Tag Archives: Pork

Pork Neck Bone Stew

Pork neck bone stew

Despite the fact that it’s late March, last week it snowed a little, and temperatures dipped below freezing. So I made one last stew for the season.

At least I hope that’s what I did.

I sincerely hope that this is the last stew I’ll make for a while. I sincerely hope that there will be no more need or desire for a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal for many, many months. You know, because the weather is going to warm up!! Right?? Please???

Pork Neck Bone Stew

But, I must say, this was quite the stew to go out on. When I saw that Donald Link had just published a new cookbook, I couldn’t resist picking it up. I love his first one, which centers around New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine, so it’s a good bet that his follow-up project will be outstanding, too.

Possibly even better, which is quite a strong statement to make, I know. This cookbook is all about the Deep South culinary traditions and dishes. And while I’m perfectly happy to continue living in New York City indefinitely, I do have quite a fondness for the comforting food and bold flavors of America’s Deep South.

Pork Neck Bone Stew

This stew was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Seriously, there are no words. Matt was absolutely effusive in his praise for this one, not only as he ate it but days later too. Before he’d even finished his bowl, he asked when I planned to make it again. (Um, eat the leftovers, then we’ll talk). And, as he accurately pointed out, this would make some very fine game day fare next fall.

Oh, and don’t be wary of the pork neck. It’s just meat; the only reason it’s not widely eaten is because it’s a tough cut (needs to be slow cooked) that doesn’t have a ton of meat on it, which, on the plus side, makes them extremely inexpensive. But their flavor is really bar none once it’s been cooked. The stew is a bit spicy, but it won’t blow your head off. It’s kind of a project, but more than worth the effort. Don’t deprive yourself of this one. Trust me. Just don’t.

pork neck bone stew

{One year ago: Mexican “Hot” Chocolate Ice Cream}

Source: adapted from Down South by Donald Link

Ingredients:
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs sweet paprika
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp cayenne
1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground white pepper
3 lbs. pork neck bones
1/3 cup plus ¼ cup all-purpose flour
Scant cup of canola oil
1 lb. smoked sausage, such as kielbasa, sliced into ½-inch rounds
1 medium onion, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken stock
6 fresh bay leaves
Steamed white rice, for serving

Directions:
Combine the salt, paprika, thyme, cayenne, black pepper, and white pepper in a small bowl to form a spice mix. Add ¼ cup flour and mix well. Season the pork neck bones all over with the spice and flour mixture by tossing in a large bowl. Do not discard the spice mixture in the bottom of the bowl.
Measure out the canola oil in a measuring cup. Pour enough into a Dutch oven to just coat the bottom. Preheat over medium-high, and when hot, add the pork necks. Brown them on all sides, working in batches to avoid overcrowding. Transfer to a platter.
Lower the heat to medium. Add the remaining canola oil and the 1/3 cup flour to the drippings in the Dutch oven. Cook, whisking or stirring with a wooden spoon constantly, for 25 minutes, to make a dark roux. You can add some of the remaining spice mixture if there seems to be too much oil to flour. Watch this carefully, and if you see smoke, lower the heat immediately. I usually make roux on medium-low to low heat. You do NOT want to burn it.
Once the roux is made, return the heat to medium and add the onion, celery, jalapeno, garlic, and remaining spice mixture. Cook, stirring, for about 7 minutes, until softened. Now add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture simmers very gently. The sauce should be a nice gravy consistency. Add the pork necks, smoked sausage, and bay leaves.
Cook, covered, over medium-low to low heat, for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat falls off the bone when coaxed with a fork. Make sure your heat is not so high that the bottom of the stew scorches. You can add a little water if it is getting too thick.
When the meat is completely tender, remove the pork necks with tongs to a plate and use 2 forks to shred the meat from the bones. Add it back into the stew. Remove the bay leaves. If you want, you can use a solid spoon to carefully skim the fat off the top (I did).
Serve in bowls over a spoonful or two of white rice. And you can garnish with scallions or chives if you want, but it’s not at all necessary.

Apple-Pork Ragout over Pappardelle

pork apple ragout over pappardelle

I am such a sucker for a good pasta with red meat sauce. My mom makes a killer spaghetti with meat sauce, and it was hands down my favorite thing she made growing up. She taught me how to make it, and after a few misses learning curves, I did master it. I’ll blog it sometime.

Pork-Apple Ragout over Pappardelle

As much as I love the spaghetti and meat sauce of my youth, I do branch out and try other recipes. So today, we have this delectable meaty ragout made with pork, apples, and capers. I discovered this dish last year with my apple picking stash, but didn’t end up blogging it. Reason being, while it was initially simmering away, it looked rather odd for a meat sauce, and I was convinced the recipe wasn’t going to come together and work well, so I didn’t photograph it. One bite and I felt pretty darn stupid.

