I've been reading Manuela Darling-Gansser and Marlena de Blasi's regional food books and been inspired by their style of writing and luscious descriptions of Italian food. So on a wet and wobbly Sunday I created my own piece of Italy at home. I was also inspired by a recipe in Jamie Oliver at Home for simple roast pork chops. The majority of my produce, including my meat and cheese used in the recipe below comes from an organic supplier called Riverford. I get a box delivered every week by my lovely veg man with fresh vegetables, salad and the odd cheeky luxury. All the other bits and pieces I have used are pretty much staple items in my house or from my garden at home.
2 high welfare, or organic pork chops, fat scored
1 cooking apple sliced
4 sliced blue cheese of choice (I used Stilton)
Sage leaves, washed
180g quinoa, boiled as per the instructions on the pack (you can use polenta but I decided to use quinoa as a nod to super foods and not so much stirring necessary)
2 sweetcorn, boiled, char-grilled and sliced off the cob
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Handful of chopped basil leaves
150g grated Montgomery Cheddar cheese
Tender-stem broccoli, washed and trimmed
French beans, washed, trimmed and sliced
50g Pumpkin seeds, toasted in a dry pan
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Rapeseed Oil
Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius/Gas mark 7/428 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drizzle the pork chops with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Rub the salt into the scored fat. Heat a dry griddle pan until smoking hot and then cook the chops until a warm caramel brown on each side and the fat has started to crisp up. Remove from the pan into an oven proof dish. Drizzle a bit more olive oil on top. Layer the slices of apple, 2 sage leaves and 2 slices of your cheese on each chop. Keep these aside until later.
In a medium non-stick pot, on a medium heat, soften your finely chopped onions and garlic in a little olive oil and melted butter. You don't want them to cook too quickly or get any colour, they should just be translucent. Once softened add your sweetcorn kernels that you have boiled, char-grilled; whole on the griddle and then sliced off the cob. Add the quinoa, basil and Cheddar and mix until the cheese has started to melt. Check your seasoning and add salt only if necessary. Bare in mind the cheese has a good savoury flavour and the quinoa retains salt from the water it has been boiled in. Transfer to a shallow oven tray that has been greased and even it out with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes til golden brown and crispy on top.
Once the quinoa has been in the oven for 8 minutes place the pork chops on the shelf below and leave to roast for 12 minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Your crackling should be crisp and nicely fanned out.
While the chops are roasting; place the broccoli and beans in a medium pot with boiling water. Steam for 5 minutes and then drain. When drained return to the same pot drizzle a little olive oil, season to taste and toss the pumpkin seeds through.
Once everything has come out of the oven cut a square of the quinoa cake and lay on a warm plate. Place a roasted chop on top and then scatter the greens on the plate.
Enjoy with a glass of a medium bodied red wine such as a Barbera, New World Pinot Noir from South Africa or New Zealand - We enjoyed our lunch with the Mommessin, Fleurie, 2013 and it worked incredibly well.