Chez Grand Ma.
We have eaten at this restaurant in the village where we live in France many, many times over the years. My favourite dish on the menu is "filet mignons de porc" and it's delicious. The pork is tender and succulent and usually served with sauté potatoes (pan fried cubes of herby potatoes), a sprig of roasted cherry tomatoes and a small portion of some kind of other veg.
In winter we eat inside the cosy restaurant and in summer outdoors in its beautiful courtyard. There is a "menu du jour" at lunchtime and two price bands of set menus in the evening. This is where we ate when we celebrated getting the keys to our little house in the village on a freezing cold evening in November 2007 and the filet mignon de porc is what we both had. For me, the great thing about this little restaurant is that you can always get a nice meal all year round, regardless of the month or the weather. On a cold and dark Tuesday evening in February, when there are no tourists and the village is deserted, the restaurant's lights on Grande Rue will be drawing you in for dinner.
So, when I spotted a pork fillet on the supermarket shelf the other day, my heart skipped a beat. It's hard to explain to anyone how much I miss being in France at this time of year and as I placed the pork in my basket I was transported back in time. It’s funny how food can bring back memories with a jolt and launch you back into a previous time.
Moules et frites for lunch in the courtyard on a summer's day, or the local trio performing a blues session to enthusiastic diners on a warm evening, the swifts and swallows performing their aerobatics to add to the entertainment, or celebrating a birthday on a chilly December night, the clinking of the glasses adding to the merriment.
Nick recreated the dish at home and we had ours with a small gratin of potatoes (I confess a purchase from the freezer cabinet and baked in the oven at the same time as the pork) and the usual medley of veg. It was not quite the same as Henri the chef's version but close enough. We sipped a nice red wine with it and reminisced, hoping that we'll be able to return to our house in France this summer.
1 400g pork fillet
1 large shallot, chopped
half a pack of chestnut mushrooms, thickly sliced
some white wine
1-2 tblsp full fat crème fraîche
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.
Heat a little olive oil and a knob of butter in a frying pan and brown the pork on all sides. Cutting the fillet in half will help to fit it in the pan and with handling. Transfer to a small roasting dish, add a splash of wine and roast for about 15-20 minutes depending on how well you like it to be cooked.
While the meat is in the oven, add the shallot and mushrooms to the frying pan with a little more oil if necessary and cook gently until soft but not browned. Add a little wine and season with salt and pepper. Then add the crème fraîche and stir in, adding a little more to thicken it as you like.
Remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for five minutes. Slice into thick medallions and serve with the sauce poured over.