Perfect pork and potatoes

By PA/TPN, in Food and Drink · 13-12-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

You think you know potatoes, and then you discover what The Quality Chop House does to them.

Chef Shaun Searley began putting confit potatoes on the London restaurant's menu back in 2013 but they weren't a guarantee to begin with - you might have been in luck on any given day, or crushingly, you might not.

Then punters cottoned onto these crisp, boxy, deep-fried layered potato inventions, striped with mustard dressing, and refused to give them up, meaning the Chop House kitchen is now utterly "held ransom" by them. If Searley takes them off the menu, or heaven forbid runs out, "it causes mayhem. We can't not have them in," he says wryly.

He's explaining this - let's be honest, quite welcome - problem, in the porch-sized kitchen of the Farringdon restaurant, where one of his chefs can thinly slice and layer a tray of these golden bars of starch in 30-45 minutes. A normal human? You're looking at an hour-and-half's work, he reckons.

But at least you can now actually make them at home too, thanks to the restaurant's new, eponymous cookbook. It's an ideal development if you don't live in London but need a confit chip fix.

Pork chops

It's a classic - just add mashed potato and greens.

"Chops are, of course, what QCH was originally designed to serve in the 1800s, to give the factory workers of Clerkenwell a hot meat lunch," the team behind London restaurant, The Quality Chop House, explain.

"Whether those Victorian chops were as 'quality' as the restaurant claimed is debatable. Today, at least, we think our chops definitely live up to our name. It's the thickness rather than the weight of a pork chop that is most important; a chop that is too thin, such as you might find on a supermarket shelf, will overcook."

Ingredients:

(Serves 2)

2 Mangalitza pork chops, 4cm thick

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 90°C.

2. Use a sharp knife to remove the rind from the pork chop but leave on the thick layer of fat - you'll be rendering it down and the resulting hot fat means you can caramelise the meat perfectly.

3. Score the fat. Place a dry frying pan over a low heat and lay the chop in the pan, fat-side down, to render for 10 minutes. You should end up with a good centimetre of cooked fat on the chop, as well as about a centimetre of hot pork fat in the pan. Increase to a medium-high heat. Lay the chop sideways in the pan and cook it for two minutes on each side; you want to turn the chop four times in total - so, cook one side for one minute, turn, cook the other side for one minute, turn and repeat. You should have a deep, caramelised crust on both sides after these four turns.

4. Remove from the heat and take it out of the pan. Rest for three to four minutes, then pop it into the preheated oven to cook for 10-15 minutes. Rest for another 10 minutes and serve.

5. It will cut like butter and eat like butter - and the fat will be insanely delicious.

Confit potatoes

"Our confit potatoes have become rather legendary," explain the team behind London restaurant, The Quality Chop House. "They are the only dish we haven't once taken off the menu since their happy conception in spring 2013.

"We'd just opened the restaurant and needed to find something to serve with the chops. Shaun was adamant that QCH didn't need chips - next thing you know we'd have squeezy ketchup on the tables - but we obviously needed something indulgent, and probably potato-based. We started making layered potatoes and after much trial and error and refrying leftovers, [head chef] Shaun landed on these crispy golden nuggets.

"What with the slicing, layering and overnight chilling, these are something of a labour of love - but they're worth it. Do use Maris Pipers: they have the perfect sugar-starch-water content to prevent collapse while cooking."

Ingredients:

(Serves 6)

1kg Maris Piper potatoes

125g duck fat

1tbsp salt

Oil, for frying

Maldon salt, to taste

Mustard dressing (see below)

For the mustard dressing:

425g Dijon mustard

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2tsp cider vinegar

375ml vegetable oil

Method:

1. Make the mustard dressing. Mix the mustard, lemon juice and vinegar in a large bowl, then whisk in the vegetable oil until emulsified. Store in squeezy bottles in the fridge until you're ready to use.

2. Preheat the oven to 120°C and line a standard 1.7-litre terrine mould with baking parchment.

3. Peel and wash the potatoes, then use a mandoline to slice them as thinly as possible. In a large bowl, toss the slices thoroughly with the duck fat and salt. Layer the potatoes in the mould, one slice at a time, until you've built up multiple tiers. Once you've used up all the potato, cover the top with baking parchment and cook for about three hours until the potatoes are completely tender.

4. Place a small baking tray or plate on top of the baking parchment covering the potatoes, along with a few heavy weights (we find tins work well) and leave to cool, then refrigerate overnight to compress.

5. The next day, remove from the tray and cut the potato into 3x3cm pieces.

6. Heat enough oil for deep-fat frying to 190°C, either in a deep fryer or a heavy-based saucepan. Fry the pieces for about four minutes until croissant-gold. Sprinkle over some Maldon salt, drizzle with mustard dressing and eat immediately.

Honey glazed carrots, onion and walnuts

"There may seem like a fair bit of sweetness going on here and if that doesn't work for you before the dessert menu arrives, then perhaps this is the one side to avoid. But for fatty roasts like pork this works brilliantly well, and the dripping gives a meaty, savoury edge which prevents it from ever getting too sweet," say The Quality Chop House pros.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6)

2 bunches of leafy carrots

50g beef dripping

100g butter

100g honey

100g Lyonnaise onions (see below), blitzed to a puree with a stick blender

40g caramelised walnuts (see below)

Salt

For the Lyonnaise onions:

6 small white onions, thinly sliced

150g sliced beef fat

2tsp salt

1/2tsp picked thyme leaves

For the caramelised walnuts:

400g caster sugar

400g water

200g walnut halves

Oil, for deep-frying

Maldon salt

Method:

1. First make the Lyonnaise onions. Combine the onions with the beef fat and salt in a heavy-based saucepan and place over a low heat. Add the thyme and gently stew until the onions begin to caramelise, stirring occasionally. This takes a couple of hours to do properly. When the onions are a rich golden brown colour, remove from the heat and strain off any excess fat. If you want to store them for a few weeks, don't discard the fat but leave it covering the onions to preserve them.

2. Make the caramelised walnuts. In a heavy-based saucepan, warm the sugar and water over a low heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, drop the walnuts in. Bring to a medium simmer until the water reaches 116°C on a kitchen thermometer. Meanwhile, heat some oil for deep-frying in a small saucepan to 180°C (or use a deepfat fryer). Drain the walnuts through a colander and shake off the excess sugar syrup. While the walnuts are still hot, deep-fry them in the hot oil for 15-20 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on kitchen paper. Season generously with Maldon salt.

3. Preheat the oven to 190°C.

4. Cut the tops away from the carrots, leaving 3cm of stalk still attached. Pick the green leaves off the tops, wash and reserve. Peel and wash the rest of the carrots.

5. Coat the carrots in the beef dripping in a small roasting tray and season with salt. Roast for 15 minutes before adding the butter and honey. Mix well and roast for another 15 minutes. You want the carrots to caramelise but still have a little bite - keep testing them with a skewer.

6. Leave the carrots to rest while you heat the onion puree and roughly chop the walnuts.

7. To serve, get yourself a lovely sharing dish or platter and start by spreading over the warm onion puree. Add a layer of carrots and pour over the carrot resting juices and fats. Finally, sprinkle over the carrot top leaves and the caramelised walnuts.

THE QUALITY CHOP HOUSE: Modern Recipes And Stories From A London Classic by William Lander, Daniel Morgenthau & Shaun Searley, photography by Andrew Montgomery. Available now.


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