It’s the ideal time to get your roasting dishes out and let your house fill with warm spicy aromas.
Rich Christmas fare is warmly welcomed here at this time of year.
I would be thinking about a slow-roasted pork neck, a giant pile of crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside potatoes, and way too much crackle. Matched with a pear cider sounds like heaven.
I’m still loving brisk winter sunshine, so walking the dogs means I’m going to need this energy/walk off this indulgence and be delighted to do so.
Poached pears make a very pretty dessert, I would cook extra to make for a Sunday brunch as well.
Pears are in season now, Try a variety new to you this winter. Besides Packham & William Bartlett, Corella with the red-green fade, BEURRÉ BOSC with the matte olive shades or a bright red Pica Boo!
Easy to handle peeling while firm, poaching makes for a perfectly luscious guilt-free pudding.
Pears go well with blackberries, raspberries, pistachio, almonds, ginger, vanilla, brie, blue cheese & pork.
Roasted Pork, Cider & Pears
Look for a free-range pork shoulder with the skin on. Rinsed and dried, score the skin about 5 millimetres deep 1 cm across the whole piece. Carefully pour a whole jug of boiling water over the skin, let it drain & dry while you prepare the roasting dish. 2 peeled & roughly sliced onions, 2 lengthwise split carrots & a teaspoon of fennel seeds scattered on the tray gives a delicious bed of flavour to sit the pork on. A tablespoon each of olive oil and salt rubbed into the pork skin to encourage the driest flakiest crackle and placed in the oven at 160 degrees for around 2 hours for a 2-3 kilo piece.
While the pork is cooking, prepare your favourite vegetables. Pumpkin goes extremely well with pork as well as potatoes, cabbage & sprouts.
Allowing enough for ½ a pear per person, peel & core pears, place in a roasting pan inside part facing up. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, plenty of freshly cracked black pepper, sea salt and roughly chopped sage. Dot a teaspoon of butter on each piece of pear, sprinkle with a little brown sugar & add a bottle of pear cider. Roast for 40 minutes along with the pork.
Baste the pears with the cider a couple of times. When your pork is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest. If your crackle still needs love, detach it carefully, back into the oven to crisp up while the meat is resting. Add a tablespoon of mustard and a dollop of cream to the cooking juices for a delicious gravy. With warmed plates charged with potatoes & greens, add sliced pork, a cooked pear half and sauce. Add the golden crackle whole on the table for a smashing treat.

Upside Down Pear Cake

250 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
200 gm (1 cup firmly packed) light brown sugar
1-kilo pears, peeled and cut into 2 cm slices
300 gm (2 cups) plain flour
50 gm almond meal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
300 ml milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
360 gm white sugar
6 eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 170C. Melt 75gm butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add brown sugar, stir occasionally until dissolved (3-4 minutes). Spread in the base of a buttered 22cm x 32cm cake tin or baking dish, arrange fruit on top in rows, overlapping slightly, set aside
Combine sifted flour, baking powder, ground ginger & cloves and salt in a large bowl and add almond meal. Combine milk and vanilla in a separate bowl and set aside. Beat remaining butter and 330gm sugar in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes). Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mixing at low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture then half the milk mixture and mix to just combine. Add remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk mixture, mix to just combine, then transfer to a large bowl.
Whisk egg white and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until foamy (2-3 minutes). Whisking continuously, gradually add remaining sugar and whisk until medium peaks form (2-3 minutes). Fold half the egg white mixture into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg white mixture. Spoon into the cake tin over fruit, spreading evenly. Bake until the cake is golden and the centre springs back when lightly pressed (50 minutes-1 hour), cool in the tin (10 minutes). Turn out gently. Delectable warm or cold with double cream, custard or ice cream.