Pork Chops with Orange Sauce

When we married, Matthew had been surviving as a bachelor for several years. The core of his culinary repertoire was contained in a small notebook with a green cover. It consisted of about 20 recipes, written out by his stepmother and sisters before he headed off to Geneva on his first posting, to make sure he didn’t starve.

Pork Chops with Orange Sauce was one of the recipes in that book and it went on to become a firm family favourite as our kids were growing up. The original version just coated the chops in flour – I added the egg and crumb layer. Fiddling with recipes is, I have to admit, something of an affliction. I don’t make this dish very often these days, but when I do I am reminded that back in the days before Master Chef and the infinite number of recipes available on the internet, we didn’t eat too badly at all. This “retro” dish is simple, straightforward and delicious.

Pork Chops with Orange Sauce4 pork chops or pork Scotch fillet steaks
seasoned flour
1 beaten egg
Dry breadcrumbs
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs oil
Juice and grated rind 2 large oranges (use 3 if smaller)
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Remove bones and excess fat from chops, then hammer them out a little bit with meat mallet. Coat in seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Then coat in beaten egg, then breadcrumbs, pressing them on well.

Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan and fry chops on both sides until golden. Place in an oven-proof dish in a single layer. Mix orange juice, rind, sugar and ginger and pour over. Can be prepared ahead to this stage and kept in the fridge, covered for several hours. Bake 45-60 mins uncovered at 180°C or until tender and browned. There should still be some sauce left, so if you check halfway and find it has mostly dried up, add few Tbs of water. As you can see in the photo my sauce had virtually disappeared!

Serve with baked potatoes topped with a dollop of sour cream mixed with snipped chives or spring onion tops and a green vegetable. Scrub the potatoes and put them in the oven on the shelf below the pork. Large potatoes will take 15-20 minutes longer than the pork, so stick them in early.

Serves 4

Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Caramelised Onions & Apples

When we were growing up my sister Dee used to say she couldn’t eat pork which tasted “hairy”. I think I know what she meant. If you’re going to serve pork with the skin it has to be crunchy. There’s nothing attractive about soft pork fat and skin.

Pork belly has become quite trendy in the last few years and there are lots of recipes on Google for different ways to cook it. Some are quite complicated, involving lots of ingredients. This is one of my favourite recipes for pork belly. It combines just two flavours with the pork – onion and apple – plus a few herbs.

Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Caramelised Onions & Apples1kg boneless pork belly with skin
salt, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
2 large onions
2 large green apples
¼ cup water
1 Tbs sugar

If the butcher hasn’t already done so, score pork skin all over in parallel cuts just under a centimeter apart, cutting through the skin only. Preheat oven to 160°C. Peel onions, cut into eighths and place in a roasting pan in the middle, like a nest. Rub pork all over with a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Press herbs into the meat side. Place pork skin side up on the onions and bake for about 2 hrs. During this time do not baste. If after an hour or so you think the onions are starting to burn, take them out and put the pork back. You want them to be caramelised, but not overly so.

Meanwhile peel core and slice apples and place in a saucepan with water and sugar. Simmer for 10-15 mins until cooked. After 2 hrs, remove pork from oven and take it out of the pan. Tip off all the fat which can be kept and used for roasting potatoes. Turn oven up to 200°C. Mix onions with apples and place in the pan as before, like a nest, with pork on top. Bake for 30 mins or until skin is blistered and crunchy all over. Divide apples and onions between six plates. Cut pork into six neat squares or rectangles with a sharp heavy knife and place on top.

Serves 6

Healthy dinners

I’m always looking for healthy but tasty dishes to serve during the week.  Low in carbs and calories, but appetizing and quick.  On Monday we had baked salmon with lentils – saute a chopped onion in a little olive oil until soft, then add a drained and rinsed can of lentils, a tablespoon of vinegar, a couple of tablespoons of chopped herbs (I used dill), salt and pepper and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes.  Meanwhile place the salmon portions on an oven tray lined with a piece of lightly oiled foil (great way to save on washing up!), season then bake in a preheated hot oven (200C) for about 7-8 minutes – we like it fairly rare inside.   Serve salmon on a bed of lentils with a lemon wedge to squeeze on top.

Last night we had zucchini (courgettes) with pork burgers.  The burger recipe came from one of Bill Granger’s books which I flicked through while we were in Newcastle last weekend, staying with our daughter and her family.   The zucchini recipe I cut out of a magazine some time ago.  The zucchini were from the garden, so of course they were even more delicious!

Pork Burgers

500g pork mince
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
½ onion, grated
1 Tbs chopped parsley
1 egg
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and crushed with a mortar and pestle
S and P

Mix all together in a bowl then form into four burgers about 10cm in diameter.  Cook on an oiled griddle pan over moderate heat for 5-7 minutes each side, or until cooked through.  Serve as Bill suggests, in a toasted bun with rocket, red onion and roasted red capsicum and sweet potato fries on the side.  Or as we had them, just as they were, with a green vegetable.

Serves 4

Lemon Zucchini with Pine Nuts

3-4 medium zucchini (courgettes)
2 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch of crushed dried chilli, or some fresh chilli, or chilli paste
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbs roughly chopped parsley
2 Tbs pine nuts, toasted
S and P

Wash and dry zucchini, cut off the ends then quarter lengthwise and cut into 3-4cm sticks.  Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add zucchini and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and chilli and continue to cook until zucchini is starting to colour and soften.  Add lemon juice and zest and continue to cook, stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed.  Season with S and P, stir through the parsley and serve sprinkled with the pine nuts.

Serves 4 as a side dish