Spezzatino di maiale con piselli (Pork Stew with Peas)

Franksecondi piatti38 Comments

Spezzatino di maiale con piselli

All of us—even us “foodies”—need some reliable and straightforward recipes in our lives for everyday cooking. This one for spezzatino di maiale con piselli, or Pork Stew with Peas, fits the bill rather nicely, I think. If you make your stew in a pressure cooker—and like many stews it’s ideal for pressure cooking—you can have it on the table in less than an hour. That makes it well suited for a weekend dinner for hungry carnivores, but it would do equally fine as a second course for Sunday dinner as well.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) pork shoulder, cut into a large cubes
  • 4-5 shallots (or 1 medium onion plus 1-2 cloves of garlic)
  • A good pour of red wine
  • 1 bottle passata di pomodoro (or 1 large can tomatoes, passed through a food mill)
  • 250 g (1/4 lb) frozen peas (or 1 lb fresh and unshelled peas)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Sauté the shallots gently in a large, heavy pot or pressure cooker in abundant olive oil for just a minute or two. Raise the heat and add the pork. Turn the pork from from time to time, until the pieces are lightly browned all over. Take care not to burn the shallots.

Season the pork with salt and pepper, and give it a turn. After another minute or two, pour in the wine. Give everything another turn so all the pieces are coated with the wine. Simmer, turning from time to time, for another minute or two, until the wine has evaporated.

Add the passata di pomodoro and enough water or broth to barely cover the meat.

If using a conventional pot:

Lower the heat to low and cover. Simmer for about an hour, or until the meat is tender. The sauce should be abundant but not watery. Add a bit of water if it needs it as it simmers.

Add the peas, if frozen, about 5 minutes before the end of cooking and, if fresh, about halfway through the simmer.

If pressure cooking:

If using a stove-top pressure cooker, cover the pot and let come to pressure. Cook under pressure for about 15 minutes before releasing the pressure. If using an electric pressure cooker, set it to the “Stew” or equivalent setting; it should cook and release pressure automatically.

Open the pot and add the peas to the pot and simmer uncovered until done, about 5 minutes or so for frozen peas, perhaps a half hour for fresh. If using an electric cooker, use the “reduce” or similar function.

To finish the dish:

Whether cooking conventionally or under pressure, taste and adjust for seasoning during the final simmer.

Serve hot, with a nice chunk of crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

Spezzatino di maiale con piselli (Pork Stew with Peas)

Notes on Spezzatino di maiale con piselli

To my mind, the idea cut for this dish is pork shoulder. The shoulder has lots connective tissue, so it stands up to a long, slow cooking—or pressure cooking—and it has plenty of marbling, which keeps it moist and gives it tremendous flavor. The shoulder is usually very affordable as well. Otherwise, the cuts from the hind quarters also take to stewing quite nicely. Don’t waste your money on the pricier loin and other lean cuts, on the other hand, which dry out and lose their flavor under these conditions.

Frozen peas are a fine choice—better than fresh ones, in fact, unless you have an impeccable source. Ditto for bottled passata or canned tomatoes. And, the beauty of frozen peas and bottled or canned tomatoes is they make this into a year-round dish. Otherwise, you’d have wait til spring for the peas and summer for the tomatoes.

As I mentioned at the top, spezzatino di maiale con piselli lends itself nicely to pressure cooking. One wrinkle when cooking in a pressure cooker—good or bad, depending on how you see it—is the near total lack of evaporation. So chances are you will find that when you open your pressure cooker the sauce is a bit too thin. If that’s the case, just simmer uncovered until you get the right consistency for your taste.

And speaking of pressure cooking, please do check out HIP Cooking. I think it’s the ultimate food site for pressure cooking Italian (and other) dishes by my cyberfriend Laura Pazzaglia, who lives in Rome.

Variations

Pork is a common substitute for pricey veal in Italy, and this very same recipe can be used with veal stew meat instead of the pork shoulder which turns this hearty meal into a Spring delicacy. Ditto for lamb shoulder. Either way, the taste will be always be lovely.

You can also make the dish in bianco, that is, without the tomato, using just enough broth to barely cover the meat. You may find you need a liaison to thicken the sauce at the end, a dab of flour mixed with butter.

You can also add more peas to stretch your spezzatino if you like, or add some potatoes for extra heft. Some recipes begin with the usual Holy Trinity of chopped onions, carrots and celery, fine if you like but I find the balance of flavors is perfect with a simple soffritto of alliums.

Making Ahead

Like most stews, spezzatino di maiale con piselli can be made ahead and, in fact, its flavor improves after an overnight (or at least a few hours) rest. If using frozen peas, you can them to the pot, off the flame but still hot, still frozen, then gently re-heat them when you’re ready to serve. This way you can avoid overcooking them.

Spezzatino di maiale con piselli

Pork Stew with Peas
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: braised, peas, pork

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) pork shoulder cut into a large cubes
  • 4-5 shallots or 1 medium onion plus 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • red wine a good pour
  • 1 bottle passata di pomodoro or 1 large can tomatoes, passed through a food mill
  • 250 g (1/4 lb) frozen peas or 1 lb fresh and unshelled peas
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Sauté the shallots gently in a large, heavy pot or pressure cooker in abundant olive oil for just a minute or two.
  • Raise the heat and add the pork. Turn the pork from from time to time, until the pieces are lightly browned all over. Take care not to burn the shallots.

