I wrote this recipe for my first cookbook, based on a dish I cook regularly for my sister’s freezer. (She has MS so I like to keep her stocked up with Sasha-made ready meals.)
Tomato-y, intensely savoury, meaty, filling: This is one of those hero meals that your friends and family will ask you to cook again and again. What you don’t need to tell them is how uncomplicated it is to produce and, very pleasingly, just how inexpensive it is too. A kilo of outdoor reared boned pork shoulder will usually cost under £5, and this dish will feed eight people comfortably.
Pork shoulder is a part of the pig that gets lots of work, so it’s a tasty, muscly cut of meat that needs long, gentle cooking. I find people are divided on whether they want the skin on or off. I prefer to keep it on, as I like the depth of flavour the fat gives to the stew, but if you want it removed, best ask your butcher to do it when he cubes the meat for you as you will need a very sharp knife at home.
Ideally I would like to serve this in wide shallow bowls over a big pile of mashed potato, with some buttered spring greens or kale on the side. But it would be equally delicious with pasta, flat noodles or pappardelle, or any kind of grain-y carb – think couscous, barley, bulgar, quinoa, buckwheat, or spelt.
MARCH 2020 – LOCKDOWN COOKING NOTES
My most recent version used pre-cubed pork leg from Ocado – and I only had 400grams, not 1kg. Don’t worry if you can’t get hold of chorizo – it’ll still be delicious. If you aren’t using it, try adding a tsp of ground cumin with the paprika to add some more depth.
I also swapped the white wine for Prosecco, and used four tins of chopped tomatoes to bulk out the stew. I would also have added another tin of butter beans, had I any in the cupboard.
I also don’t see why you couldn’t use cannellini beans in here, or even chickpeas. ( I probably wouldn’t sub in kidney beans as they can be sometimes have tougher skins, and I think this recipe is all about the contrast of the soft melting beans with the more resisting pork.)
Of course, the alcohol is always optional: you can leave it out and use water instead, or swap in something else. I didn’t have any white wine to hand: instead the flat Prosecco that I had in the fridge door brought some sweetness to the party, balancing out the tomatoes’ acidity, and I just left out the sugar from the sauce. (Red wine would also be good. Even sherry or port although I would use 100ml of the sherry or port and 100ml water, as they’re a stronger, fortified wine.)
If you have less meat or fewer ingredients, the method will always stay the same – just keep an eye on the sauce when it is simmering away to make sure it doesn’t dry out, and always check the seasoning.
Ikg boneless pork shoulder, cut into inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
200ml white wine (or water)
1 tbsp sugar
800g chopped tinned tomatoes (2 x tins)
a squirt of tomato puree
200g butter beans, (1 x tin) rinsed and drained
To garnish: 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper
Choose a pan that is large enough to eventually cook your stew – I use a sauteuese, a wide shallow cross between a straight sided frying pan and saucepan, but a casserole – what the Americans would call a Dutch oven, would also be good.
Pour a couple of tablespoons of oil into the pan over a medium heat, add the pork pieces and fry for 10 minutes, or until browned on the outside but not completely cooked through, then remove from the pan and set aside in a dish.
Add the chopped chorizo to the same pan and fry for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside with the pork.
Add the onion to the same pan and sweat over a low-medium heat for at least 10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Don’t be tempted to hurry them: Burnt onions are not nice.
When they have softened, add the garlic and smoked paprika, and cook, stirring for a minute or two, before adding the wine or water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes, before adding the chopped tomatoes, sugar and the butter beans. Tip in the browned pork and chorizo pieces
Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over a low heat, place a lid over the pan, and cook for one hour. Keep checking at regular intervals, to check that it doesn’t catch, and add a little water if the stew looks like it is becoming too dry.
Just before serving check the seasoning.