Vampire-Fighting Pork Stew Inspired By Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'

Vampire-Fighting Pork Stew Inspired By Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'

Wednesday, 23 October, 2019

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the OG vampire. He’s intelligent, cunning, polished, and entirely terrifying — the perfect foil for the pure-hearted team hell-bent on his demise. The names of those heroes and heroines are firmly ensconced in pop culture: Jonathan and Mina Harker, Lucy Westenra, Dr. Seward, and Van Helsing. In Stoker’s novel, their letters and diary entries disclose the haunting story of the original bloodsucker.

While our intrepid heroes fight the forces of darkness with their moral goodness and a little help from some strategically placed wooden stakes, we’re going to ward off Dracula with essential ingredients in the kitchen: garlic, salt, seeds, and fat. Praise the lard!


Aside from being monstrously delicious, studies have shown that garlic can lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, prevent cancer, and protect against bacterial and fungal infections. It’s also your numero uno protection against Vlad. The ancient advice? Festoon your windows and doors with garlic ropes, drape a few cloves around your neck, and for bonus protection, rub some in your armpits. You can also mix crushed garlic with water and use it as a savory eau de toilette.


Ol’ fang-face is distracted by seeds! According to European peasant superstition, you can prevent a vampire from rising from his coffin if you fill it with seeds. When the moon is high, and Dracula is ready to begin the hunt for fresh blood, he’ll be compelled to count and eat the seeds, one by one… which can take him all night. Any seeds will do — caraway, mustard, carrot — but poppy is a favorite because of their narcotic effect. For added protection, sprinkle your roof and sidewalk with seeds, too.


Salt enhances the natural flavor of food, and it’s also like vampire GPS. Simply sprinkle salt on the floor around your bed. If (when?!) you’re attacked by a vampire, the salt will stick to its feet, and your avenging heroes will be able to follow the salt trail from your bedchamber to Dracula’s coffin to drive a stake through his cold, cold heart.


Back in the day, Romanians slaughtered pigs on St. Ignatius Day, rendered their fat, and rubbed it all over ‘suspicious corpses’ to keep them from rising and biting. It sort of translates into, ‘A little bacon goes a long way… toward fighting the undead.’


This recipe for Vampire-Fighting Pork Stew is a) delicious and b) uses all of these edible magic charms — including both mustard and caraway seeds — so you can rally your own vampire-eradicating power in the shape of a comforting dinner.

Vampire-Fighting Pork Stew

Vampire-Fighting Pork Stew

Serves 2–4. Prep 20 minutes. Simmer 90 minutes.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or lard
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 tart apples, cut into 1/2-inch dice

garnish: minced parsley, black pepper


Brown the pork. Place the fat in a large soup pot on medium-high and warm for 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, pat the pork dry with paper towels, then sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Add the onion and garlic to the hot oil and cook until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the pork and brown the cubes on all sides. Give the pieces a little breathing room, so they form a nice crust; you will probably need to do this in batches. Transfer the cubes to a bowl as they brown.

Add the broth. In a mixing cup or medium bowl, combine the broth, mustard, and caraway seeds, then add to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 60 minutes.

Add the apples. Taste the broth and add more salt and pepper, if necessary; start with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pinch pepper. Add the diced apples to the pot and cook an additional 30 minutes, until meat and apples are tender.

To serve, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh minced parsley and black pepper.

We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things. Nay, from what you have told me of your experiences already, you know something of what strange things there may be. — Bram Stoker


by Bram Stoker

The story is a classic hero’s quest: Jonathan, a young solicitor eager to prove himself and marry his true love, journeys to an isolated castle in Romania to meet his client, the mysterious Count Dracula. Despite the Count’s cordial welcome, Jonathan is beleaguered by a sense of creeping dread, and his instincts are correct. He’s soon fleeing for his life and fighting to protect his friends from unsettling symptoms: sleepwalking, unaccountable blood loss, and those curious wounds on the throat. But it’s not all frantic carriage rides, harrowing escapes, and stakes through the heart. There are many moments of palpable emotion, and by the end, you realize this story about a monster was a tale of devoted friendship all along. {more}

This Gothic classic (336 pages) was published in November of 2015 by Bedford/St. Martin's. The book takes you to Transylvania and Whitby, England. Melissa read Dracula and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.



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