November 1997

Clyst St George, Devon 10 November 1997 Having survived both kids' birthdays last week, as well as the fireworks of Bonfire Night (to celebrate Bella, of course), there is no point in anymore denying the inevitable onset of autumn leading into winter. Even though the weather is still bright, the days are short, it is already dark by 5 pm, and the high pressure brings surprisingly cold temperatures. Still, there are compensations: it is apple time in Devon, which means not just the new season's crop of eating apples (our favourites remain Cox's Orange Pippin, which combine so well that English character of sweetness allied with sharp fruity acidity), but also Devon cider. If you have never tasted real Devon "scrumpy", then you haven't lived. The real stuff, produced from mixtures of local bittersharp and bittersweet cider apples, is gloriously harsh and rasping, rich in acid and tannin and definitely something of an acquired taste. We love it, er, no, not actually to drink but to cook with in place of wine, its character adding an unmistakable "taste of Devon".
This past weekend, we visited our local Green Valley Cider in nearby Clyst St George, and the children learned from cidermaker Chris how traditional cider is made: the apples first milled to a pulp, then layered into a "cheese", and simply pressed, the juice run off into barrels and allowed to ferment naturally. Guy, his friend Tom, and Bella loved holding cups under the streaming juice to taste it as it flowed direct from the press (though Chris warned them not to drink too much or risk spending the rest of the day on the toilet, a prospect the kids found hilarious). Afterwards we purchased both fresh apple juice as well as dry cider for cooking this local favourite: pork and apples in cider.

Devon Pork and Apples in Cider

25 g/ 1 oz butter, preferably from Devon (we like Quicke's of Newton St Cyres' whey butter best)

1 tbsp cooking oil

6 fresh sage leaves

900 g/ 2 lb organic pork, trimmed and cut into cubes


Freshly ground black pepper

4 dessert apples, cored and sliced

300 ml/ 1/2 pt dry Devon cider (there is no substitute, but you could try an equivalent mixture of dry white wine and fresh apple juice)

3 tbsp clotted cream (again, no substitute, though the richest thick double cream will still give good results)

Freshly chopped parsley

Heat the butter and oil in a large casserole. Sauté the onion with the sage until soft and golden. Add the pork and brown. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Add the sliced apples and pour on the cider. Slowly bring to the boil, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours. Just before serving, take a couple of spoonfuls of the gravy and mix with the clotted cream to a smooth paste. Return to the casserole, stir in well, and heat gently for a few minutes. Serve garnished with parsley.

Wine or drinks suggestions: Though purists might drink "scrumpy" with this dish, we suggest a neutral and not too fruity dry white wine such as Javier Ochoa's Navarra Blanco, or fresh, not overly acidic white Côtes du Rhône.


Copyright © Marc Millon 2000


|Home| |QP New Media| |Kim's Gallery|

Copyright © Marc and Kim Millon 2000