On these cold winter nights, nothing quite warms you up like a bit of slow cooked meat. I came up with this recipe a few years ago when my son was around nine months old. He was just starting to eat whatever his parents ate, and he loved soft stewed meat. In fact, if he approved of a dish, he could eat more of it than either Alia or I could manage. And this one he definitely approved of! Serve this with crusty country bread.
2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
3½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in 1½-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
¾ cup medium-diced onions
¾ cup medium-diced carrots
½ cup medium-diced celery
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups walnuts, shelled
2 cups white wine
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 herb bundle (8 thyme sprigs, 4 parsley sprigs, 3 bay leaves)
1 cup diced butternut squash
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Place the pork in a large bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper, tossing it well. Working in batches, add the pork to the hot oil, stirring often to brown the meat all over. Using a slotted spoon, return the meat to the bowl.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium-low, stir the vegetables, and cover the pot. Sweat the vegetables, stirring them every few minutes, until soft and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, arrange the walnuts in a single layer on the baking tray. Roast in the oven until golden, about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan. Leave the oven on.
- When the vegetables are cooked, remove the lid and add the pork. Turn the heat back up to medium. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half. Add the stock and herb bundle, bring to a simmer, and cover. Place the pot in the oven and braise for 1 hour. Add the squash, stirring gently, cover again, and return the stew to the oven until the meat is soft, 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the herb bundle.
- Set a large fine-mesh sieve over a clean pot. Strain the stew through the sieve to collect the braising liquid. Place the sieve full of pork and vegetables over a bowl and set aside.
- Place the pot of braising liquid over low heat and add three-quarters of the roasted walnuts. Using an immersion blender, purée the walnuts in the pot. (Or purée them with the braising liquid in batches in a blender. You want to thicken the braising liquid with the walnuts to create a smooth, emulsified sauce.)
- Add the pork, vegetables, and the remaining walnuts to the puréed walnuts in the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer and season to taste.
- To serve, ladle the pork stew into individual bowls.