Occasionally I come up with a new recipe that even amazes me.  I know that sounds somewhat conceited but I haven’t pursued a passionate hobby in food for nothing!  These recipes usually brew for a while and I lay awake in the middle of the night thinking about what I can cook that will take my passion to a whole new and exciting level.  This was one of those moments.  Tender, slow cooked pork infused with garlic, herbs, wine, smokey pancetta and the gorgeously sweet and subtle flavour of maple syrup.  Wrapped in crisp, buttery  filo pastry and sitting on a bed of creamy, pureed beans, this was a recipe that made me realise my ridiculous obsession with food was the reason I exist.  It was a divine moment when I realised I was not just put on this earth to procreate, I was put on this earth too create……food.  Heavy man, heavy.

Prep time:  30 minutes                 Cooking time:  81/2 hours                    $  Low Budget

Serves 4  (largish pies, could be stretched to 6 but I wouldn’t recommend it)

Olive oil for frying

10 sheets of filo pastry, cut in half to make 4 x 5 sheets of filo

80gm of melted butter

800gm piece of pork scotch fillet

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 large brown onion, finely diced

6 slices of pancetta, chopped into 1cm pieces

8 thyme sprigs

2 bay leaves

1 cup of white wine

1 cup of chicken stock (salt reduced if possible)

1/4 cup of maple syrup (the real kind)

2 tbs of balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tbs of red wine vinegar

Sea salt and pepper

For the Bean Puree:

1 cup of chicken stock (salt reduced)

1 clove of garlic, bruised

1 bay leaf

400gm tin of cannellini beans, drained

Heat a large fry pan and season the pork scotch liberally with salt and pepper.  Add a little oil to the pan and sear the pork for a couple of minutes on every side, including top and bottom until golden.  Place the pork in your slow cooker and turn it on to low.

In the same pan, fry the pancetta until golden before adding the onion and garlic and frying for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften.  Tie the thyme and bay leaves together with a piece of kitchen string and add it the pan, cooking for a minute or so until fragrant and then add the wine.  Rub the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all the flavour off and allow the wine to reduce a little before adding the stock, maple syrup lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.  Stir to combine and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 5 minutes and then pour it over the pork.  Cover the pork with a piece of baking paper, tucking it in nice and snug, pop the lid on and leave it in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low.  I did turn it a few times but if you need to leave it to go to work, I am sure it will be just fine.

It may seem a little odd to have lemon juice, balsamic and red wine vinegar but it works, trust me.  It cuts right through the sweetness of the maple, giving it a perfect balance on the flavour scale.  Don’t add the red wine vinegar yet….. we will do that later.

To check if the pork is ready, gently pry it apart with two forks.  If it comes apart easily, it is done.  Remove the pork from the slow cooker and place it in a baking dish.  Using two forks, shred the pork apart into nice stringy, pieces.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the solids from the slow cooker (don’t worry if you don’t get it all) and mix it in with the shredded pork along with half the juice.  Cover with foil and set aside.  Place the remaining liquid in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the red wine vinegar and reduce for approximately 15 minutes or until slightly thickened and syrupy.

Grab 5 sheets of the filo and brush each sheet with melted butter.  Place them on top of one another and spoon 1/4 of the pork mixture into the centre.  Grab the corners of each sheet, one by one and scrunch it at the top.  Brush the top with butter and repeat with the remaining filo and pork mixture until you have 4 pies, each with 5 sheets of buttered pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and place the pies on a baking tray.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden and crunchy.

To make the bean puree, heat the stock, garlic clove and bay leaf on the stove until simmering.  Place the drained beans in a blender and pour over the stock, removing the bay leaf first.  Blitz until smooth.

To assemble, place a dollop of the bean puree on each plate.  Using the back of a spoon, swipe the puree sidewards.  You have just made a swoosh!  Place a pie on each swoosh and drizzle over the remaining, syrupy liquid.  I hope you enjoy as much as I and the test kitchen dummies did!

Ps.  This recipe could be done in the oven as well.  Place in a Casserole with a lid or a baking dish and cover with baking paper and cover tightly with foil (if you don’t have a lid).  Cook for 5 hours at 170°C.