Pork-and-Cider StewStew reaches out to all of us, right? A hands-off, one-pot dish that simmers and thickens and slowly develops into a dreamy sum of its parts. The stresses connected with “cooking technique” give way to “let me throw this all together.” I like that. I am a stew person.

I halved the recipe for the “Pork-and-Cider Stew,” from the December 2014 issue of Food & Wine, which was a manageable amount to tackle in my Dutch oven. Two-and-a-half hours at a moderate simmer. How wonderful to have a stew cooking in your background.

The recipe called out to me with its inclusion of sparkling dry apple cider. I’ve cooked with wine, I’ve cooked with beer, but this was my first cider. Halving the recipe, I poured 12.6 oz. of Doc’s Draft Pear Hard Cider, which is a mix of apple and pear that tastes like tart, sparkling white wine. Nice.

The stew stews. The bacon melts. The pork is moist and saucy. Enjoy the balanced flavors: not sweet, not spicy, fatty enough to keep your mouth interested.

I used the rest of my heavy cream to make mashed potatoes -- the perfect partner in this dance.

Boneless Pork Shoulder (2.5 lbs.) = $28.55

PREP TIME: three hours or more of mostly background cooking
balanced sweet (cider), spicy (mustard), fat (pork, bacon)

Next time, I’ll keep pork in the game. I want to cook the “Lemongrass Pork & Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Peanut Sauce,” from the November/December 2014 issue of Eating Well. This recipe wants to cover many bases. Come back to my site next week to see what happens.