If you enjoy seasonal eating this pork and pear casserole is the perfect celebration of autumn. The combination of tender meat, piquant sauce and sweet, yielding pears makes a comforting but far from ordinary meal. I made it for visiting family the other week with one eye on possible leftovers and between us we scoffed the lot.
It cries out for creamy mashed potatoes to soak up the sauce. We added green beans on the side but carrots would work too – something with a contrasting texture and colour – because this dish is beautifully but undeniably beige.
It’s more usual to cook pork with apples and of course you can substitute them if that’s what you have (use a sharpish, crisp eater) but do try the pears if you can. They’re very good here. And if you live in a perry producing region you can try it in place of the cider. Either way use a good one, dry or medium dry, not a sweet fizzy alcopop.
You’ll need a deep lidded frying pan or casserole that will sit happily on the hob.
Pork with Pears
1 kg pork shoulder steaks, cut into rough chunks,trimmed of rind and most fat
2 tbs oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks of celery, de-stringed and chopped
2 tbsp plain (all purpose) flour
230ml dry or medium dry cider (I use Aspalls)
300ml chicken stock (a stock cube is fine)
2 tbsp grain mustard
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar
3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, quartered and cored
A bowl of water + the juice of 1/2 lemon, to stop the pear pieces browning
Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the meat on both sides in batches, removing to a plate when seared.
Add the onions and celery to the pan (you may need to add a little more oil), sprinkle with salt and cook gently until translucent and golden. Stir in the flour and cook off for a few minutes, then increase the heat, add the cider and let it sizzle up. Stir as it thickens and add the stock, grain mustard, pepper and salt and a pinch of sugar. Mix well.
Put the meat back in the pan, with any juices on the plate. Stir it in, cover with a lid and cook at a gentle simmer for about one hour, or until the meat is tender.
After about 40 minutes drain the pears and add to the pan, pushing them into the sauce. Put the lid back on and continue cooking as above. The timing for the pears depends on size and hardness, so if yours are really ripe, add them later as they’ll cook faster.
Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary before serving.