The point about eating fruit and vegetables to keep healthy is that it doesn’t really matter all that much which ones you eat, so long as you eat plenty of them. In fact, the more variety the better most experts say. Weekend Herb Blogging, the biggest, most bustling weekly round-up of plant-based edibles must, therefore, be one of the best tips going for anybody trying to include more fruit and veg in their diet.
Once a week the blogosphere sends in a whole raft of new fruit, vegetable and herb based creations and each week sees a range of recipes to suit every palate. There is an instant project in there for anybody who thinks fruit and vegetables are boring: every Monday get along to the Weekend Herb Blogging round-up (you can always find out who is hosting WHB this week on Kalyn’s site) and choose one recipe to try out that week. Whatever you fancy will be there: instant salads or leisurely roasts; sweet or savoury; homely, comfort food versus fresh flavours; not to mention a constant parade of exotic new ingredients and new treatments for old favourites. Even better, the global nature of WHB guarantees that there will always be somebody cooking what’s in season near you right now!
This week marks the second anniversary of the very first Weekend Herb Blogging. Normally my contributions to Weekend Herb Blogging are on the simple side but this recipe is a meal fit for a celebration; aromatic poached quince with delicious pork chops and a soft, savoury pilaf.
The quince is the epitome of seasonal food in the UK, a rather old fashioned, gentle fruit that hasn’t reached the heights of popularity that demand it be forcibly cultivated all year. But don’t worry if you can’t get hold of a quince – pears and pork are a classic combination, just remember to reduce the poaching time accordingly. The pilaf recipe is very loosely based on those featured in the first Moro cookbook of recipes inspired by the cuisine of Spain, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean (I have a sneaking suspicion that the idea of a making a pilaf snuck into my head when I was reading Joanna’s recipe for stuffed quince with a chickpea pilav).
Recipe for Pork with poached quince and a courgette pilaf
I used chestnut honey, which has a slightly more treacled, bitter flavour than regular honey. With regard to timing, you can poach the quince in advance if you want to (remember to keep the cooking liquor). If you are preparing it all at once, start the quince poaching and then the get the pilaf cooking. Cook the pork when the pilaf has about ten minutes to go and it should all fall into place gracefully.
For the pork with poached quince
2 thick pork chops, without the bone (ask the butcher for double chops)
Juice from half a lemon
1 tbsp honey
1 bay leaf
Small glass of red wine
For the courgette pilaf
120g white rice
2 tbsp olive oil
250ml vegetable stock
2 courgettes, cut into dice
2 spring onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Flatleaf parsley, a small handful, finely chopped
Peel the quince and cut it into thick slices, about 1cm thick. Cut away the seeds from each of the quince slices and the woodier, harder part of the flesh (if you can’t see where the texture changes you will be able to tell when you stick the tip of your knife in to the quince).
Put the quince slices into a small saucepan and just cover with hot water. Add the honey, lemon juice and bay leaf. Simmer for about twenty minutes, until the quince is just tender.
Strain the quince, keeping the poaching liquor.
Heat the olive oil in a pan that has a lid. Fry the courgette, spring onion and garlic for about four minutes on a medium heat.
Add the rice and cook it in the oil for another minute.
Add the stock and half of the parsley to the rice and vegetable mixture. Cover with a lid and leave undisturbed at a mere simmer for 15 minutes.
Rub the pork chops with a very light coating of olive oil and season. Cook the chops in a frying pan – they will take about 4 minutes on each side depending on thickness.
Remove the pork chops from the pan and put them somewhere warm to rest. Check the pilaf rice and if it is done cover it with a clean tea towel while you make the sauce.
Turn the heat up on the pan that you cooked the pork in and add the red wine. Let the wine bubble up, using a wooden spoon to loosen all of the good stuff in the bottom of the pan.
Add the poaching liquor from the quince to the pork juices and wine and simmer briskly until the liquid reduces and you start to get sticky syrup.
When everything else is ready stir the remains of the parsley into the pilaf.
Dish the quince slices out onto two plates and top with the pork chops. Spoon the pilaf out alongside the pork. Drizzle the red wine syrup over the pork and around the other ingredients. Enjoy!