Thursday, 9 February 2012

All Together Now...

Couscous allo Zafferano al Forno con Carne di Maiale e Verdure Miste
Oven Baked Saffron-Couscous with Pork & Mixed Vegetables

Amazing, but true... it is already Thursday and the end of the week is already upon us! How time flies! Just one more day until the weekend and new, fresh produce at the market. So again, this evening it was time to take stock and to use up any bits and pieces that I had in the fridge...

There is something very, very satisfying, at least for me, in making good use of good food. I never throw anything out- things get re-vamped, re-cooked and usually really good when I start dreaming up new dishes... and they are usually quick, easy and delicious too! Take a look and see what I did this evening!

Basically, I had a little of the pork sirloin I used for last night's tandoori dish left over, some parsnip, carrot, celery, a Spring onion, about 2" worth of zucchini and a few cherry tomatoes. Doesn't really sound like much of a meal, does it? It didn't to me either- I was really thrown for an idea and about to give up. But trusting my instincts (and my extreme hunger!), I switched into auto-pilot mode, grabbed my vegetable peeler, started working... and before I knew it a plan started taking shape...

I peeled and sliced the vegetables and started around 3 cupfuls of water boiling. I started the carrots boiling first, added the parsnip and celery around 3 minutes later and the onions 2 minutes after that... it's all about timing! I lifted the vegetables out with a slotted spoon and dropped a pinch of saffron threads into the light broth that had formed during boiling, along with a little grated garlic, ginger and lemon zest and a handful of finely chopped parsley. I let this continue simmering for a few minutes, whilst I prepared the pork.

The pork was cut into bite-sized chunks and sautéed as a high heat in a little sesame oil, with some green tabasco, lemon juice, honey and a hint of cinnamon. As soon as it began to brown... out it came! It continues cooking in the oven anyway- so fear not!

Ok- so now we are going to have some fun! Pour some of the vegetable broth into the frying pan to deglaze and bring up all of those good meat juices and flavor, then return to the saucepan. I will indeed steal and squeeze out flavors wherever I can! Now, stir into this tasty, saffron-infused broth, the couscous and a little apple cider. Allow the couscous to swell for 2-3 minutes, fluff up with a fork, and then layer with the vegetables and meat in an oven-proof dish. Add a few cherry tomatoes to keep everything nice and juicy and some slice Spring onion to keep the flavors nice and savory... simple! Drizzle lightly with a little more sesame oil and a bit of honey and you are ready to go!

Bake at a moderate heat for 10 minutes and then turn on the broiler for a minute or two more to crisp-up the outer layer a little. Underneath the couscous will be warm and steamy and the the meat and vegetables hot, delicious and spicy! And you will have a great supper, and empty fridge, a clear conscience... and a great time shopping for fresh produce in the morning!

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