Food : Pork Chops Braised in Cider

A pretty classic combination of pork and cider with a little aniseedy fennel added to the mix. I used the cider from my friends at Peckham’s who in my opinion make the best cider in the country. I kind of think of this as an upside down Lancashire Hot Pot . Upside down in that the potatoes are on the bottom and meat on the top but also upside down in that the ingredients are classic West Country from the south of England rather than Lancashire in the north.

4 Free Range Pork Chops
1 cup of chicken stock
330ml dry cider
1 large onion thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 medium sized or several small floury potatoes such as Agria sliced thinly as you can, a peeler or a mandolin can help.
1 large fennel bulb thinly sliced
1/3 teaspoon of fennel seed ground
Any fennel leaf attached to the bulb sliced fine
3 fresh sage leaves chopped
1 teaspoon of English Mustard
2 bay leaves
pinch of dried thyme
splash of olive oil
knob of butter
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C

Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan. Add pork chops one or two at a time depending on how big they are and brown lightly on both sides.

Rub the bottom of a casserole / pie dish / dutch oven with butter and line the bottom with first the sliced potato , then the fennel and onion.

Add the pork chops , sprinkle over the thyme, fennel leaf, fennel seed and sage and season well. add bay leaves.

Mix the cider with the mustard and garlic and pour over the pork and vegetables and top up with chicken stock so the chops are still poking out but the fennel onion spud mix is covered.

Cover with a lid or tin foil, place in the middle of the oven and turn the heat down the heat to 160c

After 3 hours remove lid and turn up oven to 220c and reduce the cooking liquor for 20min. The chops should brown up a little more on top .

Serve with steamed vegetables and a pint of proper farmhouse cider.

For afters I recommend a glass of Somerset Cider Apple Brandy , or failing that a nice Calvados with a hunk of sharp cheddar. Perfect .


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