Boiled bacon and cider sauce

Serves 6-8

You can use a piece of back or streaky bacon for this – it's up to you – and choose between smoked or unsmoked; I prefer the smoked, personally. You can also add some peeled, small potatoes into the pan along with the bacon.

A piece of streaky or back bacon weighing about a kilo
2 onions, halved
15 black peppercorns
1ltr dry cider
1-1.5ltrs beef or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
About a tablespoon of cornflour
50g butter

Place the bacon in a large saucepan with the onions, peppercorns, cider, stock and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 1½ hours or until the bacon is tender.

Remove about a third of the liquid and transfer to a saucepan. Boil it rapidly until you end up with about 300-400ml.

Dilute the cornflour in a little cold water and stir enough into the reduced stock just to thicken it slightly, then whisk in the butter and season to taste if necessary.

To serve, remove the bacon from the stock, cut into 1cm-thick slices, arrange on a serving dish and spoon over the sauce.

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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