Do you ever find that the best laid plans aren’t always the best? So many ‘good times’ in the past have been completely spontaneous.
There are exceptions, of course there are, but I often find the last minute trip away somewhere, unintended meeting of friends in a pub or off the cuff visit to that ‘restaurant we’ve been meaning to try’ are often more enjoyable.
It must have something to do with expectation of course. For any event, there will be an element of ‘rehearsal’ in your mind where you visualise how it’s going to go. God knows we did as teenagers eh fellas? And it was nothing like we imagined 😉
But, lifting the tone slightly, this can often happen when I cook. I sometimes come up with a great idea (or so it seemed in my mind at least), only to find it falls flat when the dish comes together.
Conversley, when the fridge is bare and you’re forced in a Ready Steady Cook type improvisation situation (though no doubt minus the annoying presenters and studio audience) you can come up with some corkers. As I said though, it’s probably about expectation isn’t it?
As you probably deduced by now, this dish was a last minute idea. I had celeriac slowly going soft in the fridge along with a half opened tray of pancetta and a piece of blue cheese rapidly approaching maximum ‘stinkiness’. Add in the remains of the walnuts from my Khoresh Fesenjan last week and it started to come together itself really.
Although I really should call this ‘pork en croute’, or ‘minced pork parcels’, it was, for all intents and purposes, a sausage roll, albeit a posh one. Whatever though, I must admit, pastry work is not my forte, I really must practice to get some nice lattice work going on.
With it, pureed apple and celeriac and a pesto made from the blue cheese, walnuts a little honey and a little more apple.
You could use minced pork for this, it’ll be lower in fat, but I like making my own from belly slices as that fat keeps it from drying out.
The puree is a little indulgent too, but you don’t need much.
Makes two large pastries (so 2 hungry people or 4 if you want to share!)
- 1 large sheet ready rolled puff pastry.
- 400g belly slices, minced.
- 50g pancetta cubes
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tsp english (if you like it strong) or dijon (if not…)
- 1 apple, peeled and cored
- 1/2 tsp mace
- 1 tsp chopped sage
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 1 beaten egg for washing
- Flour for dusting
For the puree
- 1 celeriac, peeled and cubed
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 1 large garlic clove
- 1 apple
- 150ml cream
- About a tbsp butter
For the pesto
- Two handfuls of walnuts
- About 40g blue cheese
- Half an apple, peeled and diced.
- 1 tbsp honey
- Salt to taste
For the pastry, blend or mince the belly slices with the pancetta and peeled apple to make a fine mixture. Spoon into a bowl and add the mustards, herbs and pepper.
I used about a tsp of salt, but I strongly recommend frying a little bit in a pan to check the seasoning.
Roll out the puff pastry, and half it (the sheets are a standard size generally, but the size is up to you ultimately!)
Spoon on the pork mixture to the centre of one side of the pastry, not too thickly, so it cooks through.
Brush the edges with egg to seal and fold the empty side over and seal with a fork. Place a small hole in the top to let the steam out.
Brush with egg wash and place in the oven at 200°C for about 20 minutes but ,as always, a thermometer helps to check the middle is cooked.
Meanwhile, chop the celeriac and boil for about 15 minutes until soft. Finely diced and fry off 4 shallots and the garlic. Place the lot in a blender, with a peeled/cored apple and the cream. Blitz until smooth ( in batches if need be). Return to the pan and season to taste. Place on a very low heat to warm through then turn it off and put a lid on to keep warm.
To make the pesto, simply blend, or pound in a mortar the walnuts, honey, blue cheese and apple pieces until a coarse paste.
And thats it – serve it all up with a very good cider or a nice Riesling