This is one of my ultimate comfort foods.
It’s got a lovely balance of sweet and savory flavors from the combination of apple cider, cinnamon, chicken stock, browned meat, and a smidge of apricot preserves.
A warm bowl of it with a cup of strong tea really hits the spot on a chilly autumn night. It also makes amazing picnic sandwiches when stuffed into crusty rolls along with some thin apple slices, cheddar cheese, and crisp lettuce. (Pack a few and go pumpkin picking!)
A note on ingredients
You can make this with the mixture of lamb and pork listed in the recipe, or—if you’re not crazy about lamb—you can use all pork. I like it with lamb, as it adds deep, earthy notes to the finished stew.
For the apricot preserves, I tend to use Hero Apricot Preserves from Switzerland. If you can’t find this brand, use any good preserve that doesn’t contain a lot of additives.
You add just a little bit at the end, for a nice finishing touch of jammy sweetness.
Sweet Pork Ciderhouse Stew
1 1/2 lbs. lamb stew meat
2 lbs. boneless country-style pork ribs
4 Tbls. water
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups apple cider
3 cloves garlic, mashed
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
10 baby carrots, cut in half
3 ribs celery, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
5 white potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 heaping Tbls. good apricot preserves
1 Tbls. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup parsley, minced
Brown the meat
Cut the pork ribs up into stew-sized chunks.
Coat a large nonstick frying pan and a large, heavy-bottomed stew pot with spray oil.
Put the pork in your frying pan and the lamb in your stew pot. Sprinkle with kosher salt to taste. Saute on both meats on medium-high heat to brown.
As the meat cooks, flip the pieces over to get all sides.
Deglaze your pans
When the meat has developed a nice brown crust on most sides, add about 2 tablespoons of water to each pan to deglaze it. Scrape the bottom of each pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge all the yummy brown bits. Add the pork to the lamb in the stewpot.
Add the liquids
Add the chicken stock to the pot.
Then add the cider.
Stir to combine well. Give the bottom of the pot a few more scrapes with your spoon to make sure it’s totally deglazed.
Toss in the garlic, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Don’t worry about how strong the cinnamon smells. As the stew cooks, it’ll mellow and blend with the rest of the flavors.
Cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Add the veggies
After about an hour, your stew should look about like this:
Add the carrots, onion, and celery.
Give the stew a good stir to combine.
Cover the pot again and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Your stew will look about like this:
Finish it up
Add in the potatoes and the apricot preserves. Stir to combine well.
Cover and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through.
When the potatoes are done, uncover the pot. If you want a more liquid-y stew, leave the meat chunks as they are. If you want very little liquid, shred the meat with the back of your spoon and stir it to mix. It should be so tender that it just falls apart on you.
Add the thyme and the parsley. Stir to combine.
Serve and enjoy!