Five-spice stew

A nice-aromatic dish for a cold day (not that it was cold today in LA, but it was throughout the rest of the country, so I made this dish in solidarity with my friends in the Midwest and East Coast).  You can substitute 2 tsp of Chinese five-spice powder (widely available in the Asian section of grocery stores) for the anise, cinnamon, fennel, Chinese pepper and cloves.  This dish utilizes a cooking technique called “sweating,” which browns meat using very little fat and no flour, resulting in fewer calories.

  • 1 ½ pounds lean pork (I used sirloin) cut into bite sized-cubes
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 bottle beer (I used Sam Adams lager because that was what was in the fridge)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp fennel seed
  • ½ tsp aromatic Chinese ground pepper (Sichuan pepper or white pepper)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp chicken or beef base granules or paste
  • ½ cup water mixed with 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 3 medium red potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 bunch green, Swiss, red or rainbow charge, leaves stripped from stalks, stalks diced and leaves sliced.
  • Salt and pepper t taste.

Heat up oil over medium-high heat in a large pot.  When oil is hot, add pork and stir.  Add sugar and ½ cup beer.  When beer evaporates, stir meat to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom.  Repeat process two more times until beer is gone and meat is nicely browned.  Add onion and garlic and stir briefly until onion softens but do not let onion and garlic brown.  Add ginger, water, soy sauce, anise, cinnamon, fennel, pepper, cloves and soup base.  Bring to boil and then turn heat down to low.  Cover the pot and simmer the meat for 1 ½ hours.  Uncover pot and stir in water/cornstarch mixture.  Raise temperature to high and stir until sauce thickens.  Add carrots, potatoes and chard stems and turn heat down to medium.  If a lot of the liquid has evaporated, add more broth to the consistency you like.  Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are tender but not falling apart.  Add chard leaves and stir just until leaves are wilted.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in soup bowls. Makes 6 servings.

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