Dishes cooked in butter, cream and cider are often attributed to Normandy: sole à la normande, galettes à la normande and Normandy chicken. It seems unfair when Britain’s own cider industry is booming.

Perhaps geographic relabelling should be considered—dependent on the cider. Aspall’s cider, for example, would make this a Suffolk pork casserole, while Thatchers’ would make it a Somerset pork casserole.

Provenance aside, this is a great mid-season dish. The crème fraîche and squeeze of lemon give it a lightness that differentiates it from a more wintery stew. It can be put together mid-afternoon and then whipped out of the oven just before dinner—the appley-pork aromas celebrating the transition from late summer to autumn.

 

Ingredients

Serves 4

• 50g butter

• 1kg diced pork shoulder

• 200g smoked lardons

• 12 small shallots, peeled and halved

• 2 celery sticks, cut into 2cm slices

• 500ml cider (eg, Stowford Press for Herefordshire)

• 500ml chicken stock •

2 bay leaves

• 2tbsp cornflour mixed with 2tbsp cold water

• 2tbsp mustard, preferably wholegrain

• 4 tbsp crème fraîche •

½ lemon

• 1tbsp thyme

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170C.

2. Brown the pork shoulder in two batches: heat half the butter in a casserole dish, add the pork and fry until it takes on a goldenbrown colour. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, and then repeat with the remaining butter and pork.

3. Tip the smoked lardons, halved shallots and celery slices into the same casserole dish. Cook until the lardons start to crisp, and the vegetables begin to soften and colour.

4. Return the pork to the pan, and then pour over the cider and chicken stock. Bring it to a simmer and add the bay leaves, then cover and cook in the oven for 1.5–2 hours, until the pork is tender.

5. Add the cornflour mixture to the casserole, and stir on the heat while the sauce thickens. Add the mustard, crème fraîche, squeeze of lemon and thyme. Taste and add more of any of the above if necessary, and then season with salt and pepper. Serve with mashed potato or celeriac and mustard mash.

 

Tip: Top off with some lightly steamed greens, and put the mustard on the table so people can add more if they wish.

 

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