Sunday 18 January 2009

Pork, Root and Cider Casserole

A brisk walk along Seaburn beach near Sunderland on any day of the year can have its moments but in mid-January, the wind whistles up your trouser leg and mocks your private parts. It's cold up north.

Nothing beats getting wrapped up in your best woollies and driving against the wind on a beach. It clears the cobwebs, fills your lungs with clean sea air and if you can stretch it out for a few hours, the sea air makes you ravenous meaning you can stuff your face once finished.

A sustaining casserole is always a welcome plate after a cold winter walk, especially a slow cooked one that you can set off before a walk then polish off on your return. Pork cooked with roots and cider makes for a sweet and satisfying plate of food, the roots natural sweetness teased out with the addition of a drop of honey. The meat falls apart with each mouthful; it is as easy to eat as it is to make.

So walk out to winter and make the most of it, as well as remembering to sustain yourself afterwards with a simple and reviving casserole such as this.

Pork, Root and Cider Casserole

Feeds 4

3 shallots, finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 swede, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 celeriac, peeled and chopped into chunks
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
4 juniper berries, squashed
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tbsp plain flour
200ml dry cider
300ml hot vegetable stock
1 tbsp honey
4 pork leg steaks
A handful of fresh sage, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 160C/Fan 140C/GM4.
2 - Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish and add the shallots. Cook for 5 minutes without colouring.
3 - Add the root vegetables, juniper berries, dried sage and bay leaves. Combine for 1 minute before stirring in the flour.
4 - Pour in the cider and stock and bring to the boil. Stir in the honey, place the pork steaks on top then cover and place into the oven. Cook for 2 hours, checking every 30 minutes to ensure it isn't boiling dry.
5 – Stir in the sage then taste for seasoning and serve with boiled or mashed potatoes and seasonal greens.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

This would be perfect fare for our Canadian winters David.

Aimée said...

We went out sledding yesterday--does that count? Even though we didn't go for very long, we came back ravenous!!!

Hollow Legs said...

Pork and cider is such a good combination. It's freezing here in London, so I imagine it's absolutely bitter there!

Anonymous said...

Adding cider to anything is great in my book David! Love that appley fun! Great comfort dish for the cold weather. Oh how I long to breathe in the sea air! :)

Sylvie said...

I would have loved to come home to some of this casserole after my run tonight. It started sleeting just as I was at the furthest point from home and never stopped until I got back. I was frozen and could have really done with something warm and comforting ready to be eaten.

Hannah said...

This looks scrumptious - hope all is well

Unknown said...

Cold up north it is indeed! I do agree though it blows away the cobwebs and a hearty dish like this one is great to enjoy afterwards. Mac

Rosie said...

A perfect casserole for when you come in from a brisk walk to warm the cockles of your heart ;)

Rosie x

Jan said...

The beaches in the NE can be pretty nippy in summer, I dread to think what they're like mid-winter. I'm not surprised that casserole hit the spot, it sounds scrummy.

It's been pretty cold around these parts of late, the other day we had a daytime high of 8F (-13C), but not much of the white stuff, thank goodness.

Anonymous said...

ok, i saw the post after this one and now i think i need THIS dish to warm my body on a winter night. yum.

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

David, a very nice comfort dish. I especially appreciate the flavour the roots impart in such a recipe. The cider is also a very nice touch. A great meal in a bowl!

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