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Sweet and Spicy Pork and Poblano Stew

Fall is in full swing! Despite summer’s best attempts to hold on past the equinox, we recently had our first night where the temperature dipped into the 20’s, and earlier this week we even had snow! At our house the transition to cooler weather means one thing: stew. Lots and lots of stew. However, in order to head off any lamentations of, “Not stew again!” from my family, I try to keep things interesting (and delicious).

Thankfully, our CSA is still going strong, providing us with the full bounty of the fall harvest. Each week is like an episode of Chopped, challenging me to come up with creative ways to use up all of the vegetables we receive before we receive the next week’s box and my refrigerator runs out of room. (You can read more about CSAs and other sustainable food sources here).

Recently, we received (among many other things) poblano chilis, garlic, onion, and several ears of corn. Not wanting any of these awesome ingredients to go to waste, I decided it was time to whip up one of our fall favorites: Sweet and Spicy Pork and Poblano Stew.

The sweetness in the recipe comes from sweet potatoes and corn, while the subtle spiciness comes from roasted poblanos. Don’t worry, this recipe packs more flavor than heat, and my kids have no trouble eating it, including my one-year-old. In fact, the little lady finished her entire bowl and then demanded to eat mine too! If you want to kick things up a notch, just top the final product with some jalapenos.

Using farm-fresh ingredients takes a bit of extra work, because you’ll need to roast the peppers and cut the corn from the cob, but the extra work is absolutely worth it. This recipe makes a pretty big batch, and this is definitely one of those recipes that tastes even better the next day.

Here’s how to make it:


--2 TBS Olive Oil

-4 cloves of garlic

-1 medium onion

-2 fresh ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob (or sub 1 ½ cups of frozen corn kernels)

-2 large sweet potatoes

-4 poblano chilis, roasted

-2 lb boneless pork shoulder (precook in the crockpot or dutch oven)

-4 cups stock or brother of your choice

-4 cups water

-1 tsp cumin

-1 tsp smoked paprika

-¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

-salt and pepper to taste

Optional Garnish: lime wedges, jalapeno slices, greek yogurt, sour cream, cheddar cheese and/or avocado for serving (optional)


Preliminary Work:

  1. Several hours before making the rest of the stew, lightly season your pork shoulder with salt and pepper and pop it in the crock pot. Set the heat on low and forget it for about 8 hours. I usually set it in there first thing in the morning so it’s ready in the late afternoon. Alternatively, place in a Dutch oven and bake in the oven at 200 degrees for 6-8 hours until the meat is soft and shreds easily.

  2. Once the meat is ready, take it out of the pot and set aside for the time being (allowing it to cool a bit will make it easier to shred and put it into the stew).

  3. Roast your poblano peppers. You can either:

    1. Place them in the oven at a low broil until the skin begins to blister and blacken. Use tongs to flip them over and broil the other side (approx. 3 minutes on each side)

    2. If you have a gas stove, turn on the gas and place your peppers directly onto the grating until the skin begins to blister and blacken. Use tongs to flip them over and roast the other side.

  4. After roasting, allow the peppers time to cool, then remove then chop them up and remove the seeds.

  5. If using fresh corn, husk the corn and then slice the fresh kernels from the cob.

Roasted Poblanos
Roast your poblanos until they look like this.

To make the stew:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pan at medium heat

  2. Dice the onion and garlic and saute it in the oil.

  3. Add the cumin, paprika, cayenne (if using), corn, and chopped poblanos. Stir so that the spices toast but do not burn.

  4. Add the water and stock or broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce the temperature to a medium low so that the ingredients continue to simmer but do not boil over. Add additional water or stock to cover the ingredients if needed.

  5. Chop the sweet potatoes into large cubes and add them to the pot.

  6. Shred and add the pork. If you prefer not to use all of the pork, save the extra shredded pork for pulled-pork sandwiches.

  7. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are cooked through and the flavors begin to meld together. If you have time, letting the stew simmer for a good 45 minutes helps to develop the flavor.

  8. Uncover for the last few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to add additional cumin and paprika to your liking.

  9. Serve and eat!

This soup tastes delicious with a number of different garnishes. I add a bit of greek yogurt or sour cream to the kids’ soup to cool things down, and it’s good with some cheddar cheese too. Lime juice, cilantro, and avocado also work well. Or just skip the garnishes and eat it as-is. No matter what it will taste delicious!

If you’d like to round out the meal with a side dish, this soup pairs well with rice, corn bread, or tortilla chips.

Let me know what you think of this soup, or if you have any questions about how to make it in the comments!

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