Listen up people, Autumn is fast approaching and the official date set for the switch over is 23th Sept 2023, or so we are led to believe. It's all got something to do with the equinox, with day and night being equal to each other and some sort of transition that leads us from the light into darkness.
Which in some respects, all sounds a bit scary and mournful - if you listen to those pesky druids that is.
Hell, we are just happy that finally we can get stuck into the good stuff. Namely all those fantastic roasts, warming stews and steaming hot pies that will surely be gracing our tables over the next few months.
So, by way of a positive spin on announcing the changing of seasons, this is a great recipe for you to get your teeth into.
There's nothing too alien about this dish. You are simply pairing up porcine goodness with apples after all. But you may not have considered using pork blade before - a bespoke cut of shoulder that is left on the bone for the ultimate result when cooking low 'n slow.
You will also need to get outside and go foraging for those blackberries for the sauce. But the nights are indeed beginning to creep in.
Best take a torch with you.
INGREDIENTS - FEEDS 6 (WITH LEFTOVERS)
2kg pork blade
4 banana shallots, peeled and halved
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered
Large bunch of sage leaves
500ml dry cider
50g unsalted butter
Maldon Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
First, score the skin on the pork blade and rub some Spicy Pig Rub into the cuts and leave overnight uncovered on a plate in the fridge to dry out.
Next day, heat your oven to 140°C and take the joint out of the fridge. Place into a deep tray, skin side up, and pop in the fennel, shallots and sage in the gaps all around the meat.
Pour in the cider, so that it reaches halfway up the pork and then place into the oven to slowly cook for 3-4 hours.
Place the apples whole, on a separate tray, and pop them in at the same time. Take them out after about an hour.
To make the sauce, simply peel off the skins and slice in the middle to remove the core and pips and put the cooked apple into a bowl They will be quite soft and mushy, so you might get some skin and 'bits' in the final mix but no matter.
Whilst still warm, add the butter to apples and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and rough up with a fork. Add a good handful of blackberries to the mix, stir through and put to one side.
When the pork is soft and tender, remove from the oven and tray and check the skin - you might need to cut the skin off, turn the oven up and put back in to crackle up for another 20 minutes.
Cover the pork with some foil and rest.
You should have a good amount of cider liquor left over, so strain through a sieve into a saucepan and reserve the soft fennel and shallot (discard the sage).
Reduce the cider in the saucepan on the hob by half and check for seasoning.
To finish, pull or carve the pork up and serve with the fennel, shallots and vegetables of choice.
A jacket spud works very well here.
Drizzle over the cider sauce and add a good dollop of the apple and blackberry sauce to the plate.
Don't forget the crackling.