What better time of year than the Autumn season to eat thick and hearty stews?! Cooked outside in cast iron over an open pit makes for one of my favorite things to do when the weather begins to turn.
I recently added to my cast iron collection with a nice 5 Quart Dutch Oven from Lodge. Naturally I was eager to throw something hearty and “wintery” in it immediately on the pit outside. With the help of my pop (a butcher for 35 years) I managed to pick up some smoked pork neck bones and short ribs.
Luckily, my local butcher is pretty knowledgable about meats and had some ready for me in a few minutes.
For the Neck Bone Stew:
Home and eager to cook, I dumped 2 cans of red kidney beans, a quart of chicken stock, 2 quartered onions, 2 tablespoons of hot sauce, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar … And let it sit on the pit for about an hr. Once the onions were cooked down and everything was reducing nicely, I put 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar in to thicken it even more and give it a beautifully aromic and sweet taste. Truly ‘stick to your ribs’ food here folks!
For the Briased Short Ribs:
A similar concoction which turned out incredible.
2 packs of flanken cut beef short ribs, 1 quart of beef stock, 1 cup water, 2 onions quartered, 5 carrots, 5 potatoes, a few bay leaves, 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar, 3 teaspoons of Apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of tomatoe paste, two small cuts of salt pork, salt & pepper as needed. Just throw it all in the Dutch oven and let it all cook down. Once finished cooking, let sit for an hour which will let all that fat and flavor really come thru in the broth, showing some sweetness due to the brown sugar. Another easy, cold weather stew that is pretty great to enjoy outside around a bonfire with friends.
Lastly, this weekend was the start of something my father and I have been talking about doing forever but only now getting around to it! We prepped a 25lb Ham to be cured for 6 months. The process of curing meat stemmed from the days before refrigeration and resulted in a thing of beauty! So, like any normal 33 year old food nut, I have a 25lb Country Ham salt curing in my pantry where the temperature should be perfect for it over the next 6 months. Fingers crossed we have a winner!