Nigel and me, we go way back. Some nine years ago, when I first knew the Critic, he introduced me to The Observer. It's not a bad paper (though irritatingly anti-American on occasion) and my first take on it was that its politics are in the right place. I am not a big newspaper reader and so on Sundays while the Critic devoured the sports and news sections I would idly leaf through the Travel and Money sections and the Life magazine. And over the months I came to turn more enthusiastically to that Life section because it had a food writer who spoke to me as if I were a friend who just happened into his kitchen. And he had the most interesting ideas. I bought a book of his. And then I bought one for my aunt Betsy. And another for me. And one for my brother, who seemed interested. I was hooked.
Where is all this leading? Well, one of the fantastic food combinations I found through his insight is the pairing of pork and Stilton. Salty, creamy, slightly sweet Stilton sauce with a slab of juicy pork. It's a match made in heaven. Although the Critic is not actually a fan of "the other white meat" (no, not the Cubs) he loves it when I make it with a Stilton sauce. This time, I decided to make it even more delicious with the addition of some juicy prunes and onions. In the same way that port compliments a good Stilton with its fruity sweet taste, a prune is perfect with the sauce and with the pork. Salty, sweet, savoury, the sauce corrects any dryness in the meat with a wonderful intense flavour.
Roast Pork with Prunes and Stilton
1.2 kilos of pork
6 small onions or large shallots
1 glass of sweet sherry
100 grams of Stilton, crumbled
1/2 cup (about 75 ml) of cream
a little olive oil, a little tarragon
a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped roughly
Preheat the oven to 200F/450F. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan. Put the meat in the pan and sprinkle it with tarragon. Put it in the oven and while it's baking, peel the onions. If they are large, cut them in half. After about half an hour, add the onions to the pan. About ten minutes before the roast is done (it took an hour and 20 minutes for mine to reach a sufficient internal temperature) add the prunes and turn over the onions. When the roast is done, remove it to a plate and cover it with aliminum foil to rest. Put the prunes and onions in a bowl and slide them back in the now-turned-off oven to keep warm. Skim the fat off the juices in the pan or, as I do, pour them into one of those nifty gravy boats that separate the juice from the fat. Pour the juice back into the roasting pan and put it on a medium flame. Pour in the glass of sherry and while it bubbles away crumble the Stilton. Add the Stilton, the cream and the parsley. Take a nifty picture or just admire the pretty dark green against a backdrop of cream and deep brown sauce. Stir and taste for seasoning. It might be better for another pinch of tarragon or a grinding of pepper. It probably won't need salt.
Serve a couple of thick slabs of pork with a few prunes and an onion and cover the meat with the
Stilton sauce. The thick, rich sauce does wonders for a simple slice of pork and if you take a tiny piece of juicy prune with each bite of pork it will only add to the heaven. Oh, and some roast potatoes on the side also go extremely well with the sauce, in case you are interested. If not, you can always resort to bread. But whatever you do, don't waste it!