About this recipe: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 generous helpings of green vegetables, such as French beans or mange-tout.
2 tbsp sunflower oil
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pork fillet (tenderloin), trimmed of fat and cut into cubes
8 celery sticks, cut across into 5 cm (2 in)lengths, leaves reserved and chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
450 ml (15 fl oz) cider or apple juice
1 bay leaf
300 g (10½ oz) long-grain rice
900 ml (1½ pints) boiling chicken stock
3 crisp dessert apples, preferably red-skinned
100 g (3½ oz) broken walnuts
salt and pepper
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Method Prep:15min › Cook:2hr › Ready in:2hr15min
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F, gas mark 3). Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole, 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 salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then cover the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook for 1 1/4 hours or until the pork is tender.
About 40 minutes before the pork is ready, put the rice in an ovenproof dish and pour over the boiling stock. Stir well, then cover and put into 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 a moderate heat, add the walnuts and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted. When the pork is tender, stir in the walnuts and taste for seasoning. Garnish with the chopped celery leaves and serve hot, with the rice.
Some more ideas
Replace the pork with cubes of lean chuck steak and increase the cooking time in the oven to about 2 hours. * Add 1 chopped garlic clove and 1 tsp chopped fresh root ginger to the onion and use orange juice instead of the 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 zest. 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. * Apples and apple juice provide good amounts of potassium. Along with sodium, potassium is an important mineral for maintaining fluid balance, regulating blood pressure and keeping a healthy heart.