This week Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook and Fellow Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala, cooks us contemporary style Iberian pork fillet!
THE word contemporary means modern and living in the present time.
We recently won an award for best contemporary restaurant on the Costa del Sol and I had thought that the word meant extremely modern/creative but in truth it means living in present day times.
That is better than living in the past I suppose! With food it is a little different because creative chefs are masters of inventing new things and re-creating old things, evolving them to make them modern and we call this contemporary.
I often write about this, for example when I recreated the classic Eton mess dish using a more modern approach or when I recreated the paella much to the shock of the Spanish!
The word contemporary works well for the style of Tapas we cook at lunchtime because we are not cooking tapas from the past like most of the Spanish tapas restaurants.
Last week I wrote about some of our Asian fusion tapas which are very popular at the Geranium, but we also use a lot of local ingredients and cook them in a more classic way. One example is the pork fillet that we buy from a little farm near Toledo.
It’s anything but regular pork, it is pretty much a wild beast and feeds off either chestnuts or acorns depending on what forest they live in. I actually visited the area to see for myself with a friend who is a hunter. He was hunting wild boar which is similar to the Iberian pork that we buy only bigger and more vicious! When pork is bred like this in the wild, it can and should be eaten on the rare side, because it’s wild there are no salmonella concerns, medium rare is perfect. When it is cooked like this it is moist and juicy and full of flavour, below is a lovely recipe for it, which you must try!
Memories of cooking this type of pork go back quite a long way into the late nineties when I prepared it for an event that Her Majesty the Queen was attending. I had served a vegetarian starter and they loved it and the next course was I agree a little risky, especially for that era. Into the kitchen the head butler walked and demanded to see the chef. He said …’ what are you doing? Are you crazy… Her Majesty won’t eat pink pork!“ I replied that it was not pink but rare and he had a fit! I don’t know whether you have ever eaten well-cooked pork fillet but it resembles eating cardboard or shoe leather.
I refused to cook it well done because this was special pork and so we conjured up some lamb rumps which because of the high fat content, can be cooked well done and still be moist. It was a far more traditional dish and not what I had in mind, but Her Majesty was happy and that was all that mattered. She obviously was not aware of the commotion in the kitchen, thank heavens and in fact she commented to me about how smoothly the event had run! I remember that one of the Royal guests thanked me for my service and held out his hand to me. I opened my hand to find a pound coin. Thank you, sir, but there is no need I said, but he insisted!
On leaving I went to pack my knives in my car which was a fairly new Porsche 911 convertible. The Royal guest appeared from the car next door which was a fairly old Fiesta. He looked shocked, I called out… good night Sir…. Good night Chef, he replied in a sort of posh grumpy way!
Iberian chestnut-fed pork fillet, peppercorn jus, wild mushrooms and lentils
On our lunch tasting menu at The Little Geranium at the moment. Cook this beautiful pork on the rare side with a peppercorn jus on the side.
Ingredients for 4
Good olive oil for marinating and frying
2 whole Iberian pork fillets Approx 250-300g each (most good supermarkets and butchers sell this)
4 cloves of garlic peeled and left whole
1 punnet of wild or field mushrooms (or setas)
1 small bag of small green lentils (approx. 200g) (Lentejas de habas)
1 onion peeled and chopped finely
3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped finely
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of chicken stock bouillon or 1 stock cube
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs like parsley
For the sauce
2 tablespoons of soft green peppercorns
150 ml of chicken stock/ bouillon granules
150ml of beef stock/bouillon granules
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
juice of half a lime
4/5 heaped tablespoons of panko breadcrumbs
1 big bunch of fresh green parsley
Blend the herbs and breadcrumbs in a food processor until bright green and reserve
Micro cresses for garnish
Trim the fat off each pork fillet and remove any sinew on the outside of the fillets
Submerge them into some olive oil with the whole garlic cloves, marinade overnight
- Cook the lentils by sweating off the onion and add the lentils. Now add the stock cube or bouillon and top up with water.
- Add the thyme and cook gently on a simmer for about 30 mins until tender.
- Sweat off the mushrooms with the garlic and reserve
- Make the sauce by reducing the two stocks together and add the honey and soy sauce, add the peppercorns and taste, finish with the lime juice and keep on high heat until the sauce thickens.
- Seal the whole pork fillets until coloured all over ( 2-3 mins) in a frying pan and then put the fillets on an oven proof baking tray
- Roast the fillets in a preheated oven at 200c for approx 7 mins and remove and allow to rest for at least 5 mins.
- Meanwhile fry off the cooked lentils and add the mushrooms and chopped herbs to the pan, season and reserve
- Check the sauce for seasoning and reduce enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Toss the pork in the herby breadcrumbs to coat
- Slice the pork so that you get at least 2 portions from each fillet
- Serve the lentil/ mushroom mixture on the plates and the pork on top
- Serve the sauce separately
- Garnish the dish with a few micro cresses
Follow Steven on Instagram: saunderschef
Email any questions ….[email protected]
The Little Geranium, Winner of Best Contemporary International Restaurant 2019 – Costa Del Sol