Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pork Chop & Sweet Potato Stew

Pork Chop & Sweet Potato Stew
Soup on a cold winter day fills my belly and soothes my soul.  And in the case of soup, more is always better.  Leftovers are the best. With a long cooking time and each reheating, the soup flavors continue to meld and become even more delicious.  Made in a crock pot, this soup greets me at the end of a work day with comfort and a clean kitchen. If you’re short on time in the morning, you can do as I did by preparing it in the evening and letting it cook overnight.  I then left the crock pot on “warm” throughout the day to let it stew even further.

For years I relied on pre-made bullion to flavor my soups.  They were delicious, but often mystery ingredients can sneak in unbeknownst to us.  Specifically, yeast is in a lot of store-bought bullion among other food items.  It might be a contributor to additives named natural flavoring, caramel color, or citric acid.  I've found that cooking meats on the stove, making sure to include any pan drippings in the soup, and a long slow cooking time in the crock pot leads to a flavorful meal without using pre-made bullion.

This Pork Chop & Sweet Potato Stew is hearty and flavorful.  A garnish of fresh green onion and avocado slices adds a nice texture and contrast to this substantial dish.  You could also substitute beef or chicken for the pork. I like eating broccoli florets as a side dish and using the stems in soups and smoothies.  You may also substitute celery for the broccoli stems.

Broccoli stems are terrific for adding extra nutrition and fiber
to a soup without adding an overpowering flavor.
Pork Chop & Sweet Potato Stew
Large Skillet, I prefer cast iron
Large Crock Pot – if yours isn’t extra large, I suggest halving the recipe.
Cutting board, knife, spatula, tongs and soup ladle

2 lbs Pork loin sirloin chops, boneless, (4 thick cut chops)
3 Tbsp cooking oil (lard, coconut oil or palm oil is preferred for high heat)
1 large Onion, (15 oz) diced
2 lbs Sweet Potato, (3 medium) diced to ¼” cubes
Broccoli stems from one large head of broccoli, minus the florets, diced to 1/8” cubes (approx 8 oz)
6 Cloves Garlic, minced (approx 2 Tbsp)
8 cups Water
1 tsp Salt
12 stalks Thyme, ¼ oz fresh stripped off stalks, minced
6 stalks Fresh Sage, 1/3 oz, leaves stripped from stalk and minced
Fresh sage and thyme complement
pork and sweet potatoes nicely.

Avocado, sliced
Green onion, chopped

Heat a skillet (I prefer cast iron) over medium high heat.  Add oil and coat the pan.  Cook the pork chops at medium high heat for three minutes each side or until browned.  Add to crock pot with the uncooked diced broccoli stems.  Turn on crock pot to high.

Break apart the meat into small pieces
by squeezing it on edge with tongs.
While the pork chops cook, cut up the vegetables.  Once the pork chops are done and removed from the pan, add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the minced garlic to the onions.  Cook until onions are lightly brown. Add mixture to crock pot.  The onion mixture will deglaze most of the brown bits from the pork chops.  Add a cup of water to the skillet to deglaze any remaining bits.  Add to the crock pot with the rest of the 8 cups water.  Remove pan from heat and turn off the stove burner.

Add salt, thyme and sage to the crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for 10 hours.  Alternatively you could cook it at high for 6 hours and it would still be great.

Go to work or take off for the day.  Come home to the wonderful smell of dinner ready. Or make this in the evening, let it cook overnight and wake up to a finished stew.  You can put it in the fridge or leave it to cook on low during the day.

Break apart the pork chops into smaller pieces approximately 1" in size with tongs and a fork.  Slice the avocado and chop green onion, serve on top of the stew. Enjoy!

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