Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Pork’

As I have mentioned a few times, I’m signed up for a CSA through Marin Sun Farms.  Each month, I get 4 pounds of a braising or roasting cut and 5 pounds of ground meat.  It’s taken me a few months to find a variety of things to do with the ground meat.  I can only make so many burgers, meat sauce, and chili.  Shepherd’s Pie is now in my regular repertoire and now, I’ve got these.

They are really good and really easy.  The ingredients list looks long, but it really isn’t too complicated.  I read online that lemongrass can be frozen, which is a trick I haven’t tried yet, but I’m planning on buying a bunch and experimenting so I don’t have to make a special trip to a store that sells it just to make these.

And don’t skip the sugary coating.  That’s the best part.

Vietnamese Meatballs in Lettuce Wraps
Recipe from Food and Wine

Ingredients
For the meatballs
1 pound ground meat (I use ground pork, the recipe recommends chicken)
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (I skipped this)
3 small shallots, finely chopped (I used onions)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk of fresh lemongrass, tender white inner bulb only, minced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup granulated sugar
To Assemble
1 head Boston or red leaf lettuce, leaves separated
Thinly sliced cucumber, radish, and/or red onion
Sprigs of cilantro and mint
1 small seedless cucumber—peeled, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 small red onion, halved and sliced
Asian chili sauce, if you want, but I don’t think you need it

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 and cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix the ground meat with the shallots, garlic, lemongrass, chopped cilantro and mint, cornstarch, salt and pepper, and fish sauce, if you are using it, and mix with your hands.

Spread the sugar on a plate.  Form the meat into small 1 1/2 balls, roll in the sugar, and place on the baking sheet.  You should have about 16 balls.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes.  Serve the meatballs on a platter with the lettuce and other goodies.  Particularly delicious with a cool glass of sauvignon blanc.

Read Full Post »

I’m cheating a bit here because my husband made the hard part of this.

In case you couldn’t tell by my infrequent posts lately, I’ve had a hectic few weeks.  Crazy deadlines at work, trip to Sonoma with friends, more chaos at work, and friends from out of town.   Somewhere in the middle of that, I managed to flip through the current issue of Saveur, saw this amazing Lidia Bastianich recipe, and realized I had everything I needed to make it.  Unfortunately, the night that I had planned to make it, I was buried in work, so my amazing husband made the bread.  When I finally pulled myself away from my laptop to make the filling, that came together easily and dinner was ready.

So, I can’t really speak to how easy the bread was, but it didn’t look too difficult and it was delicious.   It was simple and delicate and would probably go well with a variety of fillings.

If you can’t find broccoli rabe, I think Swiss chard would probably go well here.

Umbrian Flatbread Sandwiches with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
Recipe by Lidia Bastianich from Saveur

Ingredients

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
4 cups broccoli rabe
1 1/2 lbs pork sausage (I used sweet Italian)

Directions

In a small bowl, stir together yeast and 10 tbsp. water heated to 115°; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Combine flour and salt in a food processor; pulse to blend. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to yeast mixture and, with food processor running, pour in yeast mixture. Process until a dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; knead for 6 minutes. Form dough into a ball; transfer to a large oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 1⁄2 hours.

Punch the dough down; divide in half. Lightly flour one piece of dough and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 9″ disk. Place disk on a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover dough with a damp towel; let sit for 15 minutes. Heat a 12″ cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook each dough disk, flipping occasionally, until light brown, about 10 minutes.
To cook the sausage, fill a skillet with some water, add the sausage, and simmer until the sausage is cooked through.  Remove the sausage from the skillet and set aside.   Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in the skillet.  Add the garlic and chile flakes and stir for a minute.   Add the broccoli rabe and cook until hot, about 3-5 minutes.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the sausage and return to the skillet.  Stir in with the broccoli rabe until the rabe is cooked and everything is incorporated.

Slice each flat bread in half horizontally to create two rounds – this is easier than it sounds!  Arrange broccoli rabe and sausages on bottom half of bread, drizzle with a little oil if you’d like, and top with other half. Cut sandwiches into wedges and serve.

Read Full Post »

This week, I prepared another piece of meat from my meat CSA through Marin Sun Farms – a boneless leg of pork.  Not something I’ve ever eaten before, as apparently the vast majority of this cut goes to making hams.    There wasn’t even any useful instructions in the Joy of Cooking.  The series of tubes to the rescue! I discovered that it’s about 30 minutes at 350 for every pound, until it hits around 160.  Easy peasy.

I marinated it in this marinade from the December 2008 Food and Wine, using local citrus, rosemary, and bay, and not local fennel seeds and juniper berries.  I’ve made this marinade it a few times for pork roasts and rarely have every single ingredient and it doesn’t really matter.   Zest a couple oranges and a couple lemons, juice them and whisk in some olive oil.  For herbs, crush some fennel seed and juniper berries in a mortar and pestle, add in a few springs of rosemary and some bay leaves, and you are good to go.  If you don’t have a few of these things – no worries.  It’s still going to be amazing.  Let it marinate overnight, flip it over a couple times, and wipe the meat dry just before cooking.  

