Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winter Storm? Just make a pot of stew

Looks like our bizarre winter of weather in the 40s and 50s in January is coming to an end. A snowstorm is headed this way and finally, we will have some measurable snow to complain about. I'm actually looking forward to the snow. I have always been a winter lover, and while the last couple haven't been the greatest, with furnace problems, frozen waterlines and all sorts of other homeowner nightmares, I am looking forward to the beautiful snow.

Winter is also my favorite time of year for cooking. Roasting, braising, stews and soups, I love all of it. No one wants to heat up the house in August for a roast, but when the snowflakes are flying outside it's the perfect time. 

All my life I have made stew the way my mom did- chunks of meat, chunks of potatoes and carrots, all roasted together low and slow in the oven. That is the ultimate home cooking if you ask me. This time though I thought I'd try something just a little different. What if I roasted the vegetables on a sheet pan, instead of throwing them in the liquid? What would the texture be like? Would this even work? 

Folks, yes yes yes- this works, and it's definitely worth having a sheet pan to wash. The potatoes were tender on the inside but had texture on the outside, a nice crisp exterior from the roasting, and the carrots, that roasting brings out the sweetness in carrots like crazy. They were caramelized in spots, super sweet and so tender. Adding them to the gravy and meat at the last minute preserved the texture and gave good old stew a great big update.

Pork and Roasted Vegetable Stew

1 2-3 lb boneless pork sirloin roast
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons meat rub (we like Feiny's)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
cooking oil
1 onion, cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups turkey stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 lb carrots, either baby carrots or peeled and cut into sticks
4-5 medium potatoes, scrubbed, cut in chunks (leave the peel on)
1 teaspoon meat rub (use the same as you do with the meat)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.

Prep the meat by trimming any fat on the outside. Cut into thick slices, and then into good sized cubes/chunks. From this roast I cut 6 thick "chops" and cut each chop into 6 big chunks. In a shallow dish combine the flour, meat rub, pepper, paprika and cayenne. 

Heat a couple tablespoons of cooking oil in a Dutch oven. 

Dredge the meat in the flour and add to Dutch oven; brown the meat cubes well, without crowding. You will have to do it in batches. 

I always remove the browned meat to the upturned lid of the Dutch oven- saves me a dish to wash. 

Once all the meat is browned, add another tablespoon of oil if needed and add the onion to the pot. Cook and stir for a minute or so. Add the smashed garlic cloves. Cook for an additional minute. Stir in the marjoram and thyme, and tomato paste. Deglaze the pot with the turkey stock, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom.

Return the meat to the pot, cover and pop in the oven. The meat will need to cook about 2 hours.

About an hour before the meat is done, scrub and cut up the potatoes. Toss with carrots, a splash of oil and a teaspoon of the same meat rub. Spread out onto rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven alongside the meat until the vegetables are tender and browned; stir during roasting for even browning.

When vegetables are tender remove everything from the oven. The gravy with the meat should be nicely thickened, but if not, remove the meat with a slotted spoon and add a small amount of cornstarch slurry and cook over medium high heat til thickened. Return meat to gravy. Stir the vegetables into the meat and gravy. Sprinkle with parsley.

Serve in shallow bowls with bread for sopping up the gravy.

Like most "winter foods" you bet there were leftovers. You don't have so much of the same texture later, as the gravy does soften the potatoes, but the roasted flavor is preserved, and like similar favorites, this stew is just as delicious, if not more so, the next day.

As for that weather forecast, the missed it. We got a foot. Pass me the shovel, please.


  1. Can I say I've never had a pork stew???? Looks delicious!

    1. It's something I rarely make but need to make more often!