Pork, Turnip and Sweet Potato Stew


I was going through the dinner food line at my Grandparents house. All the cousins, aunts and uncles were there, so a pretty long line. Each stop in the line fills your plate more and more and it all looks great. I got to the mashed potatoes and gravy and took a pretty good size scoop. When I got to the kids table, I sat down and went straight for the “potatoes”. Unfortunately, they were not potatoes but mashed turnips. Yuck! From then on, I would tell people, there is nothing I won’t eat but turnips. Double Yuck!

All these years later, I still hadn’t ever eaten turnips. It’s funny, in retrospect, it wasn’t that I didn’t like turnips. It was the shock of getting them mashed, when I was expecting potatoes. Even when we got turnips in our CSA, we just gave them away (my wife doesn’t care for them either).

So, we got stuck with the turnips a week back and couldn’t give them away. After 30 years (give or take) I decided I’d give them a try again. I hit up Google and found a number of interesting recipes. The one I settled on was from a favorite Chef, Vivian Howard (a fellow North Carolinian). Here is a PDF of her recipe “Berkshire Pork, Turnip and Sweet Potato Stew“. I did my usually modifications to give it my own little spin, but WOW and Double Yum! With the weather getting cooler and it being turnips and sweet potato season, I highly recommend this one. We’ll be making it again. My wife even loved it.

The stew was surprisingly light. I left the herbs in whole and picked the stems (all the leaves just fall off during the braise) and bay out. The gremolata added a citrus punch and herbaceousness.


  • 1 ½ pounds pork Boston butt
  • 2-3 tbsp flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch turnips (diced) with greens
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 2 celery stocks, diced
  • ½ a large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-4 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 sugar cubes (1 tbsp brown sugar)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Ingredients for Gremolata

  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced

    1. Heat a Dutch oven to medium high and add oil. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper, dust with the flour and brown on all sides. Remove the pork and set aside.
      Add the onions, celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables until softened and add the garlic. Cook another minute or two and add tomato paste. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan.
    2. Reduce the heat to simmer and add the pork back to the pot. Add the stock until the pork is covered (use water if needed). Add sugar, bay, rosemary and thyme and cover with lid. Allow to simmer for 1 ½ hours.
    3. Add turnips and cook for 5 minutes. Add sweet potato and cook for another 5 minutes until the potatoes are barely tender. Add the turnip greens and allow to wilt a bit.
    4. For the gremolata, just add the lemon zest, minced garlic and parsley together and toss to combine.
    5. To plate, add a serving to a big bowl and garnish with the gremolata. Enjoy!
Pork, Turnip and Sweet Potato Stew

Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple “kimchi” with a bourbon-maple gastrique

Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple "kimchi" with a bourbon maple gastrique

This. Was. Amazing. One of the best things I’ve made in awhile.

I’ve talked about Dudley’s on Short in Lexington, KY. I actually had a VERY similar meal there which I blogged recently (Roasted Duck Breast and Dudley’s on Short). My comment was that it might have been a little sweet for my taste. I also want a little heat in things I make.

My wife doesn’t like duck (or rabbit or beef tongue…). So I either eat it at a restaurant or make it while she is out of town. This weekend she was away on business, so I decided to recreate the Dudley’s meal I had.

I basically made the same meal but here are my tweaks. I did NOT peel the sweet potatoes and it worked out great. The peels got a little crunchy which added something missing from the Dudley’s version. I added more watercress because I like it. Instead of pickled apples, I made a quick faux kimchi out of green apples. The kimchi could not have worked out better. It added more sour and a bit of heat, also something missing from the Dudley’s dish. Finally, because I love bourbon, I made the gastrique my own.

Again, this meal was awesome. The rich duck, the not too sweet caramelized sweet potatoes, the watercress that adds earthiness and slightly wilts under the duck and potato, the crunch and bite of the apple and the sweet and sour punch of the bourbon gastrique. Amazing.



  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of watercress
  • 1 large green apple, sliced in thin strips
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Bourbon whiskey
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter / olive oil
  • Maple syrup
  • Lemon juice
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper

  1. In a seal-able bowl or Tupperware, add the sliced apple, 1/3 apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper to taste (should be spicy). Cover with a little water, seal and shake until combined. Place in your refrigerator and occasionally shake to mix. The longer this sits, the better it will be so you can do this the day before.
  2. The measurements are approximate but here is my best guess (sorry). In a small sauce pot, add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, pinch of salt and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Allow to reduce until you have a desired consistency, 20-30 minutes.
  3. Set oven to 350 F.
  4. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the potato in the oven. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until tender. Remove and let them cool slightly. Slice ¼ to ½ inch slices.
  5. Butter a backing dish, add the potato slices in a single layer, top with olive oil, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a small dollop of butter. Bake about 10 minutes then flip on the broiler for another 5-10 until sugar is melted and caramelized. Keep warm.
  6. Score the fatty side of the duck breast with cross hatches. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  7. Heat a medium oven proof pan over medium heat. Even before the pan is up to temperature, place the duck breast in the pan fatty side down. Allow the fat to render slowly. Once the fat has rendered and that side is golden brown, reserve all but a couple of tablespoons of the fat and flip the duck. Continue cooking until browned. Check the temperature, I prefer rare (about 130 F) but the USDA recommends 170 F. If the temperature you want is not achieved, add the whole pan to the oven and continue cooking. Allow the duck to cool and slice.
  8. To plate, add a layer of the sweet potatoes on the bottom, top with the watercress, top that will the duck and green apple kimchi. Finally, drizzle the gastrique over everything.
  9. Enjoy!
Roasted duck, caramelized sweet potatoes, watercress, green apple “kimchi” with a bourbon-maple gastrique