I tend to think of stews as fairly low effort meals...cut everything up, stick it in a pot, and let it bubble away for a few hours. So, I will admit I didn't really read through this recipe well enough before getting started! This stew was definitely more time consuming than I thought it would be, because the cubes of pork are individually browned in multiple batches, and then the vegetables are added at different stages during the cooking, so you can't just pop the stew in the oven and walk away. That said, the finished stew was totally delicious - super-flavorful, super-tender pork, creamy potatoes, smoky bacon, and carrots and peppers for color. Definitely don't skip the lime juice at the end - a little acid really perks up the stew. This stew is not particularly spicy, so feel free to add more jalapeno or some red pepper flakes if you like yours that way. This one's a winner, but next time I will make it on a weekend rather than starting it at 5:30 pm!
Mexican Pork Stew (adapted from Fine Cooking)
3 pounds country-style boneless pork ribs
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch squares
1 T vegetable oil, as needed
Salt and pepper
1 medium red onion, minced
1 medium carrot, minced
Salt and pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 T tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp Mexican oregano
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 cup beer
2-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups water
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in one-inch dice (about 3 cups)
4 smallish carrots, cut in one-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into one-inch dice (about 1 cup)
Juice of two limes
Minced parsley, to serve
1. Cut the meat into large cubes, trimming off any large pieces of fat (don't worry about getting every bit of it). Season with salt and pepper, and let sit out in a single layer to dry for about 10 minutes.
2. While the meat is drying, cook the bacon in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium high heat. Use the oil as needed to keep the bacon from sticking. Cook until the bacon is browned but not crisp, 6-8 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, leaving the bacon fat in the pot.
3. Brown the pork in batches, leaving room between each piece of meat so that it browns rather than steaming. Make sure to brown a few sides of each piece of pork, and let it get really brown - this will take longer than you think. Be sure to protect your hands with oven mitts and use tongs to handle the meat, as the bacon fat will spatter quite a bit.
4. Remove the pot from the heat for a minute or two to let the oil cool down a bit. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
5. Pour off all but about two tablespoons of oil from the pot. Return to medium heat, and then add the onion and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and tomato paste, and cook for another minute. Add the cumin, chili powder, oregano, and coriander. Stir to combine, and cook for another minute.
6. Add the beer to the pot, and scrape the bottom of the pot to get up any browned bits. Let the beer bubble for about 5 minutes, until reduced by about half. Add the chicken broth and water, and bring to a boil.
7. Mince the reserved bacon. Add it to the stew pot along with the browned pork. Return the pot to a boil.
8. Crumple up a large piece of parchment paper, and then uncrumple it. Place it on the surface of the stew, making sure it makes as much contact with the stew as possible. It's okay for the edges to come up the sides of the pot. Cover the pot with either an oven-safe lid or a large piece of foil.
9. Place the stew in the oven.
10. After 30 minutes, add the potatoes and carrots. Stir to combine, and then replace the parchment and lid or foil. Return the stew to the oven.
11. After an additional 30 minutes, add the peppers. Stir to combine, and then replace the parchment and lid or foil. Return the stew to the oven.
12. Cook for another hour or so, until the pork is fork-tender.
13. Remove the stew from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Degrease by gently laying a paper towel on the surface to soak up excess fat. Repeat with more paper towels as necessary.
14. Squeeze in the lime juice. Stir to combine, taste, and adjust for seasoning. Serve sprinkled with parsley.