I spent Monday morning with executive chef Joe Magnanelli at Cucina Urbana and the little pig he and Newport Beach's Cucina Enoteca chef de cuisine Cesar Sarmiento broke down in anticipation of April's Pig Beast Feast. Joe taught me how he makes his saucisson sec--and I'll show you how with his recipe for a fresh sausage version next week.
But I left craving pork. So I stopped off at the market before the rain started and picked up the makings of a pork stew. I had just written about Sabor Imports for my Close to the Source blog on Edible San Diego and had bought a jar of their Chintestle (smoked mole) Paste at Specialty Produce. Owner Sara Polczynski had suggested a little teaspoon of it could be added to flavor stews, soups, and sautéed vegetables. So I was interested in trying it out.
So on a chilly blustery day, I put together a spicy pork stew that will last me for several meals. It's a little time consuming at the beginning but once you've prepped all the ingredients, it goes smoothly without your presence and the kitchen smells so warm and comforting. Even better, you wind up with a veggie-filled pot of porkilicious comfort food. It's a little spicy and smoky from the Chintestle but every bite is speaks to the flavors of the vegetables. You could add cut up potatoes to it, but I decided to leave them out and have the option of ladling it over a grain like brown rice or scooping it up with warm corn tortillas.
Spicy Pork and Vegetable Stew
Yield: 4 servings
1 ½ pounds pork shoulder (often called butt), cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons ground masa or AP flour
Salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored, and diced
1 poblano pepper, charred, peeled, and diced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked mole paste (I use Seasons of my Heart Chintestle paste)
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 bunch cilantro, minced
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Place pork in a large bowl. Add masa, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, toss the ingredients to coat the pork pieces.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven. Add just enough of the pork to cover the bottom of the pot, but don’t crowd the pieces. Let brown on one side. When they can easily be turned, brown them on the other and remove to a medium bowl. Add more pork and repeat with remaining pork. It may take three times.
Add the remaining oil to the pot, heat, and then add the garlic and onion. Saute for 2 minutes, then add the peppers. Saute another 2 minutes. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen the brown bits. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves, tomato paste, and smoked mole paste. Stir well and bring to boil. Reduced heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer for 50 minutes.
Add the peas and ¾ of the cilantro. Simmer uncovered until the peas are tender and the stew sauce thickens—about 5 minutes. Remove and toss the bay leaves. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Serve over grains like brown rice or with warm corn tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro.