Go Make This Stew Now
It has been really, really cold here the past couple of days. I’m not complaining. We have actually had a really mild fall and winter. Last week we even had some days that were in the upper 50s. However, the temperature yesterday morning when we got up was 12 degrees, I think, and the temperatures never got above freezing. The wind has also been whipping around and we even had a brief shower of snow. Unfortunately, there is no accumulation, so no snow day for the boys.
One good thing is that this kind of weather puts me in the mood to make some soup. We started on Sunday with the traditional Korean rice cake soup for New Year’s Day. Then, Tuesday, I made this scrumptious stew.
Pork and Pumpkin Stew.
Since we started buying our meat by the whole or half animal, I have been looking for new recipes featuring pork or beef. I came across this recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website and was intrigued by all the great reviews it got. There’s nothing too surprising about the combination of pork and pumpkin, nor the addition of spices or applesauce. It was the vinegar that got my attention. It reminded me of my favorite ratatouille recipe, which has a splash of vinegar at the end and gives the dish a special flavor that you would not expect. Vinegar seems to heighten the sweetness in a dish and strangely also makes the dish seem richer.
It took me over an hour to prep this stew. This is partly because my pork shoulder was bone-in and still partly frozen. I also had to peel and cut up two acorn squash, which is quite a chore with my small and kinda weak hands. Plus, I doubled the recipe, which doubles the work. If you buy your meat boneless and buy some winter squash that is already cut up, you will have just a fraction of the prep that I had. The bonus is that once the stew is prepped and in the oven, all you have to do is pull it out and enjoy it 3 hours later. And, since stew always tastes better the next day, we enjoyed it again the next night and there are two quarts leftover that went into the freezer for a future, busier day. Yum!
I made a few changes to the original recipe, so I have included my revised version here. If you want to see the original recipe, just go here. I served the stew with noodles instead of mashed potatoes as the recipe suggested because not everyone in my family likes mashed potatoes. However, once I tasted it, I could see how some creamy mashed potatoes would make a good contrast to the stew–plus it would be more effective at soaking up all the yummy juices.
Also, I think the sauteed kale is also a great accompaniment. I used dinosaur aka lacinato kale. This kale does not have to be cooked forever. I just sliced it into half inch strips and sauteed it with some olive oil, garlic, and a little crushed red pepper. I loved the texture of the kale next to the softly cooked squash. It also makes the dish look pretty.
Next, I have my sites on making this seafood stew.
PORK and WINTER SQUASH STEW
- 4 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3-4 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- 1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 3 Tbs. cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
- 2 whole, small, peeled pumpkin or winter squash, such as kabocha or acorn, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 tsp. dried, rubbed sage
- 5 cups chicken stock
- Mashed potatoes or noodles for serving
- Sautéed lacinato kale for serving
Preheat an oven to 325°F.
Season the pork with salt and black pepper. In a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the pork on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cloves and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar, applesauce, tomatoes with their juices, pumpkin, sage, stock and pork. Bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and transfer the pot to the oven and cook until the pork is fork-tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
Skim the fat off the sauce. Serve the stew over mashed potatoes and pass sautéed broccoli rabe alongside. Makes about 4 quarts of stew to feed at least 12.