Friday, March 28, 2014

Pork, Spinach & Chickpea Stew

Frugality is for the vulgar. – Francois Rabelais

Well, then, I guess I’m vulgar. Or at least I try to be. I suppose, anyone who knows me personally would agree, but not for how the word is used above!

It’s hard to be frugal at the grocery store. Packaging is not geared toward a standard family. If you look closely, their packaging tries to make you buy either too little or too much.

This is what I mean: pork chops are usually packaged in 5; steaks in 3; shrimp (especially at Sobeys) in 3/4 of a pound. Divide those amounts into a standard family of two parents and two children, or equally annoying, a family of two. You can’t do it. 

Check almost any recipe using shrimp. You never see 3/4 of a pound as a listed quantity. The idea is to make you buy two packages for the recipe you want to make, and then a third to top up your "leftovers."

Costco is  different story altogether, to the opposite extreme. If you don’t have a family of 8 (as the saying goes in Nova Scotia) you’re sh*t out of luck. You really have leftovers if you shop there.

So most times you’re stuck buying two packages of whatever you’re after, or one way too big, and then having to deal with whatever you don’t use later on That’s why I threw together this recipe. It helps you deal with some of those leftovers. 

I’m really guilty of letting things “age” in the refrigerator until they need to be thrown out. It happens a lot and isn't very frugal of me. So any recipe that can help me deal with the contents of my refrigerator, and stretch a little meat into a full-on meal at the same time, is a keeper.

This one uses two pork chops to serve a family of four, and creates something that’s filling, nutritious and wonderful. Coincidentally, it also uses up leftovers from a package of fresh basil. The recipe couldn’t be simpler, and only takes one pot. So bonus all around.

Pork, Spinach & Chickpea Stew
Prep: 5 min  |  Cook 45 min  |  Serves 4 easily
2 thick-cut pork chops, whole
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, diced
28 fl oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 tbsp fresh oregano (1 tsp dried)
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp chilli powder
19 oz can chickpeas, drained
4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cracked black pepper
buerre manie: 1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp flour, kneaded
optional: grated parmesan

Place the whole pork chops, onion, garlic, tomatoes, stock and wine in a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove the chops and dice the meat; then add it back to the pot. Add the drained chick peas, spinach, oregano, basil and chilli powder. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat again and let cook 15 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust.

Knead the flour and butter together. Stir into the pot and cook for a further minute or two until the stew juices are slightly thickened. (Making a beurre manie ensures your thickener doesn’t cause lumps – try it when making gravy.)

Ladle the stew into bowls and top with more cracked black pepper and parmesan if desired.


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