Monday, 7 January 2013

Comfort food...

Pork casserole
I guess everyone has a dish or two that they can rely on to lift the spirit - proper comfort food that warms body and soul.  Well, the dish that comes to mind for me is a homemade casserole!  Already when bubbling away on the stove or in the oven, the aroma filling the house makes me smile.  Even Keith, the dog gets excited (although he also does when I empty the kitchen bin, so we won't take his opinion too seriously).

What I love about this particular meal is that it is easy and requires minimum input - just a bit of chopping, some quick frying and then some time in the oven.  You can use pretty much anything you have in the fridge and larder and it's perfect for using up leftover veg.  We had a pork one with peppers, onions, garlic, tomato and a hint of chilli as well as seasoning.  You could use chicken instead of the pork or make a vegetarian option by adding mushrooms, baby corn, etc.  Served on rice (as we did), mashed potato or in a baked spud - really versatile, really easy, really tasty! :-)  What is your ultimate comfort food? 

Casserole with Pork & Peppers (serves 2 generously)

A comforting dish that almost cooks itself whilst you watch your favourite TV show, do the ironing,...

1 tbsp vegetable oil
300g pork (cubed)
2 - 3 peppers (any colour)
1 large onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 vegetable stock cube, 1 bay leaf, water, corn flour
Optional: other seasoning such as chilli or paprika if you would like it to be a bit spicier or Italian herbs for a more Mediterranean feel

  1.  Preheat the oven to 100 degrees (fan oven)
  2. Dust the cubed pork with corn flour and set aside(Note: by using corn flour, the meat not only stays nice & moist but it also acts as thickener for the sauce)
  3. Cut the peppers and onion into chunks; crush the garlic
  4. Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan on a medium heat and once hot, add the pork, vegetables, garlic and bay leaf
  5. Fry for 2 minutes, then lower the heat and add enough water to just cover the ingredients
  6. Add the stock cube and stir in the tomato puree
  7. Transfer the dish to the oven and cook on a low temperature (100 degrees in a fan oven) for at least 90 minutes but longer if possible, checking now and again that there is enough liquid left in the pot - if not, add a little more water
  8. Adjust seasoning if required and serve with rice or mashed potato

This dish also works very well with chicken or as a vegetarian alternative with lots of vegetables such as baby corn & mushrooms, reducing cooking time accordingly.

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