Cooked and served on the same night that I made the Baked Salmon With Buttered Vegetables, this stew was the result of my curiosity. I always associated the sweet and sour blend with Asian cooking and I never realized it was more universal than that. You can just imagine my surprise when I saw the recipe for Italian sweet and sour pork stew in The Silver Spoon, the Italian cooking bible that my husband gave me for Mother’s Day. And as amazing as it may sound, there are no strange ingredients included. Well, probably not all of them are staples in most Asian kitchens but all are definitely available in any decent supermarket.
It’s delicious. Rich without being overpowering. Comforting too as it speaks of old-fashioned peasant cooking, the kind that warms a home kitchen and permeates it with wonderful aromas. Truth be told, my family liked this dish more than the Baked Salmon With Buttered Vegetables. I would have loved to find out if it would have tasted better the next day but there were no leftovers.
Italian Sweet and Sour Pork Stew (Spezzatino In Agrodolce)
- 750 grams skinless pork shoulder cut into 1 and 1/2 inch cubes
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 2 large green bell peppers seeded, cored and finely chopped
- 2 large red bell peppers seeded, cored and finely chopped
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 4 pickles drained and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar or to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- Place the pork in a glass bowl. Add the brandy and soy sauce. Mix. Cover the bowl and marinate the pork in the fridge for at least two hours.
- Heat half the butter and half of the olive oil in a pot. Add the bell peppers, onion and pickles and cook over medium heat for about five minutes or until the vegetables start to turn soft. Add half a cup of water. Pour in the red wine vinegar. Stir in the sugar and ketchup. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter and olive oil in a frying pan. Cook the drained pork pieces, in batches if necessary, until lightly browned. Add the pork pieces (with the oil and butter in which they were browned) to the sauce and stir. Simmer for 40 minutes to an hour or until the pork is tender.
- Sprinkle some finely sliced sweet basil leaves on top and serve the Italian sweet and sour pork stew with rice or crusty bread.