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Gingerbread Pork Stew (Paleo, Whole30)
If you turn right out our apartment door and walk up two blocks, then turn left and walk one block, you’ll run straight into a family-owned restaurace called U tří bojovníků. The name means “at the three warriors”—and across the street from the restaurant, above a doorway, there are three fellows carved from stone, who look like they could handily defend you with one hand while drinking Czech pivo with the other.
Inside, it is a typická česká restaurace.
The menu includes all of the traditional Czech favorites: schnitzel, pork ribs, pork knee, and goulash, plus specials every day. It’s a cozy place with friendly waitstaff and almost all locals. We’re usually the only customers speaking English, although everyone who works there seems to have a mastery of conversational English, and they’re very patient when we practice our Czech on them. (We call it Czenglish.) Last week, the daily special was “pork simmered in gingerbread sauce.”
That’s right: gingerbread sauce.
I’d never heard of such a thing, so I took the only correct action: I ordered it. And it was everything I hoped it would be. The sauce—a deep, red-brown color–clung to the ridiculously tender pork, and it tasted like savory gingerbread.
A google search yielded recipes made with actual grated gingerbread cookies in the sauce. Holy sh*t! I ate what was essentially pork cookies!
Obviously, I’m not going to recreate the original. While my imagination loves the idea of grated cookies in a stew, that’s not everyday eating. But gingerbread spice blend is paleo-approved, and you probably have the ingredients in your kitchen right now! This stew gets really damn close to the flavors at U tří bojovníků, and it’s good for you.
My recipe includes homemade gingerbread spice blend, but you can also use a commercial blend, if you prefer. The recipe needs 2 tablespoons of whichever blend you choose.
I recommend serving this stew with boiled potatoes and Kickin’ Cranberry Sauce, but you could also enjoy it with roasted sweet potatoes, Crispy Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries, or Mustard-Garlic Brussels Sprouts.
Whole30ers, see notes on how to make it Whole30 compliant in the ingredients and step 2 below.
Paleo Gingerbread Pork Stew
Makes a lot! | Prep 20 minutes | Stovetop 2 hours or Slow Cooker 8-10 hours | Whole30 compliant
Gingerbread spice blend:
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 cup arrowroot powder or potato starch
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tablespoon ghee, pastured lard, coconut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons gingerbread spice
2 cups chicken bone broth
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (For Whole30, replace with 2-3 medjool dates; see step 2 below.)
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch dice
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ghee
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
Make the gingerbread spice blend. Combine the spices in a small bowl and mix with a fork. Measure 2 tablespoons for the stew and store the rest in an air-tight container for later.
Start the meat. In a bowl, combine the arrowroot, paprika, salt, and pepper; add the pork and toss to coat the cubes. Melt the ghee in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pork in a single layer and cook until it has a nice crisp crust, about 10 minutes.
For the slow cooker: Transfer the pork to the slow cooker, then add the onions and carrots to the pot and cook until the onions are soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the gingerbread spice blend to the pot, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer the onions and carrots to the slow cooker. Add the bone broth and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Cover and cook on low heat, 8-10 hours, until the pork is very tender.
For the stovetop: Transfer the pork to a bowl and add the onions and carrots to the pot. Cook until the onions are soft, 5-7 minutes. Add the gingerbread spice blend to the pot, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the pork to the pot and add the bone broth and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Simmer on low heat, partially covered, for 90 minutes, until the pork is very tender.
For Whole30: Omit the maple syrup and add 2-3 medjool dates to the pot along with the broth.
Finish the stew. When the meat is tender, remove it to a bowl and use a stick blender to purée the liquid in slow cooker or pot—then transfer the liquid from the slow cooker to a soup pot. Return the pork to the stew and simmer, partially covered, while you cook the potatoes.
Cook the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a saucepan with the salt and add enough water to just cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan. Add the ghee and parsley; gently toss with a rubber spatula to coat the potatoes.
Big finish! Remove the lid from the pork and taste to see if the stew needs more salt, pepper, or the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup. To serve, place potatoes and pork in a bowl and top with minced parsley.
You Know How You Could Do That?
This also works great with beef (chuck is nice), venison, and bison.
Seriously. Cranberry Sauce.
Trust me. You want to eat this with Kickin’ Cranberry Sauce.