Bacon chop with laverbread and cockles

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Laverbread is one ingredient that is unique to Wales, and while I was there on the Gower coast, we stumbled by accident across a small-time producer of this nutritional seaweed pulp. We had checked out a couple of large-scale cockle and laverbread producers and on our way back, Horace, father of Richard Cook of the Severn and Wye Smokery, remembered a chap he had bought laverbread from a couple of years ago. We found the house and went into his back garden, where he had just finished the boiling and mincing process of this locally gathered sea weed. He let me stick my finger into one of the stacked up trays of steaming laver. It was quite delicious and you could just taste the nutrients on the end of your finger.

Laverbread is traditionally eaten with bacon and cockles for breakfast but can be served with grilled or steamed fish, or as a side dish, and is a perfect replacement for a nut cutlet for vegetarians.

I've used a bacon chop here which can be cut from a piece of whole back. You could use thick slices cut from a side of streaky or back bacon. A good old-fashioned pork butcher will sell a piece of whole bacon joint to cut into chops, or you could settle for thick rashers of bacon. Laverbread is sold fresh locally and in cans from specialist food halls. Depending on where you live you will find laverbread fresh, or canned. Try to buy the fresh if possible as there is a world of difference.

4 thick bacon chops weighing about 120-150g each (on the bone they will be heavier)
200-250g laverbread
A good knob of butter
350g fresh cockles (optional)

If you are using cockles, leave them in a bowl of cold water, agitating them every so often with your hand to loosen any sand, then wash under clean running water for 5 minutes.

Pre-heat a grill, or griddle and cook the bacon chops for 4-5 minutes on each side. Meanwhile put the laverbread in a pan with a knob of butter and gently reheat. If using cockles, put them into a large saucepan with a little water and a teaspoon of salt and cook on a high heat with a lid, shaking the pan every so often until they open, then drain in a colander.

Spoon the laverbread on to a plate with the bacon chop and the cockles scattered over.

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