I swear that when I made and photographed this recipe, I had no idea that Green Bay would make it to the Super Bowl. So lest you look at the picture and think I’m subliminally trying to stick it to the Vikings by spooning bright yellow polenta on a green plate and offering it up the week before the big game, I plead total and complete ignorance. (Actually, feeling utterly sensory-deprived at this point, I thought it looked spring-y? I cheer myself up in little ways.)
Controversial plate choice aside, I still suggest this fragrant, colorful stew for game day. It exists in the realm of chili, but is a nice change of pace, especially for those who would like to drink wine instead of beer during the game—not that pork stew wouldn’t taste great with a beer. I’m just giving you options.
The pork emerges from a long braise falling-apart tender and luscious. The roasted vegetables and gremolata add texture, color (!), and brightness —all together, a hearty twist on a game-day standard.
Who are you cheering for?
Spiced Pork Stew with Root Vegetables & Gremolata
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Note: This recipe looks long, but much of it is just spices and seasonings, easily measured out. As the pork nears the end of its braise, make the polenta and roasted vegetables. The leftovers are fantastic the next day.
3 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 4 equal pieces
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
2 Tbsp. coriander seeds
2 Tbsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 c. diced onion
1/4 c. diced carrot
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 c. white wine
4 c. chicken broth or stock
zest of one lemon, peeled off in long strips
Roasted vegetables with gremolata (recipe follows)
1 recipe polenta
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Arrange two racks in the middle two spots of the oven.
Sprinkle pork pieces generously with Kosher salt. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. Place the meat in the pan, without crowding, and brown thoroughly on all sides, removing to a large plate as you go.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds for a few minutes, until they are fragrant and lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar and set aside.
After the pork is browned, turn the heat down to medium and add the onion and carrot. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits. Stir in the bay leaves, garlic, oregano, thyme, chili powder, and toasted spices. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables start to caramelize.
Pour in the wine and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Add the pork and lemon zest to the pot. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover pot tightly and transfer to the oven. Braise in the oven about 2 1/2 hours, or until pork is fork tender (very tender, pulls apart easily with a fork).
At the 1 1/2-hour mark, prepare the polenta. (Cooked polenta can be held, covered, for an hour.)
At the 2-hour mark, prepare the vegetables (recipe below) for roasting. (Vegetables can sit on the pan before roasting, covered lightly, for 30 minutes.)
When the pork is done, remove from the oven and turn the oven up to 400 degrees F. Put the baking sheet of sweet potatoes, fennel, and onions in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
Pull the pork into bite-sized pieces, setting the pieces on a baking sheet as you go. Ladle the braising juices and vegetables into a strainer set over a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with the ladle to extract all the juices. Discard braising vegetables.
After the sweet potatoes, fennel, and onions have roasted for 15 minutes, turn the pieces over and return to the oven. Also place the pork baking sheet in the oven. Set the timer for another 15 minutes for the vegetables to finish roasting and to caramelize the meat.
Skim the fat from the braising juices. Taste for seasoning. When the vegetables and pork are done, remove from the oven. Sprinkle the vegetables with the gremolata and toss gently. Taste the pork and add a little salt if needed.
To serve, top bowlfuls of polenta with pork and roasted vegetables, ladle hot juices over and around the polenta, and finish with a few grinds of black pepper.
Roasted Vegetables with Gremolata
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 fennel bulbs, white part only, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the lemon zest on a cutting board and chop it coarsely. Place the garlic and parsley on top, and chopp the whole mixture together until very fine. This mixture is called gremolata. Set aside.
Place sweet potatoes, fennel, onion, and thyme in a large bowl. Pour oil over the vegetables, add a generous sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and toss so that vegetables are evenly coated with oil and salt. Spread vegetables on on baking sheet.
Roast as directed above.