Last holiday season, we went a little overboard in stocking up on winter brews. When the last guest left, we had a refrigerator full of dark stouts and porters. My husband, whose taste runs to lighter beers, said it was time to start cooking.
We've now had a year's worth of chicken cooked in beer, porter-based sauces and stout stews. Here's one of our favorites: pork and beans with butternut squash, which turns out to be a good vegetable pairing for the stout.
The stew looks best when the squash pieces stay whole, but if they melt into the mix, don't worry. The stew will taste just as good.
PORK AND WHITE BEAN STOUT STEW
8 to 12 servings (12 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder or boneless country-style pork chops, cut into cubes no larger than 1 1/2 inches
1 1/2 cups water, or more as needed
2 cups diced onions
1 cup stout, such as Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 ground cloves
(about 30 ounces total) no-salt-added great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (may substitute 3 cups home-cooked white beans)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound peeled, seeded butternut squash, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
Position an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 325 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half of the pork, taking care not to crowd the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the pieces as needed until they lose their raw look. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining cubes, adding oil as needed.
When all of the pork has browned, increase the heat to high under the (empty) saute pan or skillet and add 1/2 cup of the water. Use a wooden spatula or spoon to dislodge any browned bits, then remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt; reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft but not browned. Add the stout, the remaining 1 cup of water, the molasses, cloves and beans along with the reserved liquid from the saute pan or skillet. Season lightly with salt and pepper, stirring to combine, then add the browned pork. The liquid should just barely cover the ingredients; add water as needed. As soon as the liquid begins to bubble, cover the pan and transfer it to the oven. Bake for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven to stir in the squash, then cover and return to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until the pork and squash are tender.
Remove the pan from the oven, uncover it and let the stew rest for 10 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Serve right away, or cool quickly in a water bath or in a shallow metal pan or bowl in the refrigerator. Once the stew has cooled, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Nutrition Per serving (based on 10): 360 calories, 33 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 7 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar