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This stew was a major revelation. I started a pot after work one recent evening, planning ahead for the following day’s dinner, and lo and behold — it was ready for the table an hour and a half later. This simple dish incorporates leftover uncooked pork that I re-freeze when no one’s looking, like a leftover hunk of shoulder and the end meat from spareribs, both of which turn absolutely delectable with slow heat. Complex flavoring develops as the pork amalgamates with tomato paste and chipotles, and the result is a rich, spicy concoction that’s far beyond ordinary.

No surprise that it tasted even better a couple days later. I’m sure there are a dozen good ways to improvise with the recipe, which goes as follows:

Recipe: Pork & Chipotle Stew

2 hot sausage links, crumbled / 1 onion, chopped / 1 clove garlic, minced / 2 pounds pork shoulder and other scraps such as rib trimmings, cut into 1½ inch cubes, or ground pork / 2 cups meat stock / 1 tbls tomato paste / ½ tsp oregano / ½ tsp thyme / ½ tsp marjoram / 5 plum tomatoes, chopped / 3 chipotle chilies, chopped / 2 tsps lime juice, optional / salt & pepper

Heat a heavy stew pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp vegetable oil and swirl. Add sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion and pork and cook until brown and soft, 6-8 minutes more. Add garlic and stir. Add stock and tomato paste and extra water to cover all ingredients, bring to a boil, then cover and cook on low heat. Uncover after an hour, add dried spices, tomatoes, and chilies, and cook until meat is tender and sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes more. Stir in optional lime juice, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice. Adapted from Clifford Wright.

Variations: Add stewing vegetables like chopped carrots with 15 minutes to go, or roasted red bell peppers and corn kernels at the end. I chopped a fresh poblano pepper into it before serving. You could sprinkle with chopped cilantro or green onions if you like.

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