The leg needed to be covered for the first half hour or so, so it didn’t dry out.  All and all, the 2.5 pound roast took about an hour and 10 minutes to hit 155, then I let it rest under some tin foil for about 5-10 minutes, which got it just perfect.
 

I picked up some cute little potatoes at the farmers market, so I tossed them in some olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper, and put them in the pan with the pork to roast.  I made a quick pan sauce with the drippings, a pat of butter, and a bit of white wine.  And along side of it, a salad of radicchio, walnuts, and blood orange infused olive oil from Stonehouse here in Berkeley.  My walnuts were not local , or maybe they were, as the bag from Trader Joe’s says “California Walnuts” on it.  Not bad.

While prepping everything, it was all starting to look pretty delicious and seemed like a good time to open up something good.  My “Hello Vino” app for my iPhone suggested viognier, gerwurztraminer, or zinfandel to go with fruity pork dishes.  No viognier or gerwurtz were on hand, but this is Northern California, so zins are plentiful chez arugulove.  Hello Vino even suggested a zin from Mazzocco, a lovely little vineyard in Healdsburg which we visited in November with friends.  So, we happened to have a bottle of their zin on hand, making the choice very easy.  What luck!

Read Full Post »

The challenge with relying on the farmers market is that you never know what you are going to get.  When I made my trip yesterday, it was my first in nearly a month and things had changed a little.  Some of the vendors that I rely on weren’t there and a few others were carrying a different mix of produce.  I had gone with the expectation that I’d make some sort of vegetable enchiladas with my favorite roasted tomatillo salsa.  Except no tomatillos or chilies were to be found yesterday.

So, I loaded up my backpack with a bunch of stuff and tried to think through a plan on my walk home.  A quick look in my Flavor Bible confirmed my suspicion that fennel and apple would taste nicely together and I set to work.
 

I relied on this recipe from Food & Wine in executing my vision.  The fennel sausage comes from The Fatted Calf and all the other produce comes from various vendors at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.  The salad is a mix of arugula, radicchio, and delicious local walnuts, dressed with a lemon vinagrette (though my olive oil is not local).  While the cider is from the Farmers’ Market as well, the wine I used, admittedly, was purchased at Trader Joe’s, but hails from Healdsburg.

Braised Sausage with Fennel and Apple
Inspired by this recipe from Food and Wine

Ingredients
4 fennel sausages, approximately 1 pound total
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1-2 heads of fennel, thinly sliced.  Mine were quite small so I used two, but if you find a big one, it’s probably enough.
1 large leek, thinly sliced
1 cup of cider
1/4 cup of dry white wine (or more cider, chicken stock, or even just water)
a pat of butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Place the sausages in a large skillet.  Add a half cup of cider and a half cup or so of water…just enough so they are at least halfway covered, but not so much that they are completely covered.  Simmer on medium high heat for about 7-8 minutes or so.  Remove from pan, cover, and set aside.  At this point, there may still be some liquid in the pan, but either way, it’s OK.

Reduce heat to medium and add a pat of butter.  Add the leek and saute for a few minutes.  Add the wine and let that simmer, scraping up the carmelized bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the apples and fennel, and cook for about 4 or 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.  When they start to soften, add the remaining cider.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer for another minute or two, until it starts to reduce.

Add the sausage and any juices that are on the plate.  Cook for another minute or two, until the sausages are warmed up again, and you are ready to serve.

I garnished mine with a few fennel fronds just before serving.  I really liked the dish.  I’ve never been a big fennel fan, but I liked it here.  I think the apples made it sweet and the fennel cut the sweetness of the apple, so it didn’t taste sugary.  Great combo!

Read Full Post »

One of the biggest perks about moving to the west coast is the good Mexican food.  I actually don’t understand how Chipotle is even profitable in this state, when the local taco trucks and burrito joints are so vastly superior. 

As part of my evolution into a taco snob, I have sworn off those yellow boxed taco kits, with the stale corn shells, baggies of sauce, and that weird spice packet.  My taco kit looks like this:

On the left, handmade soft corn tortillas, from Primavera, in Sonoma.  On the right, chorizo from Fatted Calf, located in Napa and made from happy, organic, local pigs.   Both were purchased at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.

So my local meal as part of the Dark Days challenge this week was tacos.  Because the chorizo was quite pricey, I mixed it with some sweet potatoes to stretch it a little farther.  The sweetness of the potatoes complimented the spice and the starchiness worked really well with the fat.  On the side, a quick citrus and radish salad made from local Persian limes, satsuma mandarins, radishes, and pomegranate seeds.  I mixed them together and sprinkled them all with a bit of salt and a bit of sugar.

