ASPARAGUS WITH PORK AND SHALLOTS
SERVES: 6 PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES COOK TIME: 45 MINUTES
450g trimmed pork 1 tbsp each, butter and olive oil 12 plump shallots 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tbsp plain flour 1 cup apple cider 3 cups hot chicken stock 2 small sprigs thyme 1 bunch medium asparagus 200ml creme fraiche 3 tsp Dijon mustard 1 tsp green peppercorns in brine, rinsed (optional)
CUT pork into cubes no larger than shallots. MELT butter and oil in a sturdy heavy-based pot and, when hot, add pork in batches and brown lightly over a moderate to high heat. Remove meat from pot and set aside on a plate. Add shallots to pot to brown, tossing them occasionally so they colour evenly. Return pork and juices to pot, sprinkle over flour and cook a minute or two, stirring occasionally. Increase heat and pour in cider.
SIMMER until it is reduced by half, scraping the crusty bits on the base of the pot. Pour in hot stock, add thyme and bring to the boil, then lower heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 30 minutes, until the meat is tender but still retains its shape. TRIM thick ends of asparagus, cut spears into two or three short lengths and add to pot with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, then stir in creme fraiche, mustard and green peppercorns, if using.
The cut of pork you choose will determine cooking time. Suitable tender cuts include tenderloin, scotch fillet, shoulder or leg. Creme fraiche, which is a tangy, rich cream, will not curdle when added. Substitute sour cream if unavailable.