Donal Skehan: A simple summer meal that has it all

Pork is often badly cooked, but prepared properly it’s delicious

Maple apple pork with garden pea Caesar salad

Maple apple pork with garden pea Caesar salad

 

Simple summer suppers are the order of the day and while the long evenings roll on by, I find myself relying on recipes that provide instant hits of flavour rather than any dish requires lingering in the kitchen. Here I suggest two summer recipes that deliver all of the above.

Beyond bacon and sausages on a Sunday, I must admit that I don’t cook pork as often as I would like. I wasn’t a fan of it growing up, especially when pork chops were on the menu. When I complained about them being too dry as a fussy seven year old, you can only imagine the reaction I got from my mother- forced to eat them and just short of a “clip around the ear”. However, even the seven year old/budding food critic had a point, cooked incorrectly pork can be dry and tasteless but given the right attention can result in shows-topping dinners. Nowadays my world of pork has opened up and I find it hard to pass over crispy pork belly in any guise on a menu, or to avoid the temptation of the incredible Iberico, acorn-fed pork served quiveringly rare at Jose Pizarro’s restaurant in London, an experience which should be on every food lover’s bucket list.

For the home cook though, I think the most versatile cut is the pork loin, sliced in strips it can be marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger for an Asian stir fry or taken on a journey to Italy as a good replacement for veal in the classic dish Saltimbocca Alla Romana (thinly bashed pork with sage and prosciutto). For an easy summer pork recipe that is devoted to simplicity while ensuring mouthwatering results, I pan fry pork loin cutlets before enveloping them in a sweet and acidic sauce using a mish mash of store cupboard ingredients. The result is tender pork pieces made in a flash and a sauce you will be guaranteed to use again. Served with a summer salad of garden peas, fresh romaine lettuce leaves and parsley with a spikey Caesar dressing, this is a summer meal with all the bells and whistles.

While most of my dessert efforts for summer occasions usually involve ice cream and berries and very little else, one baking recipe I will be drawn into the kitchen for is a lemon curd pudding. An all in one citrus infused batter yields a satisfying pud that can be cooked until sponge like or cooked a little less to be enjoyed as the lemon equivalent of a molten chocolate pudding.

Maple apple pork with garden pea Caesar salad

A platter of this pork would be a welcome addition at any summer occasion. Serve it with simply-dressed leaves, a roast potato salad or the Caesar pea salad below. You may not think you like anchovies, but you really should include them in the Caesar dressing, they will add the rounded salty kick it needs.

Time: 35mins; Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 4 pork loin cutlets, bashed until 1/2cm in thickness
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp apple juice
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • Large handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped, plus extra to garnish
  • For the salad:
  • 200g of frozen peas, cooked and drained
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, leaves torn
  • A small handful of parsley, leaves picked
  • For the Caesar dressing:
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 anchovy fillets (from a jar or tin)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 100ml rapeseed oil (or olive oil)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

First, make the Caesar dressing. Put the egg, anchovy fillets, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice in a mini food processor and process until just combined. With the motor running, gradually add the rapeseed oil and process until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper and add a little water if you find the dressing a little thick. Before the pork has finished cooking, transfer the dressing to a mixing bowl and toss together with the peas, lettuce and parsley.

Melt the butter with the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Pat the pork chops dry with a little kitchen paper and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Add the chops to the pan and brown on both sides.

When the meat has a good colour, add the onion and fry for about 30 seconds. Then pour in the vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce and apple juice and heat until the sauce is bubbling. Baste the meat well and continue to cook for 8 minutes or until the pork has cooked through and the onions have reduced.

When the chops are cooked, transfer to a warmed plate and reduce the sauce over a medium heat for a few minutes until slightly thickened- add a splash of water if required. Add the coriander and stir through. Pour the sauce over the pork and serve alongside the prepared salad.

Lemon curd pudding

A light, fluffy lemon curd pudding
A light, fluffy lemon curd pudding

As baking recipes go, you will be hard pushed to find one that uses simpler ingredients than the ones listed below. A great excuse to use up a jar of lemon curd and with an all-in-one batter, even if you aren’t a natural baker, it’s difficult to go too far wrong.

Time: 35mins; Serves 4

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 110g butter, at room temperature
  • 100g plain flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 2 large free range eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 340g jar lemon curd
  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and flour an oval pudding dish or loaf tin approx. 20cm x 14cm x 5cm.

In a mixing bowl, beat the sugar, butter, flour, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract until a smooth batter forms.

Pour in the prepared dish and smooth off the top. Add 4 tbsp of the lemon curd across the top of the batter and swirl across the top. Place in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes. The top should be golden brown but the cake should still have a somewhat firm wobble.

Before serving the pudding, heat the remaining lemon curd in the jar in the microwave or a small saucepan.

Serve large spoonfuls of the pudding with a generous drizzle of hot lemon curd.

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