Moerlein Lager House & Pork & Tomatillo Stew

stewWe live far from the lights, action, hustle & bustle of a large city, so our kids have never seen true skyscrapers, taxis, or even mounted police officers.

Over Thanksgiving Break, we took the boys to downtown Cincinnati to show them what a real city is like.  As is the case with all of our travels, we search out breweries, pubs, and local restaurants.  We rarely eat in chain/franchised restaurants.  The trip to downtown Cincinnati was no different.  Before heading downtown, I hit up Google Maps and Yelp to find a local restaurant that would fit our desire for great food & beer with an equally appealing kids menu.  We hit on the Moerlein Lager House, down on the river.  We’ve gotten pretty good at picking out restaurants, and this was no exception.  From Ean’s humongous flat bread pizza to Jeremy’s bratwurst lunch, everyone was happy.  Jeremy’s mom even enjoyed lunch…even though she’s not so big on beer (her loss).

Speaking of beer…the beer selection was pretty good, and their brews made in-house brews were right on target.  The Over-the-Rhine Ale and the Barbarossa Double Dark Lager were fantastic.  The day we were in they had a special “Winter Warmer” on tap…yummy! Other Moerlein House Beers on tap are Moerlein Coffee Porter, Moerlein Helles LagerMoerlein Northern Liberties IPA, and Moerlein Zepplin.

The only thing I wish we’d been able to do is take the brewery tour, but with kids and mom, it wouldn’t have been a good idea.  Taking your kids on a brewery tour seems to be frowned upon.

When we’re travelling & trying new food, I look for things that I’ve NEVER tried.  That mindset has left me with some unappetizing meals (black pudding in Ireland) a time or two, but for the most part, I’ve always gotten inspiration and some pretty amazing meals.  Lunch at Moerlein was no different.  It was a cold day; colder than usual in Ohio from what I understand.  Apparently, it doesn’t usually snow that early in the season.  Anyway, the Florida girl in me was freezing, so when I found “Hunter’s Stew” on the menu, my interested was piqued.  Let’s just say, it was FANTASTIC!  It was a dark brown stew of pork, tomatillos, and lentils…thick & rich with a bit of a spicy kick.  The pork was fork tender and the lentils naturally thickened the mix.

As usual, I did my best to memorize the flavors and textures, so that I could recreate it at home.  The recipe may seem like a lot, and it is.  Save the extras!  Freeze it for another night or cut it in half for a smaller batch.

1 1/2 lbs. pork, cut into chunks–either cut from pork steaks or pork butt

1 lb. fresh tomatillos–chopped

1 c. chopped bell pepper

1 c. chopped sweet onion

3 cloves garlic–chopped

1 c. chopped carrot

1 c. uncooked lentils

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

2 bay leaves

4 c. water

1 beef or pork bouillon cube

Heat 3 TBSP olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven.  Brown pork and remove from oil.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add pepper, onion, garlic, and carrot.  Cook over medium heat 5 minutes.  Add pork and remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until pork is tender and lentils begin to break down, thickening the stew.

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