Monday, 2 January 2012

Pork and Cider Stew

Stews may be the oldest dish on Earth. Every culture and local cuisine has one or more recipes for stews, which is essentially meat and vegetables, slowly cooked in their own juices. Cassoulet, tagine, goulash and chili con carne are all examples of stews. Old and versatile!

What's wonderful about stews is that once you master the basic principles, you can throw virtually anything in a Dutchoven (or slow-cooker, if you swing that way) and get a rich and delicious meal after a few hours of simmering. Tougher cuts of meat are preferred for stews, as the long simmering softens it better than other methods of cooking. A savy way for cooks to make sure no meat is wasted!

In the colder months of the year, knowing a few stew recipes comes in very handy, because a proper dosage of meat and vegetables will give you a complete and satisfying meal with relatively little effort. A stew is obviously more filling than a soup, so if you are going to serve it with a side dish, keep it nice and light.

This recipe has a British taste to it: pork, sage and cider are a traditional match. Add to that a few chunks of potatoes, carrots and onions and you have yourself the kind of food served by every self-respecting pub in England (or self-respecting Irish pubs in Montreal). You can either cook it in the oven or one stove top. I prefer the latter technique, if only to have the enticing smell fill the kitchen!

From "Jamie's Food Revolution", slightly altered.

2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
Sea salt and ground pepper
3 sprigs fresh sage
1 pound diced stewing pork
2 cups medium-dry hard cider (I used L'Éphémère cider, from Unibroue)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, if you plan on cooking the stew in the oven. Put a Dutchoven over medium-heat. Put all the veggies and herbs in with 2 lugs of olive oil and fry for 10 minutes. Add the meat and flour. Pour in the booze and canned tomatoes. Give a good stir, then season with a teaspoon of sea salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil, put the lid on and either simmer slowly on your stove top or cook in the oven for 2 and a half hours. Stir occasionally. Remove the lid for the last hour of simmering, also stirring a couple of times. This will reduce the liquid and thicken it. Add a splash of water if it looks a bit dry. Remove herb stalks, taste and adjust seasoning as needed and serve.

I like to keep my veggies chunky, but even if you like them smaller, try to chop them in equally-sized pieces so that they cook evenly. The cider and sage give the pork a nice, rich and comforting taste. I love the texture of the meat cooked this way: it becomes very tender and breaks apart so easily you can almost say it melts in your mouth.

My boyfriend and I enjoyed this as our New Year's dinner, with a garden salad, crusty bread and a few slices of Bois Blond cheese. A dry red wine goes very well with this stew (we had Celeste, a delicious Spanish red).

No comments:

Post a Comment