It’s true, when we decided to move north, we headed straight for cooler and damper weather. I’ve worn my down jacket and huddled up with my hot water bottle this summer, but all hope is not lost.
Cooler weather is a great excuse to make all kinds of delicious soups and stews. And with an abundance of local beef, lamb and pork, inspiration is easy to come by.
The stew above was sparked by an amazing-sounding recipe in the meaty cookbook, Primal Cuts. “Bourbon-Braised Pulled-Pork Sandwiches” comes from Morgan Maki of Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco. I figured if he could braise pork in Bourbon, then there’s no reason I couldn’t stew it in Scotch.
In Maki’s braise, the pork is strained from the vegetables at the end of cooking and dried cherries are added for sweetness. The meat is then piled high on sandwiches – which I don’t generally eat, being gluten-free. I decided to leave the veggies in the stew and serve a rhubarb-strawberry compote on the side.
The result was a great salty-sweet combo, with enough heat to warm your bones on a winter day (or a summer day, depending on where you live!).
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons red chili flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 yellow onions
4 garlic cloves
3/4 cup Scotch whiskey
2 sprigs rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs sage
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups chicken stock
1. Trim the pork into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with the fennel seeds and chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and let cure overnight in the fridge.
2. Preheat the oven to 275°F.
3. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat and brown the pork well on all sides. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan; brown the meat in batches if necessary.
4. While the meat is browning, coarsely chop the onion and carrots. Slice the white part of the leek, and mince the garlic.
5. When the meat is done, remove it to a plate and add the veggies to the pan. Cook over medium high heat until they are softened and just starting to brown, about 8 – 10 minutes.
6. Pour in the Scotch and deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Turn up the heat and boil the Scotch until it is almost all evaporated.
7. Place the pork back in the pan and add the herbs, honey and stock. Bring the stew up to a simmer, cover the pot and place it in the preheated oven for 2 – 3 hours. Check periodically that the stew is barely simmering – it should cook slowly in the oven.
8. The stew is done when you can pierce a chunk of pork and twist the meat apart with a fork. Serve in bowls with a fruity compote or braised greens alongside.
Here are some stews to keep you warm (or get you pumped for Fall):