My Favorite Pork Stew

February 21, 2012

This recipe is one of my favorites.  It’s from Tender at the Bone and I make it all the time.  These days I use more garlic than I used to, and I treat the cilantro as if it were parsley, sauteeing it with the onions. And I sometimes use fresh roma tomatoes instead of canned, although the canned aren't a bad idea. 

The one thing I would emphasize is that you should cut your own pork off of a single piece of shoulder, rather than using what the butchers call "pork for stew,"  which tend to be a mishmash of cuts that all cook differently. 

If you can think of some way to improve it, be my guest.  But I've been making it for 30 years……

 Pork, Tomatillo and Dark Beer Stew 

Remove the papery husk from a pound of tomatillos and quarter them.  Put them in a pot with a bottle of dark beer, 12 ounces of fresh orange juice and a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes (drained)  and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, simmering until the tomatillos are soft, (fifteen minutes to half an hour – the timing on this doesn’t much matter).

Meanwhile cut two pounds of pork shoulder into hefty cubes, dry them well, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Heat about a quarter cup of oil – I use grapeseed but anything will do – in a sturdy casserole or dutch oven and throw in 10 cloves of whole peeled garlic, turning to coat with the oil.  Add the pork, in batches, browning  well on all sides. When all the pork has browned, add 2 large chopped onions, and a bunch of cilantro, chopped to the pan, stirring and scraping up all the delicious little pork bits.  Add 2 chopped jalapenos (more if you like your food really spicy), and put the pork back into the pot.  Stir in the tomatillo mixture, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and either cook it at a slow burble on top of the stove or put the pot it into a 300 degree oven for about two hours.

Mash the soft garlic cloves into the stew and add a cup and a half of cooked black beans.  Allow them to warm up in the stew for about ten minutes. Taste for seasoning.

The stew is now ready.  It will be even more delicious if you allow it to rest in the refrigerator for a day or two so that the flavors have a chance to get to know each other better.  Reheat gently on top of the stove. 

I serve it with a dollop of lime sour cream (a cup of sour cream into which I’ve stirred the juice of a lime). 


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  • Alyce Morgan says:

    Having good friends Friday night and was going to make my own favorite stew (lamb, sausage, beans, tomatoes, wine-you have the picture) and about to change my mind. I’m thinking we should all make each others’ favorite stews and get a bunch of new ones we love. Salad in frig, dessert made (bought?) ahead, wine and glasses set out–says it all; I love to make things like stew for company. THANKS!

  • This is going to be good. I will definitely have some good dark ales to pair with this stew. I am thinking a hearty red such as Vinosia Aglianico from Southern Italy will fit right in. Or perhaps a simple, juicy Cotes du Rhone such as CDR 2010.

  • Deana Sidney says:

    What an excellent point about the pork melange that one often gets –– it never occurred to me that it would come from different parts of the beast. Gorgeous recipe with those tomatillos –– easy to see why it’s been a favorite for 30 years.

  • Jason Hamner says:

    Well I can’t compete with 30 years, but I say hominy instead of (or in addition to) the black beans would improve this stew.

  • I have cooked a stew very much like this for years, yet after browning the pork, it is cooked in a Dutch oven, and served over polenta cooked with a few Tbs.finely chopped red pepper and onions. Besides the jalapenos, I put several whole pasilla chile peppers in and pull them out before serving, no black beans. The lime sour cream is something I adore, and use for other dishes as well. I love this dish.

  • I’m reading Tender at the Bone right now and recently glanced ahead to see what recipe was coming next and this was it! I think it sounds really tasty. I have a couple of questions. First, is there a particular dark beer that works best? I was thinking brown ale, as porter might be too much. And do you think this would work well in a crock pot?

  • I’m reading Tender at the Bone right now, also (Andrew!) and wanted to make a Ruth Reichl recipe… I thought this was delicious. I’m not a total novice in the kitchen, but I’d never made stew before, and this was so simple and tasty. I used tenderloin b/c I didn’t have time to hit up a butcher shop for shoulder, but it worked well. Delicious!
    And I’m never using sour cream WITHOUT lime EVER AGAIN. :o)

  • linda says:

    So yummy. did not follow your recipe exactly, but my alterations ended-up as well!

  • David Bamberger says:

    I love this recipe. I think I’ll try it with goat next time!

  • Cindy Haverkamp says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe, Ruth. I make this VERY regularly…Probably originally to deal with a hefty tomatillo crop. I lost the recipe in my most recent move and feared I’d never find it again. So excited to make it again this weekend!

  • Gretchen Hull says:

    Just had to google up this one to make again this week. Of course I have it dog-eared in your book, but it was good to read commentary here. Thirty years of making this says a lot, but after making it for six or so I can say I love a bit more tart flavor and add hominy. I use Cuban sour orange here. So yummy! Thanks Ruth!