Is it cold and snowing where you are? Are you swirling in the center of the Polar Vortex? Here in Southern California, it’s a beautiful and sunny 72 degrees today. I say that not to brag, but with desperation. Can we have some of your snow and rain? Pleeeease…. In case you haven’t heard (being buried under all that snow and all), we are in the middle of the worst drought in recorded history here. There is NO snow in the mountains and the reservoirs are drying up.
Things are getting desperate here, yet it seems like most people where I live are completely unaware. My lawn is the color of old cardboard, while my neighbor’s lawn looks like a golf course watered three days a week. Local news talks about the unending forecast of “beautiful weather”, and moans if there is even a 20% chance of rain (which never materializes). In the meantime, at our house in the mountains, which is usually under a few feet of snow this time of year, we are doing heavy yard maintenance to clear the brush or risk being fined because the fire danger is so high. Usually, we have to do this in July, not February.
So what does the “glorious” weather have to do with this hearty stew? Not much, but if you are in the polar vortex, it should keep you warm and happy. For those of us here in the drought, chalk it up to “wishful thinking” and “dreaming of rain”.
This is the perfect dish to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s one of those meals which takes a little extra time to cook and is even better the next day. It’s worth the wait, trust me.
2eachyellow onionsabout 12 oz whole weight, sliced thin
2eachlarge carrotsabout 8 oz whole weight, diced
8ozbuttonor other mushrooms, sliced
1teaspooneach dried thymebasil and oregano
1candiced tomatoes14.5 oz
6ozartichoke hearts*about 1 cup, quartered and then cut in half
2cupsbeef or chicken stock
2poundspork stew meatcut in 1.5" chunks
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare all your vegetables; thinly slice the onions, dice the carrots and celery, slice the garlic and mushrooms and cut the artichoke hearts.
Cut the pork stew meat into 1.5-2" chunks and set aside.
Heat a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the sliced onions to the pot and cook slowly for about half an hour, lowering the heat after the first 10 minutes.
Once the onions are very soft, almost caramelized, push them to the side of the pot and add the other tablespoon of oil along with the sliced mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften and then mix them with the onions.
Add the diced carrots and celery to the mushrooms and onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sliced garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the dried herbs and stir to combine.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine, stirring to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the can of diced tomatoes, the stock, and the artichoke hearts, stir to combine, bring to a simmer and then remove the pot from the heat.
Take the cut pieces of pork stew meat and toss them in a bowl with the 1/2 cup flour and salt and pepper.
Heat a large saute pan and add 1 tablespoon oil. Brown the floured pieces of pork on all sides. When brown, add the pork to the pot with the cooked vegetables. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 2.5 to 3 hours until the pork is very tender.
Serve over creamy polenta, mashed potatoes or rice.
*artichoke hearts can be marinated or canned in water.