roughly chopped
About one and a half teacups course breadcrumbs (about 2 slices of well done toast through the blender)
Teaspoon dried sage
Teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 180 deg. C
Retain half a teacup of  breadcrumbs
Place all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Oil a dish with Donegal rapeseed oil
Chuck ingredients into the cooking dish, pour over the remaining breadcrumbs
Put in the middle of oven for 45 minutes/1hour until nice and golden.

I always throw a few spuds in the top of oven to bake or to roast depending on how I feel at the same time as the pork, saves energy and washing up

For the Acelgas con Pasas y Pinones you will need:
12oz-1lb of Garden Greens like chard, cabbage, turnip or beetroot tops. Later in the year I would use kale
These are cut chiffonade (see note)
4 tablespoons raisins 
3 tablespoons pine nuts  
2 tablespoons Donegal Rapeseed oil 
About half an onion (whats left from the pork dish really)
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Cut the greens chiffonade.
In a medium pot, bring a pint of water to a boil. Add greens, stir to submerge, and boil gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring several times to make sure the greens are cooking evenly.

After 10 minutes, drain greens in a colander (press on them once or twice with the back of a spoon to remove extra water) and set aside.
Soak raisins in a small amount of the hot water and set aside.

I generally take a break at this point, let the greens drain until you relax, maybe get a baked dessert ready etc. and wait while the pork cooks off

About 10 minutes from when you expect the pork to be done, continue with the recipe.

Heat a large dry heavy pan and toast pine nuts over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until light brown. Do not walk away while they are cooking or they might scorch. Remove nuts from pan and set aside.

Heat the Donegal Rapeseed oil in same pan and sauté the onion for 3-5 minutes, or until soft and just beginning to color. During the last minute of this cooking time, add garlic and oregano, so as not to scorch the garlic.

When onion-garlic mixture is done, add drained greens to the pan and stir to combine. Drain raisins and add them, cooking on medium and stirring a minute or two to evaporate any extra water that has accumulated.
Stir in pine nuts and serve with the pork and potato’s, and as the pine nuts came from the nettle pesto, why not use a little of that to garnish the spuds.
Traditionally of course the meal is cooked using olive oil, and Catalan olives are fantastic - but this is local, regular farm food. They use olive oil simply because it is available, so I really feel we should try cooking with our own rapeseed oil to reduce food miles and support our own farmers.
It is for that reason as well that I source most of my shop bought meat from McGeoughs Butchers in Oughterard or Seamus Mannion in Clifden.
As always, please feel free to leave a comment, I love the feedback 

*Note - Chiffonade:
This is a technique in which leafy greens are cut into long, thin strips. 
This is generally accomplished by stacking leaves, rolling them tightly (a technique I am sure many readers are familiar with) then cutting across the rolled leaves with a sharp knife, producing fine ribbons.

"Chiffon" is French for "rag". To chiffonade simply means to turn into rag-like strips, as seen in the pictures.


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