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Celia’s baked pork chops with crackling squares

Photo: Pork chop with crackling squares

Photo: Pork chop with crackling squares

I’ve come rapidly to the conclusion that Celia – of Purple Podded Peas fame  – is an excellent and intuitive cook. And Danny wholeheartedly agreed when he tasted her recipe.
“Wow, this dish is exceptional,,” he said, as he guzzled his chunky Old Spot pork chop.
“The idea of cooking the crackling separately in small squares is just pure genius.”

Celia had told me her method of cooking pork chops on our recent girly day out.
“Cut of the skin and about a centimetre of the fat and cut it into squares. Brown the chops in a little oil. Add an apple, garlic, some onion, cider or whatever and lots of sage to the chops and cover closely. Put the squares of fat on a tray at the top of the oven on a tray and the chops in the middle of the oven to bake for forty minutes or so. Sprinkle the crackling squares over the chops and serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.”
“Would Martini work as the alcohol?”
We’ve had an ancient bottle knocking about on the side for months just waiting to be used up.
“Yes. I don’t see why not.”

Celia’s recipe sounded simple and delicious – particularly the crackling squares. I forgot to ask for the temperature of the oven so ours took a bit longer to cook and the crackling squares were done in half an hour and sat in the top oven keeping warm and providing a secret snack as I prepared the vegetables (shush – don’t tell Danny). As the mere mention of sage has Danny looking pale and nervous – I supplemented it with dried tarragon.

The Old Spot chops from the butchers at the  Highgate Country Store tasted out of this world and Celia’s recipe did them proud. I’m still dreaming about the dish two days later. If you are not lucky enough to live near to Willingham, large chunky free range pork chops would be a good alternative. We teamed this dish with mashed potatoes and Romanesco cauliflower. Superb and a real treat meal for foodies. Thank you Celia!

Celia’s baked pork chops with crackling squares for two

Preheat the oven to 200c (180c fan)

2 chunky pork chops (ours weighed 625g in total. One was thicker than the other.)
1 large Bramley(or any good cooking apple) – peeled, cored and sliced (ours weighed 250g)
1 small red onion sliced fine (ours weighed 100g)
1 fat clove of garlic – squashed flat, peeled and chopped fine
Half a teaspoon of dried tarragon
4 tablespoons of Martini/cider/white wine/water
A sprinkle of fine salt over the crackling squares
A good dash of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil – for browning the chops
Fresh chopped parsley to serve

Cut 1 cm of the skin and fat off the pork chops and cut into 2 cm squares. Sprinkle with salt and set aside on a shallow ovenproof dish.
Heat up the olive oil and brown the chops each side.
Place the chops on an oven proof dish and scatter over the onions – pressing them down around the chops. Like wise the chopped garlic. Put the apple slices over the chops, sprinkle over the tarragon (or sage if you like it) and pour over the Martini (or your choice of liquid).
Add a good dash of freshly ground black pepper.
Cover the dish tightly with foil and place in the centre of the preheated oven.
Put the pork crackling squares at the top of the oven.
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, checking the crackling after 20 minutes. Remove the crackling squares to a warm place when golden brown. Check the chops after 40 minutes – when the onions and chops are tender remove the dish to a warm place while you cook your vegetables. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley to serve and prepare for tumultous applause!

  Leave a reply


  1. kimberlycun

    Amazing recipe, simple but delicious. Trying it out tonight. The crackling is already out of the oven and gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sarahs Kitchen

    I made this dish tonight and it is absolutely delicious! My husband loves crackling and this is my best ever result! And the chops really took on the apple and onion topping. I can see this being a favourite for many years to come! Our thanks to Celia for letting you share it with us. 🙂

  3. Scott at Real Epicurean

    Absolutely love crackling!

  4. Hi Fiona
    Celia’s recipe had me salivating! My OH is not keen on pork probably due to the fact that most of it is pretty bland when cooked, I will get him to pick some up from our local pork butcher and reconvert him with this delicious recipe:)

  5. Danny Carey

    This was my first taste of Old Spot pork and what an eye opener it was. The meat was far more flavoursome than standard supermarket pork chops, as though it came from a different type of animal completely (if you know what I mean).

    Celia’s method of baking covered with apple and onion meant the chops were lovely and moist and her simple method of cooking the fat as crackling added a Sunday Roast element to a weekday treat.

    This was an exceptionally good treat. Thanks, Celia!

  6. Magic Cochin

    So glad the recipe was a success for you and Danny 🙂

    BTW we’ve just eaten mash and Romanesco but with Highgate Butchers Sage and Pork sausages and mushrooms – comfort food.


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