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Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew

When it comes to comfort food, few dishes can match the heartiness and warmth of a well-prepared stew. And when that stew is an Irish Pork Stew inspired by the culinary genius of Chef John, you know you’re in for a treat. This recipe takes the traditional Irish stew to a whole new level with succulent pork, a medley of root vegetables, and a savory broth that’s nothing short of perfection. Whether you’re looking for a meal to share with loved ones or craving a comforting bowl all to yourself, Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew delivers every time.

Ingredients

For Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew, you’ll need:

  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes: Pork shoulder is the ideal cut for this stew, offering a balance of lean meat and delicious marbling.
  • Salt and black pepper to taste: Seasoning is key in building the layers of flavor that make this stew exceptional.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil: The base for sautéing the pork and vegetables to create the rich foundation of the stew.
  • 2 onions, chopped: Onions provide a sweet and savory depth of flavor to the stew.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced: Garlic adds its distinct aroma and taste to the dish.
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced: Carrots contribute a natural sweetness and vibrant color.
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped: Celery brings a mild, earthy flavor and pleasant crunch.
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced: Potatoes add body and creaminess to the stew as they break down during cooking.
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme: Thyme infuses the stew with its aromatic, earthy notes.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste: Tomato paste adds a rich umami element and helps thicken the broth.
  • 1 cup chicken broth: Chicken broth provides a savory base for the stew.
  • 1 cup beef broth: Beef broth deepens the flavor profile with its hearty essence.
  • 1 cup water: Water helps to balance the broth and ensure the stew doesn’t become overly salty.
  • 2 bay leaves: Bay leaves infuse the stew with their subtle, woodsy fragrance.
  • 1 cup frozen peas: These vibrant green peas are a delightful addition and provide a pop of color and sweetness.
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish: Fresh parsley adds a touch of freshness and brightens up the dish.

Instructions

Preparing the Pork:

1. Season the pork: Begin by generously seasoning the pork cubes with salt and freshly ground black pepper. This step is crucial for building flavor from the very start.

2. Sear the pork: In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the seasoned pork cubes. Sear the pork until it’s beautifully browned on all sides. This initial searing locks in the juices and flavor. Once seared, remove the pork from the pot and set it aside.

Sautéing the Aromatics:

3. Onions and garlic: In the same pot, where the pork has left behind some flavorful bits, add the chopped onions and minced garlic. Sauté the onions and garlic until they turn beautifully translucent and aromatic.

Building the Stew:

4. Add vegetables: Stir in the sliced carrots, chopped celery, and diced potatoes. Continue to cook for a few minutes, allowing the vegetables to absorb the flavors and develop a slight caramelization.

5. Thyme and tomato paste: Now it’s time to add the dried thyme, which will infuse its aromatic magic into the stew. Along with the thyme, incorporate the tomato paste and stir well to ensure it’s evenly distributed.

6. Return the pork: With the vegetables and tomato paste well combined, it’s time to return the seared pork to the pot. Gently mix everything together, allowing the pork to nestle among the vegetables.

7. Broths and water: Now, it’s time to pour in the chicken broth, beef broth, and water. Give the stew-to-be a good stir to combine all the ingredients, creating a beautiful meld of flavors.

8. Bay leaves: Drop the bay leaves into the pot. Bay leaves add a subtle earthy aroma to the stew as it simmers.

9. Simmer: Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the stew simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours. This is where the magic happens. The pork becomes tender, the vegetables release their flavors, and the broth develops a rich, savory profile. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom.

Finishing Touches:

10. Peas: About 15 minutes before serving, add the frozen peas to the stew. These little green gems cook quickly and provide a burst of color and sweetness.

11. Adjust the seasoning: Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with more salt and black pepper as needed. You want it to be perfectly seasoned to your taste.

12. Serve hot: Once the stew is ready, remove and discard the bay leaves. Then, ladle the Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew into bowls, garnish each serving with chopped fresh parsley, and serve piping hot. Don’t forget the crusty bread for sopping up that flavorful broth!

Cook’s Tips

  • Pork shoulder selection: Pork shoulder is the recommended cut for this stew. It offers the right balance of meat and fat, resulting in tender, flavorful bites. However, if you prefer leaner meat, you can opt for pork loin.
  • Vegetable variations: Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew is versatile when it comes to vegetables. While the recipe lists carrots, celery, and potatoes, feel free to add or substitute with vegetables like parsnips, turnips, or leeks. They’ll contribute their unique flavors to the stew.
  • Making it in advance: Like many stews, this dish tastes even better when reheated. In fact, the flavors have time to meld and deepen when the stew is made a day ahead. So, don’t hesitate to plan ahead and enjoy the enhanced flavors of a reheated batch.
  • Serving suggestions: This stew pairs wonderfully with a slice of warm, crusty bread or a dollop of creamy mashed potatoes. The choice is yours!

Variations

Pork and Apple Stew

For a sweet and savory twist on Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew, consider adding 2-3 peeled and chopped apples to the mix. As the stew simmers, the apples will break down, infusing the dish with a delightful fruity note. The natural sweetness of apples complements the savory flavors, creating a symphony for your taste buds.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions

Keto Variation

For those following a keto diet, this Irish Pork Stew can still be enjoyed with a few adjustments:

  • Swap the potatoes for cauliflower florets. Cauliflower provides a similar texture and absorbs the flavors of the stew while keeping the carb count lower.
  • Use a keto-friendly thickening agent like xanthan gum or almond flour to achieve the desired consistency of the stew without the added carbs.

Low-Carb Variation

If you’re watching your carb intake, you can make the following changes:

  • Replace the potatoes with turnips. Turnips have a lower carb content than potatoes and offer a similar starchy texture.
  • Omit the frozen peas or reduce the amount to minimize carb content.

Remember that the key to a satisfying low-carb or keto version of Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew is to make smart ingredient choices without compromising on flavor.

Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew is a delightful and hearty dish that embodies the essence of Irish cuisine. With its tender pork, a medley of root vegetables, and an aromatic broth, it’s a culinary journey to the Emerald Isle in every spoonful. Whether you’re enjoying it on a cozy evening at home or sharing it with friends and family, this stew is a true comfort food classic. The rich, savory flavors combined with the comforting warmth of each bite make it a beloved recipe that’s sure to become a favorite in your household. So, pick up your apron, grab your ingredients, and get ready to savor the magic of Chef John’s Irish Pork Stew.

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