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Pork and apple cider bake with polenta dumplings

Pork and apple cider work beautifully together in this slow-baked dish, accompanied with delicious moreish dumplings.

Pork and apple cider bake with polenta dumplings

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

800g pork shoulder, cut into 3cm pieces

1 onion, cut into wedges

1 fennel bulb, cut into wedges

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 tbsp plain flour

300ml apple cider

2 cups chicken stock

1 bunch baby carrots, peeled, trimmed

1 handful sage leaves

30g butter

¾ cup self-raising flour

¼ cup polenta

½ cup buttermilk

2 tsp wholegrain mustard

1 Granny Smith apple, cored, thinly sliced

100g baby rocket leaves

Preheat oven to 150°C. Heat half the oil in a large ovenproof pan over high heat. Add ¼ of the pork pieces. Cook, turning, for 5 minutes or until browned all over.

Repeat in 3 more batches with remaining pork, set aside.

Add onion, fennel and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Return pork to pan. Sprinkle with flour and cook for 1 minute or until flour is lightly golden. Add apple cider and bring to the boil. Add chicken stock and carrots.

Chop half the sage leaves and add to the casserole. Reserve remaining sage leaves. Bake, covered, for 1½ hours or until pork is tender.

Increase oven to 220°C. Place butter and flour in a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add polenta, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add buttermilk and mustard, stir to combine.

Remove casserole from oven. Drop spoonfuls of dumpling mixture over the casserole. Bake for 15 minutes or until dumplings are golden.

Heat remaining oil in a small frying pan over high heat. Add reserved sage leaves and cook, turning, for 1 minute or until crisp. Serve pork casserole topped with sage leaves, along with a salad of combined apple slices and rocket leaves.

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