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The Cut Food
Baked pork and saffron rice Serves 4
I probably make a version of this every other week, because it is an efficient way of using, not least using up, seasonal greens. It is based on a paella but is part-cooked in the oven, the vegetables steaming under a tent of greaseproof paper. Use the best saffron – if you make a tea from a few strands and store it in the fridge, you will get the most of this very expensive spice.
— 16 strands Spanish saffron — 3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little
extra to serve
— 1 pork neck fillet, about
400-500g, cut into 1cm dice — ½ sweet red pepper, cut
into very small dice
— 1 small onion, finely chopped — 1 garlic clove, crushed to
a paste with salt
— ½ tsp smoked paprika
— 5 tbsp paella rice
— 300ml chicken or other meat
stock, or water, or as needed — 150g greens (spring greens, chard or kale), any tough stalks removed, leaves cut into ribbons
— 200g asparagus or purplesprouting broccoli, woody stems removed, then cut into 5cm sticks
— 100g broad beans or
— ½ lemon, to squeeze — rocket, to serve
Steep the saffron in 75ml boiling water, leaving it to infuse for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
Heat the oil in a large ovenproof frying pan and fry the pork over a medium heat for five minutes. Add the sweet pepper, the onion, garlic and paprika and stir over the heat for a minute. Then pour in the saffron infusion, followed by the rice. Cook for a minute or two, stirring, then cover with the stock (or water) so it is 1cm deeper than the level of the rice. Bring to a simmer and cook slowly for about eight minutes.
Add the green vegetables to the pan, leaving them on top of the rice, and simmer for two minutes. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper then put the pan in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
To serve, squeeze over some lemon juice and add a few drops of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Give it a quick and gentle stir before serving heaped on to plates, with the rocket.
Raw asparagus, fennel and ricotta
A salad that is all about the quality of the ingredients: if you can source asparagus that has just been picked – from your garden, a farmer’s market or a farm shop – it will be sweet enough to eat raw. With older, starchy asparagus, you’ll need to steam or boil the spears first. For the cheese, typical ricotta is fine, or seek out buffalo ricotta from an Italian specialist retailer, British-made Westcombe ricotta from Neals’syard Dairy – or, for a richer result, use burrata or buffalo mozzarella.
— 250g ricotta
— 400g asparagus spears — 4-6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil — 1 fennel bulb, cut in half
— juice of 1 lemon — a handful of baby-leaf
salad, chervil or parsley — fresh ciabatta or sourdough bread, or toasted/grilled sourdough, to serve
At least an hour ahead, take the ricotta out of its packaging, put it into a sieve placed over a bowl and refrigerate. This is to dry it a little so it can be crumbled
on to the salad. For burrata or mozzarella there is no need.
Snap off the lower part of the asparagus stem, which can be too woody to be eaten raw. Shave the outer membrane of the asparagus stalk, up to about 5cm from the tip, using a potato peeler. Cut each stem in half lengthways, bisecting it.
Place on a plate and drizzle over half the olive oil. Turn in the oil and season with salt.
Use a mandolin to cut waferthin slices of the fennel, then put it in a bowl with the lemon juice. Toss it, season with salt then add two tablespoons of the olive oil and turn the pieces to coat well.
Arrange both vegetables on a platter or board, then crumble the cheese over the surface. Scatter over some small salad leaves, or herbs – dress with a little extra oil, season and serve with the bread.
Smoked-haddock, radish and celery-leaf remoulade
Serves 4 as a starter
I grew up eating remoulade, the grated celeriac salad sold in French traiteurs, and love the flavour of the dressing especially – mustard, capers and tarragon have a special harmony. Celeriac is out of season, but the tender leaves in a celery heart lend the same flavours to this piquant salad. Artisan smokeries are a good source of plump smoked haddock fillets – I buy from the Chesil Smokery in West Dorset, which sells online (chesilsmokery.com). Eat this with bread, as a starter, or boiled new potatoes for a main dish.
— 200g smoked haddock fillet — 1 tbsp olive oil
— 2 tbsp fat capers, soaked
then squeezed dry
— leaves and soft stalks from
the centre of a celery head — 10 radishes, cut into slices
or quarters, lengthways — tarragon leaves, to serve
For the dressing
— 2 egg yolks
— 1 tbsp Dijon mustard — 125ml groundnut oil or
— a few drops of
— a small handful of tarragon
Remove any pin bones from the flesh of the haddock with tweezers, cut away the skin, then wrap in cling film and place in the freezer for half an hour to 45 minutes – it is easier to slice when very cold.
To make the dressing, put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and whisk in the mustard. Slowly add the oil, a few drops at a time to begin with, whisking all the time. Continue until all the oil has been beaten into the dressing – you can add larger quantities as you go on – until you have a thick emulsion. Add a few drops of vinegar to taste (you don’t want the dressing to be too sharp) then add a teaspoon of water to make the dressing looser. It should have the texture of double cream (add a little more water, if necessary). Season the dressing with salt and white pepper then stir in the chopped tarragon.
Heat the olive oil in a small pan then fry the capers. Let them take on a little colour then drain on kitchen paper.
Use a very sharp carving knife to cut the haddock into thin slices. To assemble, first scatter the celery leaves on to a flat platter or divide among individual plates. Chop the tender stalks and add to the plate(s), followed by the radishes, haddock slices and capers. Pour over the dressing and throw over some tarragon leaves.