šunka sa porilukom i kestenom {ham with leek & chestnuts}

šunka sa porilukom i kestenom {ham with leek & chestnuts}

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It all started when I spotted a big box of chestnuts at the fruit and vegetable shop. Shiny brown little beauties beckoning me to sink my hand in, clutch a big handful and take them home. What could I do with them?

I wanted something that matched the current season. Something that was warming, a little rich and with simple flavours. At first I thought about using some good homemade sausages but when I came across a hunk of smoked pork thigh, or speck, I knew it would go nicely with the chestnuts. Chestnuts and smokey meat? Um, hello!

To keep things earthy and delicious I threw in some thickly sliced leek stems. Whole shallots would be fine, but the flavour of leek goes perfectly with the pork and chestnuts.

I couldn’t help but pretend that I was in some stone farmhouse surrounded by wild rosemary shrubs on the rocky Istrian coastline, pottering away in the kitchen. And yes, those imaginary rosemary shrubs came in handy with this dish as well.

If only that was how things happened.

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šunka sa porilukom i kestenom

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500 g smoked pork thigh (speck), cut into 1 cm slices
  • 150 g leek, cut into short pieces
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 250 ml dry red wine (1 cup)
  • 1 x 14 cm sprig fresh rosemary, snapped in half
  • 500 ml chicken stock (or Vegeta)
  • salt & black pepper, to taste
  • 200 g chestnuts*
  • asparagus spears, to serve

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sear the slices of pork on both sides until very lightly golden. Set the pork aside as you lightly colour the chunks of leek, along with the garlic. Cook these for 3 minutes.

Add the balsamic, red wine and rosemary and, if using a gas flame, tip the pan so the flame catches the wine and ignites it. Alternatively, use a gas lighter to ignite the wine to burn off the alcohol. When the flame extinguishes return the pork to the pan and arrange it in a single layer or slightly overlap it. Pour over the stock to cover the pork completely and bring to the boil. Check for seasoning then reduce the heat as low as possible.

Cover the skillet with a lid or foil and allow to very gently simmer for 45-60 minutes. Turn the pork slices over and add the chestnuts, spooning the liquid over them. If there isn’t much liquid in the pan, add a little water. Once the chestnuts have gone in try not to mix things around too much as they will crumble. Cook for a further 20 minutes or so, just to the point of the liquid reducing by two thirds.

Serve hot with steamed asparagus spears tossed in a little virgin olive oil and seasoning. And loads of crusty bread.

* If using fresh chestnuts, cut a cross into the side of each chestnut and boil in water for 8 minutes, or bake for 20 minutes at 240°C. Peel when cool enough to handle, leaving the flesh whole. If using frozen chestnuts, be sure they’re defrosted before using. No need to boil them as they’ll cook with the pork.

  • AmandaChewTown

    What a spectacular looking dish. Those chestnuts look to die for and I can only imagine they would have taken on all that specky goodness. In other news, writing this from my hotel in fiji and back tomorrow – we must arrange a catch up soon. x

    • http://heneedsfood.com/ john | heneedsfood

      Half your luck, Amanda! Yup, catch ups soon

  • http://lateraleating.com/ Gaby Mora

    Great recipe! The only issue would be to find asparagus in winter (that are not imported from elsewhere, that is). And I must admit I love chestnuts but hate peeling them.

    • http://heneedsfood.com/ john | heneedsfood

      Perhaps take a look at frozen chestnuts. I bought some that were grown in Victoria, peeled, frozen and ready to use.

      • http://lateraleating.com/ Gaby Mora

        Ah, good tip! I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

  • Helen (grabyourfork)

    Can’t think of a better combo than speck and chestnuts! Love how hearty this sounds. And I bet you’ll get your stone farmhouse one day… and I’ll be the first to visit :)

  • http://cocoaandlavender.blogspot.com/ David

    What a great use of speck. When I read the title, it did sound wintry to me – but I can also see having this now. Beautiful shots, John… we definitely eat with our eyes and you have made me hungry!

  • Sara (Belly Rumbles)

    That is just so perfect for Sydney climes right now. I do love my speck too.