WHEN it comes to cooking, I believe it’s really important to have fun – to try to push the boundaries and give classic recipes your own little twist. The last time my friend Tom Kitchin gave me the chance to share my recipes with readers, I offered a savoury twist on a traditional millefeuille. This week, I’m sharing another savoury recipe that most people would normally associate with desserts.
The very composition of a trifle is such a pleasure to eat – with every spoonful you delve deeper to discover this lovely combination of flavours from each individual layer. My version includes sherry vinegar, peas and croutons instead of sherry, fruit and sponge, but it’s a delicious dish and a lot of fun to cook and eat.
There are many elements to the recipe, and it’s certainly one to try when you have a little more time, but don’t be put off – you just need to follow the recipe step-by-step to make a perfect dinner party dish that is guaranteed to make everyone smile.
To make the bacon ice cream
This can be made ahead, a day before serving. Cut the bacon into small dice and gently sauté in a pan until golden and all the fat is rendered down. Drain off all of the fat and put the bacon back into the same pan. Cover with the milk, then add the cream. Bring all of the ingredients to the boil. Take off the heat, then cover with cling film and leave to infuse for one hour.
Strain off the cream and milk from the bacon. Take the cream and milk you’ve strained off, add 1 egg yolk, and mix it all together. Heat the mix gently over a bain-marie, taking it to 82C. Allow to cool slightly and churn in an ice cream machine. Place in the freezer to set.
To make the bacon powder
You can leave this stage out, but it does add a lovely crunch to the dish. Place the bacon between two trays in the oven at 160C, Gas Mark 3, until it becomes golden. Put on to a paper towel and draw out some of the oil. Chop until very fine. Keep repeating this whole process until there’s no oil left.
To make the pickled red onion
Slice a red onion into perfect rings. Pour a splash of red wine vinegar into a pan and bring to the boil. Pour over the onion, and leave for 30 minutes. Strain off the vinegar and store in oil to retain moisture and colour.
To make the ham hock layer
Place the ham hock in a large pot, and cover with fresh cold water, and bring to the boil. After it has boiled, drain off the water and rinse both the ham and the pot in cold water again – this gets rid of any impurities. Place the ham hock back in the pot and cover with cold water again. Add the chopped carrots, chopped onion, chopped celery and a few whole black peppercorns, and braise gently for approximately 5-6 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.
Once the ham hock is cooked, remove it from the pot and pull all of the meat from the bones, discarding any fat or unwanted pieces. Keep the stock and set it aside for later. Chop the meat down, into small pieces and add some chopped parsley, capers and half a tablespoon of wholegrain mustard and sherry vinegar, and mix together. To create your first layer, add 40g of the ham hock mix to each serving glass, carefully placing the mix to cover the bottom of the glass completely.
To make the jelly
Take 200ml of the cooking liquid that you used to cook the ham hock. Soak the leaf of gelatine in cold water. Gently warm the cooking liquid, squeeze the water out of the gelatine and add it to your cooking stock. Strain through a sieve. Pour the liquid into each glass, so that it just covers the meat. Place the glasses in the fridge to set for an hour. When you bring the glasses back out of the fridge, pour another thin layer of your liquid into each glass. Place back in fridge for one hour.
To make the pea purée
Put the sliced onion in a heavy-bottomed pan with a splash of oil and sweat down. Add the chicken stock and cream to the sweated down onions and reduce until you achieve a sauce-like consistency. Blanch and then refresh the 250g of peas and spinach in ice cold water.
Drain the peas and spinach from the iced water and then add them to the onions – mix together. Blend until smooth and cool down fast in a bowl over ice – this will help to keep the vibrant, fresh green colour. Pass the mix through a sieve and season well. Divide the pea purée between the serving glasses.
To make the peas
Take the 200g of fresh peas, blanch and refresh and then peel them. Mix with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped marjoram. Then add to the glass on top of the pea purée.
Add a scoop of bacon ice cream on top of the peas. Sprinkle with the bacon powder. Garnish with thinly sliced bread croutons, pickled red onion and pea shoots.