Sometimes, I really crave a meal that just simply makes me “happy”; you know what I mean? It’s nothing complicated—I just want to have a good time eating it, and feel better for doing so. It’s the type of meal that when I take a nice, big spoonful of it and chew deliberately and thoughtfully, it leaves me feeling more invigorated, warmed and awake than before I took that succulent bite. I love to have my taste buds come alive on my tongue, to have layers of deep flavors dance around in my mouth; to have a pinch of something spicy, a touch of something tangy, the essence of something earthy, all tied together in a hot, soupy, stewy and savory liquid with some tender, slow cooked meat. Mmm…My mouth is watering just thinking about this little idea I have for a one-pot wonder, a spicy, pork stew served over roasted potatoes. And with a few glorious splashes of tequila added into the mix, there’ll be some lifted spirits before long.
Frankly, it’s fun cooking with a little alcohol. Pouring a few good “glugs” into a pot or pan after there’s been some serious caramelization that’s taken place, creates a wonderfully steamy sizzle as it pulls up all of those beautiful browned bits from the bottom and swirls them into the aromatic liquid, deepening the flavor of everything in that pot or pan; it sends a sweet vapor into the air that lets you (and everyone else, for that matter) know that there’s some delectable kitchen alchemy taking place, for sure. Stews and braises are the perfect meal picks for the cold months of the year, and their rich, savory flavors can only be intensified with a little addition of liquor or wine. The fire-roasted peppers, onions and tomatoes plus the spices and herbs in this Spicy, Tequila-Lime Pork Stew add a darker, smokier layer; and the slow-cooked, tender meat gives body and comfort, making it a hearty and bold stew. Finishing the whole thing off with a squeeze or two of fresh, tangy lime, you’ll definitely notice a party beginning to take shape—and all taste buds are cordially invited.
There’s nothing but love in this delectable and fragrant little stew; nothing but gladness to be found in a ladle-full of this genuinely “happy” meal. It may be cold outside—flurries drifting by your windows and a wind-chill that taunts—but cozying up to a bowl of Spicy, Tequila-Lime Pork Stew next to the inviting flames flickering in your fireplace, is a recipe for keeping that cold at bay.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Spicy, Tequila-Lime Pork Stew with Fire-Roasted Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes over Roasted Potatoes
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(Serves about 6)
2 Anaheim peppers
1 red bell pepper
4 Roma tomatoes
1 onion, outer “paper” skin removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
2 ½ pounds pork stew meat, cut into small chunks
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a drizzle
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup tequila
½ cup chicken stock, hot
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped, divided use
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• Roasted Potatoes (recipe below)
-Fire-roast the peppers, the tomatoes and the onion by either placing them on a grill and grilling them until the skins are completely charred, or do as I did and place them directly onto the burners of your gas stove, and with a medium flame, allow the flames to char the skins, turning the vegetables every few minutes with tongs, for roughly 10-15 minutes; once vegetables are charred, place them into a big bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow them to steam for about 20 minutes; after 20 minutes, pull the skins from all of the vegetables, including the outer, charred layer of the onion, and remove the seeds/membranes and core/stem from peppers, and give everything a rough chop, keeping the peppers and onions separate from the tomatoes; set aside for a moment.
-In a small ramekin, combine the sea salt, cracked black pepper, cumin, smoked paprika and red chili flakes with a fork, and set aside for a moment; this will be your “seasoning mix”.
-Place the pork stew meat chunks into a small bowl, and add about half of the seasoning mix from the ramekin to the pork; add the flour next, and toss all the ingredients well, to coat all the pieces; place a heavy bottom pot (or braising pot) over high heat, and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil; once the oil gets hot, add the pork pieces into the oil, and allow the meat to sear and caramelize until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side; once browned, remove the meat from the pot, and set aside for a moment; next, add a drizzle more olive oil to the pot, and add in the chopped peppers and onions; next, add in the remaining half of the seasoning mix from the ramekin, as well as the garlic, and stir to combine and allow to lightly caramelize for a minute or two; next, deglaze the bottom of the pot by carefully adding in the tequila (keep it away from the flames), and allow it to reduce for about a minute, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot with your spoon; once slightly reduced, add in the chopped fire-roasted tomatoes, as well as the browned pork pieces with their juice, and add in the hot chicken stock and stir to combine; cover and gently simmer the stew for 1 ½ hours, and after that time, remove the cover/lid, and simmer the stew for an additional ½ hour, to slightly reduce and thicken the liquid; turn off heat.
-To finish the stew, add in 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro, the lime zest and lime juice, and stir; serve the stew over the Roasted Potatoes, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining 1 tablespoon of the chopped cilantro.
Roasted Potatoes ingredients:
8 small, red potatoes, quartered (skin on)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
• Pinch smoked paprika
-Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper of foil
-Toss the quartered potatoes with the remainder of the ingredients in a large bowl, turn them out onto the baking sheet, and roast for about 40-45 minutes, until golden and tender.