Valentines day is coming! Usually we have to work on Valentine's day and I HATE going out to eat on this "holiday". Restaurants are packed, service is rushed and the entire experience is just...blech. I ALWAYS prefer to cook at home for Valentine's day, and since this a holiday about romance that means one thing: French food.
We went to see a matinee of Martin Scorcese's Oscar-nominated film Hugo today and since it takes place in Paris, through the entire film I was craving french food. So after the movie we ran to the grocery and grabbed the ingredients to make this hearty and fragrant pork stew. To me it is the essence of Parisian bistro food. Simple and elegant, yet still rustic and non-pretentious. I love to eat this stew over steamed tiny baby potatoes and with a hunk of crispy french bread slathered with butter.
This stew comes together in a couple hours and is pretty easy to make. It's the ideal thing for you and your sweetie to prepare together on Valentine's day, then cuddle up with a bowl of stew, a glass of wine in front of a romantic foreign film (may I suggest Amelie ?) and get to the business of romance.
Pork Stew with Pearl Onions and Wine
1/2 lb bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 Tbsp butter
3 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 lb baby carrots
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup flour
3 cups white wine
4 cups water
1 lb pearl onions, peeled (I use frozen pearl onions)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Bay leaves
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 lb baby potatoes, unpeeled, steamed
1 cup Chopped fresh parsley
In a large heavy pot brown the bacon over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon, reserve. Add 4Tbsp butter to bacon fat and melt. Increase heat to medium high, and brown pork in three batches until well-browned. Remove pork from pan after each addition is browned and reserve.
Add remaining 4 Tbsp butter and melt. Add celery and carrots to pot and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until celery is soft and carrots just begin to brown. Add flour and thyme, and stir to coat vegetables. Add wine and water and stir until well mixed. Return pork and bacon to pot, add onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt, sugar and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low and cook covered for one hour.
Immediately before serving, stir 3/4 cup chopped parsley into the stew.
Serve stew over steamed potatoes and sprinkled with additional parsley. A hunk of crusty french bread and butter is magical with this.