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Persimmon pork stew shows off Fuyu's savory side

Fuyu persimmons brighten pork stew, a perfect dish for an almost-winter day. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Recipe: Blend of colorful winter fruit, vegetables beats winter blahs

Fuyu persimmons have a colorful savory side.

Crisp like an apple but with more sugar, flat Fuyus complement other late fall and winter flavors with an intriguing caramel-like sweetness.

They also add something else to a dull brown stew: A punch of color. When cooked, Fuyus retain their brilliant orange hue. There are no winter blahs in this stew.

With an abundance of backyard Fuyus, I created this persimmon pork stew, experimenting with the mix of fruit and vegetables that complement the cubes of leftover pork roast. Chunks of persimmon, sweet potatoes and carrots add a lot of orange to the bowl as well as flavor. Because the meat is already cooked, this stew comes together in under an hour.

Fuyu persimmons also are abundant right now in farmers markets. One note: Don’t try this dish with astringent Hachiya persimmons (the pointy varieties); their tannin overwhelms the stew.

The stew offers an unusual, colorful blend of flavors.
Persimmon pork stew
Makes 4 servings

1 pound fully cooked pork roast, cut into cubes
¼ cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons mild-flavored extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
8 white mushrooms, washed and quartered
½ cup red wine
1 ½ cups chicken broth
½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
½ teaspoon thyme
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 large Fuyu persimmon, cored, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)

Coat cubes of pork roast with flour, mixed with a few dashes of salt and pepper in a plastic zippered bag.
A sea of orange: Carrots, persimmons and sweet potatoes.

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat on top of the stove, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Brown pork cubes in batches, so not to crowd the pot, until nicely crisp. Remove from oil with slotted spoon; set aside.

Sauté onions and mushrooms in the reserved oil, adding more if needed. Once onions are soft, stir in red wine and deglaze the pot. Add chicken broth, seasoning and thyme.

Return pork cubes to pot. Add sweet potato and carrots. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook 30 minutes.

Add persimmon. Cook 15 minutes more until persimmon and sweet potato cubes are tender, but not mushy. Adjust seasoning, adding a little more salt and pepper if desired.

Serve hot.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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