This is an autumn version of a French classic. Children have returned from their walnut picking expeditions and apples come from the bottom of the garden – this is a delicious way to use both.
1.5 kgs rôti de porc
(This is merely a rolled loin – a French cut – but one that could easily be achieved by your local butcher. You can buy them in some farmers markets now, but if you can’t find one I’m quite sure your local butcher would roll it and tie it for you.)
12 walnuts, shelled
6 small dessert apples, peeled, cored, and halved or sliced
1 tablespoon localhoney
2 fat cloves of garlic
12 fresh sage or rosemary leaves
Olive oil for toasting
1 glass of white wine (or cider if you prefer)
1 tablespoon of crème fraîche
Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees. If you have a wood-burning stove, throw an extra log on 30 minutes before you start. The oven needs to be hot.
Peel the garlic and cut each clove into three slices. Take your loin of pork, and stand it on end. With a sharp carving knife make a slit in the centre of the joint, just wide enough to accommodate your garlic, then turn the joint round and make a slit the other way. Hopefully the holes will meet in the middle, but it really doesn’t matter if they don’t! Push a slice of garlic into the slit, right down as far as you can, then follow with two folded sage leaves, another slice of garlic and so on, until you have used up all the herbs and garlic.
Place the joint in a sturdy roasting tin and pour over a good slosh of olive oil. Place in the oven for half an hour at the high heat. Then turn down the oven to 180C degrees.
If you have a wood burner it may be a little trickier. Leave the door open for three minutes or so.
The pork will take about another hour at the lower heat. Ten minutes before the end of the cooking time, take the roast out, tip the sliced apples and shelled walnuts randomly over it. Trickle the honey over the top of the joint and put it back in the oven.
Heat the serving dish.
Take the roast out of the oven and turn it off (or leave the door open), then carefully transfer the pork and the beautifully caramelised apples and walnuts to the hot serving plate. Cover with tin foil and a tea towel and put in a warm place to rest while you make the sauce.
Put the plates and other dishes to warm, and open a bottle or two of good Cahors.
Pour as much fat as possible from the roasting tin. Tip the wine into it and place on the hob to deglaze, whisking all the delicious coagulated juices from the corners of the tin. Allow to bubble fiercely for a minute or so, then add a glass of water and repeat the process. Finally add the crème fraîche, whisk into a smooth sauce and pour into a little jug to serve with the slices of meat.
Seat your guests. Send the glorious roast to the table to be admired and for the carver to gauge the number of slices he needs to achieve and how much (if any) he may be able to salvage to have sliced cold with salad the next day.
Give the sauce jug a quick blast in the microwave, and serve your succulent pork in thin–ish slices with pommes dauphinoise and the last of the haricots verts.
•With thanks to Amanda Lawrence