18 October 2010

Autumn Harvest Stew

Autumn harvest stew is rich and sweet with the flavors of fall - apple, maple, cranberries and root vegetables. It's a wonderful meal for a cold and rainy day, which we've had a lot of here. It's perfect for simmering on the stove, in fact, it's adapted for doing just that.
My mother is an avid wood stove cook - cooking nearly every meal from September to June on the wood cook stove. She always has something simmering or baking, and who wouldn't with the stove running day and night. She carefully manages the fire - selecting the right type of wood (maple wood burns hot and long, birch quick and fast, ash and apple somewhere in between), positioning the stoves damper just so to further manage the fire (with damper wide open she gets the fire 'cranking", with it closed down she can hold the heat steady). Failure to pay care with the wood cook stove usually results in an under cooked dinner or burned dessert.

As a result, my mother has perfected several recipes as wood stove fail-safes - recipes that simmer for long periods of time with rich aromas, but need relatively little attention and are forgiving when it comes to cooking temperatures. Autumn Harvest Stew is one of those recipes.

Autumn Harvest Stew
Adapted From Rachael Ray
2.5lbs Pork Roast or Tenderloin cut into 1-2 in. cubes
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat or White Flour
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
3 Small Onions cut into quarters
3 Leeks sliced
1 Bulb of Kohlrabi cut into 1" pieces
5 Potatoes cut into 1" pieces
2 Bay Leaves
1 Tsp Allspice
2-4 Springs of Thyme
3 Tbsp Maple Sugar or 1/4 Cup Grade B Pure Maple Syrup
2 Cups Apple Cider
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Cup Fresh Cranberries or 
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries 
4 Unpeeled Apples cut into 1-2" chunks

Heat a heavy bottomed pan on high heat with the olive oil (1/2 the olive oil). Place the cut pieces of pork in a resealable plastic bag (1 gallon zippered works well) along with 1/2 cup of flour. Shake bag until pork is evenly coated. Once the pan is hot add a third to half of the pork  and brown on all sides. It will take 5 to 8 minutes depending on how large your pieces are. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining meat until all is cooked. Set aside the pork.

Place the remaining olive oil in the pan and add onions and leeks saute until soft 3 to 5 minutes. Add potatoes and kohlrabi and cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, thyme, all spice, maple sugar, apple cider and chicken broth. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate all the bits from the browning of the meat and the cooking of the veggies. Add the pork back into the pot.

Simmer the stew for at least 1 to 2 hours. 10 to 30 minutes before serving add the apples and cranberries. Serve when the apples and cranberries are soft - making sure to remember to remove the sprigs of thyme and bay leaves before serving.

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