Sharp and sweet gooseberries are great in savoury dishes, too
Sadly, the two gooseberry bushes we planted in the small flowerbed at the front of our house havent liked their position: one has given up the ghost completely, while the other is sickly and barely hanging on. My parents goosegogs, meanwhile, which were inherited from my grandparents, have survived rubble, two lots of builders and many more indignities, yet they still bear fruit year after year after year. Lifes just not fair sometimes.
I adore gooseberries in a creamy fool who doesnt? but they do a good savoury turn, too. Not just with fish, either: their sharp flavour melds beautifully with herby pork chops, too.
For pudding, more fruit in the shape of an old-fashioned cobbler made with khorasan flour, an ancient and wonderfully nutty variety of wheat thats gentler on the digestive system than modern cultivated ones. Ive used fresh peaches, though I dare say my grandmother would have made it with tinned in her day, and baked them until just soft and bubbling hot. Theyre just made to be eaten with masses of vanilla ice-cream or double cream.
Herby pork chops with warm gooseberry sauce
Use a good free-range or organic chop, if you can it makes a huge difference to the taste and texture, and will, hopefully, be antibiotic-free. Serves four.
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 small bunch fresh sage, leaves picked
A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked
2 bay leaves
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fennel seeds, roughly crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
2-4 pork bone-in chops, depending on their size
250g gooseberries, topped and tailed
3 tbsp sugar
Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Roughly chop the garlic and the herbs together, then transfer to a bowl and stir in the lemon zest and crushed fennel seeds.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high flame and lightly season the chops. Once the oil is hot, fry the chops for two to three minutes on each side, until golden (if you cant fit all four chops into the pan at the same time, cook them in two batches).
Take the pan off the heat and transfer the chops to an oven tray. Add the butter to the still-hot frying pan and, as it melts, scrape up the golden, tasty bits stuck to the base of the pan. Once the butter has melted, add the chopped herb mix to the pan, so it sizzles briefly in the hot butter, then tip this over the chops, making sure each one gets an equal covering. Roast the chops for eight to 10 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chops), until the pork is just cooked through.
While the chops are in the oven, put the gooseberries, sugar and a splash of water in a saucepan and put on a high heat. Cook briskly for four to five minutes, until the gooseberries have just deflated but still keep their shape. Taste, add more sugar if the gooseberries are still sour you dont want a sweet sauce, but you dont want it too unpleasantly sharp, either.
Once the chops are cooked through, take them out of the oven and leave to rest for five minutes, then serve with a good dollop of gooseberries and the herby, buttery cooking juices spooned over the top. Delicious with mashed or boiled, buttery potatoes and a sharp rocket salad.
Peach, hazelnut and khorasan cobbler
Read more: www.theguardian.com