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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.
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OMG- this stew looks amazing!! Definitely making it soon. (And now kinda craving gingerbread cookies).
This looks amazing!!! I love hearing your Prague adventures!!! Do you know how I could make this in an instant pot??
I don’t have an instant pot, so I don’t have direct experience but this post has great advice for adapting recipes for the instant pot: https://blog.platejoy.com/how-to-adapt-recipes-for-instant-pot/
Making this tonight but discovered I am out of arrowroot, nor fo I have potato starch. Have both cornstarch and instant tapioca. Suggestions on using one of them? Doing stovetop method.
Either one should work just fine! Cornstarch might be the best choice — I haven’t used instant tapioca and I’m not sure how to differs from tapioca starch. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out.
I did 60 minutes on high pressure in my InstantPot! The total amount of meat was less than 3 pounds, since I accidentally bought a 3-pound bone-in roast, and cut the meat off before cooking it.
What amount of pork is the recipe for? I don’t see that listed. Looks awesome though!
It’s in the ingredients under “pork” 🙂
“3 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes”
Hi! This recipe looks delicious! I have maybe an odd question-would it work if I used thick pork chops cut into cubes in place of the pork shoulder? I get my meat each month through a CSA program with a local farm, and I have several really thick pork chops that I am at a loss with what to do with. I’ve not had the best of luck grilling as they end up tough.Thanks, I can’t wait to try this one!
I think the pork chops will work great! They’re not as fatty as shoulder, so I would use the stovetop method, not the slow cooker, and check them after simmering for 45 minutes. Keep the meat on the bone to cook it, then after it’s cooked, pull it off the bone and return it to the sauce. That should help keep the pork from getting dry. Let me know how it turns out!
Thanks so much! I’ll definitely let you know how it turns out!
Marinate it in buttermilk and it will cook up nice, moist as well. A day in buttermilk, or if you forget/get too busy a couple of days. ??
Great suggestion! But friendly reminder for people who are strict paleo: Buttermilk is dairy 🙂
Holy sh*t this sounds AWESOME!!! And I totally love the way you introduce recipes…very creative, interesting, and well written.
My only complaint…I want the recipe with the actual cookies in the stew!!!! But I’ll go google it 🙂 Until then, I’ll be adding this to make after we move to Philly. Thanks!
This sounds warm and wonderful! Sadly, pork does not agree with me, so I would need to use a different meat. What do you think would work best with these flavors?
Yes, sorry! I should have mentioned this in the recipe. It will work with beef (chuck would be great), venison, or bison.
Wonderful! Thanks for the reply.
This looks amazing!! I just discovered your blog and was super happy to see you are an American living in Prague. I am an American living in Nuremberg, Germany and loooove Prague (I’ve been 3 times!). I also definitely understand the language thing…lots of Denglish here (Deutsch and English). I’ve seen a similar meal here in Germany too so it’s cool to have a recipe to make on my own.
Hello, expat neighbor! I’d like to visit Nuremberg—I’ve read many wonderful things about it. Hope you enjoy this recipe 🙂 Stay in touch!
Made this for dinner tonight and LOVE it!!! I recently discovered your cookbooks, and they are fantastic. Many of the recipes in Wll Fed Weeknights have gone on my regular rotation. Would love if you would do a crockpot cookbook next 😉
Hooray! I’m glad you’re enjoying the recipes. Thanks for buying our Weeknights cookbook!
Oh my, this looked like comfort food for the cold “winter” days here in Oregon. Well, lemme tell ya, dddddeeeeelisious,!!!!!
I made some and shared it with a dear friend, sooo good.
Again, THANK YOU!!!
Awesome! I’m really glad you tried it!
Once everything is in the pot, what heat level do you cook for 90 min? I left it on medium since that was the last temp mentioned, but I think it burned on the bottom. Still smells delicious, though. Thanks.
The heat should be reduced to a simmer, which is usually low-ish. Sorry about not being clearer in the instructions!
Oh my! I need this in my life! I’m starting my Whole30 tomorrow and came here for inspiration. So glad I did!
I have a very large pork loin which I can cut some into bite sized pieces. Would this be adaptable to using this recipe cooked using a sous vide? If so, please specify how long, what temp and what spices for cooking. The left over juice can be used and thickened accordingly. How would you cook this using a sous vide method?
I wish I could help you! I don’t have a sous vide, and I’ve never made a stew using a sous vide, so I have zero experience to share.
