The Gleeful Gourmand: Fight Spring Fever With This Stew

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fight Spring Fever With This Stew

And so we come to February, which is technically the middle of winter here in the South. There are holidays to be enjoyed (Mardi Gras and Valentine's fall in the same week this year!) so there's not a lack of festivity to be had when it comes to food. And yet..

There is the slump. At least for me. I get to this time of year and the foodie in me who wants to try her best to make interesting and delicious meals for her family just flounders. Out rolls the spaghetti, again, and again. Here comes taco night. Didn't we just have taco night? Oh look, a pot of chili. How very unoriginal. I think my problem with this time of the year is the lack of really fresh, good vegetables. There's only so much kale I can take, and everything in the produce aisle just looks so sad and lackluster. I know there's a world of wintertime vegetables that I haven't discovered, but this is the time of the year when I also get run-down and tired, and no, I don't want to use my brain to figure out how to use them in new dishes, and no, I don't want to start making Quinoa because I just read about how our newfound love of it is making Bolivian farmers fantastically impoverished because they can no longer afford their own grain.

But I digress.

Here in Virginia, with the weather always so wacky, we get these terrible frigid cold snaps, and then we get one or two really warm days that roll in like a wanton, lying lover who puts ideas in your head. Bad ideas like the freshest strawberries bursting with flavor, blueberries so tart and yet so sweet, tomatoes so flavorful it makes you want to weep. They're bad ideas because even though we live in the South, we're still a few months away from that bounty. As much as I love diving into hearty wintertime peasant dishes like cassoulet, with the first breeze of a warm rain comes the whisper of springtime food, and before I can stop myself I'm dreaming of summer.

So what to do? If you've found yourself in the same predicament, I offer you the following recipe from the October edition of Better Homes and Garden Magazine: Pork and Poblano Stew. I love many things about this dish, but the first thing I love are the flavors. You've got chili powder coating the pork and the poblano pepper, but it's not so spicy that your cheeks flame and your eyes water. Then you have the bright and cheerful notes of the orange juice and zest, and finally the cinnamon making the smell so heavenly and the taste warm and well-rounded. I also love that it's a one-pot dish, and it takes hardly any time at all to make. I also love that I feel like I can make this year-round and it would be just as good, no matter what the season. So take that, winter dreariness! Even my 5-year-old loves this stew. I've served it with Buttermilk Cornbread, but I really like it with Parker House yeast rolls. This stew is my weapon of choice to stave off serious spring fever.

This stew is the mayor of flavor town.

Pork and Poblano Stew

1 1/4 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 fresh poblano chile pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large sweet red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes with garlic, undrained
1 14 oz. can reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel

1. Toss pork with chili powder to coat. In a large saucepan heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook pork about 4 minutes or until browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove pieces, set aside.

2. Add remaining oil to the saucepan. Add peppers and onion. Cook over medium-high heat until just tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, broth, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add pork and orange juice. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Stir in orange peel. Remove cinnamon stick before serving.

Yields 4 servings.


Unknown said...

This stew really is outstanding - cold weather, warm weather, you name it - it has SO much flavor!! And to know that it's also eagerly gobbled up by our 5 year old really says something... it's a meal that everyone is going to love.

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