Pork and Apple Stew

photo by Joy Zhang

By Bill Jamison and Cheryl Alters Jamison

When autumn winds blow across Texas, get cozy with this hearty pork stew. Cookbook authors Bill and Cheryl Jamison say the dish was inspired by a savory pork pie they once enjoyed at the Dallas County Heritage Society’s (now-closed) Brent Place Restaurant at Dallas’ Old City Park. The pie, studded with apples and vegetables, spurred them to concoct a stew with similar flavors.

8 servings

6 slices slab bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
4 carrots, sliced
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped into bite-size chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ½ pounds boned pork loin end, cut into bite-size cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil, canola or corn
3 cups stock, preferably chicken or veal
2 cups apple cider
½ cup bourbon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon creole mustard
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith or Jonathan, pared and sliced into bite-size pieces
18 pearl onions, peeled
½ pound mushrooms, sliced (wild varieties are especially good)
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Juice of ½ lemon

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it is brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve it.

Add the onions, carrots, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook in the remaining bacon drippings until the onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables and spoon them into a large baking dish or Dutch oven.

Mix the flour, salt, and pepper, and dust the pork lightly with the mixture. Brown the pork in the bacon drippings, in batches if necessary, adding oil if the skillet gets too dry. Spoon the pork cubes into the baking dish.

Pour the stock, cider, and bourbon over the meat and vegetables. Add the tomato paste, mustard, and thyme, stirring well. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, and then place it in the oven and bake for 2 hours.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Add the apple, pearl onions, and mushrooms, and toss them to coat them with the butter. Sauté them until the apples begin to soften and the mushrooms go limp. After the stew has baked for 2 hours, stir this mixture into it, and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the meat, vegetables, and fruit become very tender and the liquid is nicely thickened. The stew can be made ahead to this point (it actually tastes better if it is served the day after it is made).

Just before serving, add the parsley, a good squeeze of lemon, and the reserved bacon to the stew. Serve the stew hot, over lightly buttered noodles, if you like.

Reprinted with permission from TEXAS HOME COOKING
© 2014 by Bill Jamison & Cheryl Alters Jamison and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press.

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Bill Jamison & Cheryl Alters Jamison are the authors of TEXAS HOME COOKING © 2014.