Sweet and Sour Pork Casserole

Several weeks ago I bought an Instant Pot, which is a state of the art, digital, electrical pressure cooker. It also does loads of other useful stuff including sauteing slow cooking, making yoghurt, steaming and keeping food warm once it’s cooked. I deliberated over whether my already overcrowded kitchen needed yet one more piece of equipment, but as I am a self- confessed kitchen gadget junkie, I bought it anyway! You only live once and all that, especially where food and cooking is concerned!

I think my kitchen gadget addiction started as a child.  I grew up in a household where we were one of the first families among my friends to own a microwave and I remember cooking the most enormous bright pink sponge cakes from a packet in it. They tasted like cardboard but impressed my friends as you could cook them in under a minute while you watched them rise through the glass! My cooking skills have advanced a bit since those early days.

We also had a soda stream for endless supplies of fizzy drinks, a big grilling machine, slow cooker, yoghurt maker and a traditional Prestige Pressure Cooker. My parents worked long hours and my Mum would rush to get dinner on the table when we all got home. This usually meant everything bunged in the pressure cooker to cook at once including the meat, potatoes and frozen peas.

Things have come a long way since the noisy old pressure cookers of the 70’s, which sat ceremoniously on the hob, often gushing steam into the kitchen at a rate you would normally now only expect to see in an exclusive spa! I think my sister eventually took it to University with her and practically lived off stew for the whole 3 years!

The Pressure Cooker I bought was the Instant Pot Duo 8 Litre 7 in 1 model as I wanted to batch cook casseroles and cook larger cuts of meat at Christmas. I have cooked loads of things in my pot so far and as gadgets go, I am impressed! I love the way it tenderises meat almost as if it has been slow cooking all day but in a fraction of the time. For a hungry cook who is usually too impatient waiting for dinner to be ready, this really suits me!

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My willing husband has been religiously taste testing all my recipes and this Pork Sweet and Sour recipe I cooked up recently was definitely a “Winner Dinner” for both of us! This recipe is really EASY! Apart from a bit of chopping, you just put everything in the pot and cook. It’s my kind of one pot dinner.

You might think there is a lot of garlic in this recipe, but trust me, it will taste fabulous! By adding the cloves whole, the garlic will release a sweeter, more subtle flavour. The cloves soften to a mashed potato consistency during cooking and taste amazing in this recipe. The pineapple adds sweetness and the vinegar adds sourness, along with all the other ingredients.

With pressure cooking you always need to have some water in the recipe to generate steam. This can come from the vinegar, pineapple juice and other sauces as well as the vegetables which release some liquid during cooking.

If you don’t have an Instant Pot then you can also cook this recipe in a covered casserole dish in the oven or in a slow cooker. It will just take a bit longer! So here is my recipe!

Ingredients

425g of lean pork loin chopped into chunks, with all visible fat removed

1 small chopped onion

A green and a yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped

250g of halved cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon of clear honey

Half a teaspoon of chilli sauce

A 410g can of pineapple chunks in juice

A whole bulb of garlic

A 1 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped

3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce

1 pork stock cube, crumbled

2 teaspoons of tomato puree

Optional 2 to 3 teaspoons of cornflour mixed with a little water to add at the end for thickening

Method

You can cook this recipe in the Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker for 20 min on the “Manual Setting” followed by a “natural pressure release”.

Alternatively cook in a covered casserole dish in the oven at 160C or Gas Mark 3 for 1.5 to hours or in a slow cooker on High for 4.5 hours.

If oven cooking, then switch the oven on first while you get the ingredients ready.

Peel the garlic bulb and add the cloves whole to the pot

Add the entire can of pineapple chunks including the juice to the pot

Add all the other ingredients and stir everything to combine

Cook in the Instant Pot, slow cooker or oven.

Tip: If oven cooking, then add a little extra water at the start, stir half way through cooking and if it looks a bit dry, add a little more water.

If you prefer a thicker sauce then before serving, mix 2 teaspoons of cornflour with a little water and stir into the casserole while it is still hot. Do not add the cornflour before pressure cooking. Alternatively turn the Instant Pot to “Sauté Mode” with the lid off after pressure cooking to reduce the liquid.

Serve with rice or noodles and enjoy!

 

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