Gill Meller's pork, bacon and mushroom stew

I first served this stew aboard a fishing boat out on a big sea on a bloody cold day. I’d cooked it the day before (always a good idea with a stew) and reheated it over a tiny camp stove in the wheel-house. I remember the delicious smells carrying out to the hungry fishermen on deck. Despite the swell, and the rock and roll, I managed to bring out piping hot bowlfuls, and for a moment all you could hear was the wind and the sea. We ended up catching quite a few fish that day, including the unusual looking garfish, which interestingly, has otherworldly green bones.

A stew of pork, bacon and mushrooms with cream, cider and parsley

Serves 4

dash of extra-virgin olive oil
1 piece of cured pork belly (streaky bacon; about 350g), cut into 4-5cm cubes
500g fresh pork belly, cut into 4-5cm cubes
1 large or 2 small leeks, halved and sliced
2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
4-6 bay leaves
2-3 rosemary sprigs
2-3 thyme sprigs
2 tbsp plain flour
450ml cider
450ml pork, chicken or vegetable stock
knob of butter
250g wild or cultivated mushrooms, cut into large pieces
200ml double cream
small bunch of parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 3.


Start by heating the oil in a large heavy-based casserole set over a medium-high heat. Add the cured and fresh pork belly pieces and cook the meat for 6-8 minutes, or until well browned on all sides.

Lift the pieces out of the pan using a spatula or slotted spoon and set aside. Add the leeks to the same pan, along with the sliced garlic, all the herbs and a little seasoning. Sweat the leeks gently for about 10 minutes, then return the browned pork pieces to the pan, sprinkle over the plain flour and stir well. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes, then pour in the cider and stock and bring to a simmer. Stir well, then place a tight-fitting lid on the pan and place in the oven for 2 hours, until the pork is fork tender.

Meanwhile, set a large frying pan over a high heat and add the butter. When it’s bubbling, add the mushrooms, season them lightly and sauté, turning them regularly, for 6-8 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside.

When the casserole is ready, remove it from the oven and add the fried mushrooms and double cream. Stir well, then return the pan to the oven for 15 minutes without its lid.

Stir in the chopped parsley and check the seasoning before bringing to the table with a sharply dressed green salad and some good bread.

Extracted from Time: A Year and a Day in the Kitchen by Gill Meller (Quadrille, approx €28). Photography by Andrew Montgomery.



For more of Gill Meller's delicious autumnal recipes, pick up the October issue of IMAGE Magazine, out tomorrow.


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