Friday, October 19, 2012

Autumn Pork Stew

There is nothing pretty about stew. The humble appearance more than hints at it's country favorites origins. Stew is place to hide cheaper, tough cuts of meat that benefit from slow cooking. Stew famously stretches when there are more mouths than the budget easily covers and it makes use of storage vegetables that maybe aren't as pretty as they once were. In short -- stew is as perfect at the harvest as it is a winter dish enhancing a variety of flavors with the magic of a long simmer.
All that being said. I love stew. It feels warm and comforting and truly homemade.
This past summer our neighbor and friend had a birthday pig roast. We ended up with a freezer bag of savory, long cooked pork. Tasty, but that bag takes up a lot of room in our -- I suspect -- less than standard size freezer. I started out to turn those leftovers into savory stew.
First I sautéed a chopped onion, chopped celery, 2 cloves of garlic, sage, fresh rosemary, 2 bay leaves and chopped bacon in a combination of butter and olive oil. When the vegetables softened a bit I added in the chopped pork (not for long since it was already cooked) and a good sized splash of white wine. When the wine cooked down I added in 3 cups of chicken broth, 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed, 2 tart apples cored and cubed, and thick wedges of potato. After simmering for about 15 minutes  the vegetables were almost tender but the broth seemed a little thin so I combined about 1/2 TB of corn starch with 2 TB of milk and mixed that into the bubbling stew ( I could have mixed some flour in with the early sauté). After a short boil to allow the cornstarch to thicken James' glistening harvest stew was ready to serve with plenty of bread to sop up the flavorful, shiny thick sauce.

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