Swine and Cheese

A passion for Pigs and Food

Chorizo with Butter-Bean and Tomato Gratin

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Chorizo, butter-bean & tomato (breadcrumb topping to be added!) gratin

This recipe is sort of a cross between a summery French Cassoulet and a Spanish chorizo dish. Really tasty and gutsy but served with a dressed green salad it also passes as a summery supper dish. Anyway it happened that I had some of our very own chorizo made at Dukeshill using our Berkshire pig, Tallulah to use up. Neale and I have been eating quite a lot of our chorizo in various recipes, but as always seems to happen I end up feeding quite a few family and friends and as a result I never get around to photographing the finished dish or writing about it. One of my favourite but oh so simple ways of eating up our chorizo is to fry it up in olive oil and serve with our home produced eggs for breakfast or we may have it with our version of Huevos Rancheros on corn tortillas if we’re feeling particularly hungry.

This recipe uses the chorizo we made at Dukeshill using unsmoked, rare breed pork, lots of sweet and hot paprika, loads of fresh garlic, cloves and salt and a few other spices – delicious!

300g chorizo, cut into chunks

2 x 420g tin butterbeans, drained and rinsed

olive oil (preferably our Andalucian Fino)

1 large onion, chopped

3 gloves garlic, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

2 sticks celery, diced

100g diced bacon (or pancetta)

several sprigs of thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

75g white breadcrumbs



Dry fry the chorizo and put in gratin dish. Put a good slug of olive oil into the frying pan and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot and gently fry for 10 minutes.

Add the diced bacon, thyme and spices and stir in for about a minute.

Add the tomatoes, butter beans and 550 ml boiling water.

Add to the chorizo in the gratin dish and give it all a good stir.

Pop in a low oven 150′C/ fan 130′C/ simmering oven of an Aga without covering for 2 hours to allow the liquid to become reduced and the flavours to develop.

Add the breadcrumb topping and chopped parsley. Pop back in a hot oven at 190′C/fan 170′C/ bottom of the roasting oven of an Aga for about 15 minutes until the topping is crisp and golden.

Serve with a leafy salad and lots of Spanish wine!

Chorizo with Butter-Bean & Tomato Gratin


Written by Sarah

April 25th, 2010 at 11:06 am

Tartiflette Savoyarde

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Tartiflette Savoyarde

There are all sorts of slight variations on this simple Savoyarde speciality. I know it may seem slightly odd that I’m promoting this recipe now as it always reminds me of alpine ski fare, but it is just too delicious to confine to the winter months. However as I had some of our delicious, perfectly ripe organic Perl Wen brie (completely unlike those hideous, tasteless rock hard wedges of brie usually found in supermarkets) knocking about in our fridge as well as a huge hunk of our Tamworth bacon (c/o Lola), a little leftover cream and some sad, old King Edward potatoes it seemed to shout tartiflette to me at least. Served al fresco with some Petite Cherie little plum tomatoes, our Fino olive oil, sea salt and basil it made a divine lunch dish. As they say proof is in the pudding and I’ve just had to wrestle away the dish above from my greedy husband who was diving in for thirds!

Some variations on this dish include using white wine, chicory, celeriac, herbs, garlic, various other sorts of cheeses etc. but I like it as follows:

750g potatoes (such as King Edwards, Desiree, Maris Piper) peeled and thickly sliced

200g bacon chunks (or pancetta)

olive oil (preferably Fino)

2 onions sliced

400g Perl Wen brie (or Reblochon) derinded and sliced

284ml double cream

salt and pepper

Par boil the potato slices in boiling, salted water for about 5-10 mins, then drain in a colander and refresh with cold water.

Saute the bacon in a splash of olive oil until crisp and golden. Add the onions and cook for about 10 mins until the onions are soft.

Butter a gratin dish and arrange layers of potato, onion and bacon and cheese, seasoning as you go but don’t add too much salt.

Pour the cream over and bake for 40 mins at 190′C/ fan 170′C/ top of baking oven in Aga until the top is golden and bubbling.

NB. This also works really well using Ardrahan washed rind cows milk cheese, intermittently available from Dukeshill.


