Thursday, 10 November 2011

Quite Simply Stewpendous!

Minestra Rusticale di Carne di Maiale, Fagioli, Sedano, Carote é Pomodoro
Rustic Italian Pork, Bean, Celery, Carrot and Tomato Stew

There aren't many things nicer than a rich and warming, hearty stew on a cold night- the only down-side is that they usually take so long to prepare. Well, it won't come as much of a surprise to you that my version takes only a fraction of the time at 45 minutes.... and I will tell you how to do it if you stick around for a while...

Ok- first things first- those gorgeous, big and juicy beans are from a can, ok? If you want to go ahead and soak them overnight- that's perfectly fine. But they will still not be fresh. I think canned beans are just fine- especially for this kind of recipe. So, I am glad we spoke about that- now we can get back to our meal.

I chopped the pork- it was another of those boneless chops, into bite-sized chunks, a started it frying in ma non-stick pan... no added fat- you know me well enough by now. Add the celery and carrots and a flavor-paste of garlic, rosemary and thyme that have been ground together with some sea salt in a mortar and pestle. Keep the heat high and keep stirring to get the pork brown on all sides. Add pepper, bay leaf, a couple of cloves and a hint of cinnamon. Stir for another 3-4 minutes and then remove the pork.

Use a shot of grappa to deglaze the pan and then add some chopped tomato and a squeeze of tomato paste.  Now add some chopped parsley, rosemary and basil and a glassful of red wine. I used a Nero d'Avola, but any fruity kind of red wine will be fine for this. Bring the sauce up to the boil- check the seasoning and adjust if you need salt or pepper- then reduce to a low simmer and return the pork. At this point you can add the beans and let everything cook together and come up to temperature. After about 40-45 minutes of cooking time, your stew should be lovely and rich, the meat tender and juicy... and your mouth watering! At least that is how it was for me! Hope you give it a go!

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