Sunday 5 April 2015

In Praise of Canned Food: Pork & Fennel with Red Wine & Borlotti Beans Casserole

Last week we bought some pull-out shelves for the kitchen cupboards which makes everything much easier to get to. When I restocked the cupboard I organised everything by shelf - and for the first time I can find what I want within a couple of seconds. I realised how much I rely on canned foods when I had to devote two entire shelves to cans - one savoury, like tinned tomatoes, tuna, baked beans etc - and one sweet, with tinned fruit, Carnation caramel, and golden syrup.

Did you know that this week is actually Canned Food Week? It is promoted by Canned Food UK, a not-for-profit organisation made up of leading can and product manufacturers, which promotes the benefits of cooking with canned food.

Canned food is:
- affordable - often cheaper than buying fresh
- lasts longer
- is a useful standby to have in the cupboard in case you don't have time to shop for fresh
- can help reduce waste as you can buy a small tin of something that would only come in much larger quantities fresh
- have great nutritional content- canned foods are sealed and preserved by pressure cooking the food in the can, to lock the nutrition in

Canned Food UK has created seven new recipes to showcase some of the tinned foods you can add to meals to eat healthily at home without spending a fortune. They have also come up with seven healthy eating plans designed for people and families at the different stages of their life, whether that's growing teens, students, more mature or cooking for one or for a small army.

They sent me the ingredients to make one of these seven new dishes and I chose the pork and fennel casserole with red wine and borlotti beans. I chose this for several reasons: I know fennel has quite a strong taste and isn't to everyone's liking so I wanted to try a recipe where it is an integral part. I'd also never tried borlotti beans before, which are a good source of fibre, help to lower cholesterol and can help lower blood pressure as well due to the potassium they contain - all good things in my book!
I also liked the fact that this was very easy to prepare - about ten minutes to chop and fry off the ingredients then in the oven for just under an hour and a half. Perfect for a Sunday when you're at home but want to be getting on with other things!

You can find the full recipe here

To serve 4, you need:
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
400g very lean pork leg, diced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
1Tbsp plain flour
150ml red wine
150ml vegetable stock
1 x 400g can unpeeled cherry tomatoes
Few sprigs thyme, plus garnish
1 x 400g can borlotti beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to fan 160°C, conventional 180°C, gas 4.

·         Heat 1Tbsp oil in a large flameproof casserole dish.  Fry the pork in batches, browning well and set aside. 
·         Add remaining oil and fry the onions, when just beginning to brown add the garlic and fennel.
·         Add the meat and any juices back into the dish, sprinkle over the flour and stir well.
·         Gradually add the wine, stock and tomatoes, season well and add the thyme sprigs.
·         Cover, cook in the oven for one hour add the borlotti beans and return to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes or until the meat is tender.  Remove the thyme sprigs and replace with fresh to garnish.
It's so easy to make, it doesn't really matter how fine you chop the vegetables, and if you buy a pack of diced pork the hard work with the meat is already done for you. You do need either a casserole dish or just any oven-proof dish which you can cover with foil if it doesn't have a lid.

Frying off the meat

Into the casserole dish with the onion, fennel, garlic and flour

With the tomatoes, stock and red wine

Baked in the oven for an hour

The borlotti beans - star of the show! These only cost 60p for a 400g tin, which is loads

Adding the beans to the casserole, then it goes back in the oven

A delicious, warming, easy, healthy and relatively cheap dish for all the family!

Thanks to Canned Food UK, who sent me the ingredients for this recipe

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