I made this recipe for dinner using the InstantPot. It was delicious, and thought I”d post my cooking times to help others who may be using the instant pot. I bought a 3-pound bone-in pork roast by mistake, and cut all the meat off, so the actual weight of the meat being cooked was less than 3 pounds. I did 60 minutes on high pressure in the IP, and did not take out and blend the liquid, it was a nice consistency w/o the extra step. I also used the saute function of my IP to brown the pork before cooking it. Delicious, as are all of your recipes, Melissa!
Thank you so much for sharing your method! You’re the best 🙂
This recipe looks incredible. I will be trying it in my Instant Pot before the end of the year. Yum! I love everything ginger bread. My step father is German and my mom got a recipe from his aunt for a Gingersnap Gravy that she makes to pour over the Saurbraten and Noodle Pudding that she also learned how to make from that same aunt. To make the gravy you actually crush 30 Gingersnap cookies and mix it with a few other things and cook on the stove top It is great. I just wanted to share that since you mentioned about ginger cookie gravy (I think). Certainly it is not W30 or Paleo, just a reminder. Thanks for your awesome recipes. I love them and cooked out of your Celebrations book for Thanksgiving this year.
Yes! I can imagine the original with gingersnaps is insanely good! I suppose I could make grain-free gingersnaps, then make the sauce… what a project that would be! A delicious, delicious project 🙂
This recipe is FANTASTIC!
Keeping me warm and happy this week here in Portland, Oregon. I also LOVED your Gingerbread Pecans. I keep them in my regular rotation of snack foods. I am becoming gingerbread obsessed!
I’m a little gingerbread obsessed right now, too! #teamgingerbread
I made this for dinner tonight and we loved it. The gravy has amazing flavours. The small bowl of leftovers are hidden at the back of the fridge so I can eat them for lunch tomorrow. Mel, you are the queen of spices.
AH! I’m going to put that on my business card: Melissa Joulwan | Queen of Spices. Thanks for the sweet compliment—glad you like the stew!
I made this stew this weekend during my big cook-up and it is delicious and a great change of pace but I found the gravy to be really, really thick. After adding the chicken stock, I didn’t have enough liquid to even come close to covering the pork and it was so thick that it was starting to stick to the pan. I wound up adding about 3 cups of water during the cooking process and it was still so thick at the end that I didn’t bother blending the veggies. It was still insanely good and I’ll definitely make it again but maybe use ¼ c tapioca instead of ½ cup. Thanks so much for the recipe and the story that went with it!
How did we miss that restaurant! Back home and and dreaming of being back in beautiful Prague. In the meantime, I’ll have to try this recipe in the Instant Pot
I’m new to your blog and your cookbooks and I’m in love. You’re my new girl crush! And not in a creepy way haha. I would love to try this with lamb shoulder. I have a butcher box lamb shoulder begging to be used and these flavors seem like they’ll work. Thank you for sharing your life. I am thankful for your reading list as well 🙂
Ooooh! Let me know if you try it with lamb. I’m curious about how you like it.
Okay, this is going to sound so stupid but do you have a video demonstrating frying meat for a stew? Either by you or someone else. It took me an hour and 45 to get to the simmering step. Now, I’m a bit slow in a kitchen but it was mostly frying in a single layer and getting a nice crust. And I think I’ve had this problem but some of your other recipes. I must be doing it wrong.
Wait, I think maybe I just made the cubes way too small. 5x5x5 cm is a rather large cube of meat. I’ll get my ruler out next time.
Morten! These comments are so funny.
There are a few tricks to browning:
1. Large-ish cubes. I make them 2-inches/5 cm in size.
2. Get the pan really hot… i mean REALLY hot, and just get a sear on the meat… maybe 5 minutes on the first side, then 2 minutes on 1-2 other sides. You don’t have to do every side of the cube.
3. According to Cook’s Illustrated magazine, you can brown only half of the cubes and still get good flavor out of the stew, so if you want to save time, just brown half of the cubes, and move on with the rest of the cooking instructions.
Just made this for dinner and it was awesome!!! The flavors of the pork mixed with the gingerbread and cranberry sauce was incredible! I will definitely be making this again! Next time I’d like to substitute the pork shoulder for something less fatty. I have no qualms about fat being “bad for you”, but I just don’t like the consistency. If I used a pork tenderloin would you suggest adjusting the cook time at all? Thanks for the excellent recipe!’
I’m glad you liked it! For pork loin, use the stovetop method, not the slow cooker and reduce the cooking time to 30-35 minutes.
Made this yesterday as fall weather is finally here in Cincinnati. It’s delicious. Looking forward to leftovers for lunch. I’m very pleased.
It’s perfect for fall, right?! Enjoy your leftovers! Thanks for letting me know you liked it 🙂