River Cottage chef and food writer, Gill Meller, is back with Time, a glorious new cookbook celebrating the seasons. And it’s packed with tasty recipes all geared towards embracing local, sustainable ingredients. We can’t get enough of it! Scroll down for a sneak-peak and a chance to win a signed copy.
“Making time to cook has become one of the most important things I do in my life. When we stop for a moment and do it, even in the simplest sense, it makes us feel good inside. Not only does it nourish our bodies and sustain our minds, but it’s vital for our happiness and wellbeing. Cooking has opened my eyes to change. I feel closer to my past, but equally I feel closer to the present and to the environment in which I live, because the things I love to cook and eat are so intrinsically connected to my surroundings. It has enabled me to see how one season turns so gracefully into another.”
Enter our competition to win a signed copy of Gill Meller’s Time: A Year & a Day in the Kitchen, before 21 October!
“On the whole, the recipes in this book are inspired by the seasonal ingredients I have to hand, and by a love of simple cooking. But I’m sure there’s something else involved, too; something special that inspires me. The alchemy of memory, perhaps? A moment in time, I’ve kept somewhere in my mind? The fragrance of melting sugar at a funfair, wasps in a plum orchard, catching shrimps in Cornwall, even something I read or overheard once. Perhaps I’ll never know quite what. ”
Gill Meller’s roast pork & crackling
with apples, fennel seed, sage, lemon & thyme
What are apples without pork? What is pork without crackling? What is a title if not a veneration of a recipe? How do we rate success? Perfect crackling, which is ‘a thing’, relies on the pork skin to be exceptionally dry. Take the pork out of its packaging as soon as you can, thoroughly dry the skin with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel, then leave it uncovered in the bottom of the fridge for at least 24 hours (48 hours would be better). Make sure the skin is scored properly, down through to the fat (of which there should be some) and salt it only as it goes in the oven, not before.
– about 2kg pork loin, scored and tied
– 1 red onion, cut into 8–10 wedges
– 8 small apples, such as Coxʼs
– 2 lemons, sliced into 5mm rounds
– 1 small bunch of sage, leaves picked
– 8 bay leaves
– 1 small bunch of thyme
– a handful of fennel fronds, if available
– 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly bashed
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 9, or as hot as your oven will go. Place the pork (with its very dry skin – this is really important as we want it to crackle) on a suitably sized roasting tin. Season all over with salt, then place in the hot oven for 25–30 minutes. Once the crackling is looking good, remove the pork and turn the oven down to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 6 ½ .
Scatter the red onion wedges over the base of a large, clean ovenproof dish. Carefully lift the pork from the hot roasting tin and set it down on top of the onions. Place the whole apples around the pork, arrange the lemon slices in between them, scatter over the sage leaves, bay, thyme and fennel tops (if using) and season well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the crushed fennel seeds and trickle everything with the olive oil.
Place the fragrant pork and apples in the oven and cook for a further 35 minutes, until the pork is cooked through and the apples are soft but not collapsing. (It’s worth noting that if the apples look like they are going to collapse, you can take them out of the oven and allow the pork to finish cooking without them.)
Remove the pork dish from the oven and allow the meat to rest in a nice, warm place for 10–15 minutes. Serve everyone a few thick slices of pork, some generous strips of crackling, an apple and some lemony, herby juices.
Extract from Time by Gill Meller (Quadrille, £25). Photography © Andrew Montgomery