Well let me say this… It was a stupendous dish.
One thing about Jamie Oliver is that he never fails to impress in enabling the reader/cook/guinea pig to achieve gourmet results using really simple recipes.
The cookbook I am using at the moment is Jamie does Spain, Italy, Sweden, France, Morocco and Greece. It is inspired by his travels, and so each country gets an itty bitty section of his book devoted to them. And being of a Greek background, I naturally skipped to the chapter full of relatively simple dishes from my family’s origin.
Stews always draw me in. I love stews. I especially love rice, and made well, simple rice can be spectacular on its own, or with a stew. Or stir fry. Or anything really. If you keep reading I will give you my humble tips on making a good rice finished in the oven, 7 years in the making (remember, gluggy rice used to be my specialty!) But lets go back to the stew.
First off, in this recipe Jamie recommends using Pork leg. At the risk of challenging his opinion (which I wouldn’t ordinarily dare do) I prefer to use shoulder. Go to your local butcher and ask him to dice it for you. When I saw him come out with that brown paper bag of awesomeness I got extremely excited. No dicing for me! And in less than 3 hours I’ll have succulent pork falling apart and my husband demanding to renew his vows…(You’ll find out if he did later)
Now the veggie combination of this stew was magnificent. I’d nearly forgotten how lovely slow cooked leeks were and how much depth of flavour they offered a simple stew. Add red capsicum, carrots and garlic (recipe doesn’t call for garlic but what Greek doesn’t use garlic?) and you have a banging veggie combination to add to your freshly diced pork.
Now I won’t go through the whole recipe because I’m going to attach it for you, but these are the tips I can give you while you are making it to ensure success-
- I use tomato paste not puree. I actually think Jamie means tomato paste but he says puree in the recipe. Perhaps its just English lingo for paste… Or perhaps he just means Puree! And I don’t know if 1 tablespoon is enough but start from there and check it as you go along so its not too watery. Don’t be concerned that you aren’t using tomatoes, there is plenty of flavour coming from the pork, leeks, garlic,wine and red vinegar, and the paste will thicken up the stew as its being cooked. Don’t forget that the prunes added in the last 45 minutes will give it a slight sticky texture so don’t go crazy with the paste. And don’t get flavoured paste either- just plain tomato.
-Don’t be turned off by the prunes. They don’t sweeten up the stew much, they just add a different dimension to it, especially when you bite into one, its a lovely flavour explosion.
I am an uber slow chopper and washer and so it took me about 20 mins of preparation (keep in mind my pork was already diced!), then you spend about half an hour of cooking, then it simmers for 2 hours, and then a final 45 minutes at the end with the prunes.
Basically you only really need to be in the kitchen for about 50 minutes, probably less if you are an awesome chopper. The rest does its magic on its own- and on low heat.
Now.. The Rice (I use Basmati- its the best)
I love rice and make it often. My husband is always carrying on about his carbs carbs carbs so its pasta or rice in this household usually. So I had to learn to make it a bit spesh. Warning- it involves a bit of butter. I always use light.
- Pre heat the oven to 150 degrees
- Boil the rice – in a saucepan with plenty of water- until rice is nearly ready but NOT READY YET. It must be a bit hard when you drain it.
- Drain it thoroughly and put it back in the warm saucepan- make sure the saucepan is oven friendly.
- Add a tablespoon of butter per cup of rice used (or to your taste) and mix it through your nearly ready rice with some salt to taste
- Cover with foil and put it in the oven for 30 mins
- Mix well once its ready and add more salt to taste
Your rice should come out fluffy and fantastic!
With this dish, I thought it would be nice to finely grate some carrot and add it to my rice just before it hit the oven. Make sure you put the grated carrot in one of those strong paper towels and wring out all the moisture so its dry before you add it.
Would I make it again? Absolutely!
Did my husband ask to renew his vows? No but I bet he was thinking it
What did I change/add? I used tomato paste instead of puree, and added crumbled feta (I use danish), parsley and drizzled olive oil for serving.
Wine match? We had a lovely Grenache!