Sometimes it’s just as easy to make a lot as a little. Here’s how to stew and transform one pork shoulder into two different flavoured meals. You can spend time to save time and avoid the dreaded “same old thing” blues by splitting the works into two meals!
Yield: 2 meals, 4 to 6 servings per meal
For the stewed pork shoulder
A splash of vegetable oil
A 4-pound (1.81 kg) bone-in pork shoulder
4 cups (1 L) of water
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 head of garlic cloves, whole
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of salt
For the Mediterranean flavours
A 19-ounce can (540 mL) of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
A 19-ounce can (540 mL) can of diced tomatoes
1 pint (500 mL) of halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) of your favourite black olives, pitted
2 tablespoons (30 mL) or so of dried oregano
10 ounces (280 g) of baby spinach
1/2 pound (225 g) of rigatoni pasta, cooked and drained
For the Southwestern flavours
1/4 cup (60 mL) of cornmeal
A 19-ounce (540 mL) can of black beans, drained & rinsed
A 19-ounce (540 mL) can of diced tomatoes
1 each, red and yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup (250 mL) or so of frozen corn
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of chili powder
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of cumin
A bunch of cilantro
For the basic pork stew begin by preheating your oven to 300°F (150ºC) and turn on your convection fan if you have one.
Place a heavy Dutch oven or large stew pot over medium-high heat and splash in enough oil to swirl and coat the bottom with a thin film. Carefully add the pork roast to the hot oil and commence Operation Browning. Continue, turning the works as needed until the meat is evenly browned on all sides. Be patient! This is the only opportunity you’ll have to add the rich flavours of browned meat to the dish before the coming liquids are added and lower the temperature. When the roast is evenly browned, add the water, carrot, onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt. Continue heating until the braising broth comes to a full simmer. Turn off the heat. Cover and transfer to the oven to slowly braise, tenderize and flavourize, 5 full hours. Reverently remove from the oven, carefully remove the top and behold your achievement!
Using a pair of tongs remove the bones and cartilage. Shred the remaining meat and stir together the stew. You have a lot of food. Enough to divide into two different meals. Here’s how. Remove and reserve half the proceeds for another meal then make tonights dinner with the remaining stew in the pot.
For the Mediterranean Flavours:
Return the stew to the stovetop and stir until the works is simmering over medium heat yet again. Pile in the tomatoes, chickpeas, olives and oregano. Stir the works together and continue cooking long enough to heat everything through and perhaps a few minutes longer as the flavours intensify. Meanwhile cook your favourite pasta, drain it and toss it with the waiting sauce and all the baby spinach until the tender green leaves wilt. Serve and share.
For Southwestern Flavours:
Return the stew to the stovetop and stir until the works is simmering over medium heat yet again. Evenly sprinkle in the cornmeal, stirring it well so it dissolves easily, cleverly thickening the broth with an authentic flourish. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, peppers, corn, chili powder and cumin. Continue cooking and intensifying the flavours until the works is simmering merrily, 5 minutes or so. Garnish every serving with the cilantro. Serve and share.
© Chef Michael Smith
Today’s mainstream pork is very lean, so it can dry out very quickly as it cooks. The trick to tender pork chops that stay moist and juicy is a simple two-step cooking method. Begin cooking with high heat, then finish, covered, with low heat. And a savoury twist on classic applesauce won’t hurt either!