If using a conventional pot

  • Lower the heat to low and cover. Simmer for about an hour, or until the meat is tender. The sauce should be abundant but not watery. Add a bit of water if it needs it as it simmers.
  • Add the peas, if frozen, about 5 minutes before the end of cooking and, if fresh, about halfway through the simmer.
  • If using a pressure cooker
  • If using a stove-top pressure cooker, cover the pot and let come to pressure. Cook under pressure for about 15 minutes before releasing the pressure. If using an electric pressure cooker, set it to the "Stew" or equivalent setting; it should cook and release pressure automatically.
  • Open the pot and add the peas to the pot and simmer uncovered until done, about 5 minutes or so for frozen peas, perhaps a half hour for fresh. If using an electric cooker, use the "reduce" or similar function.
  • To finish the dish
  • Open the pot and add the peas to the pot and simmer uncovered until done, about 5 minutes or so for frozen peas, perhaps a half hour for fresh. If using an electric cooker, use the "reduce" or similar function.
  • Serve hot, with a nice chunk of crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

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38 Comments on “Spezzatino di maiale con piselli (Pork Stew with Peas)”

  1. Hello from Australia . Thanks for the great recipes. I’m wondering… If I follow your steps I find that the pork just starts releasing a bunch of water and takes ages to brown. Can you offer advice?

    1. Hello! The first thing to bear in mind is that with Italian stews like this, you don’t need to be aiming for a real sear just a light browning. So don’t be bothered by a little moisture. If it’s really excessive, though, or you want really good caramelization, you can add the meat in batches, small enough so they are well spaced out as they brown. And don’t salt the meat at this stage. That should keep things dry. Then add all the meat back into the pot before you proceed to season it, then add the wine and take things from there. Happy cooking!

  2. Frank, we just finished this wonderfully comforting dish and just posted an image on my IG account. It was the soul of Italian comfort food for mine and Eva’s taste. We served it with a crusty loaf of fresh sourdough, saute zoddles and a salad. Eva said to tell it was “det smakade otrolig”t! Thanks for a great and very tasty Sunday dinner.

    1. Delighted to hear you liked it, Ron! And thanks so much for the shout out on IG.

      PS: You realized I had to Google translate your wife’s remark. Tell her I said “tack”… 🙂

  3. I made this for supper last night. Bunged all the ingredients in my crock pot and 4 hours later I had a delicious meal. I used frozen petit pois. Thank you Frank.

  4. We made this tonight in our InstaPot and it was a real hit. Not hard to do and the pot makes it an easy dish. Pork shoulder and fresh peas were a real hit. We served ours over brown rice, but polenta next time.

  5. I made this yesterday and it was wonderful! And the nicest thing about a “good pour” of wine into the stew means the rest of the bottle is waiting for me. 🙂

  6. I love that the recipe for this spezzatino calls for “a good pour of red wine.” Now that’s the mark of a good recipe! (Plus, I get to enjoy another good pour of that wine while the stew cooks!) This is the season for slow cooking, and that pork shoulder sounds like an excellent choice. This is a simple, yet delicious meal…just the way I like to roll! Thumbs up, Frank!

  7. Frank, this one is a Swede pleaser indeed. Pork and peas, how could one go wrong. You know we love our Instant Pot, but we’ll be giving this a nice slow braise so the aroma fills the house and gets our appetite going.

    1. Glad to hear it, Ron! And I love it too when the house is filled with delicious aromas. Once of the nicest things about cooking at home.

    1. I’m sure it would, Eva, like any stew it would take well to a slow cooker, holding back the peas until fairly close to the end.

  8. un piatto scaldacuore che piace sempre e si presta ad infinite varianti : con patate,con porri,con fagioli.Una bella idea per le fredde serate d’inverno , buona settimana Frank !

  9. Am both lucky and old-fashioned ! With my work study being only one room away from the kitchen, stove-top cooking with its attendant aromas is both possible and preferable . . . and tho’ there is nought the matter with frozen peas I do prefer mine fresh . . . even love the podding process ! :Am laughing at your ‘a good pour’ wine statement . . . my usual way also . . .

  10. This is a good recipe — easy and tasty, and quick enough even if you’re not using a pressure cooker. Totally agree about frozen peas and canned tomatoes. Peas in particular — the season for really good really fresh local ones is really only a few weeks. Anyway, really nice — thanks.

  11. I would LOVE this without the peas 😉 Even though I was born in Scotland, I have never liked peas (unless they are raw). We make a similar dish with potatoes and beef in sauce and I love it!

    1. I never knew that, Christina! If you don’t like peas, adding potatoes (or maybe another kind of legume?) sounds like just the ticket.

  12. Well, this sounds fantastic, Frank. Spezzatini are wonderful, and there are so many different variations out there. The use of pork shoulder will make this incredibly tender and succulent. Heading for our table soon… As always, I will check back and let you know how it was.

      1. I made this Sunday night for guests and we all loved it. I ended up taking out the perfectly cooked meat to cook down the sauce for a few minutes as I added a little too much water. The flavor was quintessentially Italian – the simple and few ingredients really shine. Definitely one to make again and again. Thanks!

  13. this spezzatino it’s just perfect for this time of the year Frank! You made me think I have a bag of stone ground polenta which would make a prefect substrate to absorb that delicius sauce!

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