Two things inspired me to make this pork and butternut squash stew, one positive one negative. First the good: our organic meat CSA. Josh and I joined a meat CSA in December and if you eat meat, I highly recommend joining one. It’s a great way to support your local farmers, eat quality, healthy meat and escape your culinary comfort zone. Our meat comes from John Crow Farm, a “beyond organic” farm here in Massachusetts. Not only is our meat top quality but it is (relatively) cheap. We get five pounds per month for under $10 per pound, which is cheaper than most organic, grass-fed cuts at our Whole Foods. In any case, this pork shoulder came to us in last month’s share and I wanted to make something other than pulled pork.
Now for the negative: the weather. It’s late March and we’re still waking up to temperatures in the teens in Boston. And as much as I’d love to be making light, spring-inspired meals, I just don’t feel like celebrating a season that isn’t here. I still feel like wearing sweaters so I’ll still make stew.
Now back to being positive: this pork and butternut squash stew is unlike any stew I’ve had before. Full of complex flavor, there is the spicy, savory, and sweet combination that I love. The toasted pumpkin seeds, tangy lime marinated onions and fresh cilantro add a bit of pop, lightness and crunch. A hint of spring on top of a winter dish.
WHY IT’S HEALTHY// We outline the importance of buying quality, organic and pastured meat in our post “Why Grass-Fed Meat is Better for Everyone.” Quality pork is a good source of protein, B vitamins and zinc, which is essential for the immune system. Butternut squash is one of the best sources of carotenoids, which is a group of substances that the body converts to vitamin A needed for healthy skin and eyes. One cup of butternut squash exceeds the recommended daily intake of vitamin A for both men and women by about 3 times. Butternut squash also contains antioxidants, minerals, fiber and electrolytes. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of vitamin E, which keeps your cardiovascular system healthy by lowering blood pressure. This stew is relatively low in fat (especially if your pork is healthy), gluten-free and paleo.//
If you’re interested in finding a meat, egg or dairy CSA near you, check out the site Eat Wild. It’s a really fun way to become more connected to your food.
- 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2” pieces
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
- 4 dried New Mexico or guajillo chiles
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into ⅛”-thick wedges, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs), peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1” pieces
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- Cilantro sprigs (for serving)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine pork, coriander, half of garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl; season with pepper and toss; Cover and set aside (or allow to chill for 4 hours).
- Toast pumpkin seeds and chiles on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes and set aside.
- Let the chilies cool slightly, then remove stems and seeds, if you prefer less heat. Place chiles, half the yellow onion, remaining garlic, and ¾ cup hot water in a
- blender and blend until smooth; set chile purée aside (I used my Vitamix)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook pork, turning occasionally, until browned, 8–10 minutes; transfer to a plate.
- Pour off fat from pot and cook chile purée in pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Add pork, oregano, remaining yellow onion, and 6 cups water to pot; season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, skimming occasionally, until pork is very tender, 3–3½ hours.
- In the meantime, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Drizzle remaining tablespoon of olive oil on your butternut squash cubes, season with salt and pepper and roast on a pan for 40 minutes.
- When the squash is roasted, add to stewed pork mixture.
- Toss red onion and lime juice in a small bow and let sit about 30 minutes.
- Serve stew with red onion, cilantro, and reserved pumpkin seeds.