FB Plugin

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pepper Pot Stew

The authentic and original version of this recipe comes from the Frugal Gourmet Cooks American and dates from the 18th century.  It may have been one of George Washington's favorites, and if it's good enough for a founding father, by golly, it's good enough for me.

Except...the protein in the original (and authentic) recipe is tripe.  Cow stomach.  I'm going to let you, dear reader, digest (haha!) that thought for a moment.

I am profoundly respectful of families and cultures that use "everything but the oink" (or moo) including organ meats (side note: how awful is it that the general term for organ meats, "offal", is a homophone of "awful"?).  I wish I could count my family among their rank.  But I've tried, and tripe is unfortunately never again going to grace our dinner table.  It's one of the very, very few foods about which I say this.

I want to make it clear that the issue may have been that of inexperienced and inexpert cooking techniques (as it was the one and only time I've tried making tripe) rather than the meat itself, but until I meet a variety meat cookery expert who shows me both a delicious finished dish including tripe and also how to prepare it, it ain't happening.  But if you know what you're doing with tripe, 1) please do use it and 2) call me.

Back to the stew recipe...the combination of aromatics for this stew is mouth-watering, tantalizing as it wafts from the stew pot.  When you make this, be sure to open your windows and make your neighbors jealous.  It's a fabulous base for a stew using any protein you want.  Up until the addition of the (possibly improperly prepared) tripe, this was by far the best stew I've ever made.  Now that I make it with stew beef, stew lamb, veal shoulder, beans, or cooked poultry, it IS the best stew I make.  You could even make this is a wholly vegetarian stew by using oil in place of the bacon fat and rounding out the stew content with lots of hearty fall veggies like butternut squash and cabbage.

The signature flavor of this stew is the pepper, hence the name.  Add as much or as little as you like, but I warn you, if you use either fine pre-ground black pepper or freshly ground peppercorns, a little will go a long way.

As for prep-ahead/make-ahead timelines...stew is a perfect make-ahead dish.  Cook it completely and reheat same-day or next-day or freeze.  Or you can prep the ingredients ahead for same-day/next-day cooking...chop all the aromatics and store together, measure the spices and store together, measure stock and freeze in cubes if needed, and prepare the beurre manié for fridging or freezing.  The only hitch here is the potato which will brown if you cut it too far in advance.  Either toss the cubed potato with lemon water if you're fridging, use pre-frozen diced potato if you're making a freezer kit or use a different veg altogether...turnip or rutabaga would be my suggestions.

Pepper Pot Stew
Makes 8 servings

5 slices bacon, chopped OR 2 tbsp bacon fat
 1 - 1 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, lamb stew meat, pork shoulder OR 1 lb. cooked diced chicken or turkey OR 4 cups cooked beans OR 2 cups raw lentils OR 4 cups diced raw veggies
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 leeks, tough green parts removed, cleaned and sliced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2-1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red chili flake (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 quarts stock (veggie, chicken or beef)
1 large potato, diced
4 tbsp butter, softened and mixed thoroughly with 4 tbsp flour OR 4 portions beurre manié

Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook 5-10 minutes, until browned and fat is rendered. 

If using stew meat, brown now in the bacon fat, 3 minutes per side.  Add onion, celery, peppers, leeks and parsley and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add spices and stock (and cooked poultry or lentils, if using).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer 1 hour.

Add potato (and cooked beans or other veggies, if using) and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes.

Stir in the beurre manié and cook 2-3 minutes, until stew is thickened. Pin It

No comments:

Post a Comment