Pork Apple Ragout over Pappardelle

It’s a beautiful dish. Meaty pork, with a background hint of sweetness from the apples, and the salty bite of capers… Oh, it’s so good. And leftovers only get better. Feel free to use whatever cut of pasta you like. This would work just fine with fettuccine or linguine, and probably fine with rigatoni, too. This meal is PERFECT for fall and you definitely shouldn’t miss it. Enjoy!

Pork Apple Ragout over Pappardelle

Source: adapted from Girl in the Kitchen by Stephanie Izard

Ingredients:
1 tsp olive oil
2 oz. diced pancetta
12 oz. ground pork
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped
½ cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can stewed or whole tomatoes, with juices
1 cup chicken stock
2 tbs tomato paste
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 lb. fresh or dried pappardelle, or other long cut pasta
2 tbs brined capers, drained
2 tbs thinly sliced basil
Grated parmesan cheese, for garnish (optional)

Directions:
Start a pot of boiling water for the pasta. Preheat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil, then add the pancetta. Cook until browned and the fat has mostly rendered. Add the pork and cook, breaking it up with your spoon, until no traces of pink remain. Now add the onion and cook until the onion is softened and transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and apples. Cook one minute.
Pour in the wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer until the wine is reduced by three quarters.
Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Stir to combine, then hit the pan with your potato masher to crush the tomatoes and apples. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let it go for about 15 minutes, until thickened and more uniform. If after 15 minutes it has not thickened to your liking, simply turn up the heat and let it go until it is. Don’t forget to stir occasionally during this time, as that will prevent the sauce from scorching on the bottom of the skillet. Season the sauce lightly with salt and generously with black pepper.
Meanwhile, generously salt the pasta water once it reaches a boil, drop in your pasta and cook according to package directions.
Drain the pasta and add it to the simmering sauce. Lower the heat, then add the capers and basil. Combine everything in the pot, then taste for seasoning. Adjust as necessary.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin over Apple-Turnip Hash

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin over Apple-Turnip Hash

Is it shameful to admit that part of why I love fall so much is because it’s a time of year when tons of new cookbooks hit the bookstore shelves? Ah, well, so be it. This year is no exception, and I’ve already begun my shopping. I snapped up the much anticipated Scarpetta Cookbook by Chef Scott Conant.

pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin

His restaurant Scarpetta is on my bucket list; I haven’t gotten myself there yet, but in the meantime I have this beautiful book of their recipes. This pork dish is my inaugural use of the book, and all I can say is WOW! If this recipe is an indicator of what the rest of the book is like, flavor-wise, then I have hit a jackpot. Because, my friends, it was so delicious.

Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin over Apple Turnip Hash

The flavors were so clean and vibrant. The mild, lean pork tenderloin benefitted from the crispy, saltiness of the pancetta; and the sweetness of the apple balanced so well with the bitterness of the turnip. The earthy pop of rosemary took the whole thing over the top. So far, yeah, I’m loving this book.

I will heartily recommend it to any foodie out there, but I should warn you, it’s a restaurant cookbook. And restaurants have resources and budgets that home cooks can’t really even fathom. So I did adapt this recipe a bit, since I’m home cooking, and I’m sure I’ll be adapting many of the recipes from this book. But I think the spirit and core essence of the dish was wholly captured, and it turned out to be a very easy, quick, yet total knockout, weeknight meal.

pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin over apple turnip hash

Only one recipe note: this recipe requires tying the tenderloin up with kitchen string. Of course you want to make certain you have cut all the string off before serving. But you should also make very certain you throw all the strings in the garbage. While humans do not want to eat pork-sopped kitchen string, it’s possible that you have a cat who would love such a thing. Unfortunately, kitties cannot property digest kitchen string. Don’t ask me how I know this. So just make sure you have thrown it out before sitting down to dinner. 🙂 Enjoy!

Pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin over apple-turnip hash

{One year ago: Banana Bread}

Source: adapted from The Scarpetta Cookbook by Scott Conant

Ingredients:
3-4 oz. deli-sliced pancetta
1 pork tenderloin, about 1 ½ lbs.
Fresh cracked black pepper
Olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 left whole and 1 minced, divided
3 garlic cloves, 2 smashed and peeled, 1 minced
1 small-to-medium turnip, peeled and diced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
Kosher salt

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 275 F. On a clean work surface, unroll the slices of pancetta. Sprinkle the black pepper all over the pork tenderloin. Starting at one end, wrap the pancetta around the pork. Tie with kitchen string at about 4-5 intervals along the tenderloin to secure it. If at either end you have any portion of naked pork tenderloin, lightly salt just that part that isn’t encased in pancetta.
Add 1 tbs olive oil to a cast-iron or other oven-safe skillet. Heat over medium-high and add the tenderloin. Brown well on all sides. Remove from the heat and pour the fat out of the skillet. Add the smashed garlic, the thyme, and 2 sprigs of rosemary to the skillet on one side. Place the browned tenderloin on the other side and slide it into the oven. Roast until the internal temperature reads 135 F on a meat thermometer, anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes depending on your oven and thickness of your pork.
While the pork is roasting, heat another drizzle of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turnips and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and about halfway cooked, 5-6 minutes. Add the apple, the minced garlic and minced rosemary, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the turnip is cooked completely, another 5 minutes or so.
Remove the tenderloin from the oven and let rest on a cutting board for 5-7 minutes. Cut the string off and using a sharp knife, slice the pork tenderloin into rounds. To serve, divide the hash among to dinner plates. Lay half the pork tenderloin slices neatly across the hash. Serve immediately.

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

pork schnitzel sandwiches with pinot-blackberry gravy

Today I find myself a bit pensive, as yesterday was another thirty-something birthday for me. It made me feel very reflective and somewhat well, odd, I guess. See, back in my mid to late twenties, I picked an arbitrary age – seriously arbitrary, as in, not even a “milestone” age – and set two goals that “should” be accomplished by that age. Yesterday I turned that age. And neither goal has been met.

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

The first goal was financial in nature, and looking back, it was almost laughably ambitious. So I don’t feel particularly bad for not meeting it, but it does make me pause and reflect on my life and the unexpected twists and turns it’s taken. Like the legal career I abandoned. And if I can be brutally honest, there’s always a part of me that feels a little bit like a failure for no longer being a lawyer. Even though I know I made the right decision, a small part of me saw fit to pop up yesterday, unwelcome, and derisively ask if I would have met that financial goal by now were I still an attorney (in all realistic likelihood, probably not). But it still made me feel a little bit bad.

pinot noir blackberry gravy

The other goal I set for myself had to do with having kids. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always felt extremely ambivalent about becoming a parent. It’s a feeling I always expected would go away to one side or the other, and when it hadn’t by my mid-twenties, I set a goal that by the age I turned yesterday, I would know for sure whether or not I wanted kids. Well, here it is, and I still don’t know. In truth, I feel perfectly fine without a baby, and don’t feel like I’m missing anything in the present; but I also don’t feel averse to the idea of having one, and I worry that years later I’ll regret it if I don’t experience motherhood.

pork cutlet sandwiches

So what does all this have to do with pork sandwiches? Well, nothing really; it’s just what’s on my mind today. Anywho, these sandwiches are insanely delicious, and I did promise you some more blackberry posts. This recipe was apparently inspired by ingredients local to the Portland, Oregon area, a locale I haven’t yet visited, though I’d very much like to someday. And I don’t really have any recipe notes, it was very straight-forward and easy to pull together. Enjoy!

Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Pinot-Blackberry Gravy

Source: adapted from The Book of Burger by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:
SANDWICHES:
½ cup whole, peeled hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt and black pepper
Flour
2 large eggs
4 (6 oz.) boneless, center-cut pork chops, pounded to about ¼-inch thick
Olive oil
Small handful each of fresh parsley and mint, minced together
4 brioche hamburger buns, split and toasted
PINOT-BLACKBERRY GRAVY:
1 ½ tbs unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 tbs flour
¼ cup pinot noir
A small handful of fresh blackberries
¼ cup chicken stock

Directions:
Grind the hazelnuts in a mini food processor to fine crumbs. Place them on a plate and add the panko to them. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything to combine. Add a bit of flour to another plate, and season with salt and pepper. In a pie plate, beat the eggs with a splash of water and a little bit of salt and pepper. Place the pork chops first in the flour and coat on both sides. Shake off the excess, then dip in the egg wash. Let the excess drip off, then place in the hazelnut-panko mixture. Coat on both sides, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with the remaining chops.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium-high. Coat the bottom of the skillet with the olive oil. Add the chops to the hot oil and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Do this in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the chops to a plate.
Make the gravy. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook to soften, a couple of minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking or stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine, and cook about 1 minute to reduce (it will bubble immediately and reduce very quickly, so keep an eye on it). Add the blackberries and chicken stock. Mash the blackberries with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Once it has thickened to a desired consistency, reduce the heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. You want the consistency to be thick enough to spread on a sandwich and not make too much of a mess.
To assemble the sandwiches, place the pork chops on a bottom bun, then top with a few heaping spoonfuls of gravy, then sprinkle some of the chopped herbs on top. Top with the top hamburger buns and dig in!

