As a big pork-and-fruit fan, I’d been eyeing this recipe in James Villas’ Pig: King of the Southern Table for quite some time. We had a few packages of $1.69/lb. boneless country-style pork ribs left over from a long-ago stock-up trip to Costco, so I knew it was only a matter of time before it made it into the rotation. Now that it’s been snowing for a couple days (I’d include a picture, but today is the only day it seems to be sticking, and so far it’s a relatively un-dramatic dusting), I can’t hold off any longer. A stew was pretty much the only thing that sounded appealing, let alone a stew with pork, apples, AND sweet potatoes, which tastes even better than it sounds. (Don’t be alarmed if it looks soupy in the picture; the liquid is easily adjustable.)
This recipe is not only super-simple (as is everything in “Pig”), it could probably be made in the slow cooker. As adapted below it makes 6 servings. Serve with plenty of country bread on the side for sopping.
• 2 lbs. pork butt/shoulder (I used country-style ribs at $1.69/lb.), cut into 1/2-inch cubes: $3.38
• 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced: 50 cents
• 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes: $2
• 1 large onion, chopped: 25 cents
• 1 large celery stalk, chopped: 9 cents
• Enough beef broth to just cover ingredients (I used 3 cups/3 tsp of Better Than Bouillon): 21 cents
• 1 cup dry red wine: $1
• 3 T butter: 18 cents
• About 1/4 cup flour, for dredging: 10 cents
• 1/4 to 1/2 tsp dried sage (garden): $0
• Salt & pepper: 2 cents
TOTAL: $7.73/6 = $1.29/serving
Dredge the pork cubes in flour, shaking off any excess.
Heat 2 T of the butter over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or wide soup pot with lid. Add the pork and brown on all sides. You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pot. Remove to a bowl.
Reduce heat to medium, melt the remaining 1 T butter and cook the onion and celery until softened, about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, the apples, sage, and wine, and add enough beef broth to just cover the ingredients. For my pot this was 3 cups, but amounts may vary; keep in mind the apples will release a bit of liquid. If you’re making this in the slow cooker you may only need 1/2 or 3/4 cup (or even none); if you’re making it on the stove and want it on the less-soupy side, maybe 1 1/2 cups.
Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until pork is tender, about 1 hour.
Remove lid, add sweet potatoes, and cook for another half-hour or so, until sweet potatoes are soft and pork is falling-apart tender. Season to taste with more salt and pepper, serve with country bread on the side.
On paper, this looks pretty boring, but DO NOT BE FOOLED. It is outrageously good, and outrageously easy. It seems like it would be something that could be even better the next day, but I wouldn’t know. We ate the entire thing at one sitting. Five stars.