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Pork And Sweet Apricot Pie Under A Crispy Polenta Crust

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Pork And Sweet Apricot Pie Under A Crispy Polenta Crust

Look beyond the potato or pastry topping. Polenta makes a great topping for this rich flavoured pork casserole.


  • 1 kg pork shoulder
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tblsp rewa rewa or manuka honey
  • 2 tblsp wine vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine ( I used Reisling)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tblsp oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 20 halved New Zealand dried apricots
  • a little butter or grated cheese for sprinkling on top before baking


  • 2½ cups milk (or use half milk and half chicken stock)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3-4 cup instant polenta, ½ cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese (or use tasty cheddar), 25 grams butter


  1. Cut the pork shoulder into large pieces and place in the base of a non-metallic dish. Scatter over the garlic, thyme, pepper and fennel seeds, cloves, manuka honey, wine vinegar and wine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Next day, remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry on paper towel. Reserve marinade. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and quickly brown the meat over a very high heat so it has lots of colour and then transfer to a casserole.
  3. Add the onions and celery to the pan and cook over a moderate heat until beginnings brown. Add the tomato paste and cook stirring until it darkens in colour. Add the reserved marinade with vegetables and herbs plus the apricots. Bring to the boil and then pour over the pork. Cover and simmer at 160 degrees Celsius for 1 hour or until the pork is tender. Cool. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer to an 8 cup capacity oven proof casserole or lasagne style dish. Cut the prepared polenta into shapes and arrange them evenly over the top of the pie. Dot with butter or sprinkle over a little grated cheese.
  5. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes until the polenta is golden and the pie bubbling. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.


  1. Bring the milk (or milk and stock) and salt to scalding point (just before it reaches boiling point) in a saucepan.
  2. Gradually sprinkle in the polenta, stirring constantly until all the polenta is all added and continue stirring until the mixture becomes quite thick. Continue to cook for a further 3 minutes, before stirring in the butter. Pour into a baking paper-lined 20cm x 30cm slice tin and refrigerate until firm.

Cooks Tips

- Use well-flavoured honey such as rewarewa or manuka. Clover honey will be lost here. If you do not have any strong-flavoured honey, use a dark brown sugar. - New Zealand apricots have by far the best flavour - warm, strong and slightly sharp. Turkish apricots will look nice in this dish, but add no flavour here. - If your celery has become limp, trim the ends and stand them in a tall jar or jug of cold water to refresh.

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