Pork Stew with Winter Vegetables
Cubed pork, carrots, rutabaga, apples, and onions braise low and slow in apple cider to create a comforting late winter meal.
Hey, I got nothing against beef stew. My recipe collection, from Julia Child’s beef bourguignon to beef stews from church cookbooks, is duly splattered with red wine and fat. In fact, a splattered beef stew recipe is the mark of a good home cook.
But this winter, I was hungry for something else. A tasty, comforting stew that might be easy on the budget (beef is expensive now) and fill my tummy with some vegetables I don’t always eat.
So, while thumbing through one of Mom’s old slow-cooker cookbooks, I found a recipe for Cider Stew and was intrigued. But it called for beef stew meat, and I thought that sounded “off.” Cider screams for pork, so I switched that, plus a few additional ingredients, and created a tasty Pork Stew with Winter Vegetable recipe that’s perfect to kick off our month of slow-cooker meals.
I cubed four small pork steaks (about two pounds) for this recipe. Pork steaks in St. Louis are generally a summer grilling tradition and are cut from the shoulder. Sweet potatoes (my addition) and pork love to hang out and when you put them in an apple cider hot tub, man, that’s good eating!
The great thing about a stew is its versatility. I didn’t have four carrots (from the inspiration recipe), so I used the couple that I had and tossed in those two stray parsnips that needed to be used. Adding half a rutabaga was my idea (and it worked). A plate of creamy polenta was the perfect accompaniment to catch all that delicious gravy from the stew, and fresh parsley added a beautiful pop of green. My mouth’s watering, so let’s get cooking!
To make Pork Stew with Winter Vegetables, which yields eight servings, you’ll need these ingredients:
2 pounds pork steaks, cubed in 1-inch squares
3 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 carrots, chopped
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Half a large rutabaga, peeled and chopped
1 or 1½ onions, sliced
1 celery rib, chopped
1 apple, chopped
2 cups apple cider
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Directions for Pork Stew with Winter Vegetables
In a skillet, bring oil up to medium-high temperature and lightly brown cubed pork steaks. You’ll need to do this in a couple of batches, transferring each onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
Combine flour, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, and garlic powder. Sprinkle on browned, warm pork and lightly toss to coat.
I cut the vegetables and apple in about 2-inch pieces so they wouldn’t disappear in the stew. No need to peel the carrots. The inspiration recipe called for two onions but that turned out to be too much in my opinion. You will want to slice these to a “medium” thickness; thinly sliced onions will dissolve in a slow cooker.
Place the carrots, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, onion, celery, and apple into the slow cooker that was sprayed with non-stick. Put pork on top.
Combine apple cider with vinegar and pour over meat. Cover and cook for 8 to 10 hours. I made the stew overnight.
The next morning, I removed the vegetables and meat (the pork was succulent) to skim the fat from the cooking juices. Use a fat skimmer tool if you have it or you can refrigerate the juices in a bowl or large measuring cup until the fat is hard enough to skim with a spoon.
A lot of slow-cooker recipes say you can make gravy right in the appliance, but that never works for me. I don’t think the thing gets to temperature for the sauce to thicken. So, after skimming the fat, I added the juices to a medium saucepan, created the slurry with ½ cup water and ¼ cup corn starch and whisked it into the pan. These extra steps create a delicious gravy that I poured over the meat and vegetables. If you want to add a bit of color to the gravy, a drop of Kitchen Bouquet will do that.
How to serve Pork Stew with Winter Vegetables
As I mentioned, the creamy polenta was the perfect vessel for the stew. You also could ladle it over mashed sweet potatoes or rice. Another idea is to serve the stew in a sourdough bread bowl. Grab a spoon and dig in!
Pork has a milder flavor than beef, allowing the subtle sweetness of apples and sweet potatoes to come through. Cutting back on the onions balanced the combination of all ingredients.
This stew freezes well if you don’t need all eight portions. What a joy to take it out of the freezer and warm up on a cold night.
Yes, a bow of Pork Stew with Winter Vegetables plus a fuzzy pair of slippers and a crackling fire will keep me going until the first crocuses pop their little heads out of the ground. You don’t have to say goodbye to beef stew, but I hope you will say hello to my recipe for Pork Stew with Winter Vegetables.
About the blog
Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.