Sweet-and-Sour Pork Stew

Spezzatino di Maiale in Agrodolce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


    people as a main course

Appears in

This recipe was inspired by a delicious wild boar stew I had at La Cesoia, a restaurant in Bologna. Since the pig is a descendant of wild boar, I decided to try it with pork and was very pleased with the results. Red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and red wine may seem like a surprising combination, but they make a wonderfully rich, luscious sauce. Serve with good crusty bread or Nonna Mary’s rice.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Total time from start to finish: hours


  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • pounds pork stew meat, preferably shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


  1. Put the raisins in a small bowl, cover with water, and soak for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Put the olive oil in a braising pan or deep sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, put in half the pork cubes and lightly brown on all sides. Transfer to a platter and repeat with the remaining pork. When all the pork is browned, season it with salt and pepper.
  3. While the meat is browning, peel, halve, and thinly slice the onion crosswise. Put the onion in the pan and season lightly with salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the onion turns a rich golden color, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the red wine vinegar and let it bubble for about 10 seconds. Add the wine and let it bubble away for about 30 seconds to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Lower the heat to medium, return the pork to the pan, and add the drained raisins. Cover the pan with the lid askew and cook, stirring about every 15 minutes, until the meat is very tender, about 1½ hours. If all the liquid evaporates before the pork is done, add a little water. If the pork is close to being done and there is still liquid in the pan, raise the heat, remove the cover, and allow the excess liquid to evaporate. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Serve hot.


The stew can be made 2 to 3 days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, add a little water and reheat over medium-low heat.