The air has turned decidedly nippy, and there was snow on the ground this morning. Time to whine about unseasonable weather (when is it ever seasonable?)
This dish is quite seasonable and captures the essence of autumn – pumpkin, apples, cider – even pork seems like an autumnal selection. The original recipe, from Relish Magazine, used Boston butt, a cut of pork that is rather fatty. Now I have been wanting to make a dish out of Boston butt (which is not the butt at all, but the upper part of the shoulder of the pig) in honor of the loss of my quite prodigious butt, but doing so would probably add to my butt, so I used pork tenderloin, my preferred cut of the pig. And by the way, it’s not as if the good people of Boston don’t know a shoulder from a butt. The name came about apparently because in pre-Revolutionary New England, less favored cuts of pork were packed into casks or barrels (also known as “butts”) for storage and shipment.
The original recipe also called for using cut up pumpkin or butternut squash, but suggested that if these were unavailable, a can of pumpkin would do. I liked the idea of a thick, rich pumpkin-y gravy, and it turned out well. It also reheats well, too, although I’ve had to add water to it when reheating..
Pumpkin, Pork and Apple Cider Stew
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds (see hint)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 pounds of pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, sliced
2¾ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1½ cups apple cider
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 cup carrots, cut into chunks (about 2 carrots)
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
6 cups red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 pounds) (I left mine unpeeled)
1¼ cups Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cut into wedges (2 apples)
Place flour, fennel seeds, salt, pepper and pork in a large zip-top plastic bag. Seal bag and shake to coat pork. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven or other large heavy-bottomed pot. Add half the pork and the onions. Cook until pork is browned. Remove from pan. Heat remaining oil in pan. Add remaining pork, and cook until browned. Return cooked pork to pan and add 2 cups of the broth, cider and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 1 hour.
Add pumpkin, carrots and potatoes. Return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, since the canned pumpkin tends to make the mixture stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add apples. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. If sauce is too thick, add remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth. I needed to do this since the pumpkin is a good thickener. Makes 8 large servings at 6 grams of fat/serving.
Hint. It’s easy to crush fennel or other seeds in a mortar and pestle if you mix them with the salt before crushing them.