Last week it was fresh, curly parsley. This week it’s ginger – body’s revolting. Hell, it’s winter, and we’re heading fast into the coldest month here in the UK. Can’t wait for spring! Anyway, like a lot of other people at the moment I do check the specials in my local supermarkets, from time to time. This week, in one of them, it’s lean diced pork – something I’ve never cooked before. Craving ginger was well timed, then.
There are loads of recipes out there that couple ginger and pork together. Yet, I didn’t want a Chinese inspired dish. Instead, I’ve gone for a slightly creamy dish with beefed-up stock, caramelised shallots and fresh & dried herbs. I was going to go the traditional route and use some cider. But, as the pork had been coated in seasoned flour I didn’t want to up the heat sufficiently to cook out the booze (if the flour scorches then the dish is ruined).
Like most pork stews this is one of the easiest dishes to cook. It’s really a case of, after the initial prep, bringing it to boiling point, reducing the heat, plonking on a lid and allowing this to cook for as long as possible. At least an hour of simmering should be okay. All you have to do every ten minutes or so is to stir through to prevent the flour from catching on the base of the saucepan. I left mine to simmer longer, until some of the meat started to fall apart. Have to admit here that I cooked mine the night before so all I had to do for my lunch was prep some potatoes, cook those in the stew, take photos and eat. The sharpness of the ginger didn’t store very well, though. There was a definite warmth to this, and overall this worked for my palette. The inclusion of a chilli would’ve created a little more heat, especially if storing overnight.
Using 40g (1.41 oz) of fresh ginger might seem a lot. Once you’ve peeled and finely grated it you won’t be left with that amount. Especially as it’s the grated ginger, and any juice, underneath (or inside) your grater that is to be used. Any pulp left on top should be discarded. If you needed to stretch this out for another portion adding a can of rinsed butter beans would go really well, especially with a little dried sage added near the end of cooking time.
Pork Stew, in a creamy sauce with finely grated ginger and herbs
- 400g (14.10 oz) x lean diced pork, washed and patted dry with kitchen paper
- 2 x tablespoons plain (AP) flour
- 1 or 2 x pinches sea salt
- 1 or 2 x pinches freshly ground black pepper
- 4 x fine grates of fresh nutmeg
- oil, either rapeseed or olive
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
- 500ml (1.05 pt US Liq) x cold water
- 2 x celery stalks, washed and chopped in half
- 200g (7.05 oz) x carrots, peeled and chopped in half
- 2 x dried bay leaves, ripped
- 6 x fresh parsley stalks, washed
- 3 x fresh sprigs thyme, washed
- 250g (8.81 oz) x shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 – 3 x garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 x teaspoon cayenne pepper OR 1/4 x teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to personal taste
- 40g (1.41 oz) x ginger, peeled and finely grated
- couple of pinches x dried sage
- 2 – 3 x medium potatoes per person, peeled and cut in half
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- Sift the flour, if necessary, into a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper and the pork and coat well. Then, grate over the nutmeg.
- Put on a large heavy-based saucepan, on electric heat No 3 (out of 6), with enough oil to coat its base. When oil is hot enough add the seasoned pork and allow to settle for a few minutes. Any signs of scorching then lower the heat. Stir through and allow the meat to brown nicely on all sides. If there’s excess fat tilt the pan slightly and carefully mop up the excess with kitchen paper and discard.
- In a separate heavy-based pan add a little oil and the shallots. On heat No 2, and with a lid, let them cook for about 10 – 15 minutes before turning or stirring them through. I like to let them catch a little. After that time add the garlic and lower heat to No 1 without the lid. When the garlic is beginning to turn golden take off heat and sprinkle over the cayenne pepper.
- In the meantime prep the carrots and celery. When the pork is nicely browned pour in the water, add the vegetable stock cube along with the carrots, celery, parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Put on heat No 4 and bring to boiling point, stirring through occasionally. Once at boiling point reduce the heat to No 1, put a lid on and simmer for at least an hour, stirring through every 10 minutes or so to prevent the flour from sticking to the base of pan. You can add the shallot mixture before adding the lid, although they will cook to a bit of a mush.
- If you’re not adding the shallot mixture yet transfer them to a bowl and set aside. Using the same pan add the grated ginger. Stay with the pan at this stage. On heat No 1 allow the ginger to cook slightly. Do not let the ginger turn crisp! Once it’s taking on a little colour then add to the pork, ladling in some of the stock to grab all of the sticky sediment left in the pan after cooking the shallots.
- OK, when the pork has been simmering for at least an hour it’s time to check on how the meat’s doing. And to taste the sauce. If you want to allow the meat to cook for longer then do so as the longer you cook this the more tender the meat will be. In the meantime prep the potatoes and add them to the sauce. Bring back up to boiling, then simmer until the potatoes are cooked. You will have to stir through the occasional time to prevent the sauce from sticking. If worried that your sauce is too thick then boil the potatoes separately as then you could use some of the cooking liquor to help thin the sauce if necessary.
- If you’ve kept the shallot mixture aside then, after the potatoes have cooked, this is the time to add them to the pork to make sure they’ll be piping hot.
- When the potatoes are ready add a couple of pinches of dried sage – less is more at this point. Allow the sage to infuse by stirring through and by keeping the pork on heat. Up the heat a little if necessary. After several minutes simply taste the sauce. If you can’t detect the sage immediately then add another pinch until you get its flavour.
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