Pork chop, sugarloaf cabbage, kombucha apple

Pork chop, sugarloaf cabbage, kombucha apple

Finding Fire

The timeless process of dry ageing can be used to improve the flavour and texture of many meats, including pork. At the restaurant we work with our butcher to dry age kurobuta pork loin on the bone for ten days with the skin on. The drying method intensifies the natural flavours, while the fat of the kurobuta pork (essentially a wagyu pig) mellows and melts like butter on the grill.

The combination of pork and apple is an English classic from my childhood. We would collect apples from our tree in the autumn (fall) and my mother would cook them down with just a little sugar to make a rich apple ‘butter’ for our pork. The acid from the naturally fermented kombucha gives this dish a tangy finish.


Quantity Ingredient
1 litre chilled filtered water
100ml kombucha
100g sugar
4 pink lady apples, halved
4 x 250g pork loin on the bone, skin on
sea salt
1 sugarloaf or pointed cabbage, quartered
60ml olive oil
30ml apple wine vinegar


  1. 1. Prepare your embers and arrange a grill rack directly over the top.
  2. 2. In a large saucepan, combine the cold water, kombucha and sugar. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  3. 3. Add the apples to the kombucha stock and simmer gently for 8–10 minutes until the apples are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the apples to cool in the liquid.
  4. 4. With a sharp knife, score the fat of the pork chops at 1 cm (½ in) intervals.
  5. 5. Offset medium-intense embers, banking them up so they are parallel with the grill. Place the chops side by side on the grill, skin side down, adjacent to and 10–15 cm (4–6 in) from the embers (see note for further details on indirect offset grilling). Season the rib side with salt.
  6. 6. Allow the fat to slowly render for 8 minutes until small bubbles form on the surface and the skin is golden and crisp. Rotate the pork chop to the bone side and cook for a further 8 minutes to conduct heat through the bone and ensure an even colour. Remove from the grill.
  7. 7. Rake your embers directly under the grill, and adjust the grill to sit 15 cm (6 in) above the embers. The embers should be bright orange. Place the pork face down on the grill, and season well. Adjust the height of the grill if necessary to ensure that the pork is only being licked by flames. Cook until the surface is caramelised to a rich mahogany colour. Turn the pork, season and repeat.
  8. 8. Remove and allow to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.
  9. 9. Remove the apples from the liquid, remove the cores, and grill, cut side down, for 8 minutes until lightly caramelised.
  10. 10. Spray the cabbage quarters sparingly with olive oil and grill for approximately 4 minutes on each side until lightly charred. Remove, season and drizzle with the olive oil and apple wine vinegar.
  11. 11. With a sharp knife, remove the bone from the pork and carve the meat into 8 mm (¼ in) slices. Serve immediately with the grilled apples and cabbage.


  • Ideally you would want bone-in loins with the backbones removed and the ribs trimmed of meat (or ‘frenched’). These are sometimes called pork racks.


  • Indirect methods work via conduction, radiation or convection. These can occur through physical mediums such as a cast-iron pan or a griddle placed on top of the fire. Salt baking and clay baking also fall into this category.

    Food can also be placed adjacent to the heat source; I refer to this as indirect offset cooking. This form of cooking over fire is useful for long slow rendering of fats, as it avoids excessive fat dripping directly onto the coals and creating a flare up.

    Sometimes you may choose to combine both methods, cooking by direct means followed by indirect means or vice-versa. Equally, you may require both methods for cooking more than one ingredient at the same time. This can be achieved by establishing two zones. One zone is for burning wood, which can be used for indirect cooking. This also creates embers, which can then be moved to a second zone for direct or indirect cooking.

    For your first time, gather some simple ingredients, light the fire, let it develop and wait for the flames to die down to burning embers. Hold the back of your hand 30 cm (12 in) above the heat source. How long can you hold your hand over the embers? You’ll feel hotter spots and cooler areas within the embers. The intensity should give you an indication of when the embers are ready for cooking.
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