This is a stew recipe for people who don’t like making stew. With a limit of four ingredients, I needed to make the process simpler too, and you can’t get much simpler than this. No flouring the meat, no measuring spices, no need for stock or broth, no thickening the gravy, you don’t even have to peel the potatoes. The liquid, vegetables, and seasoning all come out of one can — of flavored diced tomatoes, the beginning cook’s friend — and still this is very much a homemade dish.
I found the pork shoulder for sale already cubed, labeled “sweet and sour”, but of course that was just a suggested use. We were going Southwestern rather than Asian this time. You could also try Italian-spiced tomatoes, or garlic and herb, whatever you can find that looks good. The sugar keeps the tomatoes from tasting too acidic after their long cooking time.
When you turn the heat down to low, it will look at first as if the stew isn’t cooking at all. But later it’ll bubble gently, and that’s the best way to make the pork tender. Just be sure to leave the lid on the pot when you’re not stirring.
If you’re afraid someone will ask you why there are potatoes in your chili, well, that probably won’t happen. This is definitely a stew with a touch of chili flavor. But if you prefer, leave out the potatoes and serve over rice. You could put in some canned beans during the last few minutes if you do this. You can also add frozen vegetables for the last five to 10 minutes; peas and carrots would be good.
Whatever options you go with, this stew is a warming dinner on a cold winter night.
- 12 ounces pork shoulder, in 1” cubes
- 1 18-ounce can chili-flavored diced tomatoes
- 6 nugget potatoes or 3 small potatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Heat about a teaspoon of oil or bacon fat in a large pot.
- Carefully add the pork cubes and cook till just lightly browned — too much cooking in dry heat will toughen them.
- Add the tomatoes, including juice, and bring to a boil.
- Turn down to low and cover.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, then stir in the sugar.
- Wash the potatoes — no need to peel — and cut in half for nuggets, fourths for small ones.
- Add them to the pot.
- Cook for another half hour (1 ½ hours total).