Thursday, March 2, 2017

African Fire Pork Stew

Turn up the heat! This is fabulous, Dollinks, fabulous! As with any stew, this recipe takes time … Allow 4-to-4-1/2 hours if you use dried chilis; about 3 hours with fresh ones. That’s a long time, but worth it. I started cooking this in a 3 qt. (2.8 L) pot on the stove, but as I added more and more to the pot, I transferred the works into a 5 qt. (4.7 L) pot. Adding more and still more, I split the stew between both pots. At the end of what seemed a very long cooking time, we pronounced it delicious! 

African Fire Pork Stew:

6 small dried red chilis
3 lb. (1.5 kg) pork butt 
3 tbsp. (45 mL) canola oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
6 fresh jalapēno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped 
2 tbsp. (30 mL) coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp. (15 mL) paprika
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground allspice
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground cinnamon
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground coriander
2 tsp. (10 mL) ground nutmeg
2 tbsp. (30 mL) dark brown sugar
5 c. (1.25 L) beef stock
One 26. fl. oz. (796 mL) can diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 c. (175 mL) unsalted peanuts
4 medium-sized (about 3 lb. or 750 g) sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 3/4-in. (2-cm) pieces
1/4 c. (60 mL) red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, as garnish

Read recipe and all Notes before starting; prepare and assemble ingredients as dried chilis soften.
Cover dried chilis with boiling water (See Chili Note). Soak 2 hr. or until soft. Drain, chop coarsely, and set aside.
Trim and discard pork fat (see Pork Note). Slice meat into 1-in. (2.5 cm) pieces. In large, heavy, lidded pot, heat oil over high heat. Add pork, onions, garlic (see Garlic Clove Note), and jalapēno peppers (see Jalapēno Pepper Note). Sauté 7-to-10 min. until pork loses its pink but is not cooked through. 
Lower heat to medium, adding ginger, paprika, allspice, cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, and sugar. Cook 5 min., stirring frequently. 
Add stock, bringing to a boil over high heat. Add tomatoes, peanuts, and reserved red chilis (with stems discarded but seeds intact). Reduce heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, 1 hr., stirring occasionally. 
Add sweet potatoes and vinegar. Cook, covered, just above simmering 40-to-45 min., or until meat and potatoes are tender. Season (see Seasoning Note), garnishing with parsley. Serves 8.

Chili Note: There’s no need to soften fresh red chilis; skip this step.

Fresh red chilis ... Hot, hot, hot!

Pork Note: Weigh pork after de-fatting. Masochists and fools like me will say: “I’m not going to spend an extra 50¢ per lb. ($1 per kg) to buy stew-sized pieces of pork when I can easily do that myself!” How much do you value your time? Pork can be quite fatty, and one of the chunks I bought was loaded with far and gristle running through the grain. It may be worth paying the extra to have the work done for you. Fortunately, I also bought a pork roast with only a thick sheath of fat over its top, and flawless meat. This was easy to cube. Any raw meat is easiest to slice if it’s partially frozen, as this second chunk was. 

Choose the least fatty pork possible! I did not!

Quite a chore ... Fat and gristle inside and out!

So much easier! Only one large sheath of fat over this 
piece - easy to remove from partially frozen meat.

Heres some of what I removed! Lesson: Buy diced
pork to check the amount of fat inside.

Garlic Clove Note: Pressing on a fresh bulb of garlic cloves with  the flat side of a meat mallet or heavy cleaver will loosen its skin as well as the skins of the cloves inside. 

Jalapēno Pepper Note: A grapefruit knife is the ideal tool to strip away the inner membrane and seeds of these and any other peppers. 

Add pork, onions, garlic, and jalapēno peppers. Stir well.

Two hours later ... 

Serve! An outstanding stew - but very spicy!

Seasoning Note: I used freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns - but only a whisper. With the many spices and peppers in this stew, you don’t need much.

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