Thursday, December 8, 2005

Pork & Butternut Squash Stew

Winter is not settling down for a long nap here on the north coast. It's cold, rainy, foggy and definitely winter-y. What better comfort on such a day than to walk into the house and be greeted by the smells of a stew simmering away on the stove? Well, maybe curling up with a good book, a hot cup of tea, and a blanket tucked around you while those heady aromas waft around your head, huh? Better than visions of sugar plums.

This recipe doesn't have exact measurements, though I'll try to approximate. I just started with the pork and the butternut squash and went from there, adding this and that until I felt it was done.

2 pounds boneless pork loin or 2 pounds boneless pork loin chops, about 1 inch thick, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large, sweet onion, chopped into 1/2 inch dice
7 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 cans of your favorite white beans, drained
2 cups or so of chicken stock or a combination of liquids (in addition to the chicken stock, I used some Six Rivers Brewery Autumn Ale that was left over and topped it off with some apple cider)
2 bay leaves
4 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
ground cloves (especially if you use apple cider as part of your liquid)
salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet over med-high heat, brown the meat all over in batches in a little olive oil. As each batch is browned, transfer it to a stew pot (I used a crock pot this time as I was going to leave the house as soon as the stew was assembled and wanted it to cook unattended).
Adding a little more olive oil and lowering the heat to medium, cook the onions until tender and golden. Add to the stew pot. Cook the garlic 2-3 minutes, taking care not to burn it and add it to the pot.
Deglaze the skillet with a bit of liquid, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Pour all of it into the pot.
To the pot add:
cubed squash
diced apple
1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cloves
coarsly chopped sage leaves
bay leaves
the white beans

Mix all this together gently, adding enough liquid that will allow the meat to braise and all the ingredients to fall together into a stew. Add salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer for about 2 hours or until pork is fall apart tender.

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