Julian Armstrong, the long-time food writer at the Montreal Gazette, is an incredible authority on Quebec cooking. In her new book, Made in Quebec(published by HarperCollins), she explores all facets of the food-fixated province. The following recipe is like a Quebecois version of sweet-and-sour pork. The kids will love it. You can serve it with basmati rice or Chinese noodles tossed with steamed, slivered vegetables, such as carrots, celery, red onions and bell peppers.
Ready time: 2 1/2 hours
Servings: 4 to 6
2 lbs (1 kg) boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of fat, cut in 2-inch cubes
All-purpose flour for dredging
3 to 4 tbsp peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 cooking apples, preferably Cortland, peeled, cored, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, cubed
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 red bell pepper, cubed
2 small Thai or habanero chili peppers, finely chopped, or 1/4 tsp sambal oelek
6 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 to 2 cups water
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Dredge meat in flour, shaking off excess. In a large, heavy frying pan, heat a little oil over medium heat and brown meat on all sides, about 10 cubes at a time, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Transfer browned meat to a 3-quart heavy, stovetop-safe casserole dish with a lid. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, stirring to mix.
In the same frying pan used to brown the meat, cook – after heating a little more oil if necessary – apples, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bell pepper and Thai peppers, stirring often, just until softened. Add to the casserole dish.
Stir in maple syrup, soy sauce and enough water to cover the ingredients halfway. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover and bake for 1½ hours.
Remove casserole from oven. Add more salt and pepper to taste. If meat isn’t tender enough, bake for another 15 minutes.
Serve, sprinkled with coriander, with rice or noodles.