Written by Sarah

April 24th, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Considerably bigger and ballsier!

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Ready - bring it on!

Fatima mounting the fencing

Apologies as I realised I had not updated the Pig Diary since February and time marches relentlessly on. I’ve been somewhat occupied with organising modifications to my Mother’s house down in Devon to enable her to continue to enjoy living there but allowing for ease of living. Always tricky to be site foreman from a distance of 180 miles! In between hurried trips down there I have been slinging food our three little piggies way without really noticing their development, either physically or characteristically. The one good thing about my absences has been my daughters, Laura and Lucy, have noticed them for the first time and are quite adamant that they are seriously looking forward to eating this lot! This has a lot to do with the frighteningly aggressive way in which they push and shove for food. They even jump up and rest their fore-feet on the fence. I thought Sydney our labrador was the greediest thing on the planet but it turns out these pigs are, and a lot more in your face about it. Remembering Oinky, I assumed that Gloucester Old Spots were more docile; they’re certainly meant to be. This lot have been biting fingers, nipping boots, ramming legs, so much so, that none of us go in the pen with them without someone else diverting them with food. At least we’ve been sticking rigidly to the prescribed number of scoops of their organic pig food with only a few carrots and apples every now and then so hopefully they’ll be leaner than the last lot.

Keen and eager for breakfast

Fatima and Freya

Surprisingly we are nearly two thirds of the way through eating Tallulah (Berkshire), Lola (Tamworth) and Oinky (Gloucester Old Spot), our last batch of pigs. They were much more endearing than this bunch and I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that the current threesome are sisters so they already came with a pack mentality and consequently are bolder. Tallulah, Lola and Oinky seemed far gentler although at the time I remember thinking Tallulah and Lola quite fearsome towards the end. We’ve just had the most delicious Wiltshire cured Lola ham for Easter c/o the Dukeshill curing team. Amazingly it wasn’t at all fatty which must be down to a Tamworth’s conformation as I remember Lola being a long, relatively thin pig. Tallulah’s leg was very fatty but she looked like a barrel by the end. Our guests were raving about it and we had to provide them with doggy bags at the end. The whole yummy leg only lasted two days, washed down with piccalilli and pickled oranges and with egg and chips on day two. It always amuses me when new Dukeshill customers say they couldn’t possibly get through a whole ham. Granted if you live alone you might be bored after three weeks of ham ‘this and that’ but it is such a versatile food, keeps forever in the fridge and all ages seem to love it. Why wouldn’t you have one?!


Written by Sarah

April 14th, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Fruit and veg

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Grand Canal, Venice

Butternut squash ravioli

Having just returned from a few days in Venice for Neale’s birthday it never ceases to amaze me how many delicious ways there are of serving vegetables when you are freed from the constraints of the English cooking mentality of meat and two veg! Venice wasn’t cheap by any means however we managed to eat splendidly for a reasonable sum each day and the variety of dishes on offer was mouth watering. I may be being a little harsh but I do find English cuisine, in most restaurants, to be very formulaic and predictable when it comes to how to best present vegetables. Sad considering there are plenty of recipes out there showing us how to use all sorts of vegetables in imaginative ways. I do get so bored when in a supermarket, looking at all the fruit and veg on offer. Most of it is grown far away, picked before achieving full ripeness, grown for yield and uniformity and invariably tastes of very little. I am always blown away by freshly picked, home grown fruit and veg especially when the varieties are particularly good for flavour. On this note I’m very excited because Neale has built four raised beds this year and is currently growing just about everything, although most of it is still under the surface! He does assure me that he has only planted the very best varieties for flavour such as Ratte potatoes, nobbly, yellow Venetian courgettes etc.- I’ll let you know but at the moment our cat Gus thinks he’s just had four enormous litter trays dug and the rabbits Neale worked so hard to keep out of the garden are edging ever closer! Fatally he had rabbit-proof fencing put the whole way round our perimeter but sadly failed to eradicate the last few ‘indigenous’ rabbits before sealing them in.

Gus's litter trays!

