SOMETIMES, ON A WET or wintry Sunday, I walk into the kitchen after my morning coffee and say, “this feels like the perfect day for a stew.”
A good stew fills the house with rich savory scents that can warm up the most dismal day! A good stew is always somewhat unique, depending on what happens to be in the fridge and freezer at the time. But the keys are meat, potatoes, onions and carrots.
The last time I walked into the kitchen and said “feels like a day for stew”… I found a package of country pork ribs in the freezer that I never got around to grilling in the fall, and a package of chicken breasts. They formed the basis for an awesome stew. Here’s what I did with them:
Sleepy Sunday Pork and Chicken Stew
Prep Time: About an hour
Cook Time: 5-6 hours
- 1 Sweet Red Pepper
- 6 cloves of fresh Garlic
- 2 extra-large Sweet Onions
- 1 package of baby-cut carrots
- 6-8 small to medium potatoes
- 6 strips of bacon
- 3 large chicken breasts
- 6-8 pork country ribs (or cubed pork stew meat)
- 3-4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 3-4 cups of Cream Sherry
- 1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano Leaves
- 1 teaspoon Basil
- 1-2 teaspoons Onion-Onion Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a sprinkle of black pepper
VARIANTS: You can add yellow and orange Bell Peppers, chunks of zucchini, mushrooms or other vegetables as your refrigerator allows!
- On the stove, fry up the strips of bacon until mostly crisp.
- As the bacon fries, chop up the onions, garlic and sweet red pepper on the side. I don’t dice the onions too small – they’ll mostly dissolve in the stew regardless.
- Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside to cool. Add the onions, garlic and pepper to the bacon pan and use the grease to saute them until the onion is starting to turn golden brown.
- As the onion is cooking, dice the loose meat of the pork ribs into bite size chunks (or, you could just use pork stew meat already cubed by the butcher).
- Put 2 tablespoons of oil into another pan, and brown the pork chunks (and any bones that still have some meat on them) in the pan. Sprinkle the oregano, basil, salt, pepper and onion seasoning mix on the meat as it browns.
- Remove the pork from the pan once lightly browned and pour into a large crockpot.
- By now the onion should be nicely golden/slightly browned — pour that over the pork in the crock.
- Using the empty pork pan (which should still be lightly greased – add a little more oil if needed), repeat the browning process with the chicken, also sprinkling the meat lightly with oregano, basil, onion seasoning, salt and pepper.
- While the chicken is browning, start cubing your potatoes. I like to wash them good and cut up the potatoes with the skins on — they are loaded with nutrients and fiber. If you have finicky eaters who won’t want to see skins on their potatoes – cube some of the centers to give you some bare potato chunks for them… but throw the rest of the pieces in too with the skins!
- When the chicken is lightly browned (or whited, which is more accurate!) pour that into the crockpot.
- Finish cubing your potatoes and add those to the crock.
- Pour in your bag of baby carrots.
- Stir up the contents of the crock and then pour in enough sherry to bring the liquid volume up close to the top layer of meat and vegetables (3-4 cups). You now should have a full crockpot that looks something like this:
- Give it another sprinkle of seasonings, cover and cook on high for 5-6 hours.
- Stir about once an hour over the course of the afternoon.
- Some people prefer their stew in its natural broth, but I like mine a little thicker and creamier. To accomplish this, in the final hour of cooking, with a spoon or measuring cup, siphon off the oil and fat that has accumulated on the surface and pour into a bowl or large cup.
- Mix 3-4 tablespoons of flour into the oil until you have a loose paste, or roux.
- Stir your roux spoon by spoon into the liquid of the stew. Once you’ve added it all, make sure to turn the stew over with a large spoon a few times and then cover it and let it cook for another 30-45 minutes. It’s hard to crockpot a stew for too long over an afternoon — so don’t worry about overcooking.
- When you’re ready to eat… pull out your big spoon and plates (or bowls!) and dig in. Your tastebuds will dance!
Extra Credit: My family loves it when I use some of that afternoon slow cooking time to pull out some flour and yeast and knead up a loaf of homemade bread… but that’s another recipe!
If you liked this recipe, try my other culinary concoctions!