Florence Fabricant's Moroccan Carrot Soup with Mussels
Donna Deane's Pecan Brown-Butter Bread

Florence Fabricant's Orange Pork Ragout with Beans


It is 80 degrees in New York City today (that's 26 degrees Celsius - one degree warmer than would be required to close school in Berlin!) and I'm spooning up pork ragout like it's the first day of winter and I've just settled in for the long haul. Strange? Perhaps. But awfully tasty.

I'll blame the fact that I have this wintry stew in my house in the first place on the fact that spring has taken its sweet old time getting here this year. You know the global weather's out of whack when Berliners are in shorts in April and we're still pulling out our wool coats well into May.

Last week, when this recipe flitted across my radar (from an old Pairings column from, you guessed it, the ever-reliable Florence Fabricant), it was just the right time for pork-and-beans - cold, windy, rather gray. Though I'm realizing that apparently warm, sunny and rather bright is also a good time for pork-and-beans. In fact, shall we just put it this way? When is it ever not a good time for pork-and-beans? Okay, maybe a July weekend at the beach. Maybe then.

I made a few tweaks to the recipe - using half the amount of pork and orange, and a little less smoked paprika than called for. Instead of cannellini beans, I used Rancho Gordo's Yellow Indian Woman beans because I am in love and you cannot mess with a woman in love. With beans. What resulted was a warm, smoky, fragrant stew that got better and better and better with each passing day. The pork became fork-tender and delicious, the beans held their shape beautifully, the wine and the orange juice and the rosemary and spices melded into a rich, sticky stew that goes very well over rice or mopped up with crusty bread, or simply spooned up out of the plate, too.

And with that, I'm closing down the department of stews, ragouts and braises for the season. Bring on the salads, the cold soups, and the fresh fruit of summer!

Orange Pork Ragout with Beans
Yields 4 servings

1 cup Yellow Indian Woman beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless pork shoulder, in 2-inch chunks
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
3 branches fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small pinch red chili flakes
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Place beans in a saucepan, cover with water by 2 inches, bring to a boil, cook 2 minutes, cover and set aside to soak 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 4-quart casserole and brown pork without crowding over medium-high heat. Remove. Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Sauté over low heat until soft. Stir in paprika, cloves and zest. Stir in orange juice and wine, scraping bottom of pan. Return pork to pan. Set aside until beans have finished soaking, then drain beans and add. Add rosemary, black pepper and chili. Bring to a simmer.

3. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 hours, until beans are tender. Add water occasionally, if needed. Season with salt. Leave in casserole for serving or transfer to a serving dish. Scatter parsley on top before serving.