Saturday, March 5, 2011

Caribbean Red Bean Stew

Now that we get a meat CSA (which I love), it also means we have to get creative with cuts of meat we don't usually buy.  Last month we got pork stew meat in our CSA box.  I immediately started looking for interesting recipes.  I checked all my cookbooks (Ina Garten, Martha Stewart, John Besh, the list goes on), but I finally found the kind of thing I was looking for in the Joy of Cooking - that faithful standby.  I am almost annoyed with the Joy of Cooking because it always has what I am looking for. Why do I have all these other cookbooks?  :)

you start by boiling the beans for 1.5 hours with seasoning
I found a recipe for a Caribbean red bean stew that called for one pound of pork stew meat - exactly what I had on hand.  Because I love New Orleans style red beans and rice, I'd though I'd try a new spin on an old favorite.  I searched online and found some pictures of the recipe in action on a blog called The Joy of the Joy of Cooking - a woman who is cooking her way through the Joy of Cooking.  It is a fun blog, definitely check it out.  She is adventurous (made smelt two different ways recently).

You start the recipe by boiling red beans for 1.5 hours with an onion, bay left, celery top, and cinnamon stick.  You then reserve the cooking water for the stew.  The cinnamon stick made a huge impact!  It was very aromatic.  As someone who likes cinnamon in savory dishes, I was quite pleased. 

browning the pork stew meat
The recipe called for hot paprika.  My mother-in-law went to Hungary last year and brought us back paprika - including spicy paprika - which I used in this recipe.  Thanks for the gift!  It has now been transferred to reusable spice jars and become part of our permanent spice collection.

paprika trio

meat, seasoning, and veggies 

Once you add the cooking liquid back, you let it stew for another hour until thick.  The finished product was very fragrant from the cinnamon and paprika and creamy from the beans (I like to use a potato masher and mash some of the beans).  The pork was a little tough, so I think next time I'll find a way to make it in the slow cooker.  I was hoping that the pork would shred, but it definitely stayed in stew meat chunks.  I would also serve it over rice in the future.

While there were differences between this dish and New Orleans red beans (the biggest was the seasoning choices and the inclusion of sweet potato), the fundamentals were the same.  Aside from red beans, they shared the the southern holy trinity - celery, onion, green pepper

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