Blackberry and apple recipes, two twists on a classic combination, one with pork crackling, one in a trifle. By Nigel Slater
Blackberry and apple’ is one the great culinary marriages. Stirring berries into clouds of soft, palest yellow apple is among the best of the season’s kitchen rituals. It’s an autumnal pairing that brings with it memories of country lanes and orchards, of bramble scratches and shinning up fruit trees. It is old china bowls of warm crumble and deep slices of purple pie. I have yet to meet two ingredients that sit so perfectly together.
I don’t think it matters whether the apples are Bramleys or Golden Delicious, Worcesters or Brigadier. The blackberries could be wild or cultivated or from the freezer. But I’m not sure we should mess much with this particular partnership. A couple of cloves and a shake of cinnamon aside, this is not a lily that needs gilding, but it does deserve a more imaginative outing than to be covered by a pastry crust. It works especially well in savoury recipes – few things flatter a roast loin of pork so well. The sharp fruit purée is a good friend to the layers of quivering fat and crisp skin of the meat.
Which brings me neatly to crackling and the joy of dipping jagged shards of the stuff, bronze and crisp, into a puddle of violet-streaked stewed apple and blackberry. It is something to cook from scratch or to do with the leftover roast, the golden carapace torn from the meat and sprinkled with salt. That dish of stewed fruit can also become a layer in a trifle, when the juices trickle down into the sponge cake beneath and mingle with walnut-hued sherry.
Pork crackling with blackberry and apple
Sealed, the pickled blackberries will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
pork skin and fat from the belly 1.25kg
cooking apples 1 kg
caster sugar 1 tbsp
For the pickled blackberries:
red wine vinegar 150ml
soft brown sugar 75g
yellow mustard seeds 1 tsp
sea salt ½ tsp
To make the pork crackling, score the skin, using a very sharp cook’s knife or box cutter, in long lines, 1-2 cm apart. Lay the skin on a wire cooling rack, rub generously with sea salt, pushing the grains right down into the score lines, then leave in a cool place for a minimum of 4 hours. Overnight will not hurt.
Set the oven at 230C/gas mark 8. Place the pork, skin side up and still on its rack, in a roasting tin, then roast for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 180C/gas mark 4 and leave for a further 20-30 minutes or until puffed, blistered and crisp. Remove and leave to cool.
Peel the apples, quarter them and remove their cores then put them in a medium-sized saucepan with the caster sugar and 100ml of water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat, cover with a lid, and leave at a light simmer for about 15 minutes until the apples have collapsed into a fluff. An occasional stir will stop them sticking. Transfer to a serving bowl. Crush the apples with a fork or vegetable masher.
Break the crackling into small pieces and serve with the apple purée. Just before serving, stir some of the blackberries into the apple.
Blackberry and apple trifle
If you get as far as putting the apple and blackberry layer in place then covering each one and refrigerating overnight, the trifles will be even better.
apples 1 kg
lemon juice of 1
caster sugar 2 tbsp
blackberries 250g, plus a few to decorate
sponge cake 250g
oloroso sherry 8 tbsp
double cream 250g
For the custard:
double cream 225ml
cinnamon stick ½
nutmeg 1, for grating
egg yolks 4
caster sugar 35g
First make the custard. Pour the cream into a saucepan then add the cinnamon, cloves and a fine grating of nutmeg. Place over a low heat and leave until hot, but do not allow to boil. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside to infuse.
Beat the yolks and sugar until thick and pale then pour in the spiced cream, holding back the cinnamon and cloves with a draining spoon and discard. Wash the saucepan and return to the heat, pouring in the cream mixture. Warm gently, stirring almost continuously, until the mixture has thickened. Transfer to a bowl using a rubber spatula then set aside to cool before refrigerating for an hour.
Peel, core and roughly chop the apples, then put them in a saucepan with the lemon juice and sugar and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, add the blackberries and leave to cook for about 10 minutes until soft and fluffy, then set aside to cool.
Break the cake into small pieces then place in the bottom of 4 individual dishes or large glasses. Spoon the sherry over the cake and leave to soak in. Divide the apple and blackberry mixture between the dishes, smoothing it over the sponge.
Whip the cream until thick then fold into the cold custard and spoon over the blackberry and apple. Chill in the fridge for an hour or longer, then scatter over a few blackberries and serve.
Source: the Guardian