Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pork Stew with Hard Cider, Pearl Onions and Potatoes

Looking around at the various Bruce Aidells recipes available online, I came across this one. Unsure if I'd enjoy a bunch of apples in my pork stew, I went out on a limb.

Pork Stew with Hard Cider, Pearl Onions and Potatoes
from Epicurious
click to print

2 10-oz bags pearl onions
5 slices thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
3 1/2 lbs boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), external fat trimmed, cut into 2-inch cubes
kosher salt
1 c shallots (about 4 large), chopped
1 c parsnips, finely chopped
6 tsp fresh sage, chopped, divided
1/2 c plus 1 tbsp Calvados
2 c chicken stock
12-oz hard apple cider
1 1/2 lbs unpeeled baby red potatoes (about 2 inches in diameter), scrubbed, halved
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard

Cook onions in large saucepan of boiling salted water 2 minutes; transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Peel onions; set aside.

Cook bacon in heavy large pot over medium heat until lightly browned. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

I cooked mine a little more than "lightly" browned. Oops.

Sprinkle pork shoulder with coarse salt and pepper.

Increase heat to medium-high.

Working in 2 batches, add pork to same pot and cook until browned, about 7 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to large bowl.

Reduce heat to medium; add shallots and parsnips. Cover pot and cook until beginning to soften, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Stir in 3 teaspoons sage; stir 1 minute.

Add 1/2 cup Calvados, if using; cook until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.

Add broth, cider, reserved bacon, and pork with any accumulated juices.

Bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Shoot! I forgot about this in the oven and inadvertantly let it cook an extra 30 minutes.

Add potatoes and pearl onions to stew; cover and cook until vegetables are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Add apples; cover and cook until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Spoon fat from surface of juices, if necessary.

Stir butter and flour in small bowl to form paste.

Add to pot and whisk to blend.

Stir in mustard, 2 teaspoons sage, and 1 tablespoon Calvados, if using.

Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until thickened, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Divide stew among bowls, sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon sage, and serve.

Impressive! The stew is savory and just slightly sweet. The pork was exceptionally tender, enough so that I'm sure it could be cut with a spoon (due to my cooking it an extra 30 probably unnecessary 30 minutes), while the potatoes were perfectly softened. The pieces of apple were a little bit much for me the first day, but they softened even further after refrigerating and were much more subtle. I can't say how different this would be without the Calvados, but I can say it was great with it and recommend getting some! Usually I have a comment regarding what I'd change, but I have none. It was perfect. Another Aidells winner.


Total: $29.45 or $4.91 for each of six enormous servings. I got about twice that many, half going into the freezer.

I thought the potatoes would get really funky if frozen, but I'm eating the second to last portion of what was left in my freezer tonight and it's just as good as day one.

I swear to god, this stuff is amazing. Even the hard cider taste is still present and nothing turned to absolute mush in the freezer. Incredible.