Portuguese-style stewed pork

It’s winter in Chicago. Although we’re having a really mild one, I’m getting tired of bundling myself in the same calf-length, sleeping bag-esque Chicagoan’s winter coat every time I leave the house. I think it’s all this bundling and unbundling in preparation for braving the outdoors that makes me crave more meat than usual.

Katie and Marge trudge through the West Loop for cocktails, photo by Caroline Connelly

Those of you who have spent any time with me at all know that pork is one of my most favorite things. In any form–steak, chops, belly, jowls, ribs, shoulder or ham–it is fatty, luxurious and satisfying. Pork shoulder is particularly great to cook with because it’s inexpensive and likes long, slow cook times.

I found this recipe in the colorful little recipe box that came with my tagine, which I got for Christmas a few years back. The sleeper hit of this stew for me was the lemon. Cooking thinly sliced lemon creates this heavenly, softened acidity, and the essential oils in the peel perfume the savory pork with a hint of bright citrus.

I like serving this with my oven-baked fries, which I’ll toss with some of the toasted cumin seed, salt and pepper.

Portuguese stewed pork

    2 tablespoons cumin seed, toasted and ground
    2 teaspoons sweet paprika
    Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
    1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped and divided
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-in. cubes
    Olive oil, as needed
    1 medium onion, roughly chopped
    3 large cloves garlic, minced
    1 cup dry white wine
    1 cup chicken broth
    1/2 lemon, cut in paper-thin slices and quartered

Method: Combine the cumin, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, half the cilantro and lemon juice in a bowl. Rub this paste into the pork and marinate for two hours at room temperature (you could also marinate it up to 8 hours in the refrigerator–just be sure to bring it to room temp before cooking).

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven over high heat, and add the pork chunks in a single layer. (You may have to do this in batches.) Sear on all sides until golden brown. Remove the pork, and cover it with foil to keep warm.

Add a bit more olive oil to the pan; add the onion and sauté for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Slide the pork back into the pot and add just enough stock to cover the meat about halfway. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 2 hours, until the pork is falling apart.

Add the lemon slices to the pot during the last 10 minutes of cooking.

Check the seasoning, and adjust as needed. Sprinkle the pork with the remaining cilantro, and serve.