Apparently it is 'British Pie Week' which is as good an excuse as any to try out a new pie recipe!
I am so used to making a beef or chicken pies, but had never tried using pork.
So this is a very simple method with a classic flavour combination 'Pork and Apple'. It is delicious and worth a try if those flavours appeal to you! I cooked it in a Le Creuset casserole dish on the hob, then cooked slowly in the oven for 4 hours. However it would work just as well in a slow cooker.
The ingredients are flexible, I used celery, parsnips and carrots as that is what I happened to have to hand. But I think any root veg would work well. Also regarding herbs, I bought sage especially to use with this, as I know it goes particularly well with Pork. However I added a handful of parsley as well at the end, as it adds a freshness to the dish. Sage and parsley isn't a known flavour combo, but it worked in this case! So that option is your choice.
Ingredients - to feed 2-4:
500g diced pork shoulder. You can buy pre cut, or buy shoulder steaks and dice yourself.
1 stick of celery
2 large carrots
1 large onion
1 large parsnip.
100ml dry cider
300ml vegetable stock (pork or chicken is also fine)
2 eating apples
A little plain flour
Sage leaves (chopped)
A handful of fresh parsley (chopped)
Ready roll puff pastry - absolutely no need to make your own!
1 egg beaten to glaze the pastry.
Firstly prep your veg. Peel the carrots, parsnip and roughly chop. I tend to cut them into 1 inch pieces. However if you prefer finely chopped veg go for it. I know my children prefer it when the veg is hidden!Then finely chop your onion and celery.
Heat approx 1 tbsp of olive oil in a casserole dish on the hob and pre heat your oven to 140 (fan). 160 (non fan).
Whilst the oil is getting nice and hot, lightly coat your pork pieces in plain flour. Season well.
I usually do this in a bowl, but it works well in a sandwich bag if you want to reduce mess!
Brown the pork in two batches in the hot oil. Turn frequently, you want the edges of the pork to brown nicely, all the slightly burnt bits just add flavour to the stew. Once nicely browned take out of the dish and set aside until later.
Now add the onion to the casserole dish, fry gently until translucent and caramelised. Add a little extra oil if needed.
Return the browned pork to the casserole dish and mix with the onions and add half the sage. Slowly pour in the cider stirring continuously to make a roux. It should be thick and bubbling. Slowly add the stock, stirring continuously until you have a nice gravy like consistency.
Add the veg. Bring the stew to the boil on the hob and then gently simmer to reduce.
Now peel your apples, chop and add to the dish. I always leave this until last, as otherwise the apples tend to go brown. Add to the stew, stir a final time, turn your hob off and place the casserole dish in the oven.
You need to cook slowly in the oven until the pork is meltingly tender. This usually takes 3-4 hours. Basically the longer you leave it the better. After 2 hours, check on the stew. Give it a good stir, taste and add more seasoning/herbs if necessary. Then leave another hour or so.
About 30 mins before you are ready to eat, spoon the stew into a pie dish.
Then top the dish with the pastry.
* If you haven't done this before, I always cover the rim of the pie dish with a thin strip of pastry, before topping the pie with a rectangle slightly overlapping the dish.
I 'glue' this rectangular top to the rim using beaten egg. Then firm the edges down using a fork. Then I make air holes by pricking the top all over with a fork. Lastly I brush the pastry with egg and pop into the oven at 160 fan (180 no fan).