Gingered Butternut Squash

and Pork Stew

8 servings

This is a wonderful blend of fall flavors. The small dice of butternut squash and turnips almost melts into the broth as the stew cooks, while the ginger, cumin and pinch of cayenne pepper enrich the dish.

4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion (1/4 pound), finely diced

1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 medium or 2 small white or yellow turnips (1/4 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

About 2 cups apple cider

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 to 31/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, butt or country-style spareribs, trimmed of visible fat and cut into bite-size pieces

In a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and just start to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the diced squash and turnip and the ginger, cumin and cayenne pepper, stirring to combine. Add the flour and stir until blended, then add the chicken broth and 1 cup of the apple cider. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add enough of the pork cubes to fill the pan comfortably without crowding the pieces. Brown the meat, turning at least once, 4 to 5 minutes total, then transfer it to a large bowl and set aside. Repeat with the remaining pieces, adding more oil to the pan if needed.

In the same pan used to brown the pork, increase the heat to high. Add the remaining 1 cup of apple cider, using it just to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits of pork stuck to the pan.

Transfer this mixture, along with the reserved pork and its accumulated juices, to the pot with the vegetables. The broth should cover the pork and vegetables; if it does not, add more apple cider or water. Bring the stew to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and let the broth cook gently, uncovered, until the meat is tender, 21/2 to 3 hours, tasting and adjusting seasonings as needed after about 1 hour.

Serve hot, or let cool completely then cover tightly and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Per serving: 397 calories, 35 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 21 g fat, 117 mg cholesterol, 5 g saturated fat, 201 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Mushroom, Barley and Beef Stew

8 to 10 servings

This is a hearty and satisfying one-pot meal. The barley soaks up the flavorful cooking broth and thickens the stew as the whole dish cooks.

4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion (1/4 pound), finely diced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks

2 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1/2 pound white or button mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste or 3 tablespoons regular tomato paste*

3 pounds stewing beef, preferably chuck, trimmed of visible fat and cut into bite-size pieces

About 4 cups water

2 bay leaves

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 cups low-sodium beef broth

1 cup barley (not quick-cooking)*

In a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and just start to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then add the tomato paste.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add enough of the beef cubes to fill the pan comfortably without crowding the pieces. Brown the meat, turning at least once, 4 to 5 minutes total, then transfer to a large bowl. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining pieces, adding more oil if needed.

In the same pan used to brown the meat, increase the heat to high. Add 1 cup of the water to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits of meat stuck to the pan. Transfer this mixture, along with the browned meat and its accumulated juices, to the pot with the vegetables. Add the bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. Add the beef broth and the remaining 3 cups of water to more than cover the meat. The mixture should look soupy. Bring the broth to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently, uncovered, for 13/4 hours.

Add the barley, stirring to combine, until it is heated through. Let the stew cook, uncovered, until the meat is tender and the barley is cooked, 45 to 60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Discard the bay leaves.

Serve hot, or let cool completely, then cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If reheating, it may be necessary to thin the stew with some water.

*NOTES: Double concentrated tomato paste is a great pantry item to keep on hand. It is sold in tubes, usually in the specialty section of the supermarket or any upscale food market. It keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator and can be added to soups, stews and marinades.

Barley usually can be found in the same section of the supermarket as the dried beans and lentils.

Per serving: 302 calories, 26 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 48 mg cholesterol, 3 g saturated fat, 144 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber

Pork Paprikash

8 servings

My interpretation here is an example of how a few simple ingredients can combine to form a great depth of flavor. The sour cream, stirred in when the stew is served, elevates this country-style dish.

4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion (1/4 pound), finely diced

3 tablespoons sweet paprika

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon double concentrated tomato paste or 1 tablespoon regular tomato paste

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

About 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 to 31/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, butt or country-style spareribs, trimmed of visible fat and cut into bite-size pieces

About 3/4 cup low-fat sour cream

In a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and just start to brown, about 8 minutes. While stirring to combine after each addition, add the paprika, the flour, the tomato paste and mustard. Add 3 cups of the chicken broth and the salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture come to a simmer while the meat is browning.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add enough of the pork cubes to fill the pan comfortably without crowding the pieces. Brown the meat, turning at least once, 4 to 5 minutes total, then transfer it to a large bowl. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining pieces, adding more oil if needed.

In the same pan used to brown the pork, increase the heat to high. Add the remaining 1 cup of chicken broth to deglaze the pan, scraping up all the browned bits of pork stuck to the pan.

Transfer this mixture, along with the pork and its accumulated juices, to the pot with the vegetables. The broth should cover the pork and onion; if it does not, add broth or water. Bring the stew to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently, uncovered, until the meat is tender, 21/2 to 3 hours, tasting and adjusting seasons after about 1 hour.

Serve hot, with a generous tablespoon of sour cream on top of each serving, or let cool completely, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Per serving: 286 calories, 25 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 73 mg cholesterol, 5 g saturated fat, 196 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber

Braised Beef With Red Wine

and Bacon

8 servings

This is a simplified take on the classic beef bourguignon. Cook with a red wine that's medium-bodied, but not too earthy, such as a shiraz or Chianti. While it's not necessary (or part of the traditional dish), I like to add petite peas right before serving to add a bright color and fresh texture.

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 to 3 medium onions (3/4 pound), finely diced

1/2 pound white or button mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups red wine

2 cups water

1/4 pound uncooked bacon, diced

3 pounds stewing beef, preferably chuck, trimmed of visible fat and cut into bite-size pieces

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 bay leaves

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

11/2 cups frozen petite peas, defrosted

In a large pot over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and just start to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the flour and stir until blended. Add 1 cup of the wine and 2 cups of water and stir until smooth.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan over medium heat, cook the bacon pieces until their fat is released and the pieces just start to brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the pot with the onions. Set aside.

In the same pan used to cook the bacon pieces, increase the heat to medium-high and add enough of the beef cubes to fill the pan comfortably without crowding the pieces. Brown the meat, 4 to 5 minutes total, turning at least once, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside. Repeat with the remaining pieces of meat, adding oil if needed.

In the same pan used to brown the beef, increase the heat to high. Add the remaining 1 cup of the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits of beef stuck to the pan.

Transfer this mixture, along with the browned beef and its accumulated juices, to the onion-bacon mixture. Add the thyme, bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste. The broth should cover the beef and vegetables; if it does not, add more water. Bring the stew to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently, uncovered, until the meat is tender, about 21/2 hours, tasting and adjusting the seasonings after about 1 hour.

About 10 minutes before serving, add the peas and cook until they are warmed through. Discard the bay leaves.

Serve hot, or let cool completely, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Per serving: 398 calories, 34 g protein, 11 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 6 g saturated fat, 368 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber

Recipes tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick; e-mail questions to food@washpost.com

Mushroom, barley and beef stew: a hearty one-pot meal.