Pork Chops with Mustard and Cream

pork-chopsWe don't often eat pork chops in my house. We've had the fear put into us by my mother-in-law that we will have a terrible night's sleep if we eat pork in the evening. Also, I've possibly been put off it by years of having to endure eating grey, leathery shoe-sole tasteless meat disguising itself as food. You'd think it was still wartime the way some people still cook it.

Make sure you but good quality pork, from well looked after pigs. That's a good place to start. And don't be scared of it being a little pink in the middle. That way, it will be juicy, tender and flavoursome and will, with hope, overcome bad memories of the school lunch hall, chewing interminably and trying to move 'food' around the plate to make it look as though you've polished most of it off and are bloody well grateful, boy. I didn't fight in the trenches surviving on tinned pilchards for you to etc etc.

Today's recipe is simple and very quick to make. Pork, creamy mushrooms and mustard is a classic combination and while it may seem to be a little old-fashioned, there's nothing wrong with that; delicious is delicious. The sesame broccoli brings it out of the aspidistra lined 1970's suburbs a little, just don't boil the veg. for four hours.

Ingredients for four people 4 good thick pork chops A few handfuls of button of chestnut mushrooms, sliced 1/2 a red onion, finely sliced 2 sprigs of rosemary A few large sage leaves 300ml double cream 1-2tbsp wholegrain mustard (I like Moutarde de Meaux, very tasty and has no sugar or other nonsense) Olive oil for frying Salt and pepper to season Enough broccoli for four people, stems too 1tbsp sesame oil 1tbsp sesame seeds, toasted if you like

Method While heating a cast iron skillet for the meat, gently soften the onion in a sauté pan in the olive oil until translucent then add the herbs and mushrooms. Season well and cook until the mushrooms are colouring. Add the cream and stir in the mustard. Cook for a few minutes until the cream thickens. Loosen with a little water if it gets too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning and mustard.

Cook the pork chops on a high heat for a few minutes on each side until golden and the fat is rendering and crisping. Hold it down on its fatty edge to achieve this. Leave it to rest and boil the broccoli for about four minutes. I slice the stems and throw them in a minute before the florets. Drain very well, water really gets stuck in all those buds and drizzle over the sesame seeds and oil.

Serve the pork with the sauce and broccoli.

Say Cheese

When I was at art college back in the last century and life was in black and white, we'd often indulge in haloumi kebabs after a night out. That was the first time I'd had this squeaky cheese, and fresh from the charcoal grill with hot chilli sauce I was hooked.

These days, having children means I don't really remember what going out is. And with life far more civilised, I make my own kebabs and roast my haloumi. How grown up I must seem.

Being a solid cheese, it holds its shape really well when cooked. And it takes up other flavours so well, making it ideal to wrap up with garlic, rosemary, lemons and the like. Here, I've used limes, caper and anchovy to give it a real punch and some sweet fresh snow peas and radish to cut through.

After about half an hour, you'll have a delicious lunch with almost no effort. Great with some toast and a cold glass of something fizzy.

Ingredients: 1 halloumi block 1tbsp capers 1tsp chilli flakes 1 anchovy fillet (replace with black olives if you prefer) 1 lime, quartered 2tsp dry thyme Olive oil

Method: Heat the oven to 180c. Wrap the cheese in  paper with the limes and garlic underneath and everything else on top. Fold over and wrap in foil. Cook for about 25-30 minutes, remove from the oven and serve with bread, olive oil and crudites.