Creamy Slow Cooked Pork Casserole – perfect comfort food!
This is my kind of Friday night dinner when it’s been raining and miserable all day and you just want something really tasty to warm you up from the inside.
I’d contentedly scoff every bit of this dish, but that sauce over mashed potatoes? Yes, I could eat that for the rest of my life and not get bored.
The meat is browned and then slow cooked with stock and cider until lovely and tender. I like to chuck a few veggies in – just to make it a little bit healthier, and then it’s served on creamy mashed potatoes, and finished off with crispy fried bacon lardons or pancetta.
Sometimes referred to as Somerset Pork casserole (this is generally made using a dry Somerset cider, and with the addition of apples in the sauce) or Normandy Pork (made using french cider or brandy, apples, crème fraîche and bacon lardons, sometimes dijon mustard too), I like to pick a few flavours from both. So for me it’s:
- Dry cider (alcoholic version)
- Cream rather than crème fraîche (sometimes crème fraîche can split, so I prefer to use cream – make sure it’s double/heavy cream though – the higher the fat content, the less likely it is to split.)
- Crispy bacon lardons – Often these are crisped up, then cooked in the casserole with the pork, but I prefer to sprinkle them on at the end so they retain all the crispy saltiness.
- I sometimes make it with apple slices. If you do, just add them for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking so they don’t go mushy.
It’s a really good meal to make ahead and then reheat later. It’s also great when you’re cooking for lots of people – a large batch that everyone can spoon out onto their plates is ideal. Plus it’s easily made gluten free too.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 500g (1.1 pounds) diced pork
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp celery salt (optional – I find it adds a nice savoury flavour)
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 12 baby mushrooms, chopped in half
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 250ml (1 cup) dry cider (usually gluten free, but best to check)
- 420ml (1¾ cups) chicken or vegetable stock (water plus 2 stock cubes is fine, or use 2 tsp bouillon for gluten free)
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 150g (1/2 cup) bacon lardons or chopped streaky bacon
- 1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with 3 tbsp cold water
- 60ml (1/4 cup) double (heavy) cream
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- To Serve:
- Mashed potatoes
- Steamed kale or other green veg
- Preheat the oven to 170c/325f.
- Heat 1½ tbsp of the vegetable oil in a large casserole dish until hot. Add the pork, salt, pepper and celery salt and brown on all sides - it should take around 6-8 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add in the onion. Cooked for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion softens.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for a further two minutes, then add the carrots, cider, stock and dried thyme. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Stir and scrape up any bits than may have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Place a lid on the pan, and place in the oven for 2½ to 3 hours*, until the pork flakes apart when you press it with a fork. Check a couple of times during the last hour of cooking and add a splash of water or stock if it's starting to look a little dry.
- Just before the casserole comes out of the oven, heat the remaining ½ tbsp oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon lardons until crispy. Turn off the heat.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and stir in the cornstarch and water mixture to thicken, then stir in the cream. Taste and season with a little more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve with green veg on top of mashed potatoes. Sprinkle on a little chopped parsley before serving.