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Pork fillet with date & bacon croquette, roast apple & spinach

A hearty autumn and winter dish, full of flavor. Serves 4

Ingredients

1 pork fillet (approx. 1kg)
2 packets streaky bacon
half a cauliflower
milk
130g butter
5 large potatoes
1 bag baby spinach
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
50g dates - chopped
1 egg
flour
breadcrumbs
splash of milk
1 apple (Granny Smith)
thyme (half tsp)
sage
200g good quality chicken or veal stock
100g medium dry cider

Method

First trim the pork fillet to remove any sinew. Top and tail the fillet to leave a 24cm cylinder – put the ends to one side for now.

Lay out 1.5 packs of the streaky bacon on a layer of cling film. Sprinkle with chopped sage and place the pork fillet in the middle. Lightly season and roll tightly. Do this in the morning to give the pork time to set in shape.

For the croquettes, place the reserved pork, half a teaspoon of salt and thyme in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Cut the remaining bacon and fold into pork mixture along with the dates. Roll the mixture into balls and place on a plate to chill for half an hour.

Meanwhile, chop the cauliflower into small florets, place in a saucepan and cover with milk. Add a large pinch of salt. Bring up to a simmer and then put on the lid, continuing cooking for 10 mins. Remove lid and cook until the milk has almost evaporated. Remove from heat, add 50g of butter and purée in a food processor. Chill until needed. You can reheat the purée later.

Peel and dice the potatoes into cubes. Deep fry in 130°C until tender (approx. 7 to 8 mins). Remove the potatoes and cover until needed.

Prepare 3 bowls, one with flour, one with a beaten egg with a splash of milk and one with breadcrumbs.

The croquettes can now come out of the fridge. Dip in fl our, then the egg and lastly in the breadcrumbs. Chill again until ready to cook.

In a small saucepan, fry half a diced shallot over a high heat until golden brown. Finely dice the garlic and add half and fry for a further minute. De-glaze pan with the cider and then reduce until syrupy. Add the stock and reduce by half. Strain through a fine sieve and return to heat to reduce by a further third until slightly thickened. Reheat the sauce prior to serving.

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. When ready to finish the dish, remove the pork fillet from the cling film and pan fry over a medium heat in vegetable oil. When it is lightly colored on all sides, place in the oven for 8 to 9 mins.

Deep fry the pork croquettes at 170°C until golden. Transfer to the oven tray with the pork.

Cut an apple into 8 wedges and place in a pan with 30g of butter and color over a medium heat. Add to the oven tray with the pork and croquettes, cover with tin foil and keep warm whilst the pork fillet rests.

Take the potatoes and deep fry again at 170°C until golden (approx. 4 mins).

In a large pan, sweat the other half of shallot and garlic with 50g of butter and a pinch of salt until soft.

Add the spinach and half a teaspoon of salt, stir once and then cover for 2 mins. Then remove spinach from the pan and gently squeeze to remove excess liquid.

To plate up, place a tablespoon of cauliflower purée on a pre-warmed plate and swipe. Add spinach in an oval shape next to it. Slice the port fillet and place 2 pieces on top of the spinach. Place a croquette and 2 apple wedges on the side and finish with a drizzle of sauce.

Top tip: the pork fillet, croquettes and purée can be prepared well in advance to take the pressure off.

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