Thursday, 3 February 2011

Leg of Pork Steaks on Leftover Mashed Potato Pancake with Spicy Salsa

Note: Be sure to check out the add on at the end of today's post with regard to healthier eating

How often do you prepare mashed potatoes and find that you have some left over, particularly when preparing them for several people? Frequently? If so, what do you do with them? Do you dispose of them, or perhaps give the dog an extra little treat? The reality is that there is a lot that we can do with leftover mashed potatoes, this suggestion being but one of them. Provided they are covered and allowed to cool before being refrigerated in an airtight container, they are perfectly usable the following day in a number of tasty ways.

The first step in this recipe for one person is to prepare the salsa. This is because we want the various flavours to be given time to infuse. Ideally, this should be done a couple of hours in advance and the salsa refrigerated until needed but this is not essential.

Salsa Ingredients

1 large tomato
2" piece of cucumber
2 or 3 large basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
1 small red chilli pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


The tomato and cucumber should be halved with a sharp knife and deseeded with a teaspoon, as shown in the image above. They should then be finely diced and added to a small bowl. The garlic clove should be peeled and grated in to the bowl. The red chilli should be halved lengthways and the seeds and pale membrane scooped out and discarded. Remember - it is the membrane which contains the excessive heat, not the actual seeds! The chilli pepper should be finely diced and added to the bowl, along with the roughly chopped basil leaves, olive oil and seasoning. Stir well and set aside or cover and refrigerate.

Meat and Potato Ingredients

3 small leg of pork steaks
3oz (approx.) leftover mashed potato
Salt and white pepper
Sunflower oil for frying
Small sprig of basil for garnish


The first step is to fry the pork steaks, as they will require to be rested while the potato is prepared. Add some sunflower oil to a large, non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a moderate heat. Add the pork steaks, season with salt and fry for ten minutes each side. Remember always to ensure that pork is fully cooked and no red or even pink juices are escaping! When cooked, remove the pork steaks to a heated plate and cover with tinfoil. This keeps the heat in them but also allows them to rest and become tender while you fry the potato pancake.

The mashed potato may require to be seasoned, depending upon how it was seasoned when it was first prepared. White pepper makes excellent seasoning for mashed potato, so you may wish to give this a try. The mash should then be formed in to a ball about the size of a cricket ball/baseball. The easiest way by far to do this is by hand. If your mashed potato is too thick and is going to be difficult to form in to a flat pancake with no unsightly cracks, add either a little milk or an egg yolk. Add a little sunflower oil to a small, non-stick frying pan and make sure it is brought up to a fairly high heat before you add the potato. If you add the potato before the oil is hot enough, the potato will start to absorb the oil, rather than start to fry immediately upon contact and be greasy. Pat the potato in to a round pancake between your hands to about 1" thickness and add it to the frying pan.

The potato pancake should be fried for three to four minutes each side until lightly golden. It should be turned and subsequently removed from the pan with a large spatula. The potato pancake should be plated first, the salsa spooned around it and the leg of pork steaks placed on top, with the basil sprig optional.

A Word about Healthy Eating

Last night, while driving home from the supermarket, I was listening to the Simon Mayo Drivetime show on BBC Radio 2. There are regular food related items featured on this great show but the particular question I heard asked last night (Wednesday, 2nd February) was from the mother of a 15 year old and an 18 year old. Essentially, she wanted to know with what foodstuffs she should stock her fridge to please them, as they are not impressed by the healthy foods she purchases. Incredibly, a voice from the background (in the studio) suggested, "Microwaveable burgers!" I nearly crashed the car...

Time, unfortunately, did not permit me to listen to much more of the show to find out what answers she got but I thought I would take a moment here to make some incredibly simple suggestions to anyone in this situation.

Whether it be your child, your spouse, or even you, yourself: establish and make a short list of their/your favourite basic cooking ingredients. An incredibly simple example would be chicken, broccoli and cheese. Perform a Google search for, "healthy chicken broccoli cheese recipe" I have just performed that search and Google UK returns more than 1,300,000 results!

This is one of the simplest and most effective ways in which the Internet can help us in our quest for healthier eating. Even someone wanting to eat chicken, broccoli and cheese every day for the rest of their lives would never run out of ideas.

The next step would be to prepare some of these recipes for your family. Let them see that their favourite basic foodstuffs can be enjoyed to the full, free of the artificial chemicals, preservatives and saturated fats that are so harmful to human health. It really can be this simple.

Go ahead - take five minutes to list your favourite foodstuffs in terms of raw ingredients and perform a few searches. You may be amazed by what you find...

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