A few weeks ago, I began to think about what I might make in late spring and summer, since I had just paid for my CSA (community-supported agriculture). I had already put away my pressure cooker and decided to put my slow cooker way high up over a cabinet, thinking I might not be using it until late fall, when the cooler temperatures begins, maybe mid-October. Then I thought about hot the kitchen might be in the summer, and decided I would keep it in a cabinet, since I could make desserts in it, when it is too hot to turn on the oven.
This, of course, brought me back to my computer, thinking about doing pudding cakes in my slow cooker since I love coconut and anything lemony or limey. What did I find: a recipe for a pork stew scented with coconut milk and lime juice. A stew, I thought? In May? Truth is, it is cool enough, especially at night, that it is still too cold to put my basil plants in yet.
Off I went to my faraway freezer, about a block away from my condo. Know what I found? A boneless pork roast, maybe bought in the winter when it was on sale. I know it’s odd, but I always have canned coconut milk in the pantry, a knob or two of ginger in the refrigerator’s freezer, and limes (and lemons) in a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter. The next day, after the roast was thawed, I made this recipe. It was delicious.
Coconut-Lime Pork Stew
Adapted from Jim Romanoff for the Associated Press
4 to 5 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper (I used maybe 1/2 teaspoon)
3-pound boneless pork roast, cut into 1-inch chunks
flour, salt and pepper in a zippered plastic bag
14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2-inch strip (or more) lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 pound baby carrots
salt and pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped peanuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add onions and saute until they begin to color, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes more. Transfer mixture to a large plate.
Return the Dutch oven to the burner. Increase heat to high and add a couple of tablespoons of the oil. In batches, add pork to the plastic bag holding seasoned flour, toss, then put chunks in Dutch oven and cook until well browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the plate. Brown remaining pork in 3 batches, adding oil as needed.
Return onion mixture and browned pork to pot; stir in coconut milk, lime zest and juice, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt and baby carrots. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover and place in oven for 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hour, or until pork is tender. Taste; add more salt and pepper if needed.
Serve stew over saffron or any rice (I use those packets of flavored rice I get at Ocean State Job Lot or most supermarkets). Toss peanuts on top, if desired.
Nibbles: Café Routier
A week or so I went to see “Keanu” at the Marquee Theater in Westbrook with my friends Nancy and Andy, because Nancy and I love kitties and cats and the cat is the protagonist. We met at the cinema and, on the way, they made a reservation for dinner at 9:15 p.m. This is usually way past my bedtime, but a trip to Café Routier is a great reason to stay awake.
I knew what I wanted, because nobody around here does steak frites like Routier does, but the waiter first told us about the specials. One entrée include sauce Bearnaise. I asked our waiter if I might have a ramekin of that sauce, my favorite in the whole world. As we ate (oysters remoulade and trout for both of them), I ate about a quarter of the fries, dipping each into the béarnaise. And this, friends, is why I love Café Routier. The next day and the day after, I ate the steak (on a salad one day, a stir fry the next). Few places either serve great sauces or are willing to give me a few tablespoons with no questions asked.
1353 Boston Post Road
About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.