The only good thing about snow in the forecast is that it means the time has arrived to make Paprika Pork Stew. I've never hidden the fact that I am not a fan of cold weather, but I do my best to find the silver lining in it. I figure that as long as I am sequestered inside watching the freezing rain fall, I may as well enjoy tasty cold-weather cooking. That is, hearty dishes that feature layers of bold flavors, and are served piping hot.
This recipe is a variation on one given to me by mother, who got it from my childhood neighbor, Maryann. I think the reason we only half-froze to death during Cooperstown winters is because Mom made this on a regular basis. Every winter in upstate New York there would be several stretches of days when the thermometer wouldn't reach north of 0ºF. It was on these occasions my parents were tasked with cooking substantial "stick to your bones" kind of meals for the four of us. They would make rich, hearty fare like short ribs provencale and lasagnas. The kind of thing we would devour by the plateful after days spent shoveling snow in the lung-piercing cold. It was food that filled us up and warmed us down to the tips of our toes.
When it came to cooking, my family was eating seasonally long before it was a national movement. My mother didn't have many fresh vegetables to work with in the winter months, the imported variety at the supermarket were usually semi-rotten and inedible, and the farm stands offered very slim pickings. It is from watching her combine onions, garlic and spices that I learned how to make flavors that were greater than the sums of their parts. It is amazing what a little spice can do to a soup, marinade or rub - it really does make all the difference.
I love making this stew while my daughter naps because I can let it simmer for an hour, then turn off the stove and leave it, covered, until dinnertime. Letting it rest for this period works well because the flavors begin to marry, giving the overall final dish a more complex and enjoyable flavor. To finish it off before serving I reheat it for a few minutes until it is gently simmering and warmed through. Then I fill up a large soup bowl, add a dollop of fresh sour cream and, voila, dinner is served. As with most stews, putting this in the fridge for the next day, or freezing the leftovers always works well. Just make sure that you don't add any kind of sour cream, only doing so prior to eating.
As you may have guessed, I made this last week when the first snow fell in the Northeast. Luckily, New York City escaped with only a freezing rain, but I am wise enough to know I won't be that lucky forever. Winter is coming my friends, and I, for one, am going to be prepared. Cold weather cooking, here I come.
Maryann's Paprika Pork Stew
adapted from my old neighbor
1 1/2 lbs. fresh pork tenderloin, cut into 1" chunks
2 T. Paprika
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 t. chili powder
1 T. flour
1 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 14oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 T. tomato pasta
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 c. sour cream (creme fraiche is a good substitute)
1. In a heavy deep pan heat olive oil. Add onion and saute until translucent and soft. About 5 minutes.
2. In a wide bowl toss pork with the paprika until fully evenly coated. Add pork to the pan with the onion, saute until the pork is evenly browned. Then, add chili powder and garlic and saute for 1 - 2 minutes, or until garlic is fragrant. Stir meat to make sure spices are evenly distributed.
3. Sprinkle 1 T. flour over the mixture and stir until the flour is incorporated. Then add chicken broth, peppers, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well and adjust heat so that the stew is gently simmer.
4. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about an hour and a half. Or, simmer for 1 hour the turn off the stove and leave it covered. Then simmer for remaining 1/2 hour right before dinner time. Serve with a dollop of fresh sour cream on top.
Naptime Recipe Props: The beauty of stews like this is that their versatility. If you want to adjust the spices, or add different flavors please feel free to do so. Over the years I've added mushrooms, roasted tomatoes in lieu of crushed, and several varieties of peppers. This stew is also a great way to use of vegetables you might have in the crisper.
Naptime Stopwatch: Preparing the stew takes about 20 minutes, then the rest is just simmering time which requires a lazy stir here and there. It really couldn't be more simple.
Naptimes Reviews: I'll admit, my daughter found this too spicy and not to her liking, but my husband and I loved it. This will definitely stay on our go-to winter menu.