Cognac glass ©Didier Descouens CCOChris Lacey is a British chef living in France who loves French-inspired cooking. Using a star French ingredient, he rustles up one quick – Menu Rapide – and one slower – A La Carte – dish with cognac.

After some years in the doldrums cognac is making a comeback, especially as it is now being used to make deliciously refreshing cocktails as well as to being drunk on its own. For me, living just an hour away from the town of Cognac, with all its wonderful drink-tasting tours, it is a favourite! So here is a recipe for a long drink that takes just a few minutes to make, and a recipe for pork-flamed in cognac and accompanied by a sauce made with fruit macerated in it!

––Chef Chris Lacey

MENU RAPIDE – summer cognac cocktail

Serves 1

VS or VSOP cognac
‘Artisinale’ lemonade – it is important to use this more ‘traditional style’ lemonade, cold.
Slice of lime

Mix one part cognac with four parts lemonade. Add a slice or two or lime and serve.

A LA CARTE – Filet Mignon de porc aux abricots

Serves 6

150g dried apricots
800g pork fillet
Flour seasoned with pepper, salt, paprika and five spice
Generous amount of cognac
300g thick cream (look for epasse 30%)
25g unsalted butter
Little lemon juice
Seasoning

Coarsely chop the dried apricots, place them in a bowl and cover them with the cognac. Leave the fruit to soak overnight.
The next day preheat the oven to 150 degrees celcius. Then trim any fat and skin from the pork fillet. Cut it into 6 cm slices (medallions) and toss in the seasoned flour.
Heat a good heavy frying pan and add the butter. When melted fry the floured medallions on both sides until golden. Remove and keep hot in the oven.
Add the strained apricot flavoured cognac to the frying pan and heat. Set it alight and immediately add the pieces of apricot, stirring them until the flames go out.
Add the cream and season to taste, heating it rapidly until the sauce begins to thicken.
Once the sauce is done, arrange the medallions of pork on a serving dish and pour over the sauce.
It looks very good if you can decorate the dish with some fresh sage from the herb garden.
Serve with buttered new potatoes and if you grow your own vegetables, how about some courgettes prepared your favourite way? We like to slice them quite thinly, season, and lightly fry them in olive oil with some finely chopped fresh sage and thyme.

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