I have published holiday feast menus on my blog before, but a while back I was thinking that I should post some more simple, frugal ideas. What if I was short on both money and time? What if I needed to make it a one-dish meal? With these criteria, what kind of dish could I bring to the family table that would honor the Ancestors at Samhain and the spirit of the season?
Pork was a sacred food to both Germanic and Celtic peoples in ancient times. You can use a tougher (and less expensive) cut of meat for this, since it will be stewing over several hours. The humble apple is iconic of the Celtic Otherworld, a theme that is also reflected in the Norse role of Idunna as guardian of the golden apples of youth, and the Roman Pomona’s domain over fruit and orchards. To round out the meal, any root vegetable you have on hand would be suitable, as is befitting of a stew. Turnips and parsnips have been eaten since ancient times. Use whatever root vegetable is best available to you.
The apple cider base and choice of spices are what makes this stew stand out from the everyday mundane meal. Sage was a sacred herb to many cultures and has been used since ancient times for warding off evil and promoting longevity. Thyme has the magical properties of promoting courage and preventing nightmares. The cloves have protective qualities as well, not to mention it enhances the flavor of the apples. These spices are commonly in a frugal cook’s pantry already, for cooking Thanksgiving dishes.
So layer this Samhain meal in your slow cooker around lunch time, and get on with your other holiday plans.
Samhain Pork & Apple Stew
1 1/2 lbs. pork roast, cubed
2 T. grease or oil
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 or 2 c. chopped root vegetable (carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc.)
2 tart green apples, peeled, cored and quartered
3/4 c. apple cider (or juice)
1/2 tsp. thyme
pinch cloves (or allspice)
1/4 tsp. sage
Heat your grease in large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add onions, apples, and root vegetable to skillet and cook, stirring often, until onions are getting a little brown. Pour into the bottom of a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Add more grease to the skillet if necessary and add cubed pork. Brown pork all over, adding salt and pepper. Layer pork over the fruit-veg. mixture in the slow cooker. Add apple cider, thyme, allspice and sage to skillet. Bring to a simmer, scraping up brown bits on bottom of skillet and pour into the slow cooker. Cover and slow-cook until pork is tender, 6-7 hours on low.