Kansas City Barbecued Spare Ribs #SundaySupper

Kansas City Barbecued Spare Ribs

Welcome to another #SundaySupper! The theme for this week is, very appropriately, Labor Day. I hope everyone is enjoying their Labor Day weekend and getting to relax and enjoy some delicious grub.

barbecue spare ribs

spare ribs on the grill

Personally, I am LOVING the return of college football, and we are definitely grilling tomorrow. For this week’s post I chose these amazing spare ribs we made a few weeks ago. Grilling and barbecuing are somewhat synonymous with Labor Day, so I thought these would be most fitting. They are simple and basic, yet authentic and delicious.

Kansas City Barbecued Spare Ribs

I’m more experienced with baby back ribs or beef ribs, so I wanted to make a point to broaden my horizons a little. I was a tad nervous about how these would do, but have no fear, we were very pleased with how these spare ribs turned out. We did them low and slow on the charcoal grill, basted with a homemade Kansas City barbecue sauce (yes, the homemade version of *that one* – way better than store-bought, by the way), and they were quite tasty! Smoky, full-flavored, tender, amazing. So enjoy your Labor Day (or at least get paid overtime, right?) and happy grilling to you all! Oh, and be sure to check out the rest of the #SundaySupper posts I have linked below the recipe!

we ate our spare ribs!

{One year ago: Strawberry Scones with an Almond Glaze}

Source: Spice Rub heavily adapted from Sauces, Rubs and Marinades by Steven Raichlen
Kansas City Barbecue Sauce adapted from Wife of a Chef’s Blog

Ingredients:
3 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs granulated sugar
3 tbs smoked paprika
2 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs celery salt
1/2 tbs freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tbs ancho chile powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp ground ginger
A pinch of ground allspice
A pinch of cayenne
1 rack of St. Louis spare ribs, trimmed of silver skin

BARBECUE SAUCE:
2 cups ketchup
2 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs liquid smoke
4 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 tbs molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbs your favorite barbecue rub or seasoning, commercial or homemade

Directions:
Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Mix well with your fingers. Place the ribs on a large plate. Sprinkle the rub onto both sides of the ribs. Pat it in well. Wrap the ribs on the plate in plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. Bring them out about 30 minutes before you grill them.
Set a few handfuls of hickory wood chips soaking in a bowl of water 30 minutes before you start grilling.
Preheat the grill to low. We use a charcoal grill, which I firmly believe is best for low and slow barbecue. On my small-ish grill, low is 25 briquettes. When coals are ready, push them onto one-half of the lower grate and place a drip pan on the other half. Place a handful of drained wood chips on top of the coals. Oil the top grill grate, then place the ribs on the grate over the drip pan. Close the lid, making sure the vent on the lid is only a quarter of the way open.
Replenish with 7-8 briquettes and a half a handful of wood chips every half an hour. Continue until meat has pulled back from the ends of the bones a quarter inch, about 2 1/2 hours. When they are approaching completion, throw on some extra briquettes to raise the heat level. In the last half hour or so of cooking, brush some sauce on the ribs. Then replace the lid for the remainder of cooking time to let the glaze lacquer.
Start the barbecue sauce as soon as the ribs are on the grill. In a medium saucepan, combine all the sauce ingredients. Heat over medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes to let the sugar dissolve. Shut off the heat. Set aside about 1/2 a cup for glazing the ribs.
When ribs are done, remove and let them rest on a cutting board for about 5 minutes. Slice them into individual ribs; I’ve found that a serrated knife works best. Serve with the barbecue sauce and a bunch of napkins.

Here’s the rest of the #SundaySupper posts!

Refreshing Drinks

Hibiscus Flower Margaritas from La Cocina de Leslie
Cherry Bourbon Lemonade from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Mint Sweet Tea from Supper for a Steal
Pineapple soda floats from Healthy. Delicious.

