cider chipotle pork stew with sweet potatoes, black beans and kale

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Because of course kale. [/foodhipster]

I started out Saturday morning with this recipe for spicy pork and sweet potato stew, which sounded lovely because IT IS COLDER THAN BALLS HERE. I got to thinking that I really wanted to put it on something – potatoes were the initial thought, except that sweet potato anything on top of potatoes sucks in my book, so I decided on grits. Cheddar grits, to be exact. Because there were grits, I decided to dump the corn, and then decided to make it healthier by adding black beans and kale, because kale. And then I added cinnamon while I was cooking because I felt it needed cinnamon, and we find ourselves with this new-ish creation. I’m posting it as much for me as for y’all – if I were to forget how I made this, I’m would cry, so I’m preventing future tears.

INGREDIENTS:

2 T-ish extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb boneless pork loin roast or boneless loin chops, cut into about 1″ cubes
1 sweet onion, sliced in half and then sliced thin
5-6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly or minced
2 t ground cumin
1 1/2 t ground coriander
1/2 t ground cinnamon
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (which are crack omg), minced (remove the seeds if you really need to, but I didn’t and it wasn’t all *that* hot), with another couple of tablespoons of sauce
1 1/2 c apple cider (non-alcoholic)
4 c veggie stock/broth
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can black beans
3 c shredded kale (I wanted lacinato but it looked wilty at the store, so I used regular green curly)
1/4 c plain greek yogurt
1 T cornstarch in 1/4 c cold water

HOW TO:

Swirl roughly a tablespoon of olive oil* into the bottom of a really big dutch oven or stock pot or whatever it is you usually make soup in. Don’t worry about being exact – this is soup. It doesn’t matter. It will work out. When the oil gets nice and hot (say medium-high heat if you need to know), brown the pork on all sides, doing it in batches if necessary to make sure the pan doesn’t get too crowded. Pull the pork out and set aside.

Swirl another tablespoon-ish of oil into the pan. Drop the heat back to medium and toss in the onions and garlic. Stir it frequently until they’re pretty and golden and soft. Toss in all of the spices, swirl them in with the onions, and let them toast for a moment. Then toss in the peppers and the extra adobo sauce, stir again, and let everything get to know each other for a minute or two. Then pour in the cider and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan for any little caramelized bits of goodness that haven’t already been picked up. Pour in the veggie stock, add in the sweet potatoes, flop a lid on that thing and proceed to let it simmer for the next hour. Stir when you get bored and want a face full of happy smell.

After the hour is up, throw in the black beans and kale, and proceed to ignore it again for another hour. I left the lid on but gave it a pretty big vent this time to let some steam out.

Once the time is up, the liquid level should be lower and the smell should be glorious. Throw in the greek yogurt and stir until it dissolves. Then slowly, while stirring, drizzle in the cornstarch, and let it boil while you stir until everything thickens. Taste for seasoning, and call it good.

GRITS:
If you decide, like I did, that what this thing needs is to sit on a pile of grits, get yourself 6 cups of water in a large pot, add about a tablespoon of salt, a few dashes of cayenne, a bay leaf, some thyme or sage if you have some hanging out, boil it, add 2 cups of corn grits SLOWLY AND WHILE WHISKING, and then turn the heat down and stir it with a heavy duty wooden spoon while it bubbles and glops away (try not to get hit with any spatters – that HURTS). When the water has been absorbed and it more or less tastes like cooked grits, add a few pats of butter and something like a half cup (or full cup, or more – not judging here) of cheddar and a splash or two of milk. Stir until it’s all awesome and melted.

To get something looking like the picture above, I threw a few huge spoonfuls of grits into my bowl and ladled stew all over it. And then took a picture. And then stuffed it in my face. SO. GOOD.

*it totally occurred to me later that it would be really fun to fry a couple of slices of bacon to render the fat out of it and then brown the pork in that. I haven’t tried it yet, but seriously. It has to be awesome, so I totally suggest trying that if you have bacon lying around.

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Mussels in White Wine

Because Jen promised you I’d give y’all the mussels recipe.

You will need:
– mussels – roughly the 1-2 pound mark, depending on how many you’ll be feeding and that sort of thing
– extra virgin olive oil
– 3-ish cloves garlic, finely minced
– either a teaspoon or so of dried thyme or a tablespoon plus of fresh
– 2 T tomato paste*
– red pepper flakes
– solid splash of white wine (say 3/4-1 cup)
– handful of finely chopped parsley

To make:
Soak the mussels in coldish water for about half an hour so that they disgorge any sand. Scrub the shells so that they’re nice and clean, and cut off any exposed beard (the funky looking  non-shell stuff that may be sticking out of the side).
Put a deep pot on medium heat. Throw a couple of loops around the pan’s worth of olive oil in there, and then throw the garlic in. Let the garlic begin to soften and get all fragrancehappy. Then toss in the tomato paste and stir it around, letting it start to dissolve into the olive oil/garlic mixture. When that’s gotten nice and fragrant – say roughly a minute or so – toss in the red pepper flakes (this is a to-taste type thing – I like it hot, and I’m something of a babymouth). Let those go for another minute, and then pour in the wine.

Once the wine has been added, throw in the mussels and slam a lid on everything. The mussels will be done when they’re open. Once they’ve opened, pour them (and the broth) into a large bowl. Toss any that haven’t opened – those are bad. Toss the parsley in on top and serve with lots of bread to dip in the broth.
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*I use the tomate paste that comes in a tube. It’s pricier than the can stuff, but it has this glorious bonus: I can close the tube. Like, it has a cap. I can’t close a can when I’m done. Given I use roughly 1-2T of tomato paste per recipe most of the time, and that the tube stays well and good for a couple of years, I end up saving money by getting the tube over using cans. Plus it’s better tomato paste.