Bombine

Ardéchois Pork with Potatoes

La bombine is a good hearty dish that varies, in the way of true country food, according to circumstances. In times of plenty, meat is added; otherwise the vegetables alone suffice, although they are sometimes given the flavour of meat by cooking the dish with pork fat. Jean-Paul Barras’s version, from which he banishes pepper, includes black olives and dried cèpes. This indicates that his bombine comes from southern Ardèche where the Midi laps at its toes. In other parts of the region a cook will swear that the dish should be prepared only with pork fat and certainly no olives.

Ingredients

  • 4 pork cutlets, boned
  • olive oil or dripping
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • stock or water
  • salt
  • 8–12 dried cèpes
  • about ¾ kg(1½–2 lb) potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 115 g black olives

Method

In France the pork will have little fat on it. In Britain it is usually necessary to trim it off – the dish would otherwise be too greasy. Lightly brown the meat in olive oil or pork dripping in a flameproof casserole. Transfer the meat to a plate and soften the onion in the casserole. Replace the meat on top of the onion and add the bay leaves and thyme. Pour in sufficient stock or water to almost cover the meat. Season with salt and bring to the boil. Soften the cèpes in a little water.

Arrange the sliced potatoes on top of the pork adding the cèpes between the layers with a little salt.

Cover the casserole and cook over low heat or in a moderate oven (Mark 4, 180°C, 350°F) for about 1 hour. Add the olives and cook for another 15–20 minutes.

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