Romanians are big pork eaters, especially in winter. This one-pot casserole or stew of pork and potatoes (cartofi cu carne de porc) is an easy-yet-hearty recipe to whip up the night before and allow to flavor overnight. It's also just as good eaten the day it's made. It's even a good candidate for a slower cooking if the pork and onion are browned before adding to the cooking. Lovage, parsley, and dill are popular herbs used in Romanian cooking, and I would heartily recommend parsley and dill as additions to this stew. Lovage I would save for a Romanian sour soup or ciorbă.
This dish is excellent served with Romanian cornmeal porridge or mamaliga or polenta in Italian (the mamaliga recipe is below and can be doubled), but this stew can be served on its own. Here is a larger photo of Romanian potatoes with pork stew.
- For The Stew:
- 1 pound pork loin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Lard, bacon fat or oil for pan frying
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Vegeta seasoning
- 1 teaspoon hot or mild paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- Chopped dill or parsley for garnish
- For The Mamaliga:
- 1 1/4 cups water or stock
- 3/4 teaspoon salt (or Vegeta seasoning)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
- Sour cream to taste (optional)
- Telemea or feta cheese to taste (optional)
- Fresh herbs of choice to taste (optional)
To make the stew: In a large skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven, sauté the pork in lard, bacon grease or oil until brown on all sides. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent. Add water or stock to cover the meat. Bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, cover and let simmer until pork is almost tender.
When pork is almost tender, add the potatoes, tomato paste, Vegeta, paprika, salt and pepper to taste, stirring to combine. Then add the potatoes. Return the mixture to a boil, adding more water or stock, if necessary, reduce temperature, cover, and simmer until potatoes and pork are tender.
Remove from heat and add chopped dill or parsley. Serve with mamaliga.
To make the mamaliga: In a small saucepan, bring the water to a rolling boil. Add the salt or Vegeta and butter, stirring to melt. Using a wooden spoon, add the cornmeal very gradually, while stirring constantly in the same direction.
Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pot, about 35-40 minutes. Serve hot.
If desired, while mamaliga is still hot, add more butter, cheese, sour cream, and herbs. Mamaliga can also be served with a dollop of sour cream. Mamaliga can be poured into a pan. When cool, it can be flipped out onto a cutting board, cut into squares and sauteed in butter until crispy.