The best way to enjoy Autumn is to get out into that crisp, cool air and take it all in. So why not try something different this weekend?!
Text a few of your friends and invite them to an afternoon outdoors. Go to a place that feels far away from everyone’s day-to-day. A place where nature provides the perfect ambiance. We need it and our friends do too…
The location sets the tone. I believe we can create our own experiences. Think about scenic spots on the outskirts of your city. There are so many beautiful places waiting to be explored and enjoyed. Honestly it’s the best time of year to do this with your friends. While it’s not too hot or too cold, why not hang out for hours, laugh out loud, and let a tree be your seat?
The food and drinks should complement your environment. When you can mix the two it’s even better!
One of my favorite drinks for an outdoor afternoon are Crispin Ciders. The flavors are delicious (like fresh out of the orchard good) AND they are a key ingredient in several of my recipes. Sharing my Slow Cooked Cider Pork & Squash Stew with you! It’s easy to prep at home and simple to cook outdoors and is definitely one of my “tried and true” stews. A tender tangy shredded pork and cider mixed with the roasted variety of squash adds a beautiful depth of flavor and textures. You and your friends will love it. I could honestly eat the whole pot myself.
Everything you need for the menu and stew is simple. Every item can be found at to your local grocery store (or online delivery store).
Menu: Slow Cooked Cider Pork & Squash Stew / Hearty Walnut Bread / Salad
Drinks: Crispin Cider / Water
Serving Tip: Bring your favorite folding table, a wooden chopping board, and a few mini pumpkins. Keep it rustic and simple.
Slow Cooked Cider Pork & Squash Stew
Nothing compliments these rich cool fall days more than a bowl of hearty stew, and this recipe is a total winner. The tender tangy shredded pork and cider mixed with the roasted variety of squash adds a beautiful depth of flavor and texture to the broth that’ll have you reaching for a second bowl. The only thing that could improve this delicious stew is a roaring campfire and good company. Definitely recommended.
- 1 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
- 1 cup olive oil, possibly more where needed
- 1, 12 oz bottle Crispin Original Cider
- 7 cups low sodium chicken broth, separated
- 1 tablespoon whole coriander
- 1 small bunch thyme
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lb acorn squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1” pieces
- 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, cut into 1” pieces
- 4 oz. (1 package) cubed pancetta
- 362g (1 large) sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon black garlic salt ( I recommend Jacobsen Salt’s )
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- Pumpkin seeds (about 1 cup, or just enough for garnishing the soup)
- Sour cream
- Fresh Cilantro leaves
- Toasted pumpkin seeds
- Jalapenos, sliced
- Lime, cut into wedges
- Large pot with lid
- Slow Cooker / Crock Pot
- 2 prong fork long handle fork
- Large Baking Sheet
- Slotted Spoon
Directions: Pork Shoulder Prep
- 1 day in advance, prepare pork shoulder for slow cooking with a sea salt and pepper rub.
- Pre-heat large pot (I use a dutch oven) over medium heat. Pour 2-3 glugs olive oil (3-4 tablespoons) and sprinkle in whole coriander and thyme sprigs. Toast for 1 minute.
- Add the pre-seasoned pork shoulder.
- Brown pork for 3-4 minutes on each side..
- Transfer pork and drippings from stovetop to slow cooker and set to high heat. Add 1 bottle Crispin original cider (original or any flavor you prefer) and 1 cup chicken broth. Cover and and set slow cooker to “Low” setting for 8 hours or overnight.
- The next day, test pork. It should be falling apart and wonderfully fragrant.
- Remove pork from slow cooker, and on a large cutting board, shred pork, removing any substantial excess fat chunks.
- Use immediately for the soup (step 8 below) or place in airtight container in fridge until ready to prepare the soup at a later time.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- On a large baking sheet, drizzle acorn and butternut squash cubes with olive oil. Season lightly with salt. Roast squash in oven for at least 25-30 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.
- Heat large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add about 1-3 tablespoons of olive oil and pancetta and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to medium bowl. Set aside.
- Add onion to the same large pot. Cook onion for 5 minutes or until translucent and fragrant.
- Add (to pot with onions) remaining broth (6 cups), pancetta, roasted squash, garlic salt, smoked paprika, cumin, and a few turns of fresh pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes (do NOT let boil). Keep an eye on the stew and stir every few minutes.
- While soup is simmering, prepare toasted pumpkin seeds. In a cast iron or regular saute pan over medium heat, add the smallest drizzle of oil - just enough to leave a very thin gloss over the pan. Pour in about 1 cup pumpkin seeds with a pinch of sea salt.
- Toast seeds for about 4 to 6 minutes by stirring constantly (they burn extremely fast so best not to leave them). When they begin to make small popping sounds and turn a nice golden tone along the edge, remove from pan and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, take pork shoulder, all broth and cooking juices from slow cooker (or from your fridge if prepped in advance) to the large soup pot. Stir, cover and let simmer (don’t boil) for 10 to 20 minutes to infuse all ingredients. Stir every 5 min.
- Serve and garnish with sour cream, cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, a couple slices of jalapeno, and a wedge of lime.
[Post is sponsored by Crispin Cider and all opinions are my own]