This chop, cut from the fore rib of the carcass where it begins to meet the shoulder, is a wonderful piece of meat to cook and eat. Served here with a classic of Catalonia, romesco sauce and roasted onions. A perfect meal for two under the spring sunshine.
Romesco sauce is delicious and versatile, making it an excellent thing to have in your repertoire. It is most commonly associated with the calçot onion and is much famed in Catalan culture. At the beginning of spring, the season for the calçot commences, and the whole region gathers to celebrate at Calcotoda festivals. The calcots are grilled over, often in fire, then wrapped in newspaper so they can steam till tender, then torn open and dipped vigorously in the piquant and smoky romesco.
This recipe is a nod to that most distinguished combination, and the pork shoulder chop is a fabulous addition. If you can lay your hands on some (I couldn’t when we took these photos), then do use calçots — a good greengrocer will probably stock them during their season.
Pork shoulder chop, roast shallots and romesco sauce
2 large red peppers
1 ripe tomato, halved
1 tbsp of almonds, toasted
1 tbsp of hazelnuts, toasted
1 dried Ñoras pepper, rehydrated in a little boiling water, then flesh scraped from the skin once rehydrated
3 tbsp of breadcrumbs, toasted in a little extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp hot smoked paprika
1 small clove of garlic, very finely grated
extra virgin olive oil
6 banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways (or calçots if available)
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Start with the romesco:
- Pre-heat the oven to 210°C.
- Put the peppers and the tomato in a tray and rub with a little olive oil and season with salt. Place them in the oven and cook for 18 minutes, turning the peppers halfway through. Remove the peppers from the oven, tip into a bowl and cover with cling film or a well-fitting lid. Set aside for 20 minutes to steam. Keep the roasted tomato separate.
- Take the peppers, which should now be perfectly cooked, and peel away the blistered skin. Then briefly dip in a bowl of water to wash off any excess skin and seeds. Pass off any liquid left in the pepper bowl, through a sieve, as this will be very tasty.
- Put the peppers, tomato, garlic, breadcrumbs, pepper liquid, half of the nuts, both the paprikas, the Ñoras pepper flesh, 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar and 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a food processor and blitz until thoroughly mixed.
- Then add the remaining nuts and blitz again, using the pulse button, until you have the desired consistency – chunky and not too loose.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. A balance between salt, vinegar and oil will be the key to nailing the seasoning here. Take it to the limit — it is a sauce that wants to have depth. When adjusting the seasoning, stir the romesco with a spoon rather than continuing to blitz it, as this will only make the sauce finer in texture, which is not desirable.
- For the pork and onions:
- Remove the pork shoulder chop from the fridge and its packaging about an hour before cooking, so that it can come up to room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to 180°C.
- Score the skin of the pork chop, cutting through the skin, at about ½ inch intervals.
- Season both the chop and your shallots liberally with sea salt.
- Set a large cast-iron skillet over a low heat, and put the chop in, standing up with the skin facing down. Cook the skin over this gentle heat, rendering out some of the fat as well as crackling up the skin. Move the chop around, making sure that all the skin gets some time in the pan.
- Once the skin is crackled, then remove the chop from the pan and turn the heat up. Lay the shallots in the pan flat side down and allow to caramelise. Once caramelised, remove them from the skillet and set aside.
- Add a little oil and, keeping the heat high, return the chop to the pan, this time on its side. Cook over a high heat for 90 seconds, allowing a good caramelisation to form and then flip to the other side and repeat.
- Flip again and then nestle the shallots back into the pan, along with the thyme.
- Place in the oven for 3 minutes, then remove, flip the steak and return to the oven for a further 3 minutes.
- Take the chop out of the pan and allow it to rest on a plate.
- Return the shallots to the oven for a further 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add a splash of Oloroso sherry.