Pea, Goat Bacon and Lovage Broth

Featuring a recipe for homemade goat bacon, this broth is a twist on the timeless bacon and pea combination. Finish the soup with a splash of cider vinegar.

Introduction

Bacon and peas has been a Classic combination since the 1600s, when, according to Alan Davidson’s Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford University Press, 1999), they were sold as street food: ‘hot grey pease and a suck of bacon’. The peas would have been dried, but we favour fresh peas, which are grown by Mark, the gardener. Instead of ordinary bacon we use our own ‘goat bacon’, or cured goat loin. It has rich cumin overtones from the simple cure and is pleasantly salty. Lovage and peas work well together.

This is working food – it looks and tastes like a dish that should be eaten after a hard day in the garden. The goat bacon needs to be made several days before required but, once cured, it will keep for two weeks and can be used in the same way as ordinary bacon. Your butcher should be able to order goat loin for you, but if you can’t get hold of it, substitute pork tenderloin.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1kg unshelled fresh peas
rapeseed oil
4 small red onions or 8 spring onions, cut into quarters
1l white chicken stock
A bunch of lovage leaves
a splash of cider vinegar, if needed
sea salt
For the goat bacon:
2 goat loins, weighing 250-350g each, silver membrane removed
20g fine sea salt
10g dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ tsp black peppercorns

Essential kit

You will need several lengths of butcher’s string and a food processor or spice grinder.

Instructions

First make the bacon. Tie the loins together with several lengths of butcher’s string at intervals of 5cm or so. Place the salt, sugar and spices in a food processor or spice grinder and blitz to a fine powder. Lay the loins on a large piece of cling film, at least 4 times as wide as the loins. Cover with the spice mixture and wrap tightly in the cling film. Place in a large plastic container and leave in the fridge for 5-7 days, turning once a day. Do not drain off any liquid that escapes during this time.

Remove the bacon from the fridge, wash off all the spices under a cold tap and pat dry on kitchen paper. Hang the meat in a warm, well-ventilated area, such as the kitchen or an airing cupboard, for 12 hours or until it is completely dry to the touch – a temperature of 25°C is ideal, so adjust the time you hang the meat accordingly. When the bacon is ready, it should have a distinct, sweet goat smell and be rich in cumin.

Shell the peas, ensuring you have something else to nibble or drink alongside – otherwise you’ll be lucky to have any left by the end. Heat a little rapeseed oil in a saucepan, add the onions and fry until lightly coloured. Using a large, sharp knife, cut 15 slices from the goat bacon the thickness of bacon rashers. Add them to the pan and fry till they take on some of the caramel colour from the onions. Add a good splash of the chicken stock, stirring to deglaze the pan. Pour in the remaining stock, then add the lovage leaves and the peas. Bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes, until the peas are tender. Taste the broth and decide whether it requires salt and a splash of cider vinegar. Vinegar will cut through the fattiness of a dish and calm any saltiness. A big bowl of peas for tea. Happy pea days for sure.

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