Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.
Today: Pork stew with beans and butternut squash.
It finally really feels like fall, which means we've officially entered stew season -- and that's plenty of cause to celebrate in our house. We all love braised meat of any kind, especially Clara, so once the wind starts to nip I settle into a weekly stew routine. A couple of weeks ago, I used the last of the green beans from the market to make Fasoolya Khadra, a Jordanian beef and green bean stew that doesn't just allow you to skip the canonical first step of browning your meat, but inists on it. (I see you all shaking your heads, but please believe me -- it's delicious.)
I've been slow-roasting a whole pork shoulder a lot recently, but last week I decided to turn the shoulder, which I get from my farmers market and is always beautifully marbled, into a stew. I had also picked up some gorgeous white beans (I can't remember the name of them but they were tiny and pristine) and a fat butternut squash, so they all went into the pot together, along with a little mustard (my new secret weapon for adding some punch to braises), paprika, and my usual aromatics. I cooked the beans first since there is tomato in the stew, and I recommend that you do the same.
This stew is a herald of fall, and it only gets better as it sits in the fridge for a few days. Serve it with rice, couscous, farro, mashed potatoes, crusty bread -- anything that will allow you to swab up the remaining sauce and get that plate really clean. Clara uses her fingers, and if you want to go that route I won't tell.
For the beans:
1/4 pound small, dry white beans
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sprig thyme
1 large garlic clove, smashed
For the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds pork shoulder, well-marbled, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cups diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 cups homemade or low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 sprigs thyme
1 1/2 cups diced butternut squash (1/2-inch)
Top photo by Alpha Smoot, bottom photo by Mark Weinberg