Bringing those awesome South-of-the-Border flavors, Instant Pot Pork and Pumpkin Stew combines tender pork, pumpkin (or other winter squash) with both chiles and hominy, in a healthy one-pot stew! Stove top instructions as well!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Healthy Mexican Recipes and Pumpkin
What do you think of when you hear "Mexican food?" Tacos, enchiladas, rellenos, tamales, burritos? Born and raised in California, this was certainly my concept of Mexican food. It was a relatively inexpensive "treat" after church on Sunday, and we typically had a combo plate with rice and beans. Sound familiar?
As I begin to focus Beyond Mere Sustenance on Latin flavors, I aim to highlight the vast array of healthy and delicious options in the cuisines of Latin America, and more specifically, our neighbor to the south.
October is synonymous with "pumpkin." As I mention in my last post (Peruvian Pumpkin Soup – Sopa de Calabaza), pumpkin isn't just for pies and jack o'lanterns. We've enjoyed pumpkin wedges, posole, and risotto. Each of these savory pumpkin dishes expands my former notion of fall cooking and pumpkin!
So how did I arrive at the decision to do a Mexican pumpkin dish? Rick. Bayless. 🙂 When I first started exploring a more creative approach to Mexican cooking, he was my inspiration. Have you followed him? Check out his Kuri (Butternut or Pumpkin) Soup with Ancho and Apple.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- oil - I use either refined coconut oil or olive oil in this pumpkin stew recipe.
- ground cumin
- boneless pork - I choose a lean cut of pork, typically pork loin. It's relatively lean and inexpensive. Boneless pork chops and ribs are good as well.
- broth or stock - I have used both chicken and beef stock. Vegetable stock is fine. If you make pork stock with bones (good for you!), by all means use it.
- chipotle with its adobo - Chipotle peppers are basically ripened jalapeño chiles that have been smoked and dried. Canned chipotles are packed in adobo sauce. If you're sensitive to spicy heat, you may wish to skip the chipotle, and just use a little bit of the adobo sauce from the can.
- Mexican oregano
- pumpkin - I created this recipe for pumpkin, but you can certainly substitute butternut squash, or one of these winter squash varieties.
- roasted chile - Hatch green chiles are my preference (always a New Mexico girl!), but roasted poblano chiles are a very good substitute. If you're heat averse, roasted Anaheim chiles are a great option. Lastly, you could substitute roasted bell peppers (no heat) or omit them entirely.
- canned diced tomatoes
- canned hominy
- garnishes - Possible choices: Avocado, lime wedges, chopped scallions, cilantro, roasted pepitas, crumbled cotija, Mexican crema.
🎃 How to Prep a Pumpkin
Do you hate breaking down pumpkin/winter squash? I recently came across a tip that proved to be a real help... Prick the pumpkin all the way through the skin and into the flesh in several spots before microwaving for 3-5 minutes (depending on size).
When the squash is cool enough to handle, it can more easily be peeled and cubed. Cut into manageable pieces, then use the edge of a spoon to remove seeds. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the skin. Cube the pumpkin for use in your stew! It's also great roasted and seasoned!
The process of cooking this pork and pumpkin stew is basically the same whether cooked on the stove or in the Instant Pot/pressure cooker. We're looking for super tender pork and tender-but-firm vegetables. Do you like mushy vegetables? 😝
I am not one to dump ingredients in an appliance and just "set it and forget it." I have never used my pressure cookers for pasta because I like my pasta al dente. If all ingredients were to go in the pot at one time, the result would be either chewy pork or mushy vegetables.
We're going to cook this stew in two phases: 1. Sauté the pork and aromatics and tenderize under pressure (or on the stove). 2. Cook all but the hominy under pressure (or on the stove). The hominy turns mushy and absorbs the liquid really fast, and just needs to come up to temperature prior to serving...
Instant Pot/pressure cooker:
- Sauté aromatics and pork - With the IP/PC on saute, add the oil, onion, garlic, and cumin to the pot. Saute 3-5 minutes until fragrant and onions are softened. Remove and set aside. Lightly season pork cubes with salt and pepper. (You'll taste for seasoning later). Add pork cubes (and a bit more oil if necessary). Saute until browned.
- Cook the pork mixture - Add the onion mixture back in to the pot, along with the broth/stock, chipotle, and oregano. Close and lock the lid. Make sure the knob is turned to seal the pot. Press the "meat/stew" button and adjust the timer to 25 minutes. Keep in mind the pressurization will take several minutes before it begins to count down.
- Prep the remaining ingredients - Meanwhile, prep the squash and other ingredients. As mentioned in the post, I prick my squash with a fork and microwave 3-5 minutes, cool, peel, remove seeds, and cut up. You'll want to do this beforehand to allow to cool.
- Finish the stew - Do a quick pressure release. (Be careful!). Add the pumpkin/squash, poblano or Hatch green chile, and tomatoes. Close and lock the lid. Set for 5 minutes using "manual." While the stew cooks, prepare whatever garnishes you prefer. Release pressure a second time. Add the rinsed and drained hominy, check for seasoning, and return to a boil using the "saute" setting.
- Serve - Ladle into bowls. Garnish and enjoy!
Stove Top Instructions:
- Sauté the aromatics and pork - Add the oil, onion, garlic, and cumin to a Dutch oven. Saute 3-5 minutes until fragrant and onions are softened. Remove and set aside. Lightly season pork cubes with salt and pepper. (You'll taste for seasoning later). Add pork cubes (and a bit more oil if necessary). Saute until browned. Add the onion mixture back in to the pot, along with the broth/stock, chipotle, and oregano.
- Cook the pork mixture - Bring up to a simmer. Cover. Simmer 40 minutes.
- Cook the vegetables - Add the squash, poblano chiles, and tomatoes. Simmer until squash is tender (15-20 minutes). Add the hominy, check for seasoning, and return to a boil.
- Serve - Ladle into bowls. Garnish and enjoy!
You may have noticed I love garnishes? Choose 1 or more to complete this tasty one-dish meal!
- lime wedges
- sliced or diced avocado
- toasted pepitas
- chopped cilantro
- chopped scallions
I prefer chipotle with adobo, but in a pinch, you can substitute 1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder as per your preference. It's hot!
About the hominy/posole - Since you're using canned hominy, be sure to give it a really good rinse to remove the thick starch. Alternatively, you can use cooked (from dried or frozen hominy/posole), but you must start with cooked!
I have used both chicken and beef stock. Vegetable stock is fine. If you make pork stock with bones (good for you!), by all means use it.
The pumpkin stew can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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In conclusion, pumpkin is an under-utilized winter squash that can be used in most recipes that call for butternut squash or similar. If you love cooking with an Instant Pot, don't miss Savory Instant Pot Pumpkin Recipes.