Busy busy busy. I have been busy. The problem with having a car and being able to drive is that you suddenly find many more things to do, and consequently you find that much of your time is not your own, paradoxical though that may be.
I've been so busy I've even had to miss the recent SG Bloggers' Con, and the upcoming Floggers' Lunch. Actually I missed the former because I was reading Harry Potter, and I'll be missing the latter because of work, but it's the same thing.
At least I managed to do some cooking over the weekend.
Since I had been instructed to bring something that I had personally prepared for my class gathering on Sunday, I racked my brains to think of a suitable contribution. My first thought was a tiramisu, but where would that leave you, my dear readers? Ploughing through something you're already intimately familiar with.
So, feeling inspired by June's stew, I decided to try a stew of my own.
Like her, stews are one of my comfort foods. Slow cooking appeals to me as the lazy man's way of cooking. Like soups, stews need minimal attention and produce prodigious amounts of delectable aromas that waft through your entire house. Perhaps it was all the cartoons I watched in my salad days, with the evil witch chopping up assorted vegetables into the big cauldron, waiting to catch Bugs Bunny and have a lovely rabbit stew for lunch.
This stew appears to be a family recipe, and is somewhat fusion in character, but very Western in appearance. Goes well with bread or rice.
Pork Stew (Serves 5)
1½ kg or about 20 pieces of pork ribs
2 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots, chopped into chunks
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 onions, sliced
1 medium-sized turnip, chopped into chunks
4 bay leaves
1 Tbsp cornflour
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp dried thyme (or fresh)
½ tsp dried rosemary (or fresh, chopped)
350ml red wine
5 Tbsp cornflour
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water or stock, plus more to cover
2 Tbsp tomato ketchup
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp pasta sauce
1 Tbsp light soya sauce
I know this seems like a formidable list of ingredients, but once you've chucked them all in they'll sort themselves out. You can also add your favourite vegetables, legumes and funghi if you wish.
Marinate the meat, vegetables, cornflour and herbs in the wine for 3 – 4 hours, or overnight.
Make sure you've mixed them all up, otherwise only your meat will get the benefit of the wine treatment. Marinating softens up your meat and vegetables, so it's worth the effort.
Remove the meat and dry thoroughly. This helps the browning process later, but if you're in a hurry, it's not really essential. Remove the vegetables, dry thoroughly and reserve separately. Keep the marinade for later use.
Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and brown meat on all sides, working in batches. If you're not health-conscious or only have a few more days to live, use regular cooking oil which improves the flavour of the pork.
Once each batch has been decently browned, remove the ribs to a large pot or casserole. Please make sure your pot is big enough to accommodate all the ingredients, or you'll just have something extra to wash.
In the same fat (or add more oil if you've run low), brown the vegetables and add them to the pot.
Try and mix the meat and the vegetables so that they're more or less evenly distributed. Pour in the red wine marinade, and enough water or stock to nearly cover the meat and vegetables. Personally I'd go for water, as the stew is flavourful enough as is.
Add the tomato ketchup, oyster sauce, pasta sauce and soya sauce and mix into the liquid. Doesn't it look like the little piggies are bleeding something awful?
Bring to a boil, and either simmer, covered, for 2½ hours, or continue boiling, covered, for 45 minutes, whichever suits your patience levels. For those of you who don't have a clock in your kitchen, or simply can't be bothered to keep track of the time, cook till the pork ribs are soft and tender but not disintegrating. This is a stew, not bloody Bovril.
This is a complete meal in itself, plus it refrigerates well, plus it tastes even better the next day.