Today I made my "meat and potatoes" husband really, really happy. I cooked him meat and potatoes . . . coz he gets tired of salads and "girlie" type foods . . . sometimes this man just has to have hearty sustenance! I am always happy to oblidge, coz . . . truth be told, I am a teensie bit "meat and potatoes" myself!!
I saw a similar recipe in a magazine that looked sort of good . . . but it wasn't quite like I wanted it to be, and so I kinda twisted it around a bit to make it my own. I completely changed the cooking method . . . and used completely different herbs . . . different flavours to make the gravy . . .
I trimmed and cut up pork loin into chunks, melted a bit of the fat that I had trimmed off, and then browned it until it was golden all over . . .
I used the traditional herbs that one would use to make stuffing . . . sage, parsley, nutmeg . . . salt and plenty of black pepper . . . nice and savoury . . .
Celery and onion . . . and lovely chunks of apple, which goes so very well with pork . . .
I created a delicious gravy using vegetable stock and apple juice (or cider if you are so inclined) . . .
And then I baked it in the oven in a covered casserole until the pork was meltingly tender and the gravy thickened and lucious . . . having imparted the fullness of it's flavour into the pork . . .
Then I covered it with some buttered slices of a french baguette and topped it with some cheese and returned it to the oven until those slices of baguette got all toasty brown . . . crisp on the edges . . . and yet a bit like like dumplings underneath . . .
I serve it with piles of fluffy mashed potato and steamed fresh asparagus . . . some of the gravy spooned over the potatoes . . . just the way he likes it.
He was happy. Very, very happy.
*Pork and Apple Bake with a Crispy Topping*
A lovely oven stew made with lean pork, onions, apples and celery, seasoned and then baked until tender. Once tender, it is topped with little cheddar and garlic toasts and baked until golden brown. Delicious!
450g of lean pork loin steaks, trimmed of any visible fat and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (about 1 pound)
(Save the fat trimmings)
1 medium onion peeled and chopped
2 stick of celery, trimmed and chopped
1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 tsp of dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp of dried sage flakes
sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
3 TBS flour
250ml of hot vegetable stock (1 1/4 cup)
250ml of apple cider or apple juice (1 1/4 cup)
For the topping:
2 TBS softened butter
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
200g of French stick, sliced (1 small baguette)
20g of strong cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 TBS)
(can use Parmesan cheesse if preferred)
Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat on top of the stove. Add the pork fat scraps and render them down until you have about 1 TBS of rendered fat. Remove and discard the scraps. Toss in the pork cubes and brown them all over. Add the onion and celery. Continue to cook and stir until they are softened. Add the herbs and seasonings. Sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat. Pour on the vegetable stock and the apple cider. Stir in the apple cubes. Bring to the boil, stir in the apples and then pour the whole mixture into a casserole with has a tight fitting lid. Cover and place into the heated oven. Bake for about an hour and a quarter.
While the pork is baking, stir together the garlic and the softened butter. Spread onto the slices of bread. Arrange these slices on top of the casserole at the end of the initial baking time and sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake for an additonal 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
This goes wonderfully with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.
Note: if you desire you may add several chopped parnips and carrots to the stew mix before you put it into the oven. This adds an additional depth of flavour and colour!