Food photography 101 goes something like this: pretty food + natural light + proper camera = mouthwatering photos. The formula for this post’s photos went more like this: unpresentable food + rapidly fading natural light (aka half dark) + iPhone = photos that not even Photoshop can redeem. I more or less set myself up to fail though. Crumble isn’t the easiest thing to serve up and the resulting mess is generally not very photogenic, particularly when there’s meat involved and everything is varying shades of brown. Oh and I also wanted to eat dinner at a vaguely normal time, which happens to coincide with sunset at the moment, instead of 17h when the light would have been good. Shocking, I know.
I came down with one of those feverish change-of-season colds over the weekend, so I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and craving comfort food. The classic combination of pork and apple had been playing on my mind, but I didn’t quite feel up to faffing around with pastry and making a pie. So I threw together a pork sausage & cider crumble instead, as you do. It sounds totally fancy-pants, but it’s ridiculously easy and makes for a hearty main course. Despite its appearance, it also happens to be totally delicious – with bacon strips, apple pieces and lashings of garlic also chucked in there, how could it not be?
Cider is the special ingredient for this month’s Baking with Spirit, so I’m submitting this crumble to Janine over at Cake of the Week, who launched this genius challenge a year ago! (A year already? What?!) If you’ve a sudden inspiration to bake something with cider, whether sweet or savoury, I think you’ve got until Saturday to enter.
Ya, I don’t really want to talk about that photo.
Pork sausage & cider crumble
Recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves
There’s a lot of room for adjustment in this recipe. Use whatever good quality pork sausages you feel like – pork and fennel? Go for it. Pork and apple? Sounds amazing. I used a pretty light-flavoured cider because that’s what we had at home, but a heavily-flavoured cider would probably be even better. Use your favourite kind of cheddar, as long as it’s flavourful. If you think the cider is still too liquidy before adding the crumble, sprinkle a little flour over the top first.
For the filling:
100g bacon strips/cubes/lardons
4 cloves garlic
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
4 pork sausages (about 370g; I used Black Rock traditional pork sausages)
1 apple (I used Braeburn, Granny Smith would also be good)
About 250ml cider (I used Boundary Road Brewery Honesty Box cider)
For the crumble:
65g cheddar (I used Kind Island Surprise Bay cheddar)
75g unsalted butter, softened
70g wholewheat flour
45g all-purpose flour
2-3 sprigs of thyme
Salt & black pepper
Prepare the filling:
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan oven 200°C.
2. Remove any huge bits of fat from the bacon strips/cubes/lardons. Peel the garlic gloves and finely dice. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and garlic and fry until golden.
3. Meanwhile, cut each sausage into 4 rounds and place standing up in an ovenproof dish with a little space (about 1 cm) between each piece of sausage. Scatter the garlicky bacon between the sausage rounds. Peel and dice the apple into the 1cm pieces, and scatter over the top of the bacon, between the sausages or over the top, depending on how much space you have in your dish. Season with freshly ground pepper, then pour the cider over the top, stopping 1cm from the top of the dish.
4. Bake for 25-30 mins, until lightly browned on top.
Prepare the crumble:
5. Meanwhile, prepare the crumble. Roughly grate the cheddar into a medium-sized bowl. Cube the butter into the same bowl, followed by the flours and some salt and freshly ground pepper. Wash and dry the thyme sprigs, then strip the leaves, adding them to the bowl. Rub the mixture together with your fingers, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
6. Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top of the filling, then bake for a further 30-35 mins, until golden and a little crispy on top. Serve immediately, accompanied with a side salad and a glass of cider.