My parents recently went to a supper club organised by a former MasterChef contestant. They were sent the menu of slow-cooked pork belly in advance in order that they might take their own wine. Obviously they consulted me, and I sent a list of red riojas. The feedback came in: ‘We were sitting next to a sommelier. She’d taken a white. She thinks only white wine goes with pork.’ Expertise questioned! A difficult parent moment: Our daughter only knows about wine and can’t even get that right. Oh dear. Actually, I half agree. Chardonnay – white burgundy in particular – suits the texture and sometimes has woodruff notes that go well with the herbs (thyme, fennel seeds) which are often rubbed into the meat. The trick is to find a white that has some body or texture. But, offered the choice, people often go for red. With this dish, the light, slightly vegetal notes of a French pinot noir work well. The soft curves of a red rioja are also particularly good with the caramelised onions. An oaked white will pick up the softness of the onions; if you add lemon thyme then a vermentino or verdicchio will accentuate the herbal lift.



Cave de St Vernay Puy de Dôme Pinot Noir 2011, France, 14% (£8.99, Majestic).

This lovely, light, crunchy but fruity pinot noir comes from a co-operative in the Auvergne. Drink it very slightly chilled.

Finest Limoux Chardonnay 2011, France, 13% (£8.49, Tesco).

Utterly gorgeous chardonnay from another co-operative with just a gentle touch of oak giving a more creamy texture.

Extra Special Marques del Norte Rioja Reserva 2009, Spain, 14% (£6, Asda).

A mellow blend of tempranillo, garnacha and graciano, aged in both French and American oak.

The Society’s Chilean Chardonnay 2013 Limari, Chile, 13.5% (£6.95, The Wine Society).

An immaculate, round, bright chardonnay from one of Chile’s newer, cooler regions.

Pork chops with pommes boulangère recipe

pork chops 4

butter 75g

olive oil

onions 2, peeled and sliced

Maris Piper potatoes 800g

lemon thyme a small handful, leaves chopped (optional)

chicken stock up to 500ml

step 1

Season the pork chops on both sides and put them in the fridge. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Melt 25g of the butter with 1 tbsp olive oil and gently fry the onions until they’re soft and beginning to caramelise.

step 2

While the onions are cooking, peel the potatoes and slice finely (it’s much quicker to use a mandolin if you have one). Now put a messy couple of layers of potato slices in an ovenproof dish, season, sprinkle over some lemon thyme (if using) and caramelised onions. Continue layering until all the ingredients are used up. Pour the stock into the dish until it comes about two thirds of the way up the potatoes. Dot the top with the remaining butter and cook for about 90 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft in the middle and crisp and brown on top.

step 3

Towards the end of the cooking time, griddle the chops for 5 minutes on both sides, or until cooked through. Serve with the potatoes.

PER SERVING 571 KCALS | PROTEIN 40.5G | CARBS 37.9G FAT 27.4G | SAT FAT 13.4G | FIBRE 5.3G | SALT 0.8G

This feature was published in September 2014

Photographs: Stuart Ovenden

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