Pork stew and why I am the Casserole King.

I used to think it was pretty straightforward. “Build it and they will come” was my approach. A pork stew was a pork stew. If I announced it and cooked it, they would be there, happy to be fed in the family kitchen.  In more recent times, I have noticed a worrying trend. The casual conversation is no longer “Whatyacooking Pops?”. No, it has shifted slightly towards “Oh, Pork Casserole. How are you cooking it? What are you adding? What will make it really special this time?”.

If my description is zazzy enough, I will get agreement to dine. Often, if I have excelled myself, there will be a request to bring some friend or even a randomer or two along to eat me out of house and home. I try to avoid being sullen and feeling put upon. Instead, their quizzing on content and method has spurred me on to greater creativity.

Creativity that this time leads to Pork Casserole with Cranberries and Dried Apricots. Uniquely in my posts, this time I have two ingredients shots.

Pork, apricot and cranberry casserole

Those are bags of frozen chicken stock behind the meat. The barrel at the back is the flour.

I excelled myself in leaving out the following from the first photo;

Pork, apricot and cranberry casserole.

7 of the ingredients missed on my first pass. I have to try harder.

And having thought it through, I completely forgot the paprika. There is a generous teaspoon of the smoked variety in this fine dish.

Here’s what I did.
Frist I added the pork pieces to a large kitchen bowl and added seasoned flour to cover before frying this off, in olive oil, in the casserole dish.

Pork, apricot and cranberry casserole

The ‘bowl bound’ pork getting a good stirring from me. It is far easier to do in a plastic bag. If only I had a plastic bag…

Side note: I normally do this in a plastic bag but since we got a new hound, all the plastic bags (secreted from the vegetable department of the supermarket) get taken out on walks with the hound. You can work the rest out yourself. 

Pork, apricot and cranberry casserole

The pork pieces browning nicely in the bottom of the casserole dish.

I make a point of scraping the browned flour off the bottom of the casserole to prevent it burning. It goes back in with the meat and adds to the flavour.

Pork, apricot and cranberry casserole

The brown bits. Be sure to prevent them from burning. there is lots of flavour in there.

Next I sweated down the onions, celery, garlic and ginger. Then I added the pork, the stock, the paprika, the bay leaves, the tomatoes and some seasoning. This was heated on the hob for a while. Then I added the carrots, apricots and cranberries (The action shot of this is at the top of the post).

Pork, apricot and cranberry casserole

Cue the picture of the unusual ingredients. Note the use of one of the fancy plates.

Into a 170 degree C oven for two and a half hours and out comes a magnificent casserole.

Pork, apricot and cranberry casserole

I am thinking of changing my name to “The Casserole King”. This is a winner.

They all showed up. They ate their fill and gave it high praise. Now all I have to do is improve on it for the next time…

Pork, apricot and cranberry casserole

I served it with mash. I love mash with stew. The green bit is a celery leaf. It’s all I had to do the job.

In the better food blogs, around about this point is where the “Wine Paring” takes place. I will not disappoint you either. Everything you need to know is on the label. Everything you want to know is that it was delicious and a perfect partner for this, the  King of Casseroles by the Casserole King.

Fine Italian wine

A fine fruity Italian wine to go with a nice tomatoey casserole.

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Latest comments
  • Absolutely gorgeous and inventive and all that good stuff! I am very busy ruminating on how I do NOT do wine pairings. the plonk I’ve got is the plonk that goes…but then again, with a name like Hot, Cheap & Easy, I guess I will never be accepted into the lofty environs of the better blogs! Truly wonderful post; I love the cranberry colors….

    • Thanks. I think you could do great stuff by featuring the wine you have. Usually, that’s what I am doing. If you say it with enough authority, they will believe you!
      Happy Christmas,

  • You’ve outdone yourself again Conor. Such nice photos and although pork and fruit is a famous combination, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of pork with cranberries and dried apricots before. I like the wine pairing, you definitely need something fruity and spicy from the south with the tomatoes and fruit. I also noticed ginger in the picture, making it even harder to pair. You write about recipes like Italians often do – just a general guideline rather than precise instructions. I like that, since I usually don’t follow precise instructions anyway 😉
    Merry Christmas to you & the family!

    • Thanks Stefan. If I learned to cook from anybody (and that is doubtful) it is from my Mum. She never measured anything precisely and always got great results. I believe it is very different in baking. That is for another day.
      Have a great Christmas yourselves too,

  • A very brave flavor combination and gorgeous photos. Bravo!

  • Hi Connor,
    Very new to this whole blogging enviro,, but sooo very impressed with the quality of the work here; The chefery, (not a proper word but should be), and the self depreciating humour. Thank you for your recipes and yummy pics, congrats on your well deserved awards, v pleased to have found your posts, look forward to what you may bring us through the seasons and best wishes for a super christmas- from an old humbug. Adam

    • Hi Adam, excellent to hear from you and to have such kind things said about my ramblings.
      May I wish you and yours a fantastic Christmas from another old interweb Humbug.

