If you thought I’d become lazy about taking photos you would be absolutely right. For a change I really wanted to tuck into this lunch whilst it was still hot. Instead of faffing around with heating, reheating and taking photos until I’m red in the face and the air has been well tainted with expletives. So, after a couple of quick shots and dismantling all ASAP I feasted at my leisure. Hah! That aside there were a couple of things about this that surprised me. The dried figs I bought are very sweet eaten straight out of their box. Pleased to say that’s not the case with this gravy. Especially as I’m not overly keen on any savoury that’s too sweet, nor too salty for that matter. The tiny and numerous seeds of the figs left me bemused initially as they’re slightly crunchy – something I happened to like. The meat, importantly, was melt in the mouth delicious. This is incredibly easy to make and prep, even if it takes nearly two hours to cook. That’s the beauty, or beast, about using diced pork or any other type of meat that needs to be cooked as a casserole or within a stew. I prefer this cut of meat as I’m much more keen on letting things cook whilst I get on with other stuff. And the end result is always incredibly tasty.
Pork and Figs, with herbs and onions
- 315g x diced pork, suitable for casseroles (more diced pork to personal taste), rinsed and patted dry
- 1 x large onion, halved, peeled, trimmed and sliced crossways
- 1 x dried bay leaf, split
- a little water
- 1 x large or 3 x smaller sprigs fresh thyme, rinsed and any wood cut out and discarded
- 1 x large stem fresh curly leaf parsley
- 3 x organic garlic cloves, root end cut off and discarded, garlic kept whole
- 1/2 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 500ml x cold water
- 2 x carrots, peeled, trimmed and cut in halves
- 2 x parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut in halves
- 1/4 x teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 x dried figs, stem end cut out and discarded, figs sliced
- 1/2 x packed teaspoon freshly grated ginger – optional
- seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- Put a large heavy-based saucepan on electric heat No 4 (out of 6). When pan is hot add enough oil to coat its base. Carefully place the diced pork inside and allow to settle. Reduce heat to No 3 if there are any signs of scorching. Brown the meat on all sides, stirring occasionally. This took at least 20 minutes on my hob.
- When meat is nicely browned add the onions and bay leaf and stir through. Put a lid on top and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring through occasionally and reducing heat to No 2 if necessary. Don’t worry too much if the meat catches a little at this stage. Although scorching isn’t wanted.
- Add a little water to help loosen any sediment, then add the herbs with the garlic cloves. Stir through. When the root veg are ready add those to the pan along with the water, cayenne, half a stock cube and sliced figs. Stir through to combine and up the heat to No 4 with a lid on pan that isn’t fully closed to allow some steam to escape. This might seem to be a lot of water at this stage but the stew has to cook, after it reaches boiling point and the heat reduced to No 2 for about 40 minutes to ensure the meat is melt in the mouth tender. The root veg can be removed when cooked and reheated again just before serving. The gravy will reduce, and if it isn’t reducing enough remove the lid and up the heat again to either No 3 or 4 until the gravy reduces to the consistency needed. Taste for any needed seasoning and add ginger toward the end of cooking time, if using (leaving at least 10 minutes for the ginger to infuse).
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