Recipes: Stirring up a heap of flavours for this early autumn dinner

Di Curtin shares a recipe that's perfect for autumn
Recipes: Stirring up a heap of flavours for this early autumn dinner

Sweet Chilli Pork and Fresh Greens by Di Curtin.

IT’S that weird time of year when the weather is inclement but not quite wintry. Lovely sunny autumn days are interspersed with dull skies, stiff breezes and lashing rain.

Early autumn is what could be called a ‘liminal’ time — the time ‘inbetween’ the old Celtic quarters of the year. We won’t be into the real chill of autumn and early winter until Halloween hits us. This is when the ‘dark’ time of the year starts in earnest. Until then, we’re left guessing what the weather will bring.

Let’s hope for some autumn sunshine so we can get out in the fresh air, and less of the temperamental storms that can also hit as autumn progresses!

Food wise, the leaving of summer and onset of cooler weather always brings a mixed appetite. On days when it’s sunny, you still feel the need for lighter foods. Nippier days bring the urge for something to warm the cockles.

HIT THE SPOT

This weekend, I’m hoping I’ve hit the spot between those two modes! My Sweet Chilli Pork and Fresh Greens is lighthearted enough to cope with a warmer day, but will certainly add a bit of heat to a chillier one.

The pork is first marinated in soy and garlic, then cooked with a sweet chilli sauce glaze in the pan. Serve it simply with some stir fried fresh greens and boiled rice.

There’s superb new season Irish cabbage around just now, which makes a good choice for the greens of this dish. Or you could go for spinach, kale or broccoli.

FOR DESSERT...

As it’s also apple time, I’ve dug out a simple favourite from my recipe bank, to highlight the Irish apples of this year’s harvest, now starting to hit the shops.

Crispy apple fritters are dead easy to make, and crunchy and sweet to eat! Serve them as they come — or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. A great finish to a September feast to bridge that liminal gap!

SWEET CHILLI PORK AND FRESH GREENS

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 boneless pork loin steaks

3 tbsp soy sauce

3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

1 tsp Chinese five spice

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sunflower oil for cooking

1 bunch spring onions, trimmed and chopped

1 fat finger fresh rootginger, grated

Extra soy and sweet chilli sauce to finish 

For the greens:

1 small head spring York cabbage, trimmed, finely shredded, rinsed and dried

Handful spicy leaves, rinsed and dried

Sunflower oil for cooking

1/2tsp Chinese Five Spice

Method:

  • Cut the loin steaks into thin strips and place in a bowl.
  • Add soy, sweet chilli sauce, five spice and garlic and turn to coat. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Marinate for at least 30 minutes in a cool place, or in the fridge all day or overnight.
  • To cook the pork, heat a little oil in a pan till smoking hot.
  • Add the pork in batches, to brown all over.
  • When browned, put it all in the pan together and add the spring onions and ginger. Cook for a minute.
  • Add 2 tbsp each soy and sweet chilli sauce, and bubble for a minute or two to form a glaze, turning.
  • At the same time, heat enough oil in another big frying pan to shallow fry the greens. You want to cover the base of the pan generously with oil. Heat to The smoking.
  • Add the greens and stir fry to crisp.
  • Drain on kitchen paper and season with five spice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Serve the pork on the greens. Decorate with coriander. Serve with boiled rice or noodles.
Di Curtin's Apple Fritters.
Di Curtin's Apple Fritters.

APPLE FRITTERS

Ingredients (Serves 4)

100g plain flour 

1 heaped tsp baking powder 

Small pinch of salt 

Finely grated zest of a lime 

1 tsp caster sugar 

Good grating fresh nutmeg 

Fresh cold water 

Juice of half a lime 

Few leaves fresh mint, chopped (optional) 

4 apples 

Flour for dusting 

Method:

  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl with salt.
  • Grate in the lime zest and add sugar and nutmeg.
  • Whisk in just enough water to make a smooth batter with the consistency of thickish pouring cream.
  • Add lime juice and stir in the mint if using.
  • Cut the apples into quarters and remove cores. Cut into wedges.
  • Dip into flour to dust then into batter.
  • Place in the basket of a deep fat fryer or carefully lower into hot oil with a draining spoon. Deep fry till golden and crisp.
  • Remove and drain on kitchen paper then serve immediately.

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