Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pork Rissoles with Apple and Prune

When I decided to make these lovely little meat balls I felt convinced they were quintessentially English food, partly because of the classic combination of pork and apple but also the inclusion of suet. Braised in the oven to make a rich juice that is perfect with mash and steamed cabbage this is a lovely plate of food to serve up on a winter's night. So I expounded my theory about its utter Britishness to my man - who is thoroughly English born and bred - and he looked puzzled. Never had it, never heard of it, but happy to try it was pretty much the summation of his response. So much for my understanding of the locals!

The recipe comes from Gary Rhodes New British Classics - a book that I dip in and out of as an interesting source of ideas. He, more than any of the current crop of famous chefs except perhaps Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, champions British food in all its variety. He knows its history and wants the world to know how good it can be.

The use of suet is seemingly old fashioned but is really a simple way to add a silky richness - a very good trick to know. Suet is the hard fat from around the kidneys of cattle and sheep. Despite its origin it has no meaty taste at all and is traditionally used in Christmas puddings and mincemeat as well as in pastry and savoury dishes. Supermarkets sell a shredded version. When I asked John at the Ginger Pig if he had any he went into the fridge and took some from around the kidneys from a beef carcass hanging there. It doesn't get fresher than that!

Pork Rissoles with Apple and Prune
1 large onion, finely chopped
Pinch each of freshly ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon
6 stoned prunes, chopped
1 tspn freshly chopped sage
2 small or 1 large bramley apple, peeled cored and chopped into small dice
100g/4oz suet
1 egg, beaten
450g/1lb minced pork
150ml/ 1/4 pint white wine
300ml/ 1/2 pint chicken stock
Arrowroot or cornflour if necessary for a thick sauce
Salt and pepper

Pre heat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Melt a knob of butter in a frying pan. Add the chopped onion and fry for a few minutes, without colour. Season with the nutmeg and cinnamon and add the prunes. Cook for 1 more minute and rmove from the heat. Add the chopped sage and leave to cool. Add the diced apples, chopped suet, egg and minced pork. Mix well, seasoning with salt and pepper.

The mixture must be well mixed to distribute all the flavours. Divide into 8 meatballs and shallow fry them in another knob of butter to seal and make them golden brown all over. Put them into a roasting tray in a single layer.

Pour the white wine into a saucepan and boil until reduced by three-quarters. Add the chicken stock. Pour this mixture over the meatballs and cook in the oven for 45 minutes until tender.

Lift the balls from the tray and keep warm. Strain off the liquor into a small pan and skim the fat. Then either leave it as a light juice or thicken it by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornflour with cold water and whisking it through the juice over a medium heat.

Serve the rissoles with the gravy and a big pile of mashed potatoes and steamed cabbage.

Quintessentially English I think.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure about 'quintessentially English', but we certainly have rissoles ere in Wales; which is that cool bit that England is stuck to.


bron said...

It is entirely my misunderstanding of the finer points that makes me think that. Result of growing up in Australia no doubt - which is that big island on the other side of the globe - where I first ate rissoles - though without suet, apple or prunes I loved them none the less.

Plain or gussied up rissoles should be eaten everywhere.

Bron x

Patrick Wolf said...

This is a wonderful recepie, I discovered it in Gary R's Book ages ago and its been in my top 10 ever since. When dinner partying, I like to make a whole batch of em and stack them up in a pyramid like profiteroles - I agree in saying that they are quintessentially English, they're so morish and rich, you coud stick tiny union jack flags in them and serve an embassy these great british balls.

bron said...

Patrick Wolf what a fabulous idea!