Whilst in Venice we were served the most delicious vegetables in dishes such as sea bass on braised red chicory, asparagus lasagne, butternut squash ravioli with pine nuts, home-made gnocchi with scampi and broccoli sauce. Vegetables are either very much integral to the dish or are dressed up so they stand out in their own right rather than being left floundering on the side of the plate as is so often the case in the UK, both in home cooking and in your bog standard restaurants. Perhaps this is why we Brits love Asian cuisine so much with fabulous curries and the equally delicious vegetable side dishes available to take away in virtually every town and village.

As for fruit in the UK don’t get me started. Vile, unripe, flavourless, unappealing mounds of fruit greet you at the entrance to every supermarket. Why oh why is this the case when we have such amazingly good, tasty old species of fruit such as Winter Queening apples for eating, Codlin apples for cooking, quinces and greengages which the shops never seem to offer. Instead we are offered star fruit and rock hard soft fruits, out of season and flown thousand of miles from far flung corners of the globe! We also have the climate for producing the best array of berries, cherries and currants in the warmer months such as loganberries and mulberries, again hardly ever seen commercially. Home grown is fab, and carefully sourced farm shops are very good as are the few amazing green grocers, as ever mostly in London. Organic makes no difference to the flavour but obviously has a feel good factor and is supposedly better for you but I am always sceptical about food classifications. Maybe one day a real foodie will be employed as a buyer for one of the big supermarkets, or better still a few more ‘quality’ greengrocers will pop up – I live in hope!


Written by Sarah

April 14th, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Opinions

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Fino Olive Oil

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Fino Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Fino Extra Virgin Olive Oil

You may remember from my previous post, “Andalucia Trip”, how much I raved about the wonderful olive oil produced by our friend Susie Taylor. Using olives grown in her olive groves around the Andalucian town of Casarabonela she produces a range of superbly, robust and extremely tasty olive oils. I am delighted to let you know that we are about to launch 2.5 litre tins of her fabulous Andalucian extra virgin olive oil available exclusively through Dukeshill. This quantity seemed just the right amount for us to be offering based on our own personal usage at home and the typical quantities ordered by a Dukeshill customer. We use it every day in all sorts of ways. Since coming back from our weekend at Susie and Rupert’s stunning villa in Casarabonela, we have adopted the habit of having crusty bread dipped in Fino olive oil, lemon juice and seasoning for the odd breakfast. With just a simple orange it is a divine way to start the day rather than the ubiquitous cloying, sugary cereals and sugary spreads. Invaluable in dressings, in soups, for baking, grilling, roasting, marinading and even neat! I use the oil when baking cakes when I want them to be particularly moist such as for carrot cake, in vegetable dishes such as aubergines with honey, potatoes and garlic, in gazpacho etc…. It’s versatility is endless and if I had to list my top ten cooking essentials this would most definitely be one of them. Fascinating to go back thirty years when it wasn’t readily available in the UK or even mentioned in cookery books. My Mother never, to my knowledge, used olive oil at all until the eighties and yet it is now everywhere. How our eating habits have changed, though sadly for many families still not for the better. However that is not the case with Susie’s fabulous oil in your larder!

Olive oil is, and always has been, a staple of Spanish life as it is in most Mediterranean countries, and has become increasingly so in the UK in the last decade. Spain is the world’s largest producer of olive oil and there are over 100 million olive trees in Andalucia alone – they adorn even the tiniest plots of land – every Juan Dick and Harry has one!  Some of the olives are marinated with delicious herbs and then eaten but the majority are pressed for olive oil. Olive oil classification is fairly complicated, like wine, but the highest grade oils are “extra virgin” (which means they have an acidity level of no more than 1%).  This Fino olive oil is an “extra virgin” oil blended from a variety of olive types grown in and around the village of Casarabonela – arbequina, hojiblanca, manzanilla – it is great for salad dressings, drizzling, oven roasting, baking, sauteeing or just dipping – the great flavour will perk up even the plainest cooking.  And don’t forget it’s really healthy too.  Do give Susie’s Fino oil a go and see what you think.

Don’t forget for smaller quantities and for the delicious Fino blended oils you can order direct from Susie at Fino.


Written by Sarah

April 14th, 2010 at 11:32 am