I love inventing new food ideas instead of just slavishly following recipes. Once you’ve spent years doing the hard yards in learning the basics of how to bake and make and blend flavours skilfully you are free to do just as you like. And in the age of fusion cuisine there is endless potential to create rather than conform.
Today I came up with a way of using up cooked pork which was so good I thought I’d share it. And the basic idea can be adapted to other meat, vegies and ingredients.
Earlier in the week I’d roasted a shoulder of pork (from IGA at only $3.99 a kilo!) and though we’d had two meals from it and a lot of sandwiches there was still heaps left over. And what else do you have left over after roast pork? Why, apple sauce of course! So I needed to use that up too.
RECIPE (feeds 2 – 4 depending on what you serve with it)
Olive oil (about 4 tablespoons – I rarely measure!)
4 baby eggplant (brinjal, aubergine) or one large one
Quantity of cooked pork (I used about 250 – 300 grams)
Chopped lettuce (or cabbage; I happened to have the last of a week-old lettuce to use up)
1 dessertspoon (approx.) mustard seeds. Optional.
1 dessertspoon of garlic (fresh or minced)
1 large glass of white wine
Water as required, about a small glass full
Salt and pepper
4 large tomatoes
Sage, thyme and fennel
Heat the oil in a heavy pan (with thick base and lid) and lightly fry mustard seeds, then add onions. When lightly browned add eggplant and carrot, then meat. Turn it over with a wooden spoon so it is all coated with oil and lightly fried. Add lettuce, garbage, garlic, the leaves from a sprig of thyme, and just a tiny bit of fennel. Toss around a bit with the spoon, then add wine, salt and black pepper.
While this is gently cooking, cut out the tomato stem scars and make a bit of a hole in the top, scooping out some pulp and adding to the pot. Fill the hollows with apple sauce, sprinkle with salt, black pepper and fresh sage and place carefully on top of the meat and veg in the pot. Add a thickener to the mixture in the pot – either flour, cornflour (mixed first to smoothness with cold water) or a packet or mushroom soup (which is what I used) – using just enough water, about a small glass, to make a sauce that is not too thick and not too runny. Put the lid or other tight covering on the pot and simmer for 15 minutes, making sure it doesn’t stick and burn. You could also cook for half an hour in a pre-heated medium oven. Slow-cooking would be okay but the tomatoes would wrinkle and not present so well. Serve with rice, pasta or potatoes – mine today will be served with potatoes that have been boiled and then lightly browned in oil.
The good thing with this dish is that the astringency of the tomatoes and sweetness of the apple sauce (lightly flavoured with sage) cuts down the rich and slightly fatty taste of pork. It’s a delightful contrast.
Any left over vegies could also be added to this dish, or a few frozen peas, or fresh pumpkin, or sweet potato – anything you fancy.
You can make this dish early in the day, or the day before, and reheat gently when required.