Tag Archives: slow-cooked stew

Slow-Cooked Hungarian Pork Loin (serves 8-10)

Here was the situation the other night; I was without a car and the pantry was down to the dregs. When I say dregs, I am talking about what I call the last bits and pieces of what I think one would need to scrounge up some sort of dinner. I am pretty sick of hearing myself say this, but here we go again: if you have what you consider the bare necessities on hand in your kitchen you can always come up with something to put an evening meal together.

a dish that cooks itself!

A dish that cooks itself!

Well, what did I have on hand in my pantry? What I didn’t have was anything green save for the rosemary plant I was nursing through the winter freeze on a sill in the kitchen, or anything quick cooking like eggs or a piece of chicken, fish or even any canned sardines (which I almost always have hidden somewhere – they are great with a bit of red sauce and pasta and pepper flakes in a pinch!).

Essential to this dish

Essential to this dish was another staple in my pantry, Paprika!

What I did have was a big hunk of pork (which I found in the freezer and set out to defrost; Lesson 1 – have a hunk of meat in the freezer at all times) along with three ingredients I deem essential  if you want to build something from nothing; garlic, onions and olive oil. These are things that last forever and even the saddest looking onion is worth saving. The other thing that comes to my rescue is a modest stash of spices, salts and a few select dried herbs and greens like good bay leaves and maybe a jar of Herbs de Provence, (I am not a fan of large collections of dried herbs and spices sitting on the counter in a big carousel, or neat jars in rows over the stove – most of this stuff shrivels up and looses flavor before you have a chance to use it – a few keys things stored in a dark cupboard is a much better idea and less wasteful).

Cook capers with seasonings

Good dried bay leaves go a long way in a pinch (these are from the Laxmi company based in Mumbai, India – I love this company. They have great varieties of bulk spices and herbs, as well as oil seeds like sesame, and dried fruits, namely raisins)

The only thing in this ingredient list that wasn’t something that I normally have on hand in the winter were the plum tomatoes. They had been sitting in the kitchen for several days, leftover from a salsa that I didn’t end up making. I threw them into the dish just to use them up and they were perfect (and sort of substituted for my lack of a vegetable!). So, if you get a pantry in order filled with the things that appeal to you, there will be no panic if you find yourself a prisoner in your own home!


You will need:

3 tbs olive oil

3 1/2 lbs pork loin, cut into big chunks

3 medium sweet onions, halved and sliced

4 to 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 celery ribs, sliced

4 or so sprigs fresh thyme

1 small spring fresh rosemary

1 tbs hot Hungarian paprika OR 1/2 smoked 1/2 hot OR 1/2 sweet 1/2 hot paprika (any combo will work)

4 or 5 Roma tomatoes, halved

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (OR good quality stock cube and 6 cups water – *If your stock cube is very mild, use two for full flavor)


Preheat oven 300*

1 – Season pork with good quality salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put saute pan on high heat and add the oil. When it is very hot sear the meat in batches on all sides. transfer to a deep casserole or straight-sided pan as you go.

sear pork loin

sear pork loin

2 – Turn heat down to medium/low and add a little more oil if you need to. Add the onions, garlic and celery and saute for about 3 minutes before adding the fresh herbs. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for another 3 or so minutes.

Saute onions, celery and garlic

Saute onions, celery and garlic

3 – Add the paprika and stir into the veggies. If you are using a stock cube add it now. Stir lightly for about a minute.

add spices

add spices

4 – Add the liquid (stock or water) and turn heat up to high. Add the meat and when the mixture comes to a boil add the halved tomatoes, halved side down (this helps keep the skin in tact!). taste a little of the juices and adjust salt and pepper to your taste .

Add broth, then pork loin

Add broth, then pork loin

5 – Place in oven and cook for 3 hours or until meat is very tender.

cook for 3 hours or so and serve with whatever your heart desires!

cook for 3 hours or so and serve with whatever your heart desires!

Serve with whatever you like; rice, spaghetti, pici pasta, fresh crusty bread, and sautéed greens. The sauce is great with any of the above.

Juicy Lamb With Herbes de Provence (serves 6)

If you have a stocked pantry and meat in the freezer, then making a dinner like this one requires no thinking or trip to the supermarket. I use fresh herbs in my food as much as possible, however I do keep a few dried varieties on hand for those moments when the cupboard is bare or when I want the intensity that is characteristic of certain dried herbs. My favorite is a mixture called Herbes de Provence and one tablespoon can make a big impact.

Juicy Lamb With Herbes de Provence

Juicy Lamb With Herbes de Provence

Herbes de Provence is a combination of thyme, marjoram, rosemary, basil, fennel, sage and lavender. I think that lavender is one of the key ingredients and gives dishes like the one I made last night a beautiful perfume-y quality that goes so well with strong flavors like lamb.

So if shelf space is meagre in your kitchen, or you are like me and don’t like spending money on a ton of dried herbs that more often than not don’t get used up before they have lost their aroma, stick with the all-in-one Herbes de Provence. It is great in stews, grilled meat, fish and vegetables.


You will need:

2 -3 tbs olive oil

sea-salt & freshly ground black pepper

6 lamb shoulder loin chops (about 1 lb each)

2 sweet onions, large dice, or 1/2 moon slices

2 ribs celery, including leaves, sliced

2 carrots, peeled & sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup tomato puree

6 cups veggie or chicken stock OR 1 good quality bouillon cube & water

1 tbs Herbes de Provence


Preheat oven 400*

1 – Generously season the lamb with sea-salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put large saute pan on high heat and add 2 tbs of olive oil. When it is very hot, add the chops in an even layer (you will probably need to do this in 2 or 3 batches depending on the size of your pan). Cook on each side until browned, adding more oil as needed. Remove to a heavy casserole or dutch oven.

sear lamb

Sear lamb

2 – Turn heat down to medium and add all of the veggies, as well as the Herbes de Provence. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

saute veggies with seasonings

Saute veggies with seasonings

3 – Add the tomato pure and mix well.

Add tomato puree

Add tomato puree

4 – Add the stock, or bouillon and water, and turn heat up to high. Bring to a boil.

add liquid

Add liquid

5 – Add the chops and place in the oven checking after 1 1/4 hours. If the chops are very tender, remove from the oven. If not, return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until done. Let the pan rest for 10 minutes before serving.

add chops

Add chops

Serve with whatever you like: rice, mashed potatoes, sautéed greens, salad, bread or pasta.