A few weeks ago I got a one of those e-mails that goes like this:
“We are participating in a collective and hopefully tasty experiment. As such, you have been invited to be part of a fall recipe exchange. We hope you will participate!”
In exchange for sending just one recipe to the person listed at the bottom of the e-mail, I would receive thirty-six recipes. But there was a catch. I had to invite twenty friends to participate. I didn’t really want to do it, but I reasoned it could be interesting to see what recipes people were sharing. The e-vite assured me that “seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas!”
I sent along my latest recipe from Three Many Cooks and then cringed as I hit send on the email strong-arming my unsuspecting sister-in-laws and cooking friends to participate. And then I waited. Nearly all of my friends and family wrote apologies bowing out. In the end I got one recipe from (of all people) friend and blogging colleague Amy Johnson from the popular site, She Wears Many Hats.
But at least that one recipe— Beer-Braised Pork Roast—was inspiring. I asked and she agreed to let me riff on the recipe. Combining her Braised Pork Roast recipe with my modified pressure cooker stewing technique, I came up with a new iteration—Pork Stew with Balsamic and Beer, which I’ve made twice now—to hearty “oohs” and “ahs”—for casual fall dinner parties.
A few days after the first e-mail I got the exact same invitation from another friend. I promptly wrote back and said, “I don’t have twenty more friends!”
- 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into1½-inch cubes, patted dry
- 5 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, divided
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 bottle (12 ounces) dark beer
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 pounds red and sweet potatoes (a mix) peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Adjust oven racks to lowest and middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed soup kettle or large Dutch oven over low heat.
- Meanwhile, place pork in a medium bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons of oil over the meat, season with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
- A few minutes before searing, increase heat to a strong medium-high until wisps of smoke start to rise from the pan. Working in 2 batches to prevent overcrowding, add pork; sear, turning only once, until 2 sides form an impressive, brown crust, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer meat to a plate; set aside.
- Heat another tablespoon of oil in empty pan; add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano; cook until fragrant, about a minute. Whisk in flour, then broth, beer, vinegar and sugar; stir in pork. Using 2 potholders to protect hands, place a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the pot, pressing on the foil so that it touches the stew. Seal foil around the edges. Place lid snugly on pot and turn burner on medium-high until you hear juices bubble. Set pot on middle rack in oven and cook for a total of 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- At the 45-minute point, toss potatoes with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a 13-by 9-inch pan. Set on bottom rack. Roast potatoes and continue to cook stew until sweet potatoes and pork are tender, about 30 minutes longer. Remove potatoes and stew from oven. Remembering that kettle and lid are hot, stir potatoes into stew. Re-cover pot with foil and lid and let meat rest and vegetables marry with stew, about 5 minutes. Return stew to burner, if necessary to reheat. Stir in parsley and serve.