As we’re officially into winter now and even here in sunny San Diego it’s turned a tad chilly, I was in the mood for a winter stew. Having some cubed pork shoulder in my freezer contributed to my looking for a pork stew recipe. After looking through my cookbooks, I settled on a relatively simple recipe from Michele Scicolone’s The Italian Slow Cooker for a Pork Stew Agrodolce.
Scicolone has a well earned reputation for no-fail recipes and having written several books for slow cookers has made her an authority on this popular cooking appliance. What intrigued me especially about the recipe was that it didn’t call for any seasoning other than salt and pepper and didn’t call for any herbs. The stew’s contrasting bitter-sweet flavors evolve from the sweetness of onions, golden raisins, and carrots foiled by the acidity of wine and balsamic vinegar. Succulent tender cubes of pork provide the perfect canvass for the gravy.
The vinegar is an essential component of this recipe and if it’s available, I highly recommend using one of the more full-bodied, concentrated, slow aged varieties.
I paired the stew with a simple polenta and served with with a sprinkle of Maldon salt flakes. It was the perfect dish for a winter supper.
Pork Stew Agrodolce from The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
2 large celery ribs, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup golden raisins
1. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper to taste. (Do take the time to dry the pork well in order to obtain maximum browning. RM)
2. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork, without crowding the pan. Brown the meat on all sides and transfer it to the slow cooker. (If necessary, do two batches. RM)
3. When all the meat has been browned, reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and celery to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until golden. (Take your time with this step to extract the sweetness from the onion. RM)
4. Add the wine and vinegar and bring it to a simmer. (Be sure to scrape up any brown particles sticking to the bottom of the pan. RM)
5. Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker. Add the carrots and raisins.
6. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the pork is tender. Serve hot.
Wine Pairing: Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Merlot Rose