      • Conor
        What an inauspicious start; spelling your name wrong. How shame-making! A thousand apologies. My excuse, if there can be one, is that I was typing on my tablet and its keypad is a bit weeny.
        About to leave the office to head home and start to prep the veg, cook the gammon and begin marinating the pork for Boxing Day. If the pork I have planned works out as well as hoped I’ll share the recipe.
        Have a great Chrimbo.

        • I am a lifetime with people mis-spelling and mis-pronouncing my last name. A little bit on the first name does not offend at all. I look forward to seeing what you get up to.
          Happy Christmas,

        • I have a comical surname straight out of a dyslexic Lewis Carol book so I well know the feeling, but therefore I have less of an excuse. Anyhow, to the kitchen, to cook! Eat, drink and be merry for in the new year we will diet.

  • What a great way to cook pork! You’ve got me trying to figure out which grocery store is most likely to have dried apricots. I will make this stew. Thanks for sharing.
    Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday and New Year.

    • Thanks John, it was a bit of fun. Wishing you and yours likewise.

  • Conor never fails my expectations – a delicious and healthy menu!

    John Mulry

  • All hail to the King: in all fairness this really does look that it should be on the immediate menu list, even in the middle of summer Down Under 🙂 ! Being European-born our Yule celebrations here have started: so may I raise a glass to you and yours – have a happy end to the year and an even better beginning to the new! And thanks !!

    • Thank you Eha, Wishing you and yours a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year,

  • I like this very much – good honest stuff – and I have two bags (not one but two) of cranberries in the freezer, ready to prepare my world famous walnut, parsnip and cranberry roast, especially for the vegetarian members of my family for Christmas dinner…who have now dropped out, leaving me with a load of walnuts, parsnips and cranberries which i no longer need – at least i have an option with the cranberries…

    • The parsnips are fantastic cut up chip size and roasted with black pepper. Really simple and very tasty. I did them in a post recently. http://wp.me/p1NUXa-Ey Apologies for self promotion on Christmas Eve!
      That just leaves the walnuts. They are great on muesli in January. Very good for reducing the blood pressure (or so my Mother in Law says).
      Happy Christmas!

      • I bought a whole lot of walnuts, and cranberries and chesnuts, to make a delightful nut roast – then found out that the people I was making it for weren’t turning up, so I didn’t bother and now I have a load of veggie stuff in the freezer and I can’t be arsed to do anything with it. It’ll all be in the bin by March

        • I know that feeling. Our freezer is at bursting point too.

  • Great post – Merry Christmas 🙂

  • Beautiful casserole King Casserole! Do you mind if I call you KC from now on? I like the apricots and cranberries, a little sweet and sour going on there. Nicely done, yet again.

    • Thanks Richard. You can call me anything as log as you don’t call me too early in the morning (as somebody famous once said). Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

  • I’m happy that I can say that I know the casserole king and that he not only knows how to make a great casserole but his recommendations on wine are wonderful as well. I do know that whatever you prepare for Christmas will be wonderful. Enjoy the day with your wonderful family.

    • Thanks Karen, I am taking the day off photographing and so forth for fear of losing my remaining relationship with said family. Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

  • Love those vibrant colors in this stew/casserole. Lovely post. Happy holidays Conor!

    • Thanks Anne, It was fun to try and tasty too.

      Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

  • Your Highness, I am indeed impressed with your casserole craftsmanship. If I lived on your side of the Atlantic, I would definitely (hope to) be one of those random dinner guests. Well done, sir.

    • Welcome any time Tommy,
      Wishing you and yours a peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

      • Thanks Conor. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2013 to you and your family, too.

  • A nice and creative combination of ingredients, I know it would have tasted quite awesome. Out here, the Parsis (a community who fled Iran to India when Islam took over their country over a thousand years ago) do some mean apricot dishes. Here’s a recipe you could try for one of my favourites – Jardaloo Ma Gosh or Mutton with Apricots: http://parsicuisine.com/jardaloo-ma-gos/

  • And a Merry Christmas to you Conor 🙂

  • I love this! I’m a big fan of cranberries but a novice on pork stew-making… perhaps I should throw my pork-cooking fears aside and make this delicious looking meal! Am I missing your exact measurements, or is this a “throw everything into a pot in amounts that you see fit” sort of stew? Which I am totally down to try… And thank you for visiting my blog, by the way!

    • I’m a throw it in the pot sort of guy. With stews, it’s about what tastes right. Sorry for my imprecision.
      Happy New Year to all the Webbs.

  • A very appetizing stew! I love stews in wintertime! MMMMMMM!

  • Your photos are beautiful Conor! And you certainly come up with great stews!

    • Thanks indeed. High praise indeed from one of the best food photographers I know.

  • Indeed! You are the casserole king! You have lots of scrumptious stew recipes!

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