Apple, Pork, and Fennel Stew

I know it’s technically summer but the seasons are changing.  I mean sure our days are hot and sunny but there’s a crispness to the night air and a cool breeze that wasn’t a week ago.  This means only one thing.  Fall is falling.

Which is why I wanted something comforting for supper.  Like this stew.  It’s rich and fruity but with a deep aromatic savoriness that comes from the addition of vermouth, star anise, and mustard.  I promise the ingredients emulsify beautifully.

The only criticism I have of this recipe is that no matter how much I make, there are never any leftovers.  Really, it’s that good.


1.2 lbs of pork shoulder steaks

2 onions, sliced

2 fennel bulbs thickly sliced (Save the fronds to chop and put atop the stew before eating)

2 large green cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

3 smashed garlic cloves

2 stars of anise

1 cup of Noilly Prat

1 cup of chicken stock

2 heaping tablespoons of Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

olive oil


First, season the meat.  Brown it in a large ovenproof casserole and set aside.

browned pork

Add a drop more oil to the pork grease. Then the star anise, the vegetables, and the apple slices.  Cook until soft.

star anise

vegetables, apples, star anise

Dice the pork and add it to the pot.  Stir for a minute just to make sure the meat is browned, not fully cooked but browned, then add all remaining ingredients.  Bring to a simmer.

simmering pork, vegetables and fruit

Cover the casserole and put it in the oven at 330F/150C/Gas2 for 3 hours.  After the first hour and a half, remove the casserole to give it a good stir.  Be sure to scrape the brown savory grease that coats the sides of your dish.

after 1.5 hrs

Continue cooking for another hour.  Then remove the lid for the final 30 minutes to thicken and reduce.  When you are ready to serve, be sure to remove the star anise and sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds.  Delicious on its own with a thick slice of your favorite bread, boiled potatoes, or rice.

finished product


19 thoughts on “Apple, Pork, and Fennel Stew

  1. looks all sorts of comforting. AND more Noilly Prat! I gotta get me some. Does it differ from other vermouth in any major way? Apple and fennel in a stew sounds so exotic. Bet it smells amazing.

    • Yes, ma’am! More Noilly Prat. It is different from other vermouths in that it’s more aromatic. First, the wine used is good quality picpoul de pinet which has lots of acidity. This acidity keeps even in the Languedocian sun. Italian vermouth made from trebbiano does not have this quality. Next, the picpoul is stored in oak barrels which adds depth and richness to the wine. Finally, a secret mixture of herbs and spices is added for extra fragrance. I know camomile, orange peel, nutmeg and cloves are among the ingredients. Did I mention it’s very dry? It is which is why I think lots of people use it as their vermouth of choice when mixing martinis. Noilly Prat is based in Marseillan which is very near where Henry’s aunt has a home. It’s a wonderful place to stop by and see. The old labels and posters are my favorite.

      p.s. I feel I should add that the scent a cup of Noilly Prat gives off is slightly medicinal. Don’t be scared. It makes the stew taste wonderful.

  2. Seems we’re both on the same wavelength when it comes to weather-based cooking choices Princess! When I went grocery shopping this week I got all the fixings to make cabbage rolls. Now that the nights are getting cool I’m craving rich tomato sauce. But I think this stew will be next! It looks amazing!!

  3. Cooked this for supper this evening. You’re right; there’s no e left over for tomorrow. Freakin’ delicious. Thank you!

    • You are so welcome. I’m glad it worked for you. I was just telling Henry how nice I think it’d be in a pie once the proper cold weather is underway. I even have a secret ingredient I’d add. Will let you know in a month or two if it works.

  4. This sounds wonderful. Pork and apples belong together, with fennel a welcome guest. With the star anise and Noilly Prat, the aromas in your kitchen must be amazing while this is in the oven. No wonder there are no leftovers. The scent has already driven your diners to distraction long before dinner is served. 🙂

  5. Your Apple, Pork, and Fennel Stew sounds wonderful and perfect for cool fall supper. Temperature is still super hot here…so, I’ll be saving this recipe to try later one. 🙂 Can’t wait for the cooler weather to come.

  6. I am making this for the second time – first was for family but tonight I have a selection of women friends over for dinner and good conversation. It is a completely wonderful recipe.

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