Slow Cooker Pork Stew on Creamy Parmesan Polenta

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Fall has arrived with the expected cooler temperatures along with some very long rainy days. When I am bundled up in the house looking out at the dreary grey skies and heavy rain, I love to cuddle on the couch with my pup under a warm throw blanket and read (or catch up on computer work). On days like that, there is nothing as comforting as the fragrance of a slow cooking stew wafting through the house, and I’ve find it so easy to create a great in a slow cooker or crockpot. I cannot believe that for so many years I never wanted a slow cooker and wasn’t even tempted to buy one until last year. Although I do occasionally oven roast a big roast, when it comes to such dishes as stews or chili, I find the slow cooker is the perfect kitchen appliance to use.

I am slowly trying very hard to create meals from the items still in my freezer as we will be leaving Umbria in just 3 weeks and I need to use up all perishable items before we leave. I had a nice pork shoulder roast in the freezer that I decided to turn into stew last week. Although I kept my stew simple and included just onions, celery, and carrots, you could also include diced potatoes, bell peppers, or button mushrooms if you prefer. I love to serve stews like this one on top of a pillow of soft polenta as shown, but you could also serve the stew on rice, cooked pasta, or simply on its own in a bowl.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2013

Slow Cooker Pork Stew on Creamy Polenta

Ingredients:

  • 2 Pounds Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast
  • 1/2 Cup Flour Seasoned With Salt & Pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, Cut Into Chunks
  • 4 Medium Carrots, Peeled & Cut Into 1-inch Pieces
  • 3 Celery Stalks Cut Into 1-inch Pieces
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine
  • 2 (14 Ounce) Cans Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Finely Chopped Fresh Rosemary
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fennel Seeds
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Garnish:

  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

Creamy Polenta:

  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Polenta
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter

Directions:

  1. Trim the roast of fat, and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Place the flour in a plastic bag, dump in the pork pieces and shake the bag until coated.
  3. Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet, and cook half the pork pieces over medium heat until lightly browned.
  4. Place the browned pork pieces in the slow cooker, then continue to brown the remaining pieces, and place these in the slow cooker when browned as well.
  5. Dump the rest of the browned pork and remaining stew ingredients except the garnish into the slow cooker and turn it on low for 8 hours.
  6. Just before you are ready to serve the stew, heat the water in a pot with the salt until boiling.
  7. Pour the polenta into the boiling water, whisking continually until the polenta is smooth and thick.
  8. Turn the heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring vigorously every 10 minutes until the polenta is soft.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and butter.
  10. Scoop some polenta into four bowls, then spoon the stew on top, and garnish with the chopped parsley.