Thomasina Miers’ quick recipe for pork chops with figs and sherry Thomasina Miers’ quick recipe for pork chops with figs and sherry - ImagesGram

Thomasina Miers’ quick recipe for pork chops with figs and sherry

Forget apples: roast figs make the perfect partner for pork

Thomasina Miers
Friday 6 October 2017 17.00 BST

Many years ago, I spent one glorious autumn in northern Spain, foraging and cooking as we travelled. We drove through long, cavernous valleys threaded with fast-flowing rivers lined with fig trees, and I was amazed by how sticky and sweet their fruit was, left unpicked until well ripened. Here, we can cheat that effect by giving the figs a spell in the oven, aided by honey, spice and citrus. A pork chop is the perfect bedfellow, with the figs acting as an exotic alternative to our more native apple. And in this recipe, a little fig goes a long way.

Marinated pork chop with roast figs, sherry and mashed potato

The tangy juices, scented with anise, honey and orange, are perfect with buttery mash. Serves four.

4 slender bone-in pork chops, excess fat trimmed (I like them about 1cm thick)

For the marinade
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tbsp extra for frying
2 tbsp runny honey
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with a little salt
A handful of thyme leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mash
1kg floury potato such as Maris Piper, peeled and cut into even chunks
100g butter

75ml whole milk
For the figs
6 figs, halved
1 star anise, ground
Zest of ½ orange
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp oloroso sherry or madeira

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl, season generously, then rub all over the chops. Cover and put in the fridge for at least an hour and not longer than overnight (garlic can deteriorate). Remove from the fridge half an hour before you plan to cook, so the chops come up to room temperature.

Put the potatoes in a pan of salted water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, until soft. Meanwhile, in another pan, melt half the butter in the milk over a medium heat. Drain the potatoes into a colander, leave them to steam dry for a few minutes, then return to the pan and mash in the pan (or use a ricer), until smooth. Pour in the buttery milk, mash again, season to taste and keep warm.

When you’re ready to eat, heat a baking tray in a 200C/390F/gas mark 6 oven. Generously season the figs, and toss them gently in a bowl with the star anise, orange zest, honey, oil, and a little salt and pepper.

Shake off any excess marinade from the chops, then heat a frying pan on a medium-high flame. Add the last tablespoon of oil, then fry the chops for two minutes on each side, until golden; depending on the size of your pan, you may need to do this in two batches. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

In the same pan, sear the cut sides of the figs for five seconds or so, until coloured, then transfer to the pork plate.

Put a dash of oil in the hot baking tray, then lay in the chops and arrange the figs cut side up around them. Drizzle any fig marinade over the fruit, then roast for six to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chops, until cooked through. (I err on pink and juicy if they are free-range to avoid a dry chop.)