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Tacos
Ingredients

8 oz Mexican chorizo (the raw, loose kind, not the Spanish, smoked and cured kind)
2-3 sweet potatoes, diced into small chunks, about 3/4 of an inch
Peppers – I used a couple small sweet chiles, almost like baby gypsy peppers, finely minced.  If you want something spicier, toss in a jalapeno or serrano.
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Half of a medium onion, chopped
A bunch of cilantro
A lemon or a lime
Corn tortillas (recipe should make about 8-10 tacos)

Directions
Combine the onion and cilantro with a generous sprinkling of salt.   I used a mortar and pestle to pound them together.  If you don’t have one, you can whiz them in the food processor, or just chop them together, and maybe press on them a bit with a fork to release some of their oils.  Add to a bowl and hit off with a squirt of lime juice and a bit of zest.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, warm a bit of olive oil – a tablespoon or so.  Add the sweet potatoes and saute for 5-10 minutes until soft.  If they start to stick, don’t add more oil.  Just add a quarter cup of water or so, as needed.  Basically, you want them cooked before you add the chorizo, since that will cook quickly.  But you don’t want to use a lot of oil because the chorizo is fatty.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, add the garlic and peppers.  Saute for about a minute.

Add the chorizo to the sweet potato mixture, breaking it up with your wooden spoon.  Cook for a few minutes until the chorizo is thoroughly cooked.  If it starts to dry out or stick, add a splash or two of water.

To serve, warm up the tortillas and fill with a couple spoonfuls of the chorizo-potato mixture.   Top with the onion-cilantro mixture and serve.

Read Full Post »

img_6296

Growing up, a staple at family parties was keilbasa in grape jelly.  There was other stuff in it, like ketchup or barbeque sauce, and probably some Lipton French Onion Soup mix, because wasn’t that stuff in everything in the 70s and 80s?  The dish was usually served warm, in a crockpot or on a hot plate or something, and we’d spoon it up onto our paper plates right next to the macaroni salad dressed with Miracle Whip.  It was the type of recipe that probably originated on the back of a jar of Smuckers, designed by The Man to find new ways to help the hungry masses injest sodium and high fructose corn syrup.  It was chock full of processed pork scraps and chemicals, but it was sweet and spicy, and went perfectly with a styrofoam cup of Sprite.

Since this blog is a Sandra-Lee-Free-Zone, I’m not even going to try to recreate that dish.  But The Man did strike gold when he combined pork products with grapes.  Thankfully, Bon Appetit has come up with a version of that delicious combination that won’t make you hang your head in shame when you eat it.

The recipe is amazing.  It’s a perfect fall or winter dish, so since there’ll inevitably be another cold, blustery day before the warm weather hits, I recommend filing this away for that occassion.  The original recipe didn’t involve polenta, but I thought it needed something to absorb the broth.  Polenta was definitely the right choice, since it’s a little sweeter than rice or potatoes so it compliments the grapes nicely.    Mashed potatoes might work with this, though I think they might be too earthy for such a fruity dish.   Though, you could always go for Miracle Whip macaroni salad.

Braised Pork with Grapes and Balsamic over Creamy Polenta

Ingredients

For the pork

 1 3 1/4-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed, cut into 3 equal pieces
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 large shallots, halved, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 3 cups)
3 cups seedless black grapes (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 large fresh sage sprigs
4 large fresh thyme sprigs
2 large fresh rosemary sprigs

For the polenta

1 cup polenta
3 cups water, broth, or a mix
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat.  Add pork to pot and cook until browned on all sides, about 13 minutes total.  Transfer pork to plate; discard fat in pot.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in same pot over medium heat.  Add shallots and grapes; sauté until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.  Add sugar; sauté 30 seconds.  Add vinegar; bring mixture to boil and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.  Add broth, all herb sprigs, and pork with juices from plate.  Bring to boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven. 

Braise the pork for 1 hour.  Using tongs, turn pork over and continue braising until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes longer. 

Meanwhile, make the polenta.  Bring the water, broth, and milk to a boil.  Add the polenta and the butter, and reduce to a simmer.  Whisk the polenta in thoroughly to make sure there are no lumps.  Keep the pan on simmer, whisking every few minutes, for approximately 25 minutes, or until it reaches your desired consistency.

When the pork is done, remove it from the oven, and using slotted spoon, transfer pork to platter; tent with foil.

Remove herb sprigs from pot and skim fat from surface of cooking liquid.   At this point, the grapes should have completely disintegrated, leaving you with a rich, flavorful broth.  Boil that over high heat until thickened.  The recipe suggested boiling for 7 minutes, but I had a lot of liquid in the pot, so I boiled it for about 15 minutes.    Season sauce with salt and pepper.   Pour over pork and serve.  Or, just place the pork back in the liquid and serve everything from that pot.

Spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and serve the pork and broth over everything.

It does not make for the most elegant presentation, but it definitely tastes wonderful.  If I were cooking this for guests, I might sprinkle some fresh thyme over the dish to give it a bit more color.

img_6329

The recipe suggests pairing the dish with a 2003 Rosenblum zinfandel.  By sheer coincidence, we had a Rosenblum zinfandel on hand, just a later year and a different vineyard.  But, close enough to justify opening it. 

img_6337

It went perfectly with the dinner.  If you can’t get your hands on a Rosenblum wine, I would definitely recommend sticking with a zinfandel.  The dish is fruity, and the peppery zinfandel compliments it nicely.

Read Full Post »