There are other vegetables and things in this stew as well, I just list the less usual in the title.
It’s… Rhubarb Season! (We may be passing the peak, but rhubarb is still out there…)
Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a northern North American thing, one is hard pressed to find rhubarb in anything in the South. (You can hardly ever find grits in the North, so perhaps this balances out??) I bought a pound, and used one half of that on a dessert that sounded very intriguing… a Rhubarb Oat Crumble… I love oats! But it turned out way too sweet for me (otherwise great), so I dropped it off at the local community center to share with people who DO like things sweet!
Rhubarb is indeed a very tart perennial vegetable, and most uses involve adding sugar to fight the tart. I can’t blame the concept; it was just a little too too much in the recipe I used. Rhubarb is also often combined with strawberry in dessert endeavors, for instance, the almost-cliched Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.
However, now, with the other half of my rhubarb, I’m going after a savory stew. There’s some pork neck bones and meat in my freezer… (From a local farmer…)
Several years ago, I found a recipe for stew made with rhubarb, and decided to make that — I enjoyed it, but didn’t keep the recipe. No idea what I did then (I think it was with beef), so I am flying by the seat of my pants this time! And, yes, it worked.
To balance out the tartness of the rhubarb, I’m adding some stone fruit. I love what the juicy Asian pear does to Korean food, so one of those. And a regular organic apple that happened to be sitting around my kitchen, wanting to be included. If you can’t find Asian pears, use TWO apples. They won’t complain! I’m working with these fruits and seasonings that complement pork, so that’s part of this picture, too.
PS: The leaves and flowers of the rhubarb plant are toxic. The stalks are fine.
Prep Time: 15 minutes prior to slow cooking, about 15 more during cooking.
Cook Time: 4 hours
Rest Time: Not essential.
Serves: I got about 4 meals out of this.
Leftovers: Yep. Nuke ’em, most efficient.
Slow Cooker Pork, Rhubarb, Apple/Asian Pear Stew
- 1.5 – 2 pounds bone-in pork neck, in chunks. (Mine were large chunks.) The only thing I would do different is use 1.5 pounds bone-in pork neck chunks PLUS 0.5 pounds boneless pork stewing/braising meat, cubed. A better meat ratio.)
- 0.5 pounds rhubarb stalks, about 5 stalks, cleaned and sliced in 1.5-2 inch lengths.
- 3 celery stalks, cleaned and sliced in 1.5-2 inch lengths.
- 1 large onion, chunked
- 2 cups low sodium veggie broth, divided (meat-based broth okay)
- 1 cup white wine (use water with a splash of apple cider vinegar if you don’t use wine). Dry vermouth would also be nice. I suspect this might be the best choice, if you have it to hand…
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon mild smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 2 lightly minced large cloves of garlic
- 2 apples, or 2 Asian pears, or one of each: cored and diced. Peeling is optional.
- 2 or 3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, cleaned and chunked. You can keep or remove the peel, but remove any eyes or green bits.
Add the celery and onion to a slow cooker.
Lightly salt and pepper the pork. Brown the meat in a skillet, using ghee, butter or cooking oil, medium heat, about 3 minutes a side.
Add the pork to the slow cooker.
Deglaze the skillet with about 1/4-1/3 cup of the broth, and add that to the slow cooker.
Add the rest of the broth, and the wine to the slow cooker, followed by the thyme, paprika, and sage. (If you think you need more liquid in your cooker, add a little more broth, I did not.) Turn the ingredients so that the seasonings disperse in the liquid.
Set the slow cooker on low, for 4 hours.
After 1.5 hours, (2.5 hours left), add the rhubarb and potatoes, and continue to let it cook.
After 3 hours (1 hour left) add the apple/Asian pear, turn ingredients so they disperse.
After four hours, taste seasonings in the broth, and adjust. (I added more ground pepper at this point.)
The pork should be easy to pull from the bones. Serve, and enjoy, garnishing with parsley if you happen to have. (I didn’t… supermarkets are now too far for me to go visit at whim…)
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