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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pork Squash & Fennel Stew

Sometimes a recipe can be revelatory.  Even life changing.  It can make you look at an ingredient in a whole new way or shock you with how simple ingredients can become something spectacular.  This week I want to share two such recipes. The first is a multi-ingredient, long-simmering stew. The other is a quick, single serving microwave treat. Both are simple to prepare, delicious and could possibly change your life. 

This recipe for pork stew with squash and fennel comes from Epicurious. The pork takes on a wonderful spicy flavour from the cayenne, ginger and nutmeg and the squash and fennel make it a wonderful, hearty winter dish.

I’ll be honest; pork shoulder is a pain in the butt to trim. Coincidentally it is also called Boston Butt (who knows why?)  

It is a very fatty cut of pork but all that fat gives it a lot of flavour.  I like to trim it well but if you’re making this a day ahead you could leave a little more fat on and skim it off easily once the stew has been refrigerated. 

Trim the fat off the pork and cut it into cubes. 

Mix the sage, cayenne, nutmeg, ginger, salt and pepper to coat the pork.  

The recipe calls for ground ginger powder but I used fresh grated ginger. I also like to grate fresh nutmeg. The nutmeg nut is pretty cool inside and gives great flavour.

Let the pork sit, coated with the spices for 30 minutes while you do some serious chopping.  

Chop 4 ounces of pancetta...

2 cups of onions and 3 garlic cloves...

Then peel and cube a butternut squash...

...and 2 cored fennel bulbs.

In a totally rad enamelled cast iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil...

...and brown the pancetta for about 3 minutes. 

Once it’s a little crisp remove it with a slotted spoon.

Next add one layer of pork to the pan. 

Once it is brown remove it from the pot and add brown the rest of the pork and remove.

Now the bottom of the pan is getting nice and brown but don’t worry about it. Add the onions and garlic and soften them for a few minutes.

Magic time. Add one cup of wine to the pot with the onions to deglaze it. Scrape the brown stuff off the bottom as the wine bubbles. Liquid with acid in it is great for deglazing. It cleans things up in no time and that brown stuff is super delicious.

Next add a can of tomatoes and 2 cups of chicken stock to the pot and get it bubbling. 

Then add the browned pork and pancetta and submerge it in the liquid. 

Cover and place it in a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour.

After an hour, add the squash and fennel to the pot and let it simmer another 30 minutes.

Serve the stew over hot noodles topped with some fennel fronds for maximum deliciousness.  

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