Nothing quite beats the smell of bacon sizzling in a frying pan. It’s an aroma that is guaranteed to get even the most ardent vegetarian salivating. Although processed and red meat have taken a battering in the press recently I still believe bacon is a product that should be applauded for its versatility. Serve it as part of a weekend fry up for breakfast with creamy scrambled eggs or with seared calves liver and caramelised onions for dinner. Bacon can even been paired with chocolate with Paul A Young combining both these ingredients with Stilton in a sandwich in his book Adventures in Chocolate!
Bacon Connoisseurs Week starts today so I thought I would share one of my favourite recipes. Mitten of Pork involves encasing tender pork fillet and herby stuffing in a bacon shell. It’s probably far from healthy but it is delicious (and a little of what you fancy once in a while isn’t a bad thing). Jennifer Paterson and Clarissa Dickson Wright (aka The Two Fat Ladies) serve their Mitten of Pork cold as part of a picnic buffet (rather like a pastryless pork pie). While this is delicious I prefer to eat it hot. I have altered their recipe to include some Bramely apple in the stuffing and like to serve my version with an aromatic cider and mustard sauce. Be careful not to add too much salt to this when assembling it as the bacon contains a fair amount itself.
Mitten of Pork with Cider and Mustard Sauce (Serves 4 – 6)
- 16 – 18 rashers streaky bacon
- 500g pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 25g unsalted butter
- 150g fresh white breadcrumbs
- 1tbsp finely chopped fresh sage, (about 2 good sized sprigs)
- 100g Bramley apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
For the sauce
- 1 onion
- 1 small carrot
- 1 stick celery
- 2 rashers streaky bacon
- 25g butter
- 1 tbsp (15g) plain flour
- 300ml dry cider
- 300ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 2 tbsp double cream
- Line an 18cm oven proof bowl with bacon rashers cutting some to size to ensure there are no gaps. Leave some of the longer ones hanging over the edge to form part of the topping. You will need to reserve at least two of the rashers to finish the top of the mitten.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan until gently foaming then add the chopped onion. Fry until soft but not coloured (about 5 – 10 minutes).
- Place the breadcrumbs, sage and apple in a bowl. Add the onion when cooked and season with a little salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Mix well.
- To assemble the mitten, place a little of the sliced pork into the bacon lined bowl seasoning with a little salt and pepper followed by a layer of the sage, apple and onion stuffing. Repeat this process until all of the pork and stuffing have been used.
- Fold the overhanging rashers of bacon over the top of the mitten using the reserved rashers to complete the “lid”. Press down then cover the mitten with greaseproof paper and foil. Place a weight on top of the bowl (e.g. a couple of tins of beans) and place in the fridge for one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (slightly less for fan ovens) / 350°F / Gas 4.
- Place the mitten on a baking tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 1 hour. After this time remove the foil and greaseproof paper and bake for a further 10 minutes to crisp the top of the mitten.
- Place a plate on top of the cooked mitten and carefully flip the bowl and plate over (be very careful as there will be a little hot fat bubbling away inside the bowl). Remove the bowl to reveal a dome of bacon. Serve cut into wedges with some cider and mustard sauce and your choice of vegetables.
For the sauce
- While the mitten is cooking, prepare the sauce. Finely chop the onion, carrot, celery and bacon. Melt the butter in a small saucepan then gently fry the vegetables and bacon until lightly coloured. Sprinkle in the flour and cook for a minute more.
- Gradually add the cider followed by the chicken stock stirring after each addition. Stir while you bring the mixture to the boil then gently simmer and reduce slightly. It should bubble away nicely while the mitten is cooking. If you are worried about it becoming too thick then remove it from the heat and reheat it when you are ready to serve the mitten.
- Strain the sauce discarding the vegetables and bacon. Return to the pan and whisk in the mustard and the cream. Heat until hot but not boiling.