April 17, 2021

A la Carte: Welcome December With a Wonderful Winter Entrée

Lee White

Many decades ago, we spent a New Jersey weekend with my husband’s friend, a radiologist. I call him my husband’s friend because, once my husband died, I exited that friendship because I basically detested him.

In any case, this man talked about his radiologic partner and noted that he couldn’t stand the partner’s wife. Always curious, I asked what his wife was like. “A bitch,” he said. “Did she work,” I asked. “Nah,” he snorted. “She baked muffins or cookies. Something like that,” I then realized that she was, indeed, Rose Levy Barenbaum, one of the finest pastry chefs in the world and author, at that time, of “The Cake Bible,” the first cookbook that garnered a million dollar advance

Rose and I became friends and are, to this day, very close. Her books line my bookshelves. If you have used any of her books, you can’t miss with her careful recipes, which not only include what to do but what not to do. For a few of her cookbooks, she has asked me to test recipes.

I hope someday she will meet my new friend, Richard Swanson. Richard works at The Day and, if he decided to write cookbooks, all his recipes would be as perfect as Rose’s. He writes every recipe and reworks with every ingredient multiple times. He has entered food contests and wins!

By the time he gives me something to taste, he has probably done the same three or four or 20 times. You will love his wonderful winter entrée. 

Pork Cider Stew with Rutabaga, Potatoes and Cabbage
From Richard Swanson, Waterford, CT

1 ½ pounds pork loin
Olive oil or canola oil
1 ½ cups Vidalia (or sweet) onions
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups diced rutabaga2 cups diced russet potatoes
1 small bag Dole shredded coleslaw mix with carrots (about 4 cups)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
4 cups apple cider (unfermented)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon caraway seed
½ teaspoon white pepper

Place 1 tablespoon oil into a Dutch oven and brown pork loin over medium heat (or on the sauté function if you are using your Instant Pot).*

Toss onion and garlic around pork and continue to cook covered until translucent, then pour chicken broth and braise the pork loin for 20 minutes covered.

Remove pork loin and place aside. Pour water, apple cider and spices into the pot and add rutabaga, potatoes and cole slaw mix. (Rich does not add the dressing packet.) Simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes until rutabaga and potatoes are almost fork tender.

In the meantime, dice the pork loin add it to the pot to reheat the meat. To thicken the broth: at the end of the cooking, pull about a cup of the veggies mix out of the mix and blend them with a little bit of broth in a blender or immersion stick blender to make a thick paste. (Lee: I might mix this with a tablespoon of cornstarch and add it to the stew at high heat.)

Add the paste back into the pot and stir. Salt to taste and serve.

*Instant Pot option: you can use the pressure cooker function on the Instant Pot to completely tenderize the pork and cook the vegetables until tender, but be careful you don’t turn the potatoes and rutabaga into mush.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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