Stews can be made in big batches: enough for dinner today or tomorrow, and enough to store in the fridge or freezer for another meal.
The key is to use cuts of meat that benefit from slow cooking. Those are usually the least expensive cuts, such as beef chuck roast and pork butt. I like to buy a whole piece and cut it up myself, so I can remove any chunks of surface fat or tough parts. Aim for 1-inch cubes. You can buy pre-cut stew meat; just make sure it’s not too lean, or the meat in the stew will be dry.
Choose a beer with a little more flavor than a pale ale. If you’d rather not include beer in a dish to be shared with children, substitute chicken broth.
Beer-Braised Pork and Carrot Stew
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds boneless, trimmed pork shoulder or country-style pork chops, cut into roughly 1-inch cubes
½ cup water
3 medium onions, finely chopped (about 2 ¼ cups)
1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste or 2 tablespoons regular tomato paste
¼ cup flour
2 cups beer (see headnote)
2 cups no-salt-added or homemade chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
¼ cup light brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ pounds carrots, peeled and cut into chunks no bigger than ¾ inch at their thickest point (about 4½ cups)
Position an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven; preheat to 325 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, nonstick saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the pork, taking care not to crowd the pieces. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the pieces once or twice, until they brown and lose their raw look. Transfer the cubes to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining cubes, adding oil if needed.
When all the pork has browned, increase the heat to high under the (empty) saute pan or skillet and add the water. Use a wooden spatula or spoon to dislodge any browned bits, then remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or ovenproof saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft but not browned. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute, then add the flour and stir to incorporate; cook for 1 minute.
Add the reserved liquid from the saute pan or skillet, the beer, broth, mustard, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste; stir to combine. Stir in the carrots and the browned pork. As soon as the liquid begins to bubble slowly, cover the Dutch oven or saucepan and transfer it to the oven. Bake for 2½ hours.
Remove the pan from the oven, uncover it and let it sit for 10 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve right away; or cool quickly in a water bath or in a shallow metal pan or bowl in the refrigerator. When the stew has cooled, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Makes 9 cups (6 to 9 servings).
Per serving (based on 9): 360 calories, 32 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 105 mg cholesterol, 290 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 10 g sugar