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My Thursday Thing: Cold Winter's Night

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope this day is filled with tons of romance. If you still haven't figured out what to make for that special someone tonight, check out my blog post from last week, Three Easy Courses to Romance. Now on with show.

It's the middle of February, and for many of us here in the states, it's colder than cold outside. And while the weather in my neck of the woods of Raleigh, NC has been up and down this winter, there have been more than enough cold nights recently to get me thinking about the perfect cold weather dishes. Many hearty meals quickly came to mind, like a spicy chili with cornbread, grilled cheese and tomato soup, chicken pot pie, even a thick slab of meaty lasagna. But I wanted to experiment a bit with a new dish that would have some similarities to dishes made in my best, but with a few new spins. So for this week's post, I'm going to share my recipe for a Pork Stew served over egg noodles.

Here's the shopping list:

  • 1 cup flour

  • 4 tbsp He Can Cook Smoky Spice Rub (or any other smoky spice rub if you must)

  • 3 pounds boneless Pork Shoulder or Butt, fat trimmed, cut into 1" cubes

  • 5 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced

  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup red wine

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 8 ounces baby carrots

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 tbsp corn starch

  • 2 tbsp water

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (roughly 1/2 lemon, juiced)

  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

  • 1 pound egg noodles

  • 1 cup frozen peas, heated

  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

And here's how you get it done:

Turn on your oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and 3 tbsp of my personal smoky spice rub.

Drop half of the pork into the bowl and lightly toss the pork to coat in the flour. In a large heavy-bottom pot such as a dutch oven (here's an example of one on Amazon, although you can usually find less expensive versions at places like Marshalls and TJ Maxx), heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat. After it is hot, but not smoking, shake off the excess flour from the pork and place in the pan. Brown the pieces on all sides, roughly 3-4 minutes, then remove to a plate. Repeat the effort with the second batch of pork cubes, remembering to add more oil to the pan.

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and then add the onions. Saute for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions begin to soften.

Add the tomato paste and stir for 1 minute, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Deglaze the pan by adding the red wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape down the bottom of the pan to release all of the "stuck" bits, called fond. This will add great flavor to the dish. Cook for about 1 minute. During this time, the liquid will thicken because of the flour from the pork. Then add the pork back to the pan and toss it in the sauce.

Add the chicken stock, the remaining 1 tbsp of the spice rub, the carrots and bay leaves. Toss everything and cover the pan. Place in the oven and cook for 2 hours, stirring after 1 hour.

Remove the pot from the oven and place on the stove over medium heat. Mix the corn starch into the 2 tbsp of water until dissolved. Stir the mix, called a slurry, into the pork stew and continue stirring until it thickens to a gravy-like consistency. Add the lemon juice and parsley, and stir one last time. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting to keep warm. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, then place in serving bowls, top with the pork stew and finish with peas and parmesan cheese.

Now sit down in front of a toasty fire, put on a good movie and enjoy the perfect cold winter's night dish.

ALTERNATIVE: As an alternative option, rather than serving this dish as a stew over pasta, make it into a chili and serve with tortilla chips, cornbread or biscuits. Halfway through the oven cooking time, add 1 can of white beans and 1 can of red beans, which have been drained and rinsed until the water runs clear. When the pot is removed from the oven, it may be thick enough. If not, continue with the corn starch and water slurry to thicken it. For the last step, replace the lemon juice and parsley with lime juice and cilantro. Enjoy!

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