Pork chops with apple and blackberries worth foraging for
I go blackberry picking with my kids – it’s great fun and teaches them about where food comes from
Pork is perfect with apple and a few blackberries add a delicious autumnal twist
Always, when thinking seasonally, I go by the mantra that if it grows together, it goes together. Like carrot and parsnip. This time of year, blackberry and apple is a classic combination but it doesn’t have to be reserved for desserts. Pork is perfect with apple and a few blackberries add a delicious autumnal twist.
All too often when we go blackberry picking there are very few berries that make it home. Each one being picked by inky fingers gets eaten instead of making the journey back through the fields to be transformed into jam or crumble.
We had an amazing Doberman cross called Bo for eight years that grew up alongside our children. At the end of each summer she would clear the low hanging berries as far as she could reach, much to my toddler’s dismay. It was a race between them to reach the plump black berries as they ripened. Often I’d have to hold Bo’s head in my hands and remove thorns or brambles from her face while her deep dark eyes would still be scanning the hedgerow greedily.
There’s a real connection between humans and nature when we forage. We become suddenly rooted in the here and now, aware of the seasons and the world around us. Unlike in a supermarket aisle, where the pineapple and mango sit perfectly next to one another alongside cabbages and aubergines.
There are a few times like this during the year where we go in search of wild garlic, elderflowers, wild strawberries, blackberries, mackerel, elderberries, wild damsons, rosehips and hazelnuts. The list goes on.
It is, of course, not essential that we go picking wild food but it’s great fun and teaches my kids about where food comes from. Another lesson that I hadn’t foreseen was that it teaches them the labour that goes into picking and processing food. Picking prickly gooseberries, topping and tailing them, then simmering in a wide pan with sugar to make jam. All of these steps need to be taken by someone in order for food to be on our table.
They’re learning to appreciate food. It’s been a gentle journey for them. Slow and steady. Each morning now for the past six months, they’ve seen me make sourdough bread and have taken part in the mixing and shaping. They think differently about it now and eat their crusts.
This apple sauce is a great way to showcase the handful of berries that do make it home. It’s really great with roast pork and can be made and frozen for the months ahead. Add a tablespoon or so of it to gravy for a rich fruitiness. I love pork chops served with mashed potato. The key to good mashed potato is of course butter – more butter than you would ever expect. Mashed potato is not something I cook regularly, so when I do, it’s worth making it properly. It’s pure comfort food.
Pork chops with apple and blackberries
2 apples, Bramley or eating apple
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 handful blackberries
4 pork chops
To serve: mashed potatoes
1 Peel and dice the apple. Place in a pan with 2 tbsp water and the sugar. Simmer gently till the apple is soft then add the mustard, thyme, vinegar and blackberries.
2 Stir gently and simmer for a further five minutes. It should have a savoury yet fruity piquant taste. Set aside.
3 Brush the pork chops with a little oil and season with salt. Grill on a high heat for three to four minutes each side, depending on thickness, till cooked through.
Serve with the apple sauce and mashed potato.