When I was out on my early morning bike-ride the other day I heard a commotion above me, and looking up saw what was for me the year’s first flock of geese calling it a day and heading off for warmer, Southern climes.
They may be obnoxious, violent, feathered thugs, that leave little foul smelling nuggets of hatefulness all over the parks and playing fields of this fair city, but I’ll grant them one thing – they’re way ahead of us when it comes to matters connected to the weather and the seasons.
We may have the fancy satellite networks, but they’re the little bar-stewards who know when the game’s up, and Autumn’s about to arrive with a bang.
The end of summer does have its compensations, however.
Firstly, as the weather turns colder and ever more damp, the hipsters and fair-weather casuals abandon their bicycles for their cars or a seat on a bus, and for the next 8 months the cycle lanes become a less populated and significantly safer place to ride.
Secondly, all thoughts of summery salads and suchlike can be abandoned for the duration – let’s be honest, we’re all getting a bit sick of them by now, non?
Stews and casseroles, and all those rich, meaty, earthy, herb-and-spice jacked autumnal flavours can once again be triumphantly wheeled out.
In a fair world each municipality should hold an annual parade, complete with marching bands, fireworks, and speeches by civic dignitaries, as a giant, symbolic, slow-cooker wends its way through the city streets, to be showered with seasonal garlands by awe-struck civilians.
Once again, though, it looks as though I’ll have to make do with a celebratory pot of Pu-Erh and a blueberry muffin. Hey ho.
This dish is my first real nod this year to Autumnal flavours. Mrs. Paleovirtus suggested something with pork, mushrooms, herbs, cabbage, and apples. Demanded, even.
I was kind of up against it time-wise, so decided to do something based around minced pork.
This is what I came up with. Not strictly speaking a hash, per se, but once again I intend to deploy the “Humpty-Dumpty” from “Alice” Defence, namely,
“When I use a word… it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
Makes 4 generous servings
- 1 kg pork mince
- 280g smoked, cubed bacon
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp juniper berries, bruised
- approximately 200g closed cap mushrooms, wiped and quartered
- 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 2 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Granny Smiths apples, cored and roughly chopped
- approx. 400g good quality Sauerkraut
- olive oil
- Bring the minced pork out of the fridge to come up to room temperature.
- Heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
- Gently fry the cubed smoked bacon until it is just turning golden. Drain off the rendered bacon fat and olive oil, and set aside.
- In a large pan, add the rendered bacon fat and the olive oil, and return it to medium heat.
- Add the onion, and fry until soft, about 5 minutes or so.
- Add the garlic to the pan, and fry for a further 2 minutes.
- Add the juniper berries, Herbes de Provence, smoked Spanish paprika, and bay leaves to the pan. Mix well, and fry for a further 2 minutes or so, adding a splash of hot water if things threaten to stick.
- Add the pork mince, and stir well in, breaking up the mince with your wooden spoon. Stir fry until the mince has lost its raw colour, about 10 minutes or so.
- Add the apples, mushrooms, fried bacon, and Sauerkraut. Stir well. Add water to make enough of a sauce for everything to cook comfortably in.
- Return up to a low simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes or so, until the pork is thoroughly cooked, and the apples are tender.
- Serve with steamed cauliflower on the side.