Friday 10 January 2014

Pork chops and more - a Random Recipe

Unsurprisingly, this month's Random Recipes at Belleau Kitchen asks us to cook something from a new book we had for Christmas.

I had three books this year, all from my Mum:

The Constance Spry Cook Book - a classic that I didn't have in my  collection
Save With Jamie
James Martin- Fast cooking

When I read the details of the challenge, I'd already browsed through the first two but hadn't opened the James Martin book, so that seemed to be the best candidate to open at random - and the recipe it fell open at sounded like a real winner. Grilled pork chop with apple scrumpy mash and black pudding.

A quick look through the ingredients - cooking apples, cider, pork chops, black pudding. walnuts, spring greens (there was half a Savoy cabbage in the fridge so I used that instead) all sounded good. And then came the stumbling block. Ready made mashed potato. Ready made mashed potato. 

I went out shopping for the ingredients and I really did go to the prepared veg section of the supermarket. I even got as far as picking up a pack of ready made mashed potato (my coat collar was turned up as high as it would go and I'd scanned the car park for neighbours' cars). But I simply could NOT put it in my trolley. My hand refused to move in that direction, it would only move back towards the shelf to replace the offending item.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against ready prepared veg. In fact I'm constantly nagging my elderly Mum with her arthritic hands to give them a try. They are great for people short of time, equipment or dexterity. But when you're cooking a meal that involves several different skills and processes, they are just plain irrelevant. If you have time to peel, slice, cook and purée apples, surely you have time to do the same with a few potatoes?

OK, home with the ingredients and time for a more detailed look at the recipe. 150g of sugar? Is  it a dessert? I don't use sugar at all, being diabetic, and a Stevia based substitute is fine in apple sauce, but part of the sugar was to be used for the walnuts. They were to be coated in sugar syrup and deep fried. Now, even if I had a deep fat fryer, the thought of dropping something into it dripping with wet syrup sounds terrifying. I decided to toast the walnuts instead.

The apples are cooked into a very thick apple sauce that is mixed in with the mashed potato. I decided not to open a 440ml tin of cider for the 35 ml that my half-quantity recipe used. I didn't think two tablespoons of cider would make that much difference to the dish, and I had no plans for the rest of the tin.

The cabbage was supposed to be stir fried but we ate the meal last night and I've only just spotted that in the recipe, so I steamed it.....

I'm drifting a long way from the recipe here aren't I? Well, it's actually a very simple one - mashed potatoes mixed with apple sauce, grilled pork chops and black pudding, sprinkled with deep fried toasted walnuts and served on a bed of cabbage.

And the verdict? "Okay but a bit dry. It could have done with a bit of gravy"

It's the first time I've ever cooked from a James Martin book. The cover strapline is "Really exciting recipes in 20 minutes". Well, I thought it was more of a serving suggestion than a recipe, using proper home made mash only added 5 minutes to the total time and while it was quite nice, it really wasn't exciting!

Now to read through the rest of the book and see what else catches my eye.


Unknown said...

random indeed... it's funny isn't it, how we're adverse to purchasing certain things and not others and how odd that someone like James Martin should recommend shop-bought mash... I do actually buy readymade mash on occasion when i'm in a super-lazy mood... the total end dish does look very appealing however so i think you lucked out... thanks so much for entering this month, thanks for all your wonderful random recipes support over the past few years and happy new year!

Antonia said...

It looks delicious but, I agree, strange that James Martin suggests using readymade mash. I like the idea of mixing apple sauce with the mash but think I would have liked some sort of sauce or gravy too. I usually like James Martin's recipes but haven't heard of this book before.