Pork Chops with Sauce Robert

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Appears in

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

By Annie Gray

Published 2019

  • About

French cuisine had been regarded as the standard to aspire to in Britain since the eighteenth century, and the upper classes ate French food much of the time. The most desirable restaurants served French food, and both they and the aristocracy employed French chefs, invariably men, as their first choice of staff. Menus were also written in French, even when the dishes were rather British, and by the late nineteenth century, the aspiring middleclass hostess, who could barely afford an English woman cook let alone employ a Frenchman, could buy books that helped her to translate English dish names into the more sophisticated-sounding French. Families such as the Crawleys, who were feeling the pinch, found that employing women was significantly cheaper than employing male chefs, but that did not mean the real Mrs. Patmores lacked skills. Indeed, to be cooking for an earl, which was rare for a woman, Mrs. Patmore would almost certainly have trained under a French male chef and be able to turn her hand to classic French sauces such as this one, which was over two hundred years old at the time. You can cook the sauce Espagnole well ahead.


For the Sauce Espagnole

  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) butter
  • ½ shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 oz (60 g) veal, chopped
  • 2 oz (60 g) ham or bacon, chopped
  • 3 cups (700 ml) beef stock
  • cup (140 g) canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 5 tablespoons (75 ml) claret or similar red wine
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 1 tablespoon mushroom ketchup, or Worcestershire sauce, or 1 teaspoon dried porcini mushrooms soaked in 2 teaspoons boiling water
  • Bouquet garni of 3–4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, 2–3 fresh thyme sprigs, and 1 bay leaf, or 1 bunch fresh savory herb sprigs such as rosemary and sage, tied into a bundle with kitchen string
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 whole cloves
  • ¼ cup (30 g) flour

For the Sauce Robert

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (240 ml) sauce Espagnole (above)
  • 6 tablespoons (90 ml) white wine
  • ½–1 teaspoon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 4 bone-in center-cut pork chops
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, large stems discarded, finely chopped


To make the sauce Espagnole, you must first make a stock. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saucepan over low heat and cook the shallot, stirring occasionally, until it starts to turn translucent. Add the turnip, carrot, veal, and ham, raise the heat a little, and cook, stirring often, until everything just starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, tomatoes, claret, sherry, mushroom ketchup, bouquet garni, peppercorns, and cloves and stir well. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 1 hour. Strain the stock through a finemesh sieve into a pitcher, pushing against the solids with the back of a spoon to extract the maximum amount of flavor and texture.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then whisk in the flour until a smooth, thick roux forms. Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir until the roux is a very light brown, about 5 minutes. Now add the hot stock, a spoonful at a time, to the roux, whisking vigorously after each addition so no lumps develop. When all the stock has been added, continue to cook over low heat, stirring steadily, until you have a creamy, very smooth sauce, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. You should have about 2 cups (480 ml). Set aside 1 cup (240 ml) for the sauce Robert and refrigerate or freeze the remainder for another use.

To make the sauce Robert, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook the shallot, stirring occasionally. When it starts to brown, after 3–4 minutes, turn down the heat and add the sauce Espagnole, white wine, the mustard to taste, and the sugar and mix well. Bring to a gentle simmer, then keep warm while you cook the chops.

Season the pork chops on both sides with salt. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chops and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 2–4 minutes on each side, depending on their thickness. Transfer to a warmed plate, season with pepper, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, fry the parsley in the same pan over medium-high heat until crisp, about 30 seconds, adding more oil as needed.

Arrange the chops, edges overlapping, in a line on a warmed platter and sprinkle them with the parsley. Serve the sauce in a sauceboat alongside.

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