Archive for ‘Pork’

March 18, 2012

Weeknight Wow | Pork Jowl Pasta with Monkfish

We all get stuck in a weeknight routine, I know.  I’ve heard the complaints — “I don’t know what to make and I don’t have the time to make it anyway.”

Maybe all you need is to take something familiar and give it a little tweak.

Enter pork jowls.  In Italian it’s guanciale, and it’s sliced and cured in a manner similar to bacon.  But it’s a deeper, richer almost gamey flavor that brings something different to your weeknight plate.  Fry them up, toss them with some familiar ingredients and you’ll have a pasta that’s delicious on its own.  Add some slices of easily-prepared monkfish and you can serve your loved ones something wonderfully unexpected.

Just be sure to maintain the mystery: don’t tell them how easy it was.

Pork Jowl Pasta with Roasted Monkfish

For the pasta sauce:

1/3 lbs. of sliced pork jowl

Pinch of red pepper flakes

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October 2, 2011

Local Foods Week | Brining Two Kinds of Pork

I haven’t made a whole lot of pork lately.  I’ve been swooning over spice-rubbed chicken, braising all manner of cuts beef, and grilling plenty of fish.  I think pork needs its due.  I am a big fan, particularly of bacon and pork belly.  