Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category

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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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Braised pork shoulder… It’s magically delicious!

May 12, 2008

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Ah, the pig.

That regal creature that Homer Simpson once referred to as a “wonderful, magical animal.” Indeed, I believe the pig may be magical: After all, a little bit of pig seems to make everything a lot more delicious. (And, never having had unicorn, I can only assume the pig is far tastier.)

My husband has long been under the spell of the swine, and has lately become a little more obsessed. Take, for example, the menu he prepared last week when we had family in town:

Monday: Braised pork belly. Tuesday: Braised pork shoulder. Wednesday: Barbecued pork ribs. If he had prepared pig trotters on Thursday, I was going to start ransacking the house looking for the pig carcass he was obviously hiding.

Not that I’m complaining. Doctors may not agree, but I believe a steady diet of pig leads to healthy — or at least, happy — living. And that is why we’re sharing with you Tuesday’s masterpiece: Braised pork shoulder.

Yes, the husband has not only blessedly turned his attention to that wonderful, magical animal… he has also dedicated himself to studying perhaps the most delicious art of food preparation: braising. Braising, that most perfect of techniques for concocting tender, delectable, melt-in-your-mouth meat. And pig, that meat most amenable to the BBQ chef’s mantra of “low and slow.”

The result of combining these two divine things? Heavenly, tender, succulent pork shoulder and a lovingly reduced sauce that will transport your taste buds to nirvana. I’m not exaggerating. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.

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And now, the husband speaks…

I do love some pig. I’ve made more than a few pork dishes in the past week, but how’s that my fault? I mean, I didn’t make the pig that delicious.

But while this dish does demonstrate the magic of pig, it also is an example of the greatest technique I learned in culinary school — sauce making. There is perhaps nothing more French than the act of making sauce, and you have to give those cheese-eaters credit: Uninteresting morsels of food can be turned into something really special with the right sauce. In this dish, the sauce is made by reducing the cooking liquid to a near-glaze until it it is rich, delicious, and enhances the flavor of the meat.

What’s more, this dish also works with a newer obsession of mine: beer. I have to admit, I spend an inordinate amount of time at Rick’s Wine and Gourmet here in Alexandria, Va. I’ve even become friends with my local beermonger and fellow blogger, Nick. The store and Nick have been my cheerful suppliers as I continue to plow along. But this post is about demonstrating the glorious potential of beer, not about the high likelihood of seeing me in my little beer shop around the corner.

Here the beer is part of the braising liquid. The pork shoulder is browned and then slowly cooked in combination with Belgian strong ale and chicken stock. Along with their higher alcohol content, Belgian strong ales are known for their intense flavors that I feel pair naturally with pork. Here, I used a dark or golden variety of this style that exhibits fruit, citrus rind and spice; it reminds me of the classic pairings of pork with apples and cinnamon. The sauce that is rendered from the cooking liquid has a sweetness and a nice acidity — and I’m fairly confident would make my fingers delicious enough to eat.

Finally, this recipe is an homage to Daniel Boulud. While we were living NYC, my wife and I went to his flagship restaurant, Daniel, in midtown. For both my wife and I that experience was incredibly memorable not only for the amazing meal, but for the hospitality heaped upon us by the staff. After finding out I was a culinary student, the chef did those little extras that made us feel lavished upon. Beyond a clear demonstration of what it means to receive multiple Michelin stars and four stars from The New York Times, it showed us a sense of generosity that we’ll try to show to others.

This recipe was inspired by his recent book Braise. He has a recipe for pork shoulder with hazel nuts and Jerusalem artichokes (AKA sunchokes). While I liked the original version, I changed it to include more American flavors such as bourbon and pecans, gave up white wine for my heartier ale and swapped the very earthy Jerusalem artichokes with the milder new potatoes. The recipes do vary in grades from there, but I’d like to think this version is… I won’t say better, just more pleasing to a pair of people.

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Click here to download the recipe.

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Who “am I?” What was that? Oh, sui mai… mmm sui mai

November 8, 2006

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Dim sum good.

Lately I’ve been having extraordinary cravings for dim sum, and we’ve been hitting the “China Garden” in town an embarassing number of times. Luckily that place is always packed (they actually drop off tour buses full of Asian tourists there and it seats about 300 or more), so we’ve remained fairly incognito. (I’d hate to be called out by the hostess… “You again?”)

The real highlight of any dim sum venture is when that steam cart comes rollin’ on up. You gotta hit that thing… hard. Sui mai, haw gao, sharkfin, char sui bao and all that other good stuff. We put a hurt on that cart. If I’m really hungry, I’ll start pulling my grandpa’s favorite move — which is to refrain from all conversation and continously follow the steam cart with my eyes as it wends its way around the dining room — not unlike an eagle tracking its prey.

At these moments, I may fantasize: Wouldn’t it be great if that steam cart just rolled up to my mouth and dropped some dumplings off?

Well, folks, it has.

