With the cooler weather and the leaves dropping from the trees, hot meaty comfort foods come back into play. And if comfort foods are called for at this time of year, why not the best? Berkshire pork, locally produced at Yesteryear Farm south of Nanaimo in Yellow Point, is renowned world-wide for juiciness, flavour and tenderness. A better meat for a late autumn stew you will not find. A rare breed from the English county of Berkshire, this heritage breed was near extinct are recently as 2008. Fortunately, the culinary world recognised the meat as superior, and this heirloom porker has made a powerful come-back.
This breed’s meat is laced with intramuscular fat marbling. All that fat makes for great flavour. When raised with the right diet, Berkshire pork possesses an attractive nutty character.
Yesteryear Farm sells its Berkshire pork at the Island Roots Market Co-op every Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The market is located at the Pleasant Valley Hall on Dumont Road in Nanaimo. At the Roots Market Co-op, almost everything you need for this succulent stew is available. .
Autumn Pork Stew
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound thick cut bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
3-4 pounds of pork butt, cut into two-inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups white wine
½ pound carrots
2 hard apples, cored, skins left on and cut in chunks
2 cups apple sauce
3 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pound peeled squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
In a large Dutch oven, place olive oil and bacon. Sauté on medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Add the onions, lower the heat, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove bacon and onion mixture to a large bowl. Salt and pepper both sides of the pork cubes. Sear the meat in the bacon fat remaining in your Dutch oven. Do not over-crowd the pan. Sear each side for three to four minutes.
Once the pork cubes are well seared, place everything back in the Dutch oven and add the white wine. Stir to get all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Add carrots, apples, apple sauce, chicken stock and bay leaves. Bring to boil, lower to a simmer, and place cover partially on. Simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.
After two hours, add the potatoes and squash. Bring the mixture to a rolling simmer.
Once the potatoes and squash are cooked, serve the stew in bowls.
Red wine does go with pork if you find the right one.
In keeping with the local theme of this dish I recommend Marechal Foch from the EmandareVineyard just north of Duncan.
Available at Nanaimo’s Lucky’s Liquor for only $19.99, this organic Marachel Foch is loaded with layers of bright fruit flavours and firm acidity which will enhance the flavours of this rich stew. Emandare’s microclimate produces excellent grapes from old vines.