Monday, December 7, 2009

A Winter Go-To for the Slow Cooker

This is the kind of dinner you imagine when the weather turns cold and you own a slow cooker.  An easy, hearty stew with a South American twist using some very native ingredients – sweet potatoes, black beans and chilies.  A wonderful combination that tastes good and looks  beautiful mounded over a bowl of brown rice.  This is not a very spicy dish however you can heat things up with extra cayenne or a good shake of hot sauce at the table. And it can go three ways—the original with cubed pork and chicken or vegetarian versions.  Even if you are not a large household, make the full recipe.  As with any stew, it tastes even better the next day and cooking once, eating twice is a great pure foods technique that makes the most of your time and effort.

South American Sweet Potato Pork Stew
Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds cubed pork
2 can low-sodium black beans, drained
1 1/2 pounds sweet potato in 1 inch cubes (3 potatoes)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, divided
1/2 teaspoon(s) smoked paprika or ground chipotle 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
1 14-oz can low-sodium whole peeled tomatoes including juice
2 poblano chili peppers, seeded and chopped in large, bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil

Toss everything (except half the cilantro) in the slow cooker.  Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.*  Serve over brown rice or with warmed tortillas.  Garnish with the reserved cilantro before serving for a fresh burst of flavor.  A lime wedge is another nice accompaniment. Let everyone squeeze a bit onto their stew and experiment.  

Substitute chicken (cubed thigh meat) or skip the meat for a vegetarian stew over brown rice. 

*To make this without a slow cooker, preheat the oven to 325˚F and place the ingredients in a dutch oven.  Cover the pot tightly and cook 2-3 hours, until meat is cooked through and sweet potatoes are tender.  Begin checking for doneness after 2 hours.