Last weekend I plumped for another Riverford-inspired stew for dinner. I had bought a very nice boneless shoulder of pork from a local farm and wanted to complement it with ingredients from the immediate vicinity. My garden is pretty much dormant for the moment save for rosemary, parsley, bay and some overgrown sorrel but the farm shop is well stocked with root veggies, potatoes and lots and lots of lovely kale. I filled a bag with a mix of curly green and Russian red kale as well as some blades of incredibly dark green cavolo nero which has such a fun bubbly surface. A couple of knobbly pink fir apple potatoes (which manage to taste more like a potato than any other variety) came along for the ride, still caked in red Devon soil, and so did a bottle of fine, fruity tasting Cornish Buccaneer ale made by the Wooden Hand Brewery in Truro.
The stew gently bubbled away on the stove top for a couple of hours while the husband and I finally got round to getting hooked on Prison Break (thank you Netflix and hello Wentworth Miller!). The beans had become plump and soft, the pork flaked into bite-sized morsels and the Buccaneer ale had thickened into a rich gravy. Several handfuls of chopped kale were thrown in at the last minute so they just had time to wilt, then we tucked in to our hearty dinner with some crumbly leek and cheese soda bread made by the ever-so talented Emma of Emma’s Bread. (The bread was so good that I actively need the recipe hence I’ve signed up for a breadmaking class with her, yay!)
Braised pork with beer, beans and kale
Very slightly tweaked from Riverford
- 200g dried haricot beans*
- olive oil
- 1kg boneless pork shoulder in one piece
- 4 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped
- 2 onions, halved and sliced
- 2 large carrots, cut into 2 cm rounds
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tsp fennel seeds
- 500ml ale or beer, use one you’d like to drink
- 150ml water
- 400g waxy potatoes (such as pink fir apple), cut into 3cm chunks
- 200g kale, chopped
Rinse the beans then soak them in cold water for 8 hours. Drain and rinse again.
In a large, heavy-based pot heat the oil and brown the pork all over. Remove the pork and set aside in a bowl to catch any juices.
Reduce the heat and add a little more oil if necessary. Fry the bacon until golden then add the onions, carrots and garlic. Sweat gently for 10 minutes until the onions are translucent.
Stir in the fennel seeds and the drained beans then return the pork and any juices to the pan. Pour over the ale and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, or just enough for a few bubbles to break the surface of the liquid, cover with the lid and cook for 2 hours.
Add the potatoes and give everything a good stir, then cover and cook for another 30 minutes until the pork is tender (try pulling it apart with a fork) and the potatoes are cooked. Taste and add salt and pepper then stir in the kale. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes before serving.
* You can also use a 400g can of cooked beans, in which case drain them then stir in with kale so they have time to warm through. You can also omit the water. Unlike dried beans they won’t absorb the cooking liquid but your stew should still taste good.