Monday, 31. May 2010 5:25
OK, it’s nearly summer and I’m still making stew.
Hey, I wasn’t the one that ordered up last week’s crazy, uncharacteristic rainstorm in the Bay Area. Is it global warming? A freak occurrence that doesn’t mean anything? Or?
I like to think of it as Mother Nature’s way of telling me there’s still a little time left to enjoy one of my favorite methods of cooking — braising hearty vegetables with a tough, economical cut of meat in one big ol’ pot on the stove or in the oven until they all turn tender and irresistible.
When I get the hankering for great stew, I often turn to “Braises and Stews” (Chronicle Books) by San Francisco food writer Tori Ritchie. It’s loaded with comforting dishes that are simple to prepare. Best yet, Ritchie’s renditions often take a little less time than other, standard versions found elsewhere.
Her “Harvest Pork Stew with Pumpkin” is a fall dish, to be sure. I changed it up to “Pork Stew with Kabocha” because I love the sweet, nutty, starchy Japanese squash enough to eat it practically year-round. You probably do, too, as it’s a standard in restaurant tempura.
By the way, a great tip to make cutting up a hard kabocha a little easier? Microwave the whole squash for a minute or so until the nearly impenetrable exterior softens enough so that you can get a cleaver or tip of a sharp, heavy-duty chef’s knife into it without much trouble.
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