Monday, January 19, 2009

It Is So Unfair And Wrong---French Pork Stew

Unfair to have to wait for this to finish cooking and wrong for anything to taste this good! Just thinking about it this morning and picking out the photos to share made me hungry all over again. Another unfairness is that I haven't finished going through last year's Cooks' Illustrated Soups and Stews edition and now I have this year's to explore! How cruel.  As you can see by the last photo, Gene proclaimed it was worth the wait.

                                       FRENCH PORK STEW (Cook's Illustrated Winter 2009 Soups and Stews)

      1   (3 1/2-4-pound) boneless pork butt roast, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
          Salt and ground black pepper
      1/4   cup Vegetable Oil
       1   large leek, white and light green parts, halved lengthwise and cleaned, sliced 1/4 inch                    thick, about 1 cup
        1  Tablespoon minced garlic cloves
        3  Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
        1  Cup brandy (don't skimp on quantity)
        3  cups low sodium chicken broth
        2  bay leaves
        1  large fennel bulb, about 1 lb., trimmed of stalks,fronds, cored and cut into 1/2 inch strips
        1  pound carrots,(6 medium), peeled and sliced 1 inch thick
        1  cup heavy cream (I omitted and we did not miss)
        1  cup pitted prunes. halved
        2  tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
        2  tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)
        1  tablespoon juice from one lemon  

Preheat oven 325, pat pork dry with paper towels.  Salt and pepper the cubes.  Heat 2 tblsp. oil in Dutch oven over high heat until just smoking.  Add half the pork, cook until well browned, 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove browned pork to a bowl and add another tblsp.oil if needed (I didn't need to, since the pork rendered additional fat),  brown the second batch of cubes.  Remove second batch cubes to bowl.  Add remaining tblsp. oil to pan and return to medium heat until shimmering.  Add leek and 1 teaspoon salt, cook, stirring often, until wilted and lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic, cook about 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Stir in flour, cook, stirring constantly until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in brandy, scraping up any browned bits.  Gradually whisk in broth until smooth and bring to simmer.
Stir in browned pork and bay leaves and bring back to simmer.  Cover, place pot into oven and cook for 1 hour.
Remove from oven, stir in fennel and carrots, cover and return to oven, finish cooking, about 1 hour, or until the pork is tender.
Remove bay leaves, adjust seasonings, add cream and prunes, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir in tarragon, parsley, and lemon juice just before serving.  Serves 6-8. Serve with wide egg noodles 


  1. Well, when she said, how do we show this (with food particles flying thru the air, I said well, show this as how it started, how it went, how it ended). The food, Excellent to the 3rd power. That is an economic term.

  2. We just made this and it was wonderful. Brought some over to Grandma and Grandpa's tonight. We left out the prunes, however.

  3. LOL! You know whats even more WRONG? Is visiting you this morning before I had breakfast! You should hear my stomach now. This stew looks fabulous!

  4. A friend of mine just made this for me for a brithday lunch with my friends. We had it over mashed potatoes. It was EXCELLENT!!! Happily, she gave me what little there was left over. Lunch tomorrow!!

  5. Bless you for posting this. The most awesome pork dish I have ever had!

  6. Although I've made this dish numerous times, and thought I knew it by heart, I'd lost my 2009 edition of cooks illustrated and was "fuzzy" on some measurements. Thank you. Every time I make this, it's a hit. Sometimes I've had to substitute Martinellis apple juice for Brandy since some in my family don't drink anything alcoholic. Again, Thank you for sharing this recipe online.

    1. When heated, the alcohol disappears.

    2. Much of the alcohol will evaporate, but some will remain. It's really not a good idea to cook with alcohol if you're serving anyone who abstains, for whatever reason, unless they've explicitly told you it's ok.
      That said, apple juice isn't really a good substitute, as it's full of sugar (distilled spirits contain no sugar). You could do maybe 1-2 oz juice plus ½ cup water, but ¾ cup or so of water should also suffice.