Saturday, December 14, 2013

braised pork, sweet potato and fennel stew

The last time I made a recipe from Real Simple magazine with fennel I was so impressed I thought I'd try another.  The flavor combinations in this stew are astounding.  My husband remarked, "This is the kind of meal I like.  Real food and fresh."  Since I bought sweet potatoes that ended up being white and not orange (whoops) I added some sliced carrots to the stew for color and I was glad I did.  Delicious.  I made some divine bread sticks to go with our meal.

braised pork, sweet potato and fennel stew (slightly adapted from Real Simple December 2013)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1  pound boneless pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (I used 1 3/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed (I omitted)
1 (14.5 ounce) can sliced carrots
kosher salt and black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
6 fresh thyme sprigs, plus leaves for serving (I used 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (you're supposed to use the orange variety)
2 small fennel bulbs, quartered plus 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds, for serving
crusty bread or soft bread sticks, for serving

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Season the pork with fennel seeds and 1/4 teaspoons each salt and pepper.  Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
Add the broth and thyme and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, until the pork can be pierced with a fork, 30 to 40 minutes.
Add the sweet potatoes, carrots and fennel bulbs.  Cook, covered, until the pork is tender and the vegetables are soft, 15 to 20 minutes more.  Remove the thyme sprigs.
Serve the stew with sprinkled thyme leaves and fennel fronds and with the bread on the side.

What I have to say- if you use a nonstick pot you do not need to use the 2 tablespoons olive oil if you make sure to stir occasionally so the pork doesn't stick to the pan.

Tip from Real Simple- Like most braised dishes, this one tastes even better the day after you make it.  If you have time make it ahead and reheat it over low heat.  The pork will get more tender each time you reheat the stew.

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