Porcine Shepherd’s Pie

The Christmas dilemma is usually what to do with leftover turkey, but in this case I fed my mum and my sister’s family on Boxing Day with a huge shoulder of slow-roasted pork, since when I’ve come up with a number of variants of dishes cooked with porky leftovers.  Nothing wrong with that of course – dinners made from the remains of the roast are often the most wonderful family dinners, though in my case it’s largely eating by myself, with a touch of help from the cats.

One good tip: buy on the bone, then cut the meat off and make yourself a big pot of bone stock with all the raw veg you have in the fridge.  Makes a great soup of course, then you can freeze stock in ice cube containers or takeaway pots.  In this case, there is plenty of lovely rich stock to make a variety of sauces too.

The first dinner was a curry for the kids, though it also fed me and a friend on a separate occasion.  Last night it was a tasty sweet-sour pork, but tonight it was the porky equivalent of a shepherd’s pie.  If a shepherd’s pie is made with lamb mince and the beef mince version is cottage pie, what do you call the piggy variety: swine herd’s pie maybe?

A word on the mincing, since I am not equipped with an old-fashioned cast iron mincer, as my mum was, nor a proper food processor.  You could of course chop your pork finely by hand, though I tried using my hand-held blender with the chopping attachment, and the narrow measuring jug you can also use for making fruit smoothies, whisking cream etc.  It seemed to work reasonably well, though you have to de-clog the blades occasionally, taking care to switch off the power to avoid the risk of adding chopped and sliced fingers to the dinner.

At any rate, this is a dead simple dish to cook, and can be changed to include any other ingredients you happen to have lying around waiting to be used.

Mince cooked pork so it is coarse.  Finely slice onion, carrot, leek and any other veg you wish to include.  I included some fresh sage, though you are welcome to substitute a sprinkling of any fresh or dried  herbs that appeal.

Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and add a little oil.  Gently sauté the veg for a couple of minutes, adding sea salt and ground black pepper.  Add the pork a little finely chopped garlic (optional.)  Stir to coat with oil and sauté for a minute.

Add warm pork stock so it covers the mixture, then bring to the boil.  Much better to use fresh, but pork stock cube is acceptable.  Try a little white wine with that too.  Simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, thicken to taste and add to a ceramic ovenproof dish appropriate to the number of people you have to feed.

Meanwhile, peel and cut up and cube some potato and swede.  Wash thoroughly to take away the starch from the potato, then cover with boiling water and a little salt.  Bring to the boil and cook for 12-15 minutes.  Drain thoroughly, then return the pan to the low heat.  Heat a small amount of milk and a good knob of butter.  Add the potato and swede, then mash well so you have a smooth, thick mixture.

Top the filling with the mash, using a fork to smooth over and cover evenly.  Grate some decent cheese and cover the dish with the cheese.  Put in a warm oven (c180c, gas mark 4) for half an hour.  Serve with veg of your choosing – home-made sweet-sour red cabbage in my case.

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