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