Monday, November 30, 2015

Halloween Pork Stew

This year, Halloween happened to fall on a Saturday and both sets of Grandparents wanted to come over to go trick-or-treating with the little one.  I was trying to figure out what to serve for dinner that wouldn't interfere with our candy-acquiring activities and I happened across an interesting recipe a few weeks before that I had been wanting to try.  It fit the bill and turned out absolutely amazing.

The recipe is based on a "Pork and Pumpkin Stew" recipe from Williams-Sonoma.  It requires a well-stocked spice cabinet, but is totally worth it.  I've modified it slightly to use butternut squash, which is much easier to find year-round and easier to peel since it has no bumps in the skin.  I also substituted a few ingredients that were clearly there to encourage sales of obscure Williams-Sonoma products (like 2 tablespoons of chicken demi-glace).

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  I've made it twice, now.

Halloween Pork Stew

Note: This recipe would clearly work best with a fatty cut of pork such as boneless pork butt or shoulder, which gets soft without drying out.  However, I had lean pork loin on-hand and it worked just fine.

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound peeled, diced butternut squash or pumpkin
1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
1 (9oz) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar  

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon corn starch 

3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

2) In a small bowl, mix the spices (ginger, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, pepper flakes) and corn starch.  Set aside.

3) In a large heavy oven-safe dutch oven, heat the oil and brown the chunks of pork.  Remove the pork to a plate to rest.

4) Add onion to the pan and more oil if needed.  Sauté over medium heat until the onion begins to soften.  Add garlic, tomato paste, and spice mixture.  Sauté until the spices bloom and begin to smell but do not burn them.  Add the chicken stock and use a wooden spoon to scrape-up any bits on the bottom of the pan.

5) Add the tomatoes, squash, pork, and vinegar to the pan.  Stir well.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

6) Cover, bring to a boil, and transfer to the oven.  Cook until the pork and squash is fork-tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

This is best served in a shallow bowl over white rice or with nice crusty bread or toast.

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