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How do you make pork stew more flavorful?

angustia Dec 9, 2011 03:19 AM

I've made pork stew and not only does the meat looked "anemic" as compared to beef....but I find it quite blah.

Any suggestions please?

  1. alkapal Dec 9, 2011 03:54 AM

    you need to edit your post and tell us:

    what ingredients and recipe you used,

    and what cut of meat,

    and how you prepared the stew in steps.

    1 Reply
    1. re: alkapal
      angustia Dec 10, 2011 04:36 AM

      It was quite a long time ago I can't remember what cut of meat it was. I've got a picnic pork shoulder in the freezer right now....I am thinking of using that. Will that cut be good?

    2. w
      wyogal Dec 9, 2011 05:25 AM

      Yes, I agree, more information is needed. Did you brown the meat first?

      2 Replies
      1. re: wyogal
        angustia Dec 10, 2011 04:38 AM

        Yes I did. But if I browned it enough....that's the question. :)
        I will have to make sure to really brown it this time.

        1. re: angustia
          Leepa Dec 10, 2011 05:15 AM

          Make sure you don't overload the pan when you're searing (browning) it off. Otherwise it will steam and you won't get good flavor. There should be enough room left around each piece of meat so that they don't touch or be overcrowded.

          Here's a photo of a crockpot pork stew recipe that I make that also had cornbread dumplings. Delicious.

      2. c
        ChiliDude Dec 9, 2011 05:32 AM

        Add a little heat like hot peppers or at least some chili powder.

        1. f
          fourunder Dec 9, 2011 06:25 AM

          Consider adding tomatoes or tomato paste.

          1. g
            GH1618 Dec 9, 2011 06:51 AM

            Nopales. Try something like this:


            except don't use fresh cactus. You can buy it in a jar.

            1. mattstolz Dec 9, 2011 06:53 AM

              this seems so strange to me. normally my solution to add more flavor to something is: add pork!

              2 Replies
              1. re: mattstolz
                ricepad Dec 9, 2011 11:47 AM

                You beat me to it!

                1. re: mattstolz
                  iL Divo Dec 11, 2011 11:07 AM

                  Matt you beat me too.
                  add bacon and it's fat (sauté onions/garlic/plus sprig celery and 4" long piece of rosemary in that fat then yank the stem of rosemary&celery and toss) plus consider baking off some pork bones from the butcher as that is flavorful as well.

                2. ipsedixit Dec 9, 2011 07:03 AM

                  soy sauce

                  porcini powder


                  red wine

                  tomato paste


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit
                    Lady_Tenar Dec 11, 2011 10:56 AM

                    I'm behind all of these except msg. Also, when I have made pork stew or braised pork dishes, I have often used a bottle of hard Irish cider as the liquid. It's delicious.

                    1. re: Lady_Tenar
                      hotoynoodle Dec 11, 2011 02:25 PM

                      i had a pork buttgvoing all day today. browned all the sides, removed from pan. browned some onion, carrot and red pepper slices. added dried thyme and bay leaves to fry. added the meat back, along with a bottle of beer, some oj, water, 6 garlic cloves, fish sauce, star anise, fennel seeds and some hot and sour soup paste.

                      it bubbled away for about 6 hours. will chill it overnight, in the broth. in the morning will skim the fat, reduce the liquid. shred the meat and pour reduced liquid over for several meals of meat for b/f who works from home. normally we would have had it for dinner, but are going out.

                  2. z
                    zfalcon Dec 9, 2011 11:30 AM

                    Add some bacon.

                    1. dryrain Dec 9, 2011 11:39 AM

                      Try pork, shallots, stock, mustard, apple, salt, pepper and sage leaves. Removing the sage after cooking.

                      1. r
                        ricepad Dec 9, 2011 11:49 AM

                        You need to provide more information, but here are some prompts: Are you using a butt? Are you leaving enough fat? Are you browning the meat before you add liquids? What else are you adding?

                        1. Will Owen Dec 9, 2011 04:51 PM

                          Don't tell me, let me guess: you used boneless pork loin, right? If that's the case, the only preventive measure you can take next time (aside from switching to shoulder butt!) is to pick a kind of seasoning you want and coat the chunks of meat thoroughly with that before browning them. For a Southwestern flavor, that might be ground red chiles, cumin, oregano and maybe some masa harina (which will also thicken it a bit). At this point, however, the other suggestions here are good to follow. I'd also suggest a concentrated flavor base, such as a beef or chicken demi-glace.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Will Owen
                            angustia Dec 10, 2011 04:42 AM

                            Ricepad and Will Owen,

                            Shoulder butt! Will have to make sure I use that.

                          2. a
                            angustia Dec 10, 2011 04:51 AM

                            You've all been helpful with your suggestions, thank you.

                            A question on browning the meat, do you coat your meat with flour before browning? I suspect I under-browned my meat.
                            I was thinking of adding some sausage chunks. Bacon, or bacon fat for browning is also appealing.
                            Has anyone used cooking wine?
                            Aside from onions, carrots and celery...have you added any other vegetables?

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: angustia
                              chowser Dec 10, 2011 06:08 AM

                              I don't flour. I sear 2 minutes on every side. Then remove the meat, saute the vegetables you might want to use. Deglaze w/ wine or beer but not cooking wine. Bacon would be a great start--you can cook it, remove the bacon and sear the meat in the fat.

