Welsh Ponch Maip!
The cuisine of Wales is similar to English cuisine, yet it is quite different. Many tradition English recipes have their roots in Welsh cuisine. The European union recognizes Welsh cuisine as being a distinctly original. This cuisine tends to be simple and hearty.
The cuisine of Wales features beef, lamb, seafood and unique vegetable creations. Pork is pretty much limited to being home style farm food. Smoked Bacon is part of many Welsh recipes and it is the featured ingredient in Tatws Pum Munud. Smoked bacon bits are used as a seasoning or garnish for many recipes, like Ponch Maip.
Tatws Pum Munud? Ponch Maip? The Cymraeg language may be difficult for many readers to decipher. The language of Wales is Celtic in origin. Celtic language is recognized as the indigenous native tongue of the British Isles. The old traditional Celtic language is usually called Cambrian. A high percentage of Welsh people use Cymraeg as a first choice language, even those English is the official business language in Europe.
Ponch Maip translates to "Mashed Swedes." Swedes are what many British people call Rutabaga. Rutabaga is a very old crossbreed of two types of turnip. The name Swede was given to rutabaga, because this vegetable grows wild in Sweden. The history of the origin of the rutabaga crossbreed is muddy, but most botanists agree that this vegetable was developed in Eastern Europe or Russia long before the 1600's.
Ponch maip can be served as a vegetable course and it can accompany meat. Ponch maip is often used as a topping for Welsh Shepherd's Pie.
Ponch Maip can be made a couple of different ways. The easiest method is to roast slices of rutabaga in an oven, till they just start to caramelize, then they are mashed. Potatoes are boiled separately and mashed. The two mashed root vegetables are then mixed together and butter is added.
The second Ponch Maip cooking method is to sauté the rutabaga with butter, till it lightly caramelizes. The butter gains a rich rutabaga flavor, so it should not be discarded.
This recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups. (1 hearty portion)
Step 1: Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Add 3/4 cup of coarsely chopped rutabaga.
Sauté the rutabaga till light golden brown highlights appear.
Step 2: Place the rutabaga and the butter from the pan in a sauce pot.
Add 3/4 cup of coarsely chopped peeled russet potato.
Add just enough water to cover the ingredients.
Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 3: Place the pot over medium heat.
Gently boil till the potatoes and rutabaga become very soft. Allow the liquid to reduce and stir the ingredients occasionally.
Step 4: Remove the pot from the heat.
Mash the ingredients till they are very smooth puree.
*Do not drain off the excess liquid! The liquid is loaded with flavor!
Step 5: Place the pot with the Ponch Maip over very low heat.
Simmer and stir occasionally, till the excess liquid evaporates and the ponch maip becomes thick enough to stand in a spoon.
Keep the ponch maip warm over very low heat.
Smoked Bacon Bits:
This recipe yields 1 garnish portion.
Cook 1 1/2 slices of chopped smoked bacon in a saute pan over medium low heat, till they are crispy golden brown.
Drain off the excess grease.
*Save the smoked bacon grease for cooking the pork chops!
Keep the smoked bacon bits warm on a stove top.
Grilled Pork Loin Cutlets and Ponch Maip:
This recipe yields 1 entrée.
Step 1: Season 2 boneless pork loin cutlets with sea salt and black pepper. (The cutlets should weigh about 3 to 4 ounces apiece.
Step 2: Heat a sauté pan (or cast iron griddle) over medium heat.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of the reserved smoked bacon grease.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
Sauté the cutlets on both sides till they are fully cooked and golden brown highlights appear. (Only flip the pork chops once, if they are thin.)
Remove the pan from the heat. Do not drain off the excess grease!
Step 3: Mound about 1/2 cups of the Ponch Maip on the back half of a plate.
Place the 2 grilled pork cutlets on the front half of the plate, so they lean against the Ponch Maip.
Step 4: Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of the bacon grease and butter from the sauté pan over the pork chops.
Sprinkle the reserved smoked bacon bits over the Ponch Maip.
Garnish with a curly leaf parsly sprig.
Welsh cuisine is comfort food at its best!