We live in the heart of the Boyne valley. When I wake up in the morning and I open my blinds I look out onto apple orchards as far as my eye can see. Albeit over the Dublin to Belfast rail line. But to me that’s the glass half full there. The orchards are Boyne Grove Fruit Farm which are owned by the McNeese family. Olan and John Paul McNeese actually built our house. Over the lasts number of years Olan and John Paul have become good friends of our family. A couple of years ago Olan decided to venture out into the craft cider industry. A venture far from smooth but perseverance payed off and Olan has created one of the finest ciders available on the market today. It is called Dan Kelly’s Cider. http://www.dankellyscider.com. Dan Kelly was Olan’s great grandfather. He was a driver of the Enterprise train on the Great Northern Railway. Dan Kelly would have passed regularly through the orchard as the Dublin to Belfast line traverses the farm. Dan Kelly’s Cider is served in The Black Bull Inn http://www.blackbullinn.ie and some other bars in the Drogheda area. It is also sold at http://www.quintessentialwines.ie and Mace beside the Black Bull Inn on the Dublin Road Drogheda Co. Louth. Dan Kelly’s Cider is not laced with sugar or sweeteners just the natural sweet flavour combination of the apples used. It has a wonderful floral tart taste. Enough to refresh your palate and accompany any dish this season.
Once autumn comes round in our house it’s time for hunting, foraging and seasonal vegetables. This is by far my favourite time of the year. My first deer is already shot,skinned,butchered and frozen. Tomorrow myself and the girls are going foraging for our crab apples to make our annual jam.
I decided to use Dan Kelly’s Cider with a pork dish and some seasonal veg. Pork and apples compliment each other so well. So to get the most from the cider I went for an over night soak with the pig cheeks. This cut is so cheap and usually minced for sausages. Cooking the this way helps you get much more from it. I bought my meat from the the guys in Tuites Butchers of the Bullring here in Drogheda. These guys are craft butchers and some of the best I know,always helpful with my questions and requests. My Grandad Fitzgerald,a craft butcher, would definitely approve.
500g Pig cheeks with skin attached
2 bottles of Dan Kelly Cider
6 apples ( I used Cox’s Orange Pippin )
200g unsalted butter
200g plain flour
2 sweet potatoes
Marsala or Calvados
1 litre Grape seed oil
Salt and pepper
Using a large casserole pot or Dutch oven get your pig cheeks and cover them with the Dan Kelly Cider. Allow them to soak for 24hrs. Next chop the apples in half. Heat 100g of butter in a frying pan. Place apples cut side down and caramelise them. Be careful not to let them stew or burn. As they start to soften remove them from the heat. Pre heat your oven to160C. Place cooked apples cut side down on top of pig cheeks and cider. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 to3 hours. Once done carefully remove pig cheeks with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pass all the cooking juices from pot through a fine sieve. Making sure to squeeze the apples with the back of a spoon. Set this nectar aside. Now the meat will be very gelatinous at this stage. Remove skin and gelatinous fat. Scrape any remaining jelly from the back of skin. This skin makes unbelievable tasty crackling. I oiled an oven tray and placed the skin out flat. I then placed another tray directly on top of the skin to stop it curling. Put back into your hot oven and cook for up to 20 mins at 160C.
Now start to prep the meat. Remove as much meat as you can into a bowl. Take a little jelly too. Roll out a 35cm sheet of cling film. Also roll out a 35cm sheet of tin foil. Place foil down first, now place cling film on top of foil. Spoon all your meat and jelly onto cling film. Spread it out and roll cling film and foil sheet over the meat to create a cylinder type shape. Now twist both ends until the cylinder feels solid. Refrigerate for 40 mins or more. Roast beetroot, sweet potato and parsnip in oven for 30 mins at 180C or until beetroot starts to soften. For the beetroot you will need a pair of latex gloves to avoid staining. Peel beetroot and dice. Do the same with the sweet potatoes and parsnips. Heat grape seed oil in a deep pan. Pour milk into a bowl and pour flour into a separate bowl. Season flour with salt and pepper. Dip each vegetable into the milk and then the flour. Deep fry until golden and crispy. Test as you go. Zest lime and with a little of the juice whisk it into a cup of mayonnaise. Take your nectar and pour it into a pot and add a glug of Calvados. Make a little rue with the flour and butter. Do this by melting butter and adding an equal part of flour. Keep stirring this until it thickens into a smooth paste. Now add some of this paste to your nectar.place pot onto the hob. Keep stirring until you have a gravy. Add a little more butter to give it a gloss.
Take pig cheek sausage from fridge and slice serve with your chips,cracklings and dips. Pop open an ice cold bottle of Dan Kelly’s Cider and enjoy.