Thursday, December 31, 2015

"One Pot - From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living" - Pork Stew with Fennel and Olives - Christmas

Date I made this recipe:  December 24, 2015 for Christmas Day dinner

One Pot From the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living – 120+ easy meals from your skillet, slow cooker, stockpot, and more
Published by:  Clarkson Potter/Publishers
ISBN:  978-0-307-95441-1
Recipe:  Pork Stew with Fennel and Olives – p. 25 ("One Pot, Four Ways Pork Stew" – p. 24 and 25).

So, the backstory:  I had my eye on this book but generally don't buy newer cookbooks as I don't have the shelf space.  Instead, I often get the book from the library and then if it passes muster, I put it on the "buy" list, the purchase often happening years later and often at a discount.

But Martha is different.  After my library perusal was over, I decided I should buy it, mainly because my own rule of blogs:  If you post it, you should own it.  It's my own rule and I could break it if I wanted to (I'm very flexible!) but I wanted to finish out the year on a high note and with a clean conscience. 

And so it came to pass that Martha Stewart's One Pot cookbook is now part of my collection, acquired just so I could make this stew for Christmas.  Well, the stew and possibly one more dish, thereby breaking my second, self-imposed rule of blogs:  Thou shalt only make one recipe per book. 

By the time I made the decision to purchase the book though, we were days away from Christmas and so I had to hustle to find a copy of it from a bookstore.  Martha is always popular, you know.  Thankfully, the Barnes and Noble downtown Minneapolis store had a copy and so I grabbed it. Never mind that I had to drive and park downtown, I was on a mission.  I hope Martha appreciates this.

The recipe I selected for our Christmas Day repast was the very delicious Pork Stew with Fennel and Olives.  It was easy enough that I could have made it Christmas evening but something prompted me to make it on Christmas Eve while I was making Christmas Eve dinner and then reheat it Christmas evening and I'm glad I did because I was feeling a bit under the weather Christmas Day and did not have the energy to make the (Martha Stewart) Holiday Frittata I planned for breakfast nor did I have the energy to make this from scratch.  Thankfully, I had enough energy to push the button on the microwave.  Besides, everybody knows that stew tastes better the next day!

Now, it is not often that I dare to diss Martha because well, she's Martha after all, but this recipe – pork stew, four ways – was hard to follow.  The main recipe featured is that of Pork Stew with Root Vegetables and all the ingredients listed are for that and then the instructions to make the pork stew with root vegetables followed.  Then on the next page, she listed all the substitutions but not in a list.  Instead, she wrote things like "In step 1, replace leek and thyme with 1 sliced onion, 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, and 1 dried bay leaf."  And so I found myself flipping back and forth to see what the root vegetable instructions were compared to the fennel with olives and then while shopping, had to double-check to make sure I got all of the right ingredients.

I am going to have to "ding" Martha for making me work so hard.  My preferred way to write this is to list all the ingredients and substitute ingredients in one big list and then add clear instructions for each stew.  Yes, Martha, this takes up more pages but your way drove me crazy.  I'm sorry.  (By the way, the other three pork stew recipes are:  Pork Stew with Root Vegetables, Pork Stew with Potatoes and Rosemary, and Pork Stew with Asparagus and Peas, all found on pages 24 and 25.)

The stew though, was really good although for the first time ever, I didn't taste it at all, instead putting it in the refrigerator after it cooled along with the remains of my Christmas Eve pasta dish.  The thing is, these two dishes paired really well together but I didn't plan to serve them together until my Christmas Day intentions went awry. 

As to the "one-pot" recipes, Martha breaks them out by "Dutch Oven;" "Slow Cooker;" "Skillet & Sauté Pan;" "Roasting Pan & Baking Dish;" "Pressure Cooker;" "Stockpot" and then even throws in some Dessert recipes that aren't necessarily made in one pot but by this point, who cares? If Martha wants to include a recipe for Molten Chocolate Cupcakes, then Martha gets to because again, she's Martha.

Whenever you make this recipe, it's delicious and relatively easy to put together.  The hardest part for me was finding the right amount of pork shoulder roast (most I found weighed way more than I needed) but once you get that right, it's smooth sailing from that point on.

Happy Holidays and Happy Cooking, Everyone!

Pork Stew with Fennel and Olives – serves 4
1 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 sliced onion
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, pureed with their juice
2 heads fresh fennel, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Season pork with salt and pepper.  In a small Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high.  Working in batches, add the pork and cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.  Add remaining oil, the onion, fennel seeds, and bay leaf.  Cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook 1 minute.

Add the white wine and bring to a boil for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and juices and pork and bring back to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cook, partially covered, until pork is tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Add fennel and olives, and return to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer; cook, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Stir in parsley, and season with salt and pepper.

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