Archive for February, 2009

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A bit of pulled pork every day helps keep the recession at bay…

February 12, 2009

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Last week I ate pulled pork every day for lunch (toasted potato roll, Mt. Olive bread and butter pickles, mayo, pork). Yes, every day. Yes, all week.

But before you start pointing fingers and calling me an uncreative glutton (jealous much?), know this… there is a recession on, and I was just eating the most awesome, economical leftovers that we had in our fridge. That, and I’m eight-plus months pregnant.

“Pulled pork every day? Really?” you gasp in wonder. “Can it be true? Can it be healthy? Can it really be that good? And can I please, please have some?”

Yes, you can have some. If you make this recipe, there will be plenty to go around — and trust me, you won’t get tired of eating delicious, fork-tender and succulent pulled pork until it is all finger-lickin’ gone.

My husband has made pulled pork before, but it’s never turned out so damn tasty. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always devoured it — it’s just the speed and duration of my consumption of it that changes.) This pork, lovingly coated with sugar, salt and spices, and sunning itself in a warm oven for nine hours… it just comes out happy. And it spreads its happy joyfulness when you fork in each delicious bite. I knew it was the real deal when I saw my husband brandishing two forks, and I saw the long, pink strands of wonderful porkiness just falling off the bone into a fragrant heap of steaming awesomeness. Yes, it’s that good.

The first night I had it, it was scrumptious in warm flour tortillas, dolloped with fresh salsa and sour cream and sprinkled with cheese. But that’s a bit complex to replicate for lunch. So for its remaining time in our fridge, it got tossed down sandwich style… and sometimes just forked right into the maw.

In any case, I’m eager for you to make it, friends, so you can tell me what other wonderful leftover concoctions can be had from delicious pulled pork. (In fact, I saw a recipe recently for pulled pork served on pitas with tsatsiki sauce…. any takers?)

So now I’ve thrown down the gauntlet. Pulled pork is delicious. This pulled pork is fabulous. Won’t you eat it every day too?

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And now, the husband’s take…

I’m not sure there is anything better than meat cooked for a long time. Two of my favorite recent recipes are a previous pork shoulder braised in Belgian ale and beef short ribs braised in red wine and beef stock. The flavors created by those intense periods spent at low temperatures makes me think my foot probably good after about 5 hours at between 250F-275F. But, I like my foot so that is just silly… right?

Anyway I digress. This recipe is another Sunday stay-at-home special. In my mind, this is the perfect recipe for just a lazy day. The kind where you don’t get out of your pajamas until mid-afternoon, and that’s only to take a shower and put on another set of pajamas — not that I would ever have a day like that.

The best part is that it isn’t a lot of work. Yes, it is a huge time commitment, but not work. Each step takes about ten to fifteen minutes if you work slowly. As a result, you can spend most of your time doing anything else. Even if you don’t baste the shoulder like I suggest in the recipe, it’s not that big of an issue — so you could even do cook this overnight while you sleep. That way it’s great for a noon tip-off or party. In addition, this makes the ultimate leftovers. While we show it with salsa on a tortilla, you pretty much can do anything with it — for example, great, great sandwiches.

This is also a relatively inexpensive cut of meat. If you buy a typical supermarket shoulder, you can get this for about $15 dollars here in DC. You can easily serve a party of eight or more with it. Or have a tremendous amount of leftovers if you make it for your family. This means awesome packed lunches the rest of the week. So this is your very own recession special.

So with time and a little bit of money, you get a truly awesome result… if I don’t say so myself. Now, what about that foot thing?

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Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
Ingredients:
7 lbs. pork shoulder (bone in)
1 cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup salt
2 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. cayenne

Directions:
1. To make the rub, thoroughly mix together the brown sugar, salt, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes and cayenne.

2. Pat dry the pork shoulder and then liberally apply the rub to all sides. Place in a leak-proof container. Cover and refrigerate for as long as 24 hours, or as little as overnight. It will give up a cup or more of liquid so make sure your container is big enough to prevent spillage.

3. Remove the shoulder from refrigerator, brush off any excess or caked on rub. Move to a clean roasting pan with the fat side up.

4. Heat the oven to 275F. Place in the oven and let roast for 9 to 10 hours. Yes, I’m serious about it taking that long. After about 3 hours, there will be enough fat rendered to allow you to baste the shoulder every 1 to 2 hours. With a large spoon simply pour the rendered fat over the shoulder.

