For a number of years now, my husband and I have been obsessing over a recipe in Nigel Slater’s Eat for a chicken, leek and fennel braise. We make it all the time, and it is so tasty with some couscous on the side. This recipe is inspired by Nigel Slater’s recipe, but cooked in the slow cooker in a large batch for added convenience – both time saving and it makes an extra meal for the freezer stores.
As my baby is starting to be able to eat what our family eats, I have been starting to create recipes that will be adaptable for his meals as well. This saves doubling up on the cooking, and ensures that the transition to family dinners will be simple! Once his portion was put aside, I added pomegranate molasses for added depth of flavour and yumminess.
Pork, fennel and leek braise
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1.5kg pork loin roast
- 1 leek, halved and sliced
- 1 fennel, thinly sliced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 ½ cups low salt liquid chicken stock
- 1 tbs pomegranate molasses
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup giant couscous to serve
- Heat the slow cooker up to ‘sear’ function or use a fry pan for this first step. Heat the olive oil and sear the pork on all sides until golden.
- Add the leek and fennel, and toss to soften for several minutes. Add the flour.
- Add the chicken stock and 1 ½ cups boiling water, then turn the heat down and cook on ‘slow cook’ function for 3 hours.
- Once cooked, remove the meat and vegetables to a saucepan and cover to keep warm. At this point, remove a portion for pureeing for baby if applicable. Turn the heat on the sauce up to ‘sear’ function again and reduce, adding the pomegranate molasses and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the liquid by approximately half, so that it will form a thick coating on the meat and vegetables.
- Add the meat and vegetables back to the liquid, and serve on a bed of giant couscous cooked according to packet instructions with chicken stock. Top with fronds of fennel for garnish.
Growing up, my mother’s specialty dish was a hearty roast lamb. It was by far the family favourite, preferred over pork, beef and chicken. I think my mum started cooking it because my father had grown up eating roast lamb every Sunday, cooked by my grandmother. When my grandmother passed away, my mum, her daughter-in-law, kept up the tradition. And of course, it was served with all the great British trimmings – mint sauce, gravy, potatoes, carrots, peas…
I have for you here a reinvention, if you will. I called on my memories of roast lamb and the flavours that it entailed. My pie has potatoes, carrots, mint and peas! Reminiscent of old fashioned family Sunday dinners. A meal for a winter Sunday lunch, for family gathered around. To share a good bottle of red wine, and to spend the afternoon debating answers to the Sunday quiz.
- 1.5 kg lamb shoulder, bone on
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 red onion, cut into chunks
- 4 rashers bacon, diced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 2 carrots, cut into thick rounds
- 500g potatoes, washed, peeled and diced into 2 cm chunks
- 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
- Salt, pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 handful of fresh mint, coarsely chopped
- 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- Heat oil in slow cooker set to ‘sear’ mode (or use heavy bottomed saucepan on stove). Sear lamb until browned all over. Add red onion and bacon and stir.
- Add flour and stir for 1-2 minutes until juices are thickened.
- Add red wine to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until liquid reduces by half. Transfer lamb to slow cooker.
- Add beef stock, garlic, herbs, tomato paste, carrots, potatoes and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
- Set slow cooker to ‘slow cook’ mode and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
- Once ready, set slow cooker to ‘sear’ mode again and bubble until liquid thickens. Stir through peas and mint.
- Spray a pie dish with oil and preheat the oven to 180° Celsius.
- Spoon the pie filling into the dish and top with the pastry sheet, using a little oil to seal the edges. Prick several holes in the pastry with a fork and brush with beaten egg.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins until pastry is golden and puffed. Serve with fresh mint.