Amazing Appetizers and Sides

Hatch, Chive & Chevre Figs from Shockingly Delicious
Grilled Corn Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing from girlichef
Cucumber Cups from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob from The urban Mrs
Stuffed Baby Sweet Pepper from Country Girl In The Village
Layered Nachos from Mama’s Blissful Bites
Grilled Peach Salad from Curious Cuisiniere
Caramelized Onion Relish from What Smells So Good?
Strawberry and Chicken Pasta Salad from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Chorizo and Cheese Jalapeno Poppers from I Run For Wine
Honey Peach Muffins from Mess Makes Food
Spicy Bacon Popcorn from Nik Snacks
Sausage Rolls from Food Lust People Love
Deviled Eggs Stuffed With Garlic Guacamole from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
Tortellini Caprese Salad from Webicurean

Enviously Good Entreés

Grilled Swordfish Kabobs with Sun-Dried Tomato & Olive Salsa from La Bella Vita Cucina
Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Skewers with Homemade Teriyaki from Juanita’s Cocina
Beer Brined BBQ Chicken from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Kansas City Barbecued Spare Ribs from The Texan New Yorker
Grilled Italian Turkey Burgers from Table for Seven
Red Wine Burgers with Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese from Neighborfood
Red, White & Blue Spicy Burgers from Daily Dish Recipes
Deluxe Pizza Burgers from Foxes Love Lemons
Stir-Fry Rice with Turkey Bacon and Eggs from Basic N Delicious
Grilled Herb Shrimp from Magnolia Days
Tropical Shrimp Kabobs from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Spicy Sea Scallop Skewers with Mint Yoghurt Sauce from Soni’s Food
Proscuitto & Spinach Macaroni and Cheese from Family Foodie

Delicious Desserts

Old-Fashioned Pineapple Up-Side-Down Cake from The Foodie Army Wife
Egg Free Chocolate Mousse from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Banana Cream Pie Cupcakes from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Fresh Raspberry Bran Muffins from Killer Bunnies, Inc
Peach Cheesecake Crumb Bars from Chocolate Moosey
Peanut Butter Cream Pie with a Pretzel Crust from Cookin’ Mimi
S’mores Brownies from Alida’s Kitchen
Ice Cream Granola Truffles from Vintage Kitchen Notes
Strawberries with Red Wine Reduction and Whipped Cream from Crazy Foodie Stunts
Peach Kuchen {#Dairyfree} from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Raspberry Lime Cupcakes from Treats & Trinkets
Summer Berry Chocolate Cake from Happy Baking Days
Peanut Butter Vegan Dreams from NinjaBaking.com
Red, White & Blue Jello Parfaits from In The Kitchen With KP
Richest Ever Chocolate Pound Cake with an Orange Ganache from Eat, Move, Shine
Caramel Brownies from Pies and Plots
Red, White & Blue Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Dip Trio from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

Banh Mi

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A banh mi just might be the best sandwich on the planet.  If you’ve never tried one before, I implore you to track one down in your city as soon as possible. Or just make this one!

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The banh mi sandwich is Vietnamese street food.  They are very popular in Ho Chi Minh City and in many North American and European cities with a strong Vietnamese immigrant community.  The sandwich came about as a result of French colonization of Indochina.  It’s truly a fusion of French and Vietnamese flavors.  In New Orleans, which has a large Vietnamese community, they are called Vietnamese po’boys. (Which reminds me, Matt and I are headed to New Orleans next week, I need to track one down while we’re there.)

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I ate my first ever banh mi about a year ago, in my own city of New York.  A little bit of searching Google and Yelp led me to a small restaurant on the edges of Little Italy and Chinatown called Banh Mi Saigon.  These are apparently the best in New York you can find, or so I was told. You know what? I believe it.  Matt and I both had a religious experience with those sandwiches.  They were so amazing, and I knew instantly that I had to make them at home sometime.

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A banh mi is marinated pork that is cooked up and sliced or shredded.  The sandwich is assembled on French bread, with mayonnaise (that part is not optional!), and pickled Asian vegetables, plus some sliced cucumber and sliced jalapenos.  You can add Sriracha as a condiment if you like. And some versions call for mousse pate. This particular recipe is based on the NOLA version and does not include it. And I do not recall the sandwich I ate in NYC having the pate. But some do.

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The recipe I made called for pork tenderloin to be grilled and sliced.  You could easily sub in the same amount of pork shoulder, then slow cook and shred it.  Making these at home does require some prep ahead of time, but they are much easier than I was anticipating.  I hope you will make these sometime soon.  There’s no reason to deprive yourself of such deliciousness!

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Source: Emeril at the Grill by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:
2 green onions, minced
1 fresh red chile, such as Fresno, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbs Vietnamese fish sauce
1 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 French baguette
Spicy Vietnamese Mayonnaise (recipe to follow), or plain mayonnaise
Pickled Carrots and Daikon (recipe to follow)
1 Kirby cucumber, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste

Directions:
In a resealable bag, combine the green onions, red chile, garlic, sugar, black pepper, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pork, turn to coat evenly, and seal the bag. Allow the pork to marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours and up to overnight, turning it occasionally.
Remove the pork from the marinade and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
Pat the pork dry and brush it all over with the oil. Grill the pork, turning often, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 F. Remove pork and let rest, tented with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes. Then cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Cut the baguette crosswise into 4 pieces. Cut each piece in half horizontally, but don’t cut all the way through. Remove some of the interior bread so it is less dense. Spread both sides of the bread liberally with the mayonnaise. Divide the sliced pork evenly among the bottom halves of the sandwiches. Top with the Pickled Carrots and Daikon, then cucumber slices, then jalapeno slices. Garnish with a few cilantro leaves, then close the sandwich. Serve immediately.

