I don’t know about where you are, but it is miserably cold here today. I think that it’s most of the country, and I don’t remember it being so cold since I moved to Colorado. It’s -12 right now, and the sun hasn’t even set yet. So I knew I needed something warm and hearty for dinner. I had some pork stew meat in the fridge, so I thought it would be fun to toss it together.
I love the show New Scandinavian Cooking on PBS Create channel. Though almost all of my dad’s family is Swedish I do not know much about Scandinavian cooking, so this show is a fun way to learn about modern nordic cooking (and LOTS of ways to prepare fish). The last one I saw was “hunters stew” made with moose. It was very much like the way I prepare beef stew, but I loved her addition of beer. So I added half a bottle of lager, and it gives it a great flavor. You can make this same stew with beef or moose, if you like.
Many of my winter recipes (all of my roasts and stews, for example) have my five-fecta of root veggies. I always add in carrots, onions, parsnips, turnips, and rutabegas (and often potatoes too). Most people are not familiar with the last three, and to their detriment. They add amazing flavor to stews and roasts. No more boring carrots and potatoes here! I got the idea from my grandfather. Last fall I was making them a big pot of stew to freeze so that they could have easy dinners. They had elk stew meat, and I asked Grandpa what he liked to have in his stew. He said that you absolutely had to have turnips, it gives it such a great flavor. He was not kidding. It makes a huge difference and adds depth that you are not used to. We are going to grow turnips for the first time next year, I will keep you updated on how that goes.
Turnips are a root vegetable, for anyone who is totally unfamiliar with them. You will usually find them in your grocery store on the top shelf in the refrigerated produce section. Ours are near the mushrooms. They are purple and white. Don’t be confused by the Rutabegas. The rutabegas are a yellow color, whereas the turnip is definitely white. But I recommend that if you are using one you should use the other (unless you are making mashed turnips, AKA “neeps” for my fellow Robert Burns dinner 2004 friends). Like carrots, they are a plant’s way of storing energy to hold it over through the winter to produce more seeds the next year. Also like carrots, the heads of the turnip pop up out of the ground, but to an even greater extent than the carrots. In fact, the purple parts of a turnip are the parts that were above the ground and had sunlight on it. I expect to share some colorful garden pictures with you in only a few weeks.
You can eat both the turnip roots and the turnip greens. The roots are high in Vitamin C, if you are suffering from scurvy, as well as dietary fiber. The greens are high in Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as folate, calcium, and lutein. You can cook the greens just like any of my other recipes for dark green leafies. In other words, turnips are a great choice.
Drunken Pig (or cow or moose or elk or deer) Stew
- 1 or 2 packages of stew meat of your choice
- 1 turnip (if you are new to turnips, you may want to do 1/2)
- 1 rutabega (“)
- 3-5 carrots, chopped in large rounds
- Some potatoes if you like (I didn’t have any)
- 1 small onion, cut into large pieces
- Salt and pepper
- Half a bottle of beer. You don’t want one that is too dark, or it will overwhelm the flavor. I recommend a lager.
- Enough stock to just cover the ingredients. I used chicken stock with pork. I thought that beef stock would overwhelm the pork flavor and you would only taste the beef. But if I was making beef, elk, venison, etc, stew I would use beef stock.
- 2 tsp dry sage (if you are making something other than pork stew, I suggest that you take it down to 1/2 tsp. Sage is great with pork. If you are doing some other meat, I would suggest adding tarragon, it’s great with red meats).
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp celery seeds (to get the celery taste without the mushy celery at the end)
- Brown the meat in a skillet. It creates a much better texture and flavor if you brown it before putting it in the stew.
- Chop up the veggies into large hunks, but that are still bite sized. You don’t want small chopping here. Much of what makes stews so good and hearty are that you have good, filling, hunks of tastiness.
- Toss in the meat, veggies, seasonings, salt, and pepper into your crock pot. Put in the beer. Then put in stock until it just covers the ingredients. If you put in too much water is goes from stew to soup.
- Leave on low for 6-8 hours in your crock pot.