5. You will know it’s ready because the outside of the shoulder is extremely dark, nearly burned looking. The pork should pull easily from the bone and the fat/skin on the top should be nearly crispy.

6. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 30 min. Using a pair of forks or very clean hands pull the pork away from the bone. This should be very easy to do.

7. Serve one of several ways. Here we served it on a tortilla and topped with fresh salsa (recipe below). Another favorite for us is on a toasted potato roll and with a couple sweet pickles. This serves great leftovers.

Simple Fresh Salsa
Ingredients:
1 pint grape tomatoes (diced)
1 cup cilantro (diced)
1 jalapeno (diced very fine)
1 lime (juice)
½ large onion (diced)
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt

Directions:
1. Combine the  tomatoes, cilantro, onion, and jalapeno in a bowl and mix thoroughly. You can de-seed the jalapeno if you are heat adverse, or substitute a serrano pepper if you like a little more kick.

2. Add the lime juice and olive oil and mix. Salt to taste.

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No, it’s not voodoo: It’s roasted curried leg of lamb

February 4, 2009

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Don’t let the husband fool you. He likes to claim that this recipe was an attempt at some “weather voodoo” — meaning, if he roasted a big hunk of meat on our grill, he would convince the weather gods to raise the mercury a notch or two.

Paw-shaw.

The husband likes to grill. The husband likes meat. The weather has nothing to do with it.

In fact, if anything, he angered the weather gods by roasting a spring lamb on a day when the DC area received three inches of snow — and through his meat-searing antics inspired them to drop a one-inch layer of ice that very evening. So much for weather voodoo — or at least my husband’s credentials as a warlock.

But about that lamb… that is another story.

Lovingly tending that big hunk of meat on that snowy day, my husband coaxed from our grill quite a tender piece of eating. Subtly spiced, rosy pink and moist, for a moment I might have imagined spring — if the cold gust of air from the open door leading to the grill hadn’t snapped me out of it. Now, as a woman about eight months pregnant, I appreciate a good piece of red meat… and I am always hungry. And I warn you one other thing may have clouded my judgment: The delicious cool, creamy and tangy yogurt/sour cream sauce that my husband whipped up to accompany the lamb. Let me advise you: Don’t eat lamb without it.

That said, however, I think that, pregnant or not, yogurt sauce or not, this lamb will satisfy those meat cravings you’ve been fighting. It is so, so good.

So, go ahead, attempt this recipe. Maybe you’ll have better luck altering the weather in your region with a meat sacrifice to the weather gods. And, if not, at least you’ll have a full belly to placate you while you burrow down into your blankets.

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And now, the husband’s take…

So, it’s winter. And believe me, I’ve noticed. Here in our nation’s capitol, we saw a historic new president and watched people freeze as they celebrated. Indeed, we’ve seen what I feel is an unusual string of below freezing weather. The Potomac has consistently had a sheen of ice over it. In other words, it has been too cold, too often.

Now, you folks who live in more northern parallels — you are tougher than me. I don’t care. I am already ready for spring and it’s just now February. So, my solution is to find a big hunk of meat and roast it outside. Forget Groundhog Day, this is willing spring through the sheer force of meat. Hasn’t worked yet, but the results are a very delicious roast with lots of spices and the strong red meat flavor of  lamb.

If you are not quite as daring as me (because your grill isn’t three feet from your back door), then you can just as easily do this in the oven. This is another one of my favorite kinds of recipes too because you prep it, forget it and do other things.
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Roasted Curried Leg of Lamb
Ingredients:
7 to 5 lbs leg of lamb (bone-in)

Dry ingredients:
1 large onion (chopped)
6 cloves garlic
2 inch piece ginger (chopped)
1 serrano pepper
1 cup cilantro (30 g)
2 limes (juice and zest)

Wet Ingredients:
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup olive oil

Spice Mix:
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. salt

Directions:
1. Add all the dry ingredients and the spice mix into a blender or food processor. Slowly add both the wet ingredients until a paste is formed. You may need to modify the amount of liquid suggested.
2. Coat the leg of lamb in the paste.
3. Preheat oven to 325.
4. Roast for approximately 90 minutes or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 135-140F at the thickest point. This is medium and you can safely eat it at cooler temperature, but this is our suggested temperature.
5. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 min.
6. Slice and serve.

Yogurt-Mint Sauce
Ingredients:
1 cup plain yogurt (can substitute sour cream)
½ cup mint leaves (chopped)
¼ tsp. salt
juice of ½ lime


Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasoning to taste.