Pear and Apple Pulled Pork

The freezer can be a scary place.  It’s cold and dark. There are skeletons down there (literally- though mine are fowl, not foul).

It’s purgatory for dinner- a place of half made meals.

And now it’s time to shine a light into ours.

In three days time our freezer must be empty. The fridge must be turned off and packed into a truck. So I’ve been on a quest to empty it out. And I’ve been doing something that I really should do more often; an audit.

Sometimes I’m fastidious and a bit fabulous. The TYPE A part of me really comes to the fore. I get handy with a label maker or a pen and I scribe the contents ‘ham and lentil soup, 11/4’. on a lid of a tupperware or reusable freezer bag before putting it to a deep chilly sleep. Prior to Will’s emergence, my particular brand of nesting involved stocking that frozen rectangle within an inch of its life, with white bologniase, chicken soup, raspberry coconut scones, rhubarb and ricotta loaves and lamb ragu. It all came in handy when the dark days descended.

But sometimes I get lazy and just shut my eyes and lob it in. It’s possible to tell what some are from sight. The big scary looking tupperware full of bones is where I tumble the remains of each roast chicken, until there are two or three clattering against each other. That then becomes a pot full of stock for soup (most frequently aguadito- a fantastic, zippy Peruvian coriander and chicken soup- which there’s a sterling recipe for in the new book).

Then there are the freezer bags with little cubes of puree for Will; like frosty Duplo blocks, with rounded edges. They’ve been upended out of the ice cube trays and bound in colorful ziplock collections . The green ones are usually a mix of  softened and pureed kale, silverbeet, peas and sometimes a sad-ish apple. The white are cauliflower and parsnip. The orange ones are carrot, sweet potato and butter beans or red lentils. The brown ones are beef and mushroom stew , blended. Most days he gets a combination of one, two or all three of those, muddled with ricotta.

Then there’s the frozen veg that I lean on for desperate times. There are always peas, for when you stub your toe, scorch your hand, or need something to help top a fish pie. There’s a bag of broccoli florets (one of Will’s favourite things to relieve his still-to-spawn-any-teeth-gums is a semi frozen piece of broccoli. Mad, I know). And there are blueberries, for smoothies, Will’s breakfast and snacks with yoghurt for everyone.

But then there are the dark corners, where there are tupperwares with gosh knows what in them, shoved down below when I couldn’t think beyond the edge of the kitchen bench. And so and audit was necessary.

It’s a habit I should get more into. Because once I’d made the summary, I was able to plan the exit strategy. I then realised what I thought may have been diced chicken thighs, was in fact pork shoulder. Pork shoulder which was just the thing to help use up the carrots in the crisper and fruit in the bowl.

And it was because of the audit that this pear and apple pulled pork was born. And our last few nights in our beloved little flat were made even sweeter.

Nb, pulled pork is something that benefits from a little sweetness in the sauce. It helps meld it all together- but it does call for a piquant side. I like shredded cabbage dressed in apple cider vinegar. The Hungry One is quite partial to eating his piled onto a downy soft bread roll or two, with a slash of hot sauce and coriander. I prefer to have mine over quinoa or lentils, or both.

Pear and Apple Pulled Pork

Serves 4, generously.

Nb, give yourself at least 3 hours to cook this. The longer and slower you cook the pork, the softer the end texture will be.


1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp salt
1 kg well marbled pork shoulder, or butt, cut into pieces the size of a matchbook
2 tbsp olive oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 red apples, peeled and diced
1 pear, peeled and diced
350 ml water

To serve: coriander, or flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped. Shredded white cabbage. Hot sauce (optional).  Bread rolls, or for a slow carb solution, quinoa and lentils, or white bean puree.

Here’s how we roll

1) Place a wide cast iron pot/ dutch oven over medium heat and toast the fennel seeds for 1 minute. Remove. Add the olive oil. Season the pork pieces with salt and brown them in batches, making sure you get some good colour on the outside (this is where the flavour will come from).

2) Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan, stirring well to help scrape up any flavour that’s caught to the bottom. The liquid should just cover the meat (top up with more if it doesn’t. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for two hours.

3) After two hours check the meat. There should only be about 5 mm depth of liquid left in the pan. If the meat does not easily shred with two forks, continue cooking at a low heat until it does.

4) Shred the pork and toss it with the juices. If some of the carrots, apples or pear break down, that’s fine. It’s all part of the sauce. Serve with whatever accompaniments take your fancy.




{ 1 Comment }
  1. Ah yes, my freezer holds some unidentified things in it too… and if I am lucky enough to figure out what they are, they usually don’t yield such a tasty looking meal. Hope the move goes well!

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