Seasonal Chef: Make-Ahead Seasonal Stew


Every week I come to you with seasonal ingredients found at the farmers market, and at your local grocery store. This week, I thought it might be interesting to combine some seasonal ingredients, into a truly seasonal dish: a make-ahead stew. It’s October and as I peer out of my window writing this post I am looking at our pretty cherry blossom tree that is speckled with red leaves. The temperature these days seems to be holding in the low 50s and a little less in the evenings. It’s not quite cold enough for a heavy stew, but something a little lighter yet filled with delicious ingredients seems so appropriate now.

Seasonal Chef

Stews are always a great option for a busy week. They literally taste better the next day. With Halloween right around the corner and landing right in the middle of the week, you need an easy alternative once your Trick or Treaters get home. A make-ahead stew is the perfect option.

For just about any stew you want to look for ingredients that work well with each other. Root vegetables hold up best in a stew. Tomatoes, or in this case tomatillos, break down and add a nice thickness and contrast to the base. For quick stews look for leaner cuts of meat or poultry. For longer cooking stews like Beef Bourguignon you want a tougher meat that will hold up to hours in the pot.

This recipe uses pork as the main ingredient, a go-to protein in the month of October. However, it’s easily replaced with butternut squash; simply use the same amount. The squash will cook pretty quickly so add it at the end. (You want to be able to see it in the stew.)

Once your Spiced Pork and Vegetable Stew has finished cooking cool it down completely. Never put a hot pot or container filled with hot food in the ‘fridge. That will lower the internal temperature and leave the other food you have in it open to bacteria growth. Better safe than sorry when it comes to keeping your foods safe and fresh. Divide up the stew in a few smaller containers and let them come to room temperature on the counter. Depending on how much you end up making you can even freeze some for later. Just make sure you completely chill it down before popping in the freezer.

halloween pork stew

Reheating is a snap: just place your stew in a pot on the stovetop or in the oven. Let it warm slowly. If the stew is a little thick use additional stock to thin as desired. Toppings always make a difference and add dimension to any dish. Consider using sour cream and my Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa. Adding crunchy tortilla chips gives this stew a nice texture as well. To see me making this stew, click this link: for my quick how-to video.

Enjoy the fall colors and crisp air … and stay safe this Halloween season.

Buon Appetito!



About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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