Fresh and fruity, this casserole comes from northwestern France, where cider apples grow in profusion. A dish of rice is cooked in the oven at the same time, making this a very simple meal to prepare. Serve with green vegetables.
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
500 g pork fillet, trimmed of visible fat and cut into cubes
8 celery stalks, cut across into 5 cm lengths, leaves reserved and chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
450 ml dry cider or apple juice
1 bay leaf
pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1 litre boiling reduced-salt chicken stock
3 crisp dessert apples, preferably red-skinned
3/4 cup broken walnuts
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Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish, add the pork and fry, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Add the celery and onion and fry gently for about 10 minutes or until softened.
Pour in the cider or apple juice and add the bay leaf. Season with pepper. Bring to the boil, then cover the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook the casserole for 1 1/4 hours or until the pork is tender.
About 40 minutes before the pork is ready, place the rice in an ovenproof dish and pour over the boiling stock. Stir well, then cover and place in the oven to cook with the pork.
About 25 minutes before the end of the cooking time, quarter and core the apples but do not peel them. Slice the quarters thickly, then add to the pork and continue cooking.
Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over medium heat, add the walnuts and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted. When the pork is tender, stir in the walnuts and taste for pepper. Garnish with the chopped celery leaves and serve hot, with the rice.
Add 1 chopped garlic clove and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger to the onion and use freshly squeezed orange juice instead of the fresh apple cider or apple juice. Replace the apple slices with the segments of 2 oranges, adding them 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Garnish the casserole with shreds of orange rind. Cook the rice in a mixture of orange juice and vegetable stock.
Some studies indicate that a small quantity of walnuts eaten regularly can help to reduce high blood cholesterol levels. Walnuts may also guard against cardiovascular disease and cancer because of the antioxidants they contain: selenium, zinc, copper and vitamin E.