winter pork and blue cheese crumble with apple, leek and cider

winter pork and blue cheese crumble
with apple, leeks and cider

I see raised eyebrows and quizzical looks when I mention that I've made a savoury crumble for supper. "Can you do that?" people ask. "Of course I can do that" I think. It's not as if I need Superman - there is no heavy lifting involved!

I suppose most people associate crumble with fruit, dessert and custard. But think of it this way - any stew, casserole or bake that would normally be topped with say potatoes, dumplings or breadcrumbs can be turned into a crumble. Replace the sugar in your crumble topping with Parmesan cheese and you have a delicious crunchy topping for any winter warming supper.

This soothing crumble first came about as an attempt to use up leftover roast pork and nubs of old cheese. It transitioned with a few sausages, although I wasn't wild about the texture, and came into its own with chunks of lean pork.

I decided to include both apples and hazelnuts in the recipe, because I like the idea of including food that the pig might have been troughing on as it foraged through the orchards and woodlands of my fevered foodie imagination. It includes blue cheese as well because I think that it goes sublimely well with pork too, although sadly it doesn't grow on trees. (Although I suspect in my bucolic fantasy world it really would!)

While the cooked crumble topping is a rich brown colour, the filling looks a little beige (even bland). This is nothing further from the truth. However, I do like to serve this crumble with some buttered spinach (or savoy cabbage). I think the mineral green flavours cut through the richness of the crumble. I also include a little chopped salad (tomatoes, celery, spring onions, peppers), which adds a nice crunch, even if is not very seasonal. Flavour and texture is more important!

winter pork and blue cheese crumble
Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

Ingredients:1 tbsp vegetable oil (plus more if necessary)
25g butter
500g lean pork, diced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 leek, washed and sliced
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
300ml cider or apple juice
1 bay leaf
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 large Bramley apple, peeled, cored and diced (or use an eating apple if you prefer more crunch)
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
100ml crème fraîche
blue cheese (I used a mixture of Stilton and Shropshire Blue), crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper

fresh parsley, finely chopped (to serve)
crumble topping
50g plain flour
50g dried breadcrumbs
50g ground hazelnuts
1 tsp dried mustard powder
50g butter
50g Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, grated


  1. Heat the oil and butter together in a large saucepan, then add the pork and brown over a medium heat (in batches if necessary).
  2. Remove the browned meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Reheat the oil left in the saucepan (adding a splash more if necessary). Add the onion with a pinch of salt. Gently fry for 8 minutes until softened and almost translucent. Add the leek and garlic, and then cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Return the pork to the saucepan.
  5. Slosh in the cider or apple juice, together with the bay leaf, thyme sprigs and mustard. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid, and then simmer for 10 minutes until the pork is nearly tender.
  6. While the pork is cooking, make the crumble topping. Sift together the flour and mustard. Combine with the dried breadcrumbs and ground hazelnuts, until evenly distributed. Rub the butter and cheese into the dry mixture, until it resembles crumbs.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 200C / Gas Mark 6.
  8. Transfer the solids to a lightly buttered oven-proof dish. (Remove the bay leaf and the thyme stems, but not the thyme leaves).
  9. Stir through the diced apple.
  10. Bring the cider stock back to the boil and reduce by about half. Add the crème fraîche and half of the crumbled blue cheese. Heat gently until the cheese has melted.
  11. Add the cheese sauce to the pork mixture in the oven-proof dish. Stir well to combine.
  12. Stir through the remaining crumbled blue cheese.
  13. Scatter the crumble evenly over the pork mixture. Don't be tempted to pack it down as the bubbling stew beneath has a tendency to make a bid for freedom through the topping, like volcanic lava. It isn't the end of the world but you do end up with soggy crumble topping!
  14. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
  15. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. (It will be very hot!). Sprinkle over a little chopped fresh parsley.
  16. Serve with buttered spinach and a crunchy salad.


  • We've had this crumble the next day, reheated as a sort of hash, for breakfast, topped with a poached egg. God, I love leftovers!


o cozinheiro este algarve said...

A big round of applause!!! Long live the savoury crumble and fie on those who knock it- Deelicious.

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

It's the perfect example of "don't knock it 'til you've tried it"! Sadly it didn't win over Felicity Cloake at The Guardian :(

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Great minds think alike.I was just about to post a comment to you saying
"don´t knock it till you´ve tried it!!!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Ah ha! Though to be fair to some people, I can remember having some pretty awful savoury crumbles back in my vegetarian days - all very worthy but with all the taste of gravel!

belleau kitchen said...

just tried to leave a message and will try again... looks amazing... brilliant idea! x