National | Blue Rose Cafe

Blue Rose Cafe co-owner Lenny Stevens' pulled pork, kawakawa, horopito and mānuka honey pie

Lenny Stevens, co-owner of the Blue Rose Cafe in Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham

By NZ Herald

Lenny Stevens (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) is co-owner of Blue Rose Catering and Cafe, a popular Sandringham eatery and catering service specialising in Māori and Pacific flavours. Matariki is an especially busy time for the business, so this Māori New Year Lenny plans to celebrate by having a whānau dinner to bring everyone together after the rush. Here he shares a pork pie, using native ingredients, inspired by his grandparents, whose influence is felt throughout the Blue Rose’s uplifting decor and heartfelt food offerings.

What does Sunday look like in your kitchen?

I’m a big fan of Sunday markets for fresh produce and the local butcher for some sort of cut depending on weather or season. A pie and everything salad or a Sunday roast is my usual go-to.

Why did you choose this dish?

I was inspired by my grandfather John Stevens for this dish. He would take us kids out of Gisborne to the middle of nowhere, to pick fern fronds, watercress, kawakawa leaves and horopito leaves, if we found them. We would be out for hours foraging. We would get back to Nan’s boil-up and add the fronds and watercress to the pot of boiling pork. My cafe is in remembrance of them – we shared a lot of time in the kitchen baking, prepping and cooking. I still use their recipes to this day.

Photo / Jason Oxenham

Pulled pork, kawakawa, horopito and manuka honey pie

Makes 1 extra large pie or 8 individual pies

2kg rolled pork shoulder, skin on

Apple juice, enough to cover meat

2 Tbsp-¼ cup dried kawakawa

2 Tbsp dried horopito

½ cup mānuka honey

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp finely chopped garlic

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger (optional)

1 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp cornflour

2 sliced grilled carrots (optional)

1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)

1 packet ready-rolled flaky pastry, for top of pie

1 packet ready-rolled savoury pastry, for bottom of pie (or just use flaky for top and bottom of the pie)

Egg wash, to brush

1. In a slow cooker add pork shoulder, apple juice to cover, 2 Tbsp kawakawa, 1 Tbsp horopito, honey, salt and pepper, garlic, ginger, if using, and soy sauce and cook on high pressure for 90 minutes. Cool and separate juice from meat. (Alternatively, cook, covered in a moderate oven for 2 hours.)

2. Over a medium-low heat, reduce the sauce by a third. This is where you decide if you want more or less of something – add more kawakawa and horopito to taste, and additional honey, salt, soy and garlic, if desired - you should get a good punch of flavour. When you have it to your liking, it’s time to thicken it.

3. Make a thickening agent with the cornflour by adding enough water to make a pouring consistency. Add this a bit at a time to the hot sauce, while stirring, until thickened, add more as you need. Then cool.

4. For the meat filling: With 2 forks - or I use 2 tongs - peel skin off and discard. Shred the meat. Preheat oven to 180C.

5. To assemble: Line your greased pie dishes, roasting dish or baking pan with bottom pastry. Usually savoury pastry, however, you can use flaky, overlapping the sides of the dish. Layer sliced grilled carrots, sprinkle with chill flakes, if using, then add pulled pork on top. Add the cooled thickened sauce on top and then place flaky pastry on top to meet the bottom pastry, and pinch with a fork to bind top and bottom. Prick a few holes in the top and brush egg on top.

6. Cook for 30 minutes in a preheated oven, or until pie is slightly brown on top and bottom. You may have to lift to check underneath. This is a simple but bold pie, where leftovers or other ingredients can be added if desired.