Nigel Slater Drop scones both savoury and sweet. Plus, spicy pork sup­pers

The Observer Magazine - - News - Pho­to­graphs JONATHAN LOVEKIN

The kitchen roof has been let­ting in wa­ter for some time now, and re­pairs need to be­gin be­fore win­ter sets in. I par­tic­u­larly ap­pre­ci­ate the long, thin room – more of a gal­ley, re­ally – when the rain beats down on the sky­lights or a layer of snow sits on the glass, muf­fling both sound and light. It is then, with a cake in the oven or a deep pan of thick­en­ing po­lenta on the stove, that the kitchen is at its most cosy.

It takes sur­pris­ingly lit­tle ac­tiv­ity to turn a cold, leaky kitchen into a warm and wel­com­ing space. You make a bowl of bat­ter with flour, egg and milk, la­dle lit­tle pools on to a hot pan, and in 5 min­utes you have a batch of warm drop scones. It’s the sort of bak­ing no one does any more but prob­a­bly should. Tra­di­tion­ally they are spread with deep waves of clot­ted cream and rivulets of runny jam, but I pre­fer to add a hand­ful of berries, so their juice stains the doughy cakes with streaks of pur­ple.

Mak­ing drop scones the other day, it oc­curred to me that I could tweak the recipe to­wards some­thing savoury by ditch­ing the sugar and in­tro­duc­ing a punchy cheese. We ate the re­sult, as homely as cheese on toast, for Sun­day sup­per along­side a fry­ing pan full of pump­kin hash with onion and rose­mary. Sud­denly the damp patches on the ceil­ing seemed a lit­tle less ur­gent. In­jured it may be, but the kitchen is still do­ing what it does best.

Pars­ley and ba­con drop scones

I use smoked ba­con here, but pancetta will be fine, too, as would finer, air-dried pro­sciutto or even salami, finely chopped. Makes 6

smoked streaky ba­con 100g pars­ley leaves 15g self-rais­ing flour 180g bak­ing pow­der 1 tsp egg 1, large milk 220ml parme­san 3 heaped tbsp grated but­ter a lit­tle

Fry the ba­con in a shal­low pan un­til crisp, then drain on kitchen pa­per. Al­ter­na­tively grill the ba­con in a grid­dle pan or over­head grill un­til crisp. Leave to cool. Finely chop the pars­ley. When the ba­con is cool, chop into small pieces, about the size of fine gravel.

Put the flour in a large mix­ing bowl, add the bak­ing pow­der and com­bine. (You can sieve the two to­gether if you wish.) Break the egg into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork to com­bine white and yolks, and mix in the milk, then fold into the flour.

Add the grated parme­san to the bat­ter, then stir in the ba­con and the pars­ley.

Melt the but­ter in a small saucepan then re­move from the heat. In a small, non-stick or well-used fry­ing pan, pour a cou­ple of ta­ble­spoons of the melted but­ter and let it warm over a mod­er­ate heat. Pour in a sixth of the ba­con and parme­san bat­ter, mak­ing a round ap­prox­i­mately the size of a di­ges­tive bis­cuit. Re­peat with 2 more then let them cook for 4-5 min­utes, check­ing the un­der­sides reg­u­larly for colour. When golden, use a pal­ette knife to care­fully turn each one over. Leave for a fur­ther 3-4 min­utes then lift out and keep warm. A sound test for done­ness is to touch the cen­tre of each scone with your finger. It should feel lightly springy. Re­peat with the re­main­ing mix­ture. Serve the scones warm, with the pump­kin be­low.

Pump­kin hash

The end­lessly use­ful and eas­ily trans­ported but­ter­nut can be used here if car­ry­ing an en­tire pump­kin home doesn’t ap­peal.

Enough for 6

pump­kin 700g onions 2, medium but­ter 30g

@NigelSlater

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