Roast pork, potatoes, and pears may seem like an unlikely combination for a casserole, but this simple, homey German classic will surprise you with just how wonderfully the flavors meld.
Don’t get tripped up by the curious combination of roast pear, potatoes, and pear in this simple and comforting casserole. Or by its oddly unfamiliar name of “Shoemakers Pan” in its native Germany. It’s actually a homey classic that brings a little frugal yet creatively ingenious common sense to the table.–Jenny Howard
Roast Pork, Potatoes and Pears
- 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade clarified butter or ghee or mild vegetable oil, plus more for the baking dish
- 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder or butt cut into 1-inch (25-mm) cubes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups store-bought or homemade beef broth or chicken broth
- 2 pounds firm pears (such as Bosc) peeled and cut into 1/2-inch (13-mm) slices
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes peeled if desired, and cut into slices 1/2 inch (13 mm) thick
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- Pinch ground cloves
- Pinch granulated sugar
- 2 to 3 sprigs thyme
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Slick a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish with clarified butter, ghee, or oil.
- Sprinkle the pork lightly with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter or oil. Working in batches so as not to crowd the meat, brown the pork on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch.
- Remove the pork from the skillet and pile it in the center of the prepared baking dish.
- Pour the broth into the empty skillet. Stir briefly with a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Remove from the heat.
- Lean the pear slices against one another, beginning at one end of the baking dish, slightly overlapping the slices and surrounding the meat on one side. Stack the potatoes on the other end of the dish, surrounding the pork on that side. (When you look down at the dish, you might be able to see a shoe. The pork would be the center inside of the shoe, the pears would be the heel and the potatoes the toes. Truthfully? We don’t see it, either.)
☞TESTER TIP: The recipe works just as well with the pork, potatoes, and pears layered evenly in the dish and baked sorta like a casserole. Proceed as follows, sprinkling the seasonings evenly over the layered mixture and baking as directed.
- Pour the hot broth over the top of the mixture so that it comes no more than halfway up the potatoes and pears. You may not need all of the broth.
- Season the potatoes lightly with salt. Sprinkle the caraway seeds over the potatoes and the pork. Sprinkle the cloves and sugar over the pears. Place the thyme over the potatoes.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until the potatoes are slightly browned and tender, 15 to 20 minutes more.
- Serve directly from the baking dish into large soup bowls.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I adore one-dish meals and this one is no exception. It’s a great comfort food and comes together pretty quickly and easily–the flavors are delightful together and it’s such a simple but creative way to feed a crowd!
I’ve known since grade school that I’m artistically challenged. I always hoped I would outgrow it, but 60 years later, it appears I am still artistically challenged. For all my effort, I do not see the shoe. It is some comfort to me that when I asked my dinner guest to guess what dinner represented, the answer I got (after a long stare at the pan) was “Food?”
Fortunately, I am a better cook than I am an art critic. Also fortunately, I have long felt that caraway is an underappreciated herb. Shoe or no shoe, this recipe made a pleasant, flavorful dinner that fit the bill for a comfort food with a bit of a twist. Since I had pork left over, I made it again later as a stew. The verdict: less work, same good taste, less embarrassment for my artistic incompetencies. I saved about 5 minutes making it as a stew instead of making it pretty.
I used pork shoulder, chicken broth and Bosc pears. I needed about 2 1/2 cups of broth.
Originally published March 05, 2020