17 June 2010

Cookbookyssey #8:
The Australian Women's Weekly Stew

The Australian Women's Weekly Stew: Braises & Casseroles
edited by Pamela Clark
© 2008 ACP Books

There are a dozen or so dog-eared pages in this book of recipes that I've been wanting to try: Spanish-style chicken; one pot spiced chicken, pumpkin & rice; chicken, leek & bacon casserole; Mexican chicken stew; chicken; olive & lemon tagine... basically there are a lot of attractive chicken recipes. But I defrosted my freezer yesterday and had to make something with the frozen pork loin, so I made my way to the section on pigs.

Pork Ragu with Pappardelle

2 x 5 cm-thick (750 g) pork scotch steaks
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
20 g butter
1 medium leek, sliced thinly
1 medium fennel, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
500 g pappardelle pasta
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup green olives
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fennel fronds

Preheat oven to 320°F. Heat chicken stock on the stovetop in a flameproof baking dish.

Toss pork in flour. Sear it in a frying pan with the oil and butter, and then set aside.

Cook leek, fennel and garlic in the same pan until softened. Add wine (I used dry vermouth); bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until wine is almost evaporated.

Pour mixture in with chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Add pork, cover, and cook in oven for about 2 hours (I did 1 1/2), turning halfway through. Cool slightly and tear the pork into small pieces.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling, salted water until just tender. Drain. (In the spirit of using up what I already have and not spending money, I substituted farfalle (ie. bow-tie pasta) for pappardelle.)

Stir balsamic and olives in with the pork and sauce; add pasta and toss gently to combine. Serve sprinkled with fennel fronds.

I thought this dish would taste more fennelly. But somewhere in the one and a half hours of slow cooking, the flavour almost completely disappeared.

In the end, the stew was ok, but a little dry. I guess I would use more stock and less pasta, and probably the right pasta, next time. I also think it needs to sit for a while or something once the olives and balsamic are added, so that the flavours can blend a little more.

I still have faith in this book and will take on some of those chicken recipes one day; they after all are "triple tested: for your success every time". Maybe this stew was just a successful dry stew.

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