Sunday, December 11, 2011

"Cheap and Tasty" Pork and Orange Stew

Preparing for the frigid winter months of Iowa I decided to make several kinds of soup that I could freeze and thaw for meals as needed, to keep me warm and satisfied. I found a great soup book called, Soup's On! by Leslie Jonath and Frankie Frankeny (believe it or not, I am not making that name up), I highly recommend it if you love soup as much as I do. The cookbook has great photographs of various soups. It's divided up into chapters, titled: 1. Broths and Stocks 2. Vegetable and Vegetarian Soups 3. Bean, Grain, and Legume Soups 4. Chicken, Turkey, and Duck Soups and Stews 5.Meaty Soups and Stews 6. Fish and Shellfish Soups and Stews. The cookbook is really informative, diverse, colorful, and delicious.

While I was thumbing through the cookbook to find my first soup to make, I knew I wanted one that would be a large enough batch to freeze and one that has enough meat and vegetables to make it a meal all on its own. I found the perfect recipe.

"Cheap and Tasty" Pork and Orange Stew
                           Serves 6

1-2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into bite-sized chunks
Finely ground sea salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more if needed
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons Cointreau
2 teaspoons toasted fennel seeds
6 cups Chicken Stock or broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces yellow-fleshed potatoes, such as Yukon Gold,
      peeled and cut into half inch cubes.
12 pearl onions, peeled
2 cups stemmed fresh shiitake mushrooms, quartered
12 baby carrots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon grated orange zest


The Marinade Express
To prep my food I used the Marinade Express, (view my About page or  Marinade to learn more about this wonderful kitchen appliance). I used the Marinade Express to wash my vegetables for the stew. I bought a five pound bag of whole, organic carrots instead of baby carrots. That way I had more to use in another soup that I made later. I separately processed the carrots and the potatoes for 6-8 minutes each in the Marinade Express using the Veggie Prep solution. Doing this extra step cleans off the dirt and pesticides, eliminating the peeling process and keeping the nutritional value and flavor that resides within the skin of vegetables. I also used the Marinade Express to help tenderize and marinade the Pork.Since it is a tougher meat I processed it for 45 minutes and used an unflavored Pro Prep seasoning. After prepping the pork by using the Marinade Express, and cutting off the fat on the pork I followed the rest of the directions from the cookbook.

Season the pork well with 2 teaspoons salt. In a large sauce pan, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to smoke. (The generous amount of oil allows the meat to brown well. The excess will be drained off.) Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, add the pork and let it brown on the first side before turning, then saute until well browned all over, about 10 minutes total. Pour the contents of the pan into a sieve to drain the excess fat.

Return the pan to high heat and return the meat to the pan. Add the wine, orange juice, Cointreau, and fennel seeds. Stir and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to loosen all the browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaf, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly until the meat is very tender, about 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before the meat should be ready,  heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil with the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and carrots and saute until all the vegetables are well browned, about 15 minutes. Adjust the heat so the vegetables brown but do not burn, adding more oil if necessary. Add the garlic and rosemary and saute briefly, just to brown the garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Scrape the contents of the saute pan into the stew. Cook the stew until vegetables are tender and the flavors have blended, about 15 minutes more. Just before serving, stir the parsley and orange zest into the stew. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then serve.

"Cheap and Tasty" Pork and Orange Stew

I enjoyed the stew immediately, it was absolutely delicious. The pork was very tender and flavorful from using the Marinade Express and simmering it in the liquid. The rich robust flavor of the wine, and the fruity notes from the orange juice meld together perfectly. I had used dried rosemary and parsley instead of fresh because I had it on hand and a little goes a long way. I used a yellow onion instead of pearl onions because it's cheaper. I also used a container of baby Bella mushrooms because I am a big fan of mushrooms and they are cheaper than shiitake mushrooms. I still have a few containers of stew in my freezer.When I thawed a container it was just as satisfying and delectable as the day I had made it. Hope you try this recipe out. Happy soup making!

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