Our kitchen garden cook reveals her favourite recipes with home-grown chicory.
Chicory isn’t the easiest thing to grow, because you need to get it going in the ground and then pack it in some sand in the shed for a while before forcing it in batches under black plastic a process that’s made me look at the chicory-laden shelves of my local supermarket with admiration. My home-grown chicory is, of course, far better, simply because it’s covered in compost and I’ve known the plants since they were seedlings!
Pear-, hazelnut- and walnut-stuffed rolled pork loin with roasted chicory and chicory cream (serves 6)
2kg loin of pork, ideally free-range and organic
For the stuffing
A splash of olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
250g dried apricots, roughly chopped
3 pears, diced
75g hazelnuts, chopped
75g walnuts, chopped
A handful of freshly chopped parsley, thyme and sage
For the chicory cream
2 chicory heads, quartered
A splash of olive oil
100ml chicken stock
100ml double cream
Juice of 1 lemon
6 chicory heads
Preheat your oven to 240˚C/470˚F/gas mark 9. Lay the pork out on a clean work surface, skin side up, and scatter a handful of sea salt over it this will draw out the moisture from the skin and ensure perfect crackling and then set it aside while you prepare the stuffing.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat before adding the onion and garlic and then fry until slightly softened. In a large mixing bowl, add the apricots, pears, nuts, herbs and breadcrumbs followed by the onions and garlic and then mix everything together before seasoning generously.
Pat the pork dry with some kitchen roll and then, ideally using a Stanley knife, score the rind in vertical lines about an inch apart, being careful not to cut too deeply down into the meat, as this will jeopardise the crunch of your crackling. Next, scatter the pork with sea salt before turning it over, pressing the stuffing into the meat and rolling the joint up tightly, securing it with string and placing it on a roasting tray.
Roast in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes before turning the temperature down to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Continue to cook the joint for a further hour or a little more until the middle of the pork is cooked through.
While the pork is cooking, make the chicory cream by placing the two quartered chicory heads on a roasting tray, drizzling them with olive oil and roasting them covered with foil for 30 minutes. Once tender, blitz the chicory in a food processor along with the chicken stock, cream and lemon juice until you have smooth sauce and set it aside until you’re ready to serve the pork.
When the pork is cooked, remove it from the oven to rest. Place the further six quartered chicory heads on a roasting tray with a drizzle of olive oil and cook them in the oven for 15 minutes until they’re tender, yet still retain a slight bite. Slice the pork and serve the roasted chicory on the side drizzled with the reheated chicory cream.
More ways with chicory
Pheasant, chicory and pomegranate salad
Take two pheasant breasts, cut them into goujons and put them in a freezer bag with two tablespoons of pomegranate molasses and a teaspoon of sumac. Mix well and allow to marinate for at least an hour. Fry them gently in a little oil and put them into a large mixing bowl. Chop up two heads of chicory, one spring onion, a cup of cooked amaranth grains (or couscous), the seeds from one pomegranate and a handful of rocket. Mix it all well and then pour a dressing made from 100ml olive oil, the juice of one lemon, a tablespoon of sumac, a crushed clove of garlic and seasoning over it all.
Halve four chicory heads, place them in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil, cover with foil and then roast in a medium oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter thyme, a handful of fresh breadcrumbs and seasoning over them and roast for a further 20 minutes. Scatter with crisp, fried lardons of bacon and serve.