Thursday, February 22, 2024

Pulled Pork and Sweet Potato Casserole

  Lately I've been seeing Youtubers and Tiktockers participating in a month-long collaboration known as the "pantry challenge." Have you heard of it? Basically, it means you're being challenged to use what you already have in the pantry, for an entire month, instead of constantly ordering take out, or running back and forth to the store a million times a week. This way, you won't spend as much money, and hopefully you won't waste as much. Frankly, I think it sounds like a GREAT idea. (A much better one than "Dry January" if you ask me, but I digress).  It also gives you a chance to clean out the fridge, rearrange or reorganize your pantry shelves, and rediscover what canned or packaged goods are hiding on the shelf in the back where no one can reach. 
 So I took idea and ran with it, just to see what kind of new something I could come up with, just from leftovers and pantry items. And this recipe is where I landed! It's basically a spin on a Cottage or Shepherds' Pie, only instead of beef or lamb, I added shredded pork, and I used sweet potatoes instead of white ones. It turned out great!! It's hearty, comforting, feeds a crowd, and hits the spot on a chilly February night! And I used up a bunch of items that were leftover. It was the perfect round two!
 So, whadya think? Are you up for the Pantry Challenge? Go for it! I'll bet you'll be glad you did! Also, try this recipe. I know you'll love it! (I think I ate half of it on the very first night! lol) 
Great then! Good times.
1 stick butter
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
A small bag frozen peas and carrots, or as much as you like
1-2 lbs shredded pork 
1 tbs roasted chicken flavor Better Than Bouillon (optional)
A slurry made from 1 small can cold chicken broth plus 3 tbs flour
1 tsp dried thyme leaves or poultry seasoning
a shakes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt 
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
3 or 4 medium sized sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled, and mashed
 1/2 cup EACH of Panko bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese
In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter. Add onions and apples. Saute until softened. Add frozen vegetables and pulled pork. Give everything a good stir and bring the pan back up to heat. Now add your bouillon and slurry of chicken broth and flour, dried thyme leaves, and salt and pepper. Stir well until it begins to thicken. Pour skillet into large casserole dish. Top with large spoonfuls of mashed sweet potatoes. Use a spatula to spread the potatoes across the entire casserole. Sprinkle with Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese on top. Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven until everything is well heated through and bubbly. 

Be sure to season everything well enough. The potatoes, apples, peas, and carrots are all very sweet, so you need enough of the savory ingredients to balance everything out. For a little extra savory note, you can add shredded sharp Cheddar cheese to the mashed potatoes before spreading them on top. 
Don't like peas and carrots? Use green beans. Not a fan of green veggies? Try some adding some corn. Don't have any sweet potatoes? Use white potatoes. Better yet, use your leftover mashed potatoes or even white rice. The point is to use up what you have leftover!