Serves at least eight!
Phoenix is a strange place for certain, especially when it comes to weather. For at least ⅓ of the year, it is unbearably hot, like why the hell do we live here hot. For another ⅓ of the year, we are reminded of why we live here, when the temperature ranges from 45 in the morning to 70 in the hottest part of the day and we are outside as much as we can be. In most places, this is early fall or late spring, but to us, it is the middle of the winter. The other ⅓ of the time, it is a crapshoot- it can be too hot or too cold for any given time of the year- I have gotten sunburns in November and February and been frozen to the bone in October and March. It makes creating a menu a challenge, especially during the time of year when you never know what weather you are going to get. And, I will admit, when I want it to be cool and cozy out and Mother Nature just won’t cooperate, I have been known to just make something out of season so that I can pretend that it is at least cool outside.
The first time I made this recipe, it was something I threw together with what I had on hand years ago for a D&D night. It was one of those nights where so many people said that they would be there, and then more people responded in that day that they would be coming, so I had to extend whatever I had planned. I don’t remember even what it was, but probably just pork and sweet potatoes. I have been tweeking and playing with the recipe ever since, adjusting it depending on how many were coming over and dietary needs. It is made with pork but it is just as easy to do it with chicken thighs. And that first night I made it, the name was uttered by my “Little sister that I never knew I needed” Katie- she took a bite and said that it tasted like fall. Hence, Fall Stew.
2 lbs pork shoulder or pork stew meat, cut into one inch pieces *
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 granny smith apples, chopped
2 carrots (purple ones if you can find them, because they are pretty), peeled and sliced
1 large sweet potato, diced fairly large
1 to ½ cups low sodium chicken broth
½ cup good spiced apple cider
2 cardamom pods
A few leaves fresh sage
½ cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper to taste
In a dutch oven, heat up the oil (This is the dutch oven I have, it is lovely and enameled- and Horde Red, which may annoy my podcast co-host. It is also lipstick red, so that may make it better. https://www.amazon.com/Vremi-Enameled-Cast-Iron-Dutch/dp/B06WWBFXRM/ref=sr_1_4?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1516153519&sr=1-4&keywords=red+dutch+oven&refinements=p_n_srvg_2947266011%3A2972994011
Cut up the meat and sprinkle with cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Once the oil is hot, put the meat into the dutch oven and sear it on all sides. The kitchen will smell amazing. Add the onion, apples, carrots, and sweet potato and cook for at least five minutes, so that the carrot and onion soften up a little. Add the liquids (start with a cup of the chicken broth and add more if needed) and bring to a simmer. Slit open the cardamon pods and add the contents, the sage (you can totally use dried sage, I just have fresh in the garden, thanks to a husband with a green thumb), and the cranberries. Reduce the heat to a low, low simmer, cover, and cook for at least a half hour. The potatoes will be kind of mushy, but it acts as a thickener for the stew. Serve with crusty bread and maybe a strong apple cider and pretend you are in the Shire or in an Inn somewhere in Waterdeep. Or at home, whatever works!
*you can replace pork with 2 lbs chicken thigh, cut into one inch pieces