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Thursday, 24 January 2013

pork: the trilogy

Red wine obligatory

All the best things come in threes...Coppola's The Godfather, Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, fun-sized 90's boyband 911 ('Bodyshaking' anyone?)... and my pork, which gave every indication of being never ending. But a trilogy it is- for this is my third and final austerity cook, pulled-pork recipe. You have my word. This recipe will finish off any of the leftovers, and can be stuck at the back of the freezer until you feel ready to face the remnants of your pork shoulder once more.

And so in a bid to see away the last of my meat, I turned to that reliable bastion of leftovers- the humble pie. You could, I suppose, just chuck a clump of leftover meat into a pie dish, cover with a layer of shortcrust, and I daresay it would still taste perfectly lovely. A lot of blood, sweat and (I admit...) tears went into that joint of pork, and its leftovers won't fail you. But what this blog might lack in imagination name-wise, it makes up for in its cooking- if I may say so myself, anyway.

So, I present to you all...

Swine-Herders Pie

Arguably not the most sophisticated sounding of dishes, but since it's essentially a bastardized shepherds pie with pork, it seemed fitting enough.

What You Need:

  • As you'd imagine, you'll be needing a pie dish. I used a 24cm stoneware Le Creuset one, as it distributes the heat nicely (so no scorched bottoms), and it looks pretty enough to serve at the table. Mine is purple, if you care to know.
  • Enough leftover pork to fill your pie dish 2/3 of the way to the brim.
  • Oil for cooking
  • 3 juniper berries. It may not sound like much, but more and you'll feel like you've spiked the dish with bathtub gin. Which is no bad thing, I suppose.
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp bashed-up cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 diced shallots
  • 2  garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200ml cider. Something slightly sweeter works well with this.
  • 1 pint good quality beef stock
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • Soy sauce
  • Juice and zest of two limes
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional, but nice- omit if egg intolerant, or you've forgotten to buy eggs)
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Coriander, to garnish

This looks like a fairly hefty list of ingredients for something that's just using up leftovers, but most of this should be in your store cupboard. If it isn't, put it there and I promise you'll use it up eventually.

What You Do:

Mash things. Except there's only one
 lime there. You need two. Sorry.
1.Preheat your oven to 200 degrees fan-assisted, hotter if not. Whack in your sweet potatoes just as they are. Take them out an hour later, or once the skin starts to pucker, puff, and char slightly. Leave them to cool on the side, and turn your oven down to 190 degrees.

2. About an hour into the potato cooking time, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil (nothing too flavoursome- just olive, or plain old veg) in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, over a medium heat. Add your three juniper berries, the cumin seeds, chilli flakes and bashed-up cloves.

3. Give these a few minutes to infuse the oil, and then chuck in your chopped garlic and shallots. Turn the heat down, and stir fairly regularly to make sure they don't catch- you should know how I feel about burnt allium by now. Soften for a few minutes.

4. Now add your pork and stir to heat through, breaking up any big chunks with a wooden spoon. Once hot, add your cinnamon, cider, beef stock and cayenne. Allow to bubble away for at least twenty minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. You want the liquid to reduce enough that your pie has a decent gravy, but won't be swimming in it.

An unnecessary photo of a potato masher.
5. While that's simmering, start peeling your potatoes- you should be able just to rip the skin away. It really is worth waiting until they've cooled a bit before attempting this. Hot potatoes are hot. Pop them into a large bowl, and mash up with the mango chutney, lime juice and zest, soy sauce and lots of pepper. This is the Jamie Oliver version of sweet potato mash, and I've never looked back- it's amazing. Check whether the soy sauce has added enough salt- if not, use sea salt. You don't want your pie topping to look like mud, after all.

6. Check on your pork filling- tweak any spices to taste, and season. If you happen to have any leftover cooked veg hanging around the fridge, feel free to throw that in now. Take your pan off the heat, and allow to cool slightly.

7. Pour or ladle the filling into your pie dish of choice, and top with the mashed sweet potato. You want it to look nice and rustic- ploughed, almost. The peaks catch in the oven and give the whole dish a good bit of colour. Brush lightly all over with your beaten egg for a bit of a crust once it's cooked, and then sprinkle all with your sesame seeds and a last twist of salt and pepper.

8. Place in the middle of your oven, and cook for 35 minutes. You might hear a bit of hissing and spluttering as the gravy seeps up over the crust and inevitably trashes your oven, but don't be alarmed. Just coerce a grateful pie-recipient into cleaning it later. Once it's out, garnish lavishly with coriander leaves, and serve with salad, crusty bread, and a bottle of your favourite hot sauce.

For some post-pie viewing- enjoy this on me...

mrs hunt.x

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