Deep down in the soul of every cuisine you'll find a dish, usually containing the least expensive meat available, that's hearty, rustic and restorative like no other. Pork stew is one such dish. Stews grew from a need to make the most of limited ingredients. And even though you don't have many limitations in your modern kitchen, you fare better using a tough cut of pork, such as pork shoulder or ribs, and letting time take of the tenderizing. To make a timeless pork stew, make it how it was intended: simple, honest and without expense.
Things You'll Need
- Picnic shoulder, ribs or Boston butt
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil
- Fresh herbs
- Stew tomatoes
- Stock and cider, ale or wine
Take the pork out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you start. Cut the pork into 1-inch cubes and season it to taste.
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a heavy pot over medium heat for several minutes and add the pork. Sear the pork all over, turning frequently, until golden brown.
Push the pork to the side of the pot and add a couple of tablespoons of flour for every pound to serve as the roux. Stir the flour into the fat.
Add fresh herbs and mirepoix to the pot: equal parts each diced carrots, celery and onions. Mirepoix makes up the base vegetative flavor for the stew; as for the herbs, sage and rosemary always work with pork. Cook the mirepoix until soft.
Add 1 can of stewed tomatoes and 2 cups of cooking liquid to the pot for every pound of pork. You can use any liquid you like. Pork favors apple and fruit, so equal parts cider and stock work well. You can also wine and stock or all stock if you wish.
Stir everything together while scraping the bottom of the pot with a spoon. Season the stew with a pinch of salt and pepper, and let everything come to a simmer. Turn the heat to low when you have a simmer rolling and cover the pot.
Check the tenderness of the pork after 2 hours and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Check the liquid level every couple of hours and add a bit of water if you see it getting low.
Continue cooking the pork until tender; the time varies with the cut, but expect the toughest cuts to take no more than 4 hours. Finish the stew with freshly chopped herbs.
- The Professional Chef 9th ed.; The Culinary Institute of America