pork chops with cider and mustard sauce

it’s obvious, really. the english way of eating is meat WITH some kind of sauce on the side. the yugo way of eating is meat IN sauce, with bread to mop it up. or, quite commonly, just meat on its own. when i think of all the classic yugo dishes: stuffed courgettes or peppers, pasulj (like a bean cassoulet on speed, with smoked pork knuckle), ‘bosnian pot’ (where you chuck in all sorts of veg and meat in an earthenware pot and cook for hours) – it’s all the same principle.

i am not sure why this is the case though there must be some socio-anthropological reason for it. there usually is. in the same way that the world is divided into those who drink tea and those who drink coffee, maybe there are also meat-with-sauce and meat-in-sauce eaters. perhaps the yugo climate is just better for growing vegetables or, as i suspect is more likely, all those aubergines and onions pad out a meal, making a small piece of expensive meat go further.

whatever the case, i think this is probably the reason why making sauces to go with meat doesn’t come naturally to me. sauce on the side is just a bit...poncey. i just wouldn’t think to do it – i am quite happy to gnaw on a pork chop without having to dip it in some weird, usually sweet, concoction. (what i hate even more is when they give you a mere suggestion of a sauce in restaurants. usually a small comma of goop on an expanse of a big white plate, which some poor bugger in the kitchen has been perfecting for weeks.)

but occasionally, i read a recipe and decide to go ahead and make the sauce and all. especially if it's as simple as this one. a word of warning - when i tasted the sauce for seasoning, i thought it was a bit weird. a bit too sweet and tasting too strongly of cider. but it does go very well with pork - it's the two flavours together that make it work.

for two

for the pork:
2 pork chops, bone in
5 bay leaves
1tsp salt
½tsp fennel seeds

for the sauce:
½ pint of cider
1tbs wholegrain mustard
4tbs creme fraiche
knob of butter

in a pestle and mortar, crush the fennel seeds with the salt and the bay leaves. apparently you’re meant to end up with a green paste. i didn’t – my bay leaves were too dry for that so make sure they’re fresh. otherwise try and squish some flavour out of them the best you can and either sieve the large bits of bay leaf out in the end or just use as is. i am not sure it matters too much.

make the sauce – in a small pan, boil the cider and the mustard until reduced by half. add the creme fraiche, bring back to the boil, then stir in the butter and season.

heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan or a griddle pan. oil the pork chops on both sides, then season with the fennel and bay leaf salt. fry for 3-4 minutes each side, depending on how thick your chops are. when you think they’re done, leave them to rest for 4-5 minutes.


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