I love to cook, but every year, sometime between late July and early August, my enthusiasm starts to wane. I get distracted by other things, and it seems a shame to heat up the house by turning on the stove. Plus, with all the fresh produce available, I’m usually content to just graze. Do raspberries & kale qualify as dinner? Absolutely! (Especially when paired up with some tasty cheese and a glass of wine…or three.) However, the moment the leaves start to change color, and the temperatures outside begin to cool down, my appetite for hearty, comfort food returns. This stew satisfies both body & soul, and has come to symbolize the transition to fall in our house. In fact, I heard Olly (my 4-year-old son) informing his teacher the other day, that Autumn had, in fact, officially started. He knew this because his mom had made “her special pumpkin pork for dinner, and she only does that when it’s almost time to carve pumpkins, and that’s always in the fall”. Well, yeah… 😉
Pork, Pumpkin & Apple Cider Stew
(servings = 8, takes about 3 hours to make)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 2 1/2 pound pork roast(s) (Boston butt, sirloin, or tenderloin), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth (preferably low-sodium)
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 cups peeled fresh pumpkin, cut into 1/2 inch chunks (about one 2 1/2 pound pie pumpkin)
- 2 cups carrots, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 6 cups red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 pounds)
- 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- Trim pork of excess fat and cut into cubes. Place in a ziploc bag or a tupperware container along with flour, fennel, salt (if using), and pepper. Shake to coat.
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven (at least 6 quarts) over medium high heat. Add pork and onions. Cook until pork lightly browned on all sides and onions are beginning to soften (5 to 7 minutes). Add 3 cups broth, cider, and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour.
- Add pumpkin, carrots, and potatoes. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 30 minutes.
- Add apples. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check to make sure all the vegetables are tender.
- Using an immersion blender or potato masher, break up about half of the veggie chunks to give stew a creamier consistency. If it’s still too thick, add additional 1 cup broth. [/recipe]