                              On the other vegetables, it depends on what you want. I like tomatillos in some stews, green chilies for Mexican (pseudo mexican), deglaze w/ beer; or more asian, just onions and garlic, maybe turnips/daikon. Ketchup and tomatoes for my son...

                              1. re: chowser
                                paulj Dec 10, 2011 09:08 AM

                                Since you mention Mexican, I will note that strongly searing the meat before stewing is more of a classic French technique than a traditional Mexican one. With something like carnitas, the browning occurs after the meat is tender.

                                I also find that stews, or more precisely braises, develop color and flavor during cooking, as the exposed meat and meat juices are exposed to the hot oven air.

                                1. re: paulj
                                  chowser Dec 10, 2011 02:55 PM

                                  I always sear my long braises. Why would it matter if someone used Mexican or French flavor matter in a pork shoulder or beef chuck or any other meat that is braised? It might not be traditional for that cuisine, especially when the flavors are bowdlerized to begin with, but it develops good taste.

                              2. re: angustia
                                magiesmom Dec 10, 2011 06:12 AM

                                I don't use flour but I do sometimes coat on some ground chile if it fits the flavor profile. Searing long enough to get a deep color, 2 min per side as chowser says is really important, and leaving plenty of space between pieces. Cooking wine is an abomination, use whatever wine or beer you would drink.

                                1. re: magiesmom
                                  GraydonCarter Dec 10, 2011 09:16 PM

                                  or smoked paprika

                                  1. re: GraydonCarter
                                    magiesmom Dec 11, 2011 05:34 AM

                                    mmm, yes.

                                2. re: angustia
                                  visciole Dec 10, 2011 01:39 PM

                                  Sure, you can add just about any root vegetable you like -- potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc. They are all good and each will add a flavor. Adding white beans is also good, and will make the texture of the broth creamier.

                                  I advocate adding a little bit of lemon juice or vinegar at the end for a bit of a flavor pick-up. Not too much, like a dash of salt.

                                  Speaking of salt, did you use enough? How about pepper, and other seasonings? Sage, as someone else suggested, or thyme, bay leaf, etc.?

                                  Also using some wine (or beer, if you're going for a sweeter flavor profile) in your cooking liquid helps add flavor.

                                  I agree mustard can be good in stew as well. Some homemade tomato sauce is not amiss in many stews.

                                  1. re: angustia
                                    Lady_Tenar Dec 11, 2011 11:00 AM

                                    You don't need to dredge your meat before you sear, but you can. The flour or cornmeal you use will thicken it a little.

                                    But don't use cooking wine--there is never any need for it. All cooking wine is a really crappy wine with salt added to make it undrinkable (so places that can't sell alcohol can sell it). Instead, use a cheap bottle of regular wine--no point it getting an expensive bottle if you're cooking with it. I usually use yellowtail for cooking.

                                    Beer is a great cooking liquid too. And cider, especially for pork! (as I mentioned above)

                                  2. eight_inch_pestle Dec 10, 2011 10:59 PM

                                    As others have said, this is quite the task without more info, but a few general thoughts.

                                    Use an appropriate cut (like shoulder---something from a small local farm is likely to have better marbling and to have lived a happier life), and don't trim the fat too ruthlessly. Brown well (no need for flour). Use a flavorful fat, like homemade lard or rendered bacon fat. If you can, add a joint of something you may or may not actually eat---like trotters or knuckle: it will not only add flavor, but wonderful body. Take your time: never let the liquid do more than quiver with occasional bubbles. Continue to build layers of flavor with favorite spices and herbs (fresh sage or rosemary are awesome) and alliums added at different points in the cooking. Alcohol and acid are usually, though not always, welcome: in a pinch I've made a killer pork stew with canned tomatoes and a can of Bud Light someone left in our fridge. Lastly, don't settle or give in if it somehow still tastes anemic. Strain the liquid into a clean pan and gently simmer while tasting through what's lacking. Sometimes it just needs to reduce. Sometimes it needs a hit of something: a little more cold fat carefully worked in, a splash of fresh wine, or maybe fresh herbs or minced garlic. Maybe even a dollop of dijon, depending on what all is your stew. And of course, the A#1 rule of stew we all learned from our mamas: give it a day and it'll taste great. Good luck!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: eight_inch_pestle
                                      paulj Dec 10, 2011 11:17 PM

                                      No mention of salt?

                                      1. re: paulj
                                        eight_inch_pestle Dec 11, 2011 12:22 PM

                                        I don't eat rocks.

                                        Yeah, taste for salt throughout, being careful though if you plan to reduce the liquid at the end.

                                    2. wekick Dec 11, 2011 05:27 AM

                                      I usually do a slow braise with a pork shoulder. Consider cooking your pork as a confit. It is cut up in 2" cubes cooked covered in fat and held at least overnight and then reheated. I put the cubes of meat on a cookie sheet and stick it under the broiler to brown, watching it carefully and turning once. The excess fat is gone by then.

                                      1. mucho gordo Dec 11, 2011 01:13 PM

                                        Mexican style Chile Verde
                                        I have the butcher cut a boneless shoulder/butt into stew size cubes with the fat. I put them in the frying pan to cook. Overloading the pan is not a problem as I'm not concerned with a sear; just tender meat, When no longer pink, I dump them into a roasting pot and add tomatillo based salsa verde, a serrano chili or 2, a few sprinkles of Cholula and some burrito seasoning mix. Let simmer 10-15 minutes so the meat absorbs the flavors and serve. I usually serve it as a burrito.

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