SPICY VIETNAMESE MAYONNAISE

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbs Sriracha sauce
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp Vietnamese fish sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to blend thoroughly. Serve immediately, or refrigerate a few hours to let the flavors marry more intensely.

PICKLED CARROTS AND DAIKON

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Ingredients:
1 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp crushed chile flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonol
1 cup thinly sliced daikon

Directions:
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, crushed chile flakes, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a non-reactive bowl or baking dish and add the carrots and daikon. Make sure they are all coated. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Gas Station Pork Tacos

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When you grow up with something, you tend to take it for granted.  You don’t realize that it’s special, or unique, or even downright weird.  It makes for a somewhat, well, insular situation.  And often, it takes someone wholly outside the situation pointing out the oddities to make you realize that whatever you took for granted is special, unique, or downright weird.  Culinarily speaking, that’s what marrying a non-Texan did for me.  It made me realize that the cuisine there is very special, and maybe, just maybe, sometimes a little odd.

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Matt not only didn’t grow up in Texas, he never set foot in the state until we were seriously dating each other.  Seeing Texas through his eyes has been quite an experience for me.  It’s been somewhat enlightening, occasionally frustrating, but mostly just funny.

“How can you not know how to square dance?  Didn’t you learn that in elementary school gym class?”

“Where are all the highway signs saying ‘Don’t mess with Pennsylvania’?”

“At the wedding, we’ll have to dance the Cotton-Eyed Joe!  Oh, you’ve never even heard the song?  Huh?!”

“Really?  Your gas stations didn’t sell freshly made tacos?”

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Yep, some gas stations in Texas have little kitchens in the back and they sell freshly made tacos. Some of them even have an area where you can sit down to eat them. Now to be clear, not all gas stations in Texas sell freshly made tacos – not by a long shot. In fact, most of them don’t. But a few of them in Dallas do, enough that it’s become kind of a Texas thing. Enough so that the natives can walk into a gas station that smells like a delicious taqueria and think nothing of it. And enough so that born and bred Texans like myself don’t really realize it’s weird to have a little Tex-Mex restaurant in the back of well, a gas station.

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Fortunately, I have a loving, darling husband who had no problem pointing out the oddity of it all. So in response, I just made him some pork tacos that are reminiscent of those you would find in a gas station taqueria. He still thinks the idea of selling fresh, delicious tacos out the back of a gas station is peculiar. But I must add that he said this in between bites of scarfing the tacos and proclaiming them to be utterly amazing. So there you go.

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Source: ever so slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

Ingredients:
4 dried pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
1 canned chipotle in adobo
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch of ground cloves
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tbs white vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
2 tbs vegetable oil
6 jalapeno chiles
Corn tortillas, warmed
Garnishes of your choice, such as minced cilantro, salsa, guacamole, diced yellow onion, and lime wedges

Directions:
Toast the pasilla chiles in a dry, medium saucepan over high heat on each side for about 10 seconds, just until fragrant. Fill the pan with enough water to cover the chiles. Leave it over high heat until the water boils, then shut off the heat and cover the pot. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes.
While the pasillas are working, rinse and thoroughly dry the pork with paper towels. Trim the fat then dice into half-inch-size pieces.
Once the pasillas are rehydrated, lift them out with tongs and place them in a blender. Add to the blender the chipotle chile, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, orange juice, pineapple juice, vinegar and olive oil. Blend until a smooth puree forms. If it’s not cooperating, add a little bit of the chile soaking liquid to make it come together. Season to taste with salt.
Place the pork in a large resealable plastic baggie and carefully add the chile puree. Seal the bag and squish it around so the pork is completely immersed in the puree. Set it in a baking dish or mixing bowl and refrigerate for 8 hours.
Before cooking, let the pork sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. To cook the pork, heat two large skillets over medium heat and drizzle in the vegetable oil (1 tbs for each skillet). Divide the pork equally between the two skillets and fry for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
While the pork is cooking, place the jalapenos in a single file line down the middle of a baking sheet. Turn your broiler to high. Place the pan under the broiler as close as you possibly can to the heat source without touching it. Cook for 10 minutes, turning once, until blackened and softened. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, then slice the jalapenos.
To assemble the tacos, place some pork in the warmed tortilla and top with some sliced roasted jalapenos* and whatever garnishes you like.

