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21 May 2014

Pork stew with cumin, peas, arugula and dark chocolate

We all know how well dark chocolate goes with pork, right? For this reason, when I was developing my "Cooking with Chocolate" class, I decided to feature a pork stew as the meat-course of the evening. To have the best end result, I needed a cut of pork that would stay moist during braising and that didn't require that long to cook (time limitations are unfortunately paramount in hands-on cooking classes). I resorted then to my favorite cut: pork shoulder. I really love its balance of fatty richness and lean tender meat. I usually find it in the form of steaks and oftentimes, I simply love to pan sear them and then smother in strong extra virgin olive oil and zingy lemon juice or better even, lemon salt. A treat for those nights when I am too bored to cook anything more involved.
In the recipe I developed for the cooking class, I decided to use the earthy aroma of roasted cumin as the spice of choice to lace this stew. I chose peas to be the vegetable component since I wanted a little more sweetness in the final dish, beside they pair greatly with cumin.
The dish needed a little vibrancy though and so, to keep it simple but still flavorful, I decided to add some arugula to it. I really like the peppery and slight bitter notes of this leafy green, it really cuts through the richness of the stew.

Dark chocolate is a great ingredient for savory dishes and I really had fun coming up with recipes featuring it like the one I am proposing you today.

Pork stew with cumin, peas, arugula and dark chocolate

Ingredients (serve 5):

  • 650g pork shoulder steaks
  • 30g Butter
  • 1/3 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1.5 shallot, minced
  • 160g frozen peas
  • 80ml (ca 1.5 espresso cup full) white Vermouth
  • 60g arugula, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 30g dark chocolate (65% cacao), roughly chopped


Take out the bone from the pork shoulder steak, if present, and cut the meat into roughly 1cm cubes.

In a pan, melt the butter with the cumin seeds over medium heat. When the butter is turning a golden color add the pork cubes to the pan, toss them with the butter and let brown on all sides for a good 5-8 minutes tossing every now and then.

At this point add the minced shallot to the pan and cook for a few seconds.
Pour the vermouth, the water and half of the peas to the pan, cover with a lid and let cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until the pork is tender. Add the rest of the peas and the arugula to the pan, mix in well and cook for further 5 minutes or until the peas are defrosted.

Season the stew with salt and pepper, take the pan out of the heat and add the chopped chocolate to it. Mix in well and serve hot over rice or with a side dish of buttered potatoes or cauliflower.

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