My husband has actually figured out how to make two of the best dim sum offerings — char sui bao and sui mai — right here in our own kitchen. Char sui bao is the subject of another post, however, so I’ll take this moment to wax poetic about his sui mai…. It’s perfect. It has that delicious mix of pork and shrimp, with just a hint of earthiness from the shitake mushrooms and a tiny whiff of ginger. Steamed to perfection, the dumplings have a really delicate, elegant air that belies their meaty goodness. The only thing missing is that strange red dot they put on top of the dumplings in restaurants. Contented sigh. What can I say? He’s pretty good, that husband of mine.

So, now I can eat dim sum on demand — and maybe I’ll only need to hit China Garden every other weekend.

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Sweet pork chop and quince? Genius!

October 30, 2006

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My husband has reached a satisfying stage as a cook. Yes, he’s been making scrumptious food this entire time. But now, on occassion, I get to take credit for it (or try to) — without having to lift a finger.

Take the meal pictured above, Maple-Dijon Glazed Rib Chops with Quince. I proposed that he barbeque something — pork, perhaps — for our guests. Genius. Upon tasting the quinces that he had bought, I proposed that he use them as a sweet side to the pork dish. Magnificent. And of course, I suggested he make some damn good mashed potatoes (not pictured) that would pair perfectly with the sweet honeyed pork and quince. Outstanding!

The whole meal was a smashing success, and it was, like, totally my idea.

Granted, I didn’t actually make any of the elements that were such a smash. (I do help, though. I made the salad and the vegetable — again, not pictured. Just take my word for it. And I clean, too. And I’m an excellent eater.)

Yes, my husband took the raw clay of my unformed, rather vague ideas and turned them into masterpieces. But do I get some credit for providing the clay, people? Should Michelangelo get all the glory? What about the guy who pointed out David to him, and said “That would make a heck of a statue?”

No matter, my small reward will be eating the fruits of my husband’s cooking. And believe me, it’s not really that small a reward. This dish — for example — is absolutely delicious, and perfect for fall. The pork is tender and sweet, with the delicious smokey aroma that comes when sugar hits the grill and caramelizes. And the quince accompaniment is the perfect dancing partner for the pork. Forked up alone or together, either subject is dazzling. I highly recommend. Read on for the recipe and his how-to!

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Eat this: Char sui bao

October 13, 2006

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I love Char Sui Bao. My wife has already made fun of me recently for my love of bread pudding, and I think she is just waiting to pounce on my obsession with A Southern Season’s Praline Pecans . Char Sui Bao also falls into that same category of “food I can eat even when stuffed.” Thankfully, because we are having a family bonzana fun time with both sets of parents and a good number of siblings here in DC this weekend, I got to put up this post without her lovely intro.

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Pass me dat jicama and pork stir fry

October 8, 2006

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Stir fry over noodles. Is there anything better? Sure, some contrarians might say “yes.” (Argh. Stupid contrarians.)

But there’s certainly nothing faster. And as I’ve mentioned before, my agenda is to eat good food NOW. Stir fry fits that bill to a T. This particular stir fry has the happy quality of being fast, delicious and exotic to boot.

Indeed, that sauce covered stick-like vegetable above is actually jicama. It qualifies as exotic because it’s new and mysterious to me. Not, however, because it’s super sexy or super flavorful. In fact, it looks a little like a misshapen potato and tastes like crunchy, slightly sweet … water. But that’s just me. And that’s just a first tasting.

In this stir fry, however, jicama contributes its wonderful crunch to a spicy, complex and deliciously savory meal. I loved it. Pork stir fry over noodles? With jicama, too? Sign me up. Read on for my husband’s recipe…

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See the meatloaf, eat the meatloaf

September 19, 2006

Southwestern Meatloaf

Southwestern meatloaf

Meatloaf is a food product shrouded in mystery for me. It’s meat. But it’s also a loaf. There’s, like, bread and stuff in it. You can slice it like bread, but you can also eat it like a hamburger. Some people love it, and they wax nostalgic for their mom’s famous recipe. Some people despise it, holding it in the same esteem as the fruit cake they kick aside when they want the door to slam shut.

Like my husband, I never ate meatloaf as a kid. Shock. Horror. I even had a good mom; no, a great mom. Was this lack of meatloaf her one flaw, or a childhood nightmare she spared me from?

Well, judging from the magical meatloaf my husband has produced, maybe it’s the one teeny, tiny flaw my dear mother harbored. It’s true: She did not make meatloaf this good. (Actually, she did not make meatloaf at all.)

The meatloaf my husband made is hearty and thick; it has a lot in common with a good burger. But its texture is more complicated — spotted with vegetables, strewn with tortilla chips, and flavored with Southwestern spices — a mere burger isn’t an adequate comparison. When you add to that the meatloaf’s requisite toppings: fresh salsa, salsa verde and queso fresco, you have a piece de resistance — a loaf of meat for the ages. Or for me. To eat.

Read on for my hubby’s secrets, and fond memories of his similarly meatloaf-less childhood… Read the rest of this entry ?