* Um, roasted jalapenos – where have you been all my life??? These were some of the best, if not THE best jalapenos I’ve ever tasted. I am definitely using this trick again and again!!

Blood Orange-Braised Pork Shoulder

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When I get a new cookbook, sometimes I get overwhelmed trying to decide what to make first because the whole darn thing looks so friggin’ amazing. When that happens, I either set it back on the shelf and realize a few weeks later that I haven’t even used it yet and feel rather foolish; or, I will just pick a recipe at random and make it no matter what.

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But other times when I get a new cookbook, one or two recipes will jump out at me, and they will continue to call my name and nag at me until I make them come to life in my kitchen. When I got Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen for Christmas, of course I excitedly flipped through it, and discovered it was going to fall squarely in the latter category of new cookbooks. That is, one recipe in particular jumped out at me and consumed my thoughts and dreams until I created it in my own kitchen. That recipe, my friends, is a pork shoulder braised in blood orange juice.

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So I suppose it’s quite fortuitous that I received this book around Christmastime, because blood orange season occurs shortly thereafter. It’s still blood orange season for a few more weeks, so I highly advise you to go out and make this one while you still can. There are no words to describe how utterly amazing it was! But I’ll try.

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It was impossibly moist, melt-in-your-mouth tender strands of pork; it was food-gasmic, explosively flavored sauce; it was rich and warm and comforting on a cold night; it was fight-over-the-leftovers fare. In a word, it was awesome. Make it soon, you’ll love it!

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Source: adapted from Keys to the Kitchen by Aida Mollenkamp

Ingredients:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbs kosher salt
1 (3 1/2 – 4 lb.) boneless pork shoulder (sometimes labeled Boston butt), tied with kitchen twine to make a uniform roast shape
2 tbs canola oil
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup whiskey
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
12 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
15 black peppercorns
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 yellow onions, cut into eighths
A few fresh thyme leaves, for garnish

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Arrange a rack in the middle.
Combine the brown sugar and salt in a small bowl; mix well. Rub the mixture all over the pork and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes.
When ready, heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until it is just beginning to smoke. Add the pork and sear on all sides, moving only to rotate, until nicely browned on all sides. Remove to a plate.
Add the orange juice, stock, whiskey, soy sauce, and vinegar to the pot and scrape the bottom of the pot to incorporate any browned bits clinging to the bottom. When the liquid boils, decrease the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, thyme, onions and the pork.
Once the liquid is at a simmer, cover with aluminum foil, then with the pot’s cover, and place in the oven. Cook until the pork is fork-tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Baste once or twice during the cooking process.
When the pork is ready, carefully remove it with tongs to a plate. Shred the meat with two forks.
Discard the solids in the meat juices with a slotted spoon and boil for a few minutes until it is to your desired thickness. Place the shredded pork back in the sauce and stir to combine and heat through again. Shut off the heat, and serve immediately, garnished with the thyme leaves.
Suggestions: serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or mashed parsnips.

Maple Glazed Baby Back Ribs

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Mmm, riiiibs… (I said that in Homer Simpson’s voice, by the way). I love them – always have, always will. As I’m sure you can imagine, Texas boasts quite an abundance of barbecue joints, so I was quite exposed to them growing up. Also, my mom makes them at home from time to time. Definitely a fave.

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Ribs are the subject of such debates though. So many personal preferences out there. Baby back ribs or spare ribs? Smoked or oven-roasted? Dry or wet? Toothsome texture or falling off the bone? What are your personal preferences?

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Matt has very strong opinions about ribs. He always wants dry rubbed, smoked, toothsome baby back ribs, preferably with a bit of spicy kick in the spice rub. I like mine dry rubbed then glazed, so you get a bit of lacquer going on; I definitely prefer smoked to oven roasted and I like mine to be a tad toothsome. I’ll say that right now I tend to favor baby backs, but I should also admit that I’m probably a bit biased because I rarely had spare ribs growing up. Every time I’ve had them I’ve loved them, but seeing as ribs are so fatty, I reserve them for splurge occasions and I don’t tend to make them all that frequently.

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These ribs were spice crusted then glazed with a maple syrup concoction which made them pleasantly sticky and richly flavored. We both approved. Our method for cooking ribs has taken awhile to perfect, but it’s awesome. It will result in more toothsome ribs. They will not be fall-off-the-bone texture. But they are moist and tender and delicious. Everyone who has tried them has fallen in love. So try this method and see what you think – hopefully you’ll be smitten too. And when I say “our” method I really should say Matt’s method. He is so amazing at the grill, and he really came up with the specifics. I’ve detailed it in the directions below, down to the amount of charcoal and the exact timing.

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Source: adapted from Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs by Steven Raichlen

Ingredients:
2 tbs turbinado, or raw sugar
1 tbs dry mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs ground or dried sage
2 racks of pork baby back ribs
1 cup maple syrup
3 tbs ketchup
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs Dijon mustard
1 tbs cider vinegar
1 tbs prepared horseradish
½ turbinado, or raw sugar
1 ½ cups wood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour

Directions:
To make the rub, combine the 2 tbs turbinado, dry mustard, salt, black pepper, and sage in a small bowl.
Prep the ribs by removing the thin, papery membrane from the back of them. Using needlenose pliers is honestly the best method for doing this. Pat the meat very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the rub on both sides of both the racks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the glaze and prep the grill.
To make the glaze, combine the maple syrup, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, and horseradish in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, whisking to mix. Reduce the heat to medium and let the glaze simmer gently until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Set the glaze aside.
Set up your grill for indirect grilling to low heat (about 25 briquettes). Place a handful of wood chips over the coals, and place a drip pan on one side (beside the coals). Brush the grill grate with oil. Place the ribs meat side up over the drip pan and away from the heat. The grill’s top vent should be about 50% open. Every 30 minutes, place on 7-8 more briquettes and another handful of wood chips.
The ribs will cook for a total of 2 to 2 ½ hours. You will know they are ready when the meat has pulled back about a quarter inch from the tips of the bones.
Liberally glaze the ribs with the maple glaze at 1 hour, 1 ½ hours and once again when you have determined they are done cooking.
When the ribs are done and glazed one last time, sprinkle them with the remaining ½ cup turbinado and place them over the hot coals to caramelize the sugars, about 3 minutes.
Remove to a large cutting board and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Cut into individual ribs with a serrated knife and serve.

American Breakfast Sausage

Want to hear a story about how I am an idiot?  I thought so!  Here goes…

I have decided to start making sausage from scratch.  First, I bought the KitchenAid stand mixer sausage stuffer attachment.  Then I bought a book on home sausage making.  I also did some internet research on just how to go about this endeavor.  Everything I read indicated you need two things for sausage making: casings (either hog or sheep), and pork fat.  I ordered some casings on Amazon, but now I needed pork fat.

The things I read weren’t terribly specific, they just said pork fat.  That’s lard, right?  I ventured to the lower east side of Manhattan, found a butcher shop, and they sold me five pounds of lard.

Before I made my first batch of sausage, I happened to run across an internet article that further specified the term pork fat.  It’s not lard, people.  No, when someone says you need pork fat for sausage, they are meaning pork backfat.  Lard is rendered backfat.  Backfat is taken directly from the pig, and that’s what you need.  Groan.

But that’s okay, I’ll just get some backfat. I found a company online that would ship and ordered five pounds of backfat from them.  It wasn’t cheap – about $39.  Then, the company would only ship via FedEx two-day delivery, so shipping came in at an exorbitant $23.  Oy.

So it shipped in two days as promised, and upon opening the shipment and finding the brochures, I realize that the shop that sold me the backfat is in Manhattan.  They are a twenty minute subway ride from my apartmentAnd I just paid them $23 in shipping!!!  Arrrrgh.  Not my finest moment.

But, I now have the backfat, it did its job beautifully, and I made two pounds of bulk breakfast sausage that is oh so delicious.  I used one pound to make breakfast for dinner with scrambled eggs and grits. But it would have also been delicious with these buttermilk biscuits. Now if I can just figure out to get through 5 pounds of lard! I mean, there’s only so much pie crust one can make…

Source: adapted from The Sausage Cookbook Bible, by Ellen Brown

Note: I made bulk sausage, so that is how I will write the recipe.

Ingredients:
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt
1/2 pound pork backfat
2 tsp dried sage
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Directions:
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Set aside and let cool completely.
Cut the pork and backfat into 1 inch cubes. Make sure they are very chilled, then run them through a meat grinder on the coarse setting.
Add the sage, salt, pepper, marjoram, and nutmeg to the meat. Then add the onion mixture.
Also add 1/4 cup ice water to the pork mixture and mix together with your hands until well blended. Fry 1 tablespoon of the mixture to taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Transfer the mixture to a plastic food storage bag and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to marry the flavors.
When ready to cook, preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in a touch of olive or vegetable oil.
Form patties into desired size and fry until just cooked through. Cook time will vary depending on your patty’s size and thickness, but I formed mine pretty small – standard breakfast sausage patty size, and mine took about 3 minutes per side.