As far as new beginnings, this one was inauspicious.

“Go to bed!” the husband commanded as my pork brine flooded the counter and my language devolved into sailor talk.

“Don’t shake your finger at me!” I hollered back.

“Stop arguing!” the boys yelled from the family room. “The ball is starting to drop!”

Happy New Year?

Thankfully, things got better. Post-midnight, I cleaned up the brine, the husband and I kissed, and we all went to bed with the sound of illegal fireworks ringing through the neighborhood.

Next day, I made this Latin-inspired stew to welcome 2016:

pork stew

Pork shoulder is brined with cumin, chilis, garlic and coriander, then slow-roasted ’til silky and falling apart. It’s added to a stew of vegetables, corn tortillas and black beans, then served with sour cream, cheddar cheese and anything crisp and green. The husband and I ate it from big bowls; the boys folded it into warmed tortillas.

And no one argued.

Happy New Year!

Slow-Roasted Pork Stew

This has a lot of steps. But most of them are hands-off: Brine the meat the night before, and use a slow-cooker to roast it. You’ll be left with only about an hour of active time to get dinner in your bowls.

If that’s a bit too time-consuming, break this recipe into its separate parts. You can serve the brined and roasted pork in any guise desired. The stew is delicious by itself or with any meat you choose.

For the brine:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 chile de Arbol, broken into pieces
  • 4 cardamom seeds
  • 2 cups water, iced
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 3 pounds)

Bring the water and kosher salt to a boil, stirring occasionally to ensure that the salt dissolves.

Remove the liquid from heat and add the garlic, peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, chile and cardamom seeds. Cool slightly, then add the ice water and refrigerate until cold.

Place the pork shoulder in a gallon zip-top bag. Pour in the brine. (Carefully … you don’t want it to slosh over your countertop!) Seal the bag tightly and refrigerate overnight.

For the roasting:

The next morning, place the following in a crock pot:

  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 sprig of fresh oregano

Drain the pork shoulder and place it, fat-side up, atop the cooking liquid. Cook on “high” for six hours (or “low” for 8), turning the pork over halfway through.

When done, remove the pork and let it cool. Discard the cooking liquid. (It’s too salty to use.)

When the pork has cooled, shred it, discarding any fat. Set it aside:

pork cooked

For the stew:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly chopped, plus 1/3 cup celery leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh oregano, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes
  • 5 corn tortillas, roughly chopped
  • 1 4-ounce can green chilis
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained and roughly chopped
  • 1 half-inch wide, 2-inch long strip of orange zest
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Brined pork

Pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of grapeseed or other non-flavored oil in a large pot. Add the onion, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper and saute over low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, cumin and coriander. Saute for 30 seconds.

Increase your heat to medium and add the butternut squash and corn tortillas. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tortillas begin breaking apart.

Add the green chilis and tomatoes and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.

Add the orange zest and chicken broth. Stir well, then cover your pot and bring the mixture to a boil.

Reduce your heat to low, uncover the pot, and simmer the stew for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Stir in the beans and add as much pork as you like. (I used a couple of cups.)

Remove the stew from the heat. Ladle into big bowls. Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese and scallions.

Alternately, scoop the stew into warmed tortillas and top with your choice of accoutrements. Just don’t fight about how you decide to eat it.