Contrary to rumour I didn't spend the entire 1980s listening to the Psychedelic Furs and Immaculate Fools, wearing strange clothes and generally making a nuisance of myself - although that might account for most of it. In my spare time I also kept some notebooks full of recipes and various cooking adventures. I recently came across these carefully compiled archives at the back of a cupboard. Skimming through them, I quickly realised that they weren't as carefully compiled as I’d thought. Some of the recipes are precise but in other cases it can be difficult deciding what on earth I was on about.
One of the notes that caught my eye relates to a Michael Smith recipe for pork. Oddly enough, I've already posted a tomato and plum soup based on one of his recipes but I couldn't resist this one as well. I've adapted the recipe a fair bit – the original dish was essentially a stir-fry - but it’s still based on the taste combinations of the original. Michael Smith was a great champion of English food and, although at first sight this dish may seem to have a distinctly eastern influence, these flavours have been around in English cooking for a very long time.
It’s a simple, midweek supper kind of dish that can be served with noodles, rice or mustardy mashed potatoes. It doesn't look too great in the picture but I promise that it tastes much better than it looks. It will serve 4 people.
500 ml dry cider
80 g (or thereabouts) mushrooms, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
A good inch or so of fresh ginger, finely grated
2½ tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 pork shoulder steaks (you could substitute other cuts according to preference and availability)
2 cox apples (or other tasty, not oversweet eating apples)
1½ tsp English mustard powder
6 (or so) spring onions, cut into pieces around an inch long
Put the cider in a pan on a high heat and reduce by half. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
In an ovenproof dish with a lid, fry the garlic and mushrooms gently in a little oil for a minute or two. Stir in the ginger, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Add the apple slices and the pork steaks (there’s no need to brown them). Sprinkle over the mustard powder, season with a generous amount of pepper and pour in the reduced cider. Give the pan a quick stir to make sure the flavours mingle and scatter over the spring onion. Put the lid on the pan and place in the oven for about an hour and a quarter or until the pork is tender. The sauce should reduce during the cooking but add a little water if it seems to be drying out too much. (The cooking time will obviously vary if you use a different cut of pork or if the steaks are particularly thin or thick.)
Once the pork is tender, remove from the oven, skim off any excess fat and, once again, add a little water if the sauce seems too dry. Use a hand blender to whiz up some of the apple slices and create a thick, coating sauce. Adjust the seasoning and serve.
If you happen to have a copy of the 'Mirror Moves' CD then it might accompany the dish particularly well.