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Swineherd’s Pie? November 12, 2009

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Eating Down the Fridge, random stuff.
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I guess that’s what you’d call this.  I mean, if a shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb (or, more likely, mutton), then a similar pie made with leftover pork must be a swineherd’s pie, wouldn’t you agree?

I knew you would.

So a while back, I came across a “recipe” for a pork roast that was, frankly, so simple it was ridiculous.  So, of course, we tried it.  All we did was stick a boneless pork shoulder roast in a casserole, sprinkle a splash of Worcestershire over it, pat a couple of handfuls of brown sugar on the top, and pour a couple of inches of apple cider along the sides.  That’s it.  And it was . . . OK.  A little bland – next time, I’d definitely rub some salt and pepper (and maybe a little Dijon mustard?) on the meat before doing anything else.

PhotobucketAnd so we had quite a bit of roast left over, as can be expected, and I thought  “some kind of pie-y thing” would be a good idea.  And while I did have a couple of extra pie crusts in the freezer (I made extra just in case my blueberry pie experiment failed) that need to be used up, I decided to go with a mashed potato topping.

Make that a mashed potato and parsnip topping.  We do love our parsnips!

I’m going to warn you now – we just sort of made this up as we went along.  What I was going for was layers of flavor, with each layer well-seasoned and perfectly prepared before being added to the mix.

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So we boiled three potatoes, together with two big-ish parsnips until they were mashable, then we put them through the potato ricer.   Does that seem like a bit of overkill?  Probably.  Does it produce beautifully smooth mashed potatoes?  Absolutely!

Add to the potato-parsnip mash just a hunk of butter, a little milk, some salt and pepper, and some fresh herbs (of course!) – a bit of sage, rosemary and thyme.  Not much, mind you – just enough to act as an accent.

I had intended to add a couple of caramelized onions to the potato mixture, but decided to stir them into the filling instead.

PhotobucketI think, next time, I’ll either use LOTS more onions, or I’ll layer them right under the potatoes – they were good, just a little lost.

Since we saved the cider-brown sugar cooking liquid to make a gravy, I also chopped a couple of Granny Smith apples and browned them a bit, too, after we were done browning the onions.  A little bite of sweetness in the midst of all the veggies?  Yay!

We added in a couple of cups of roasted butternut squash – I was roasting a couple of pans to put in the freezer, so some just sort of got . . . diverted, that’s all.

PhotobucketOnce the apples were done to our satisfaction, we braised a couple of carrots and some celery.  I chopped them into, essentially, bite-sized pieces, sauteed them for a few minutes, and poured a little chicken stock over them, covered the pan, and let them just simmer until they were soft.

I’m going to be honest with you – both the carrots and the celery were completely unnecessary.  The squash more than sufficed as a sweet-ish, orange vegetable, and the celery?  Was just wrong.

So there was just one more component – some garden-fresh Swiss chard!  I wanted some greens to balance the sweetness of the cider and the squash, so we chopped a bunch and sauteed it before stirring it in.

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Unfortunately, just like soup often does, this casserole (because let’s face it – that’s what it is!) sort of got away from me – I had to switch to a bigger baking dish!  So once everything was stirred gently in a large mixing bowl, we dumped into a LARGE greased casserole:

  • about half a pork roast, leftover and cut into maybe a 1-inch dice
  • 2-3 onions, chopped and well-caramelized
  • 2 chopped apples, browned slightly in butter
  • 1 squash, cut into 2-inch chunks and roasted
  • 1 large bunch Swiss chard, chopped and sauteed
  • a bit of fresh herbage, salt and pepper, seasoning each ingredient as necessary
  • don’t even bother with celery and carrots

Then, just pour over everything the gravy that’s left from the roast, or some basic sauce made with a roux and chicken (or whatever) stock.   Because we didn’t make the gravy until that day, we had plenty – it was probably 2-3 cups, I’d guess.

And then we top with a generous layer of mashed parsnippy potatoes.  I was going to pipe them on, since they were certainly smooth enough after being riced, but, to be honest, I forgot. That, and it would have been just a little over the top, wouldn’t it?  Be sure to cover the entire casserole with the potatoes.

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Now, we didn’t bake this right away – we put it together on a Sunday (from pork roast that was already a few days old), and it was planned for later in the week, so we wrapped it well in foil and just slid it into the freezer.

PhotobucketWhen it was time to bake it, I should have taken it out of the freezer the night before, and would definitely do that next time!  Into a moderate oven – maybe 350° or so – still covered, for (still frozen) a couple of hours, or until hot through.  Then we uncovered it and let the potatoes get nice and toasty – yum!

Obviously, this was enough to feed a small army!  And it was absolutely delightful, even with the few missteps we took.  It was lunch for a couple of days, then I packed it into my single-serving ceramic soup mugs and shoved it in the freezer for later lunches.  Lucky, lucky me!

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