In Paris the other week Jerry and I spent a lot of time talking about chicory, or endive. We both love it and marvelled at the way its bitter leaves melt when cooked for a long period of time and I came back, as I said, determined to make more of this very seasonal, very wintry leaf. Mr Simon Hopkinson, he of The Good Cook fame, is also a fan and has a couple of rather tempting recipes for it, the classic of baking it with ham and cheese and this, a throw-it-all-in-the-pot-after-browning affair that is going into my winter repertoire for good.
There are two reasons, no three to make this dish: one, it is easy, two, it is just right for a cold December night and three, it is delicious. I made it without any starchy accompaniment, and think it needs none, but a little mashed potato, or celeriac would go brilliantly with it. You want something plain-flavoured though, since the sauce is beautiful and needs no added gloss. I think it would work really well with rabbit pieces as well as pork loin, and that is exactly what Jerry ate at Le Villaret, but that idea’s for another day.
Pot-roast pork with endive (adapted from The Good Cook)
For two portions you will need:
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a splash of olive oil or a knob of butter (for browning the meat and veg)
butter, a thick slice
garlic, a couple of cloves
pork loin, 400g
endives, 2 large
dry cider, 150ml
cider vinegar, a splash
sage, a couple of sprigs
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan-assisted/gas 3.
2. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Put the olive oil or knob of butter into a large lidded casserole dish and warm over a moderate heat. Add the pork and colour all over. This will take about five-ten minutes.
3. Whilst the pork is colouring, peel the garlic and squash slightly with the blade of a knife, trim the endives of any old or brown leaves and chop off the outer layer of their base and peel and chop the shallots. If necessary rinse the sage leaves.
4. When the pork is golden all over, take it out of the pan for a minute then add the thick slice of butter. Add the endives and colour them, then add the shallots and stir them into the buttery juices.
5. Put the pork back in the pan (push the endives to one side if need be), add the cider, cider vinegar, sage leaves and garlic. Cover and put into the oven for about 20 minutes.
6. After twenty minutes, take the casserole out of the oven, turn the pork and then cook for another twenty minutes.
7. Once the pork is cooked (mine took 40 minutes, yours may take a little longer) and the endives are beautifully soft and wilted, remove them from the pan for a minute and bubble the sauce over a gentle heat to thicken it slightly.
8. Pour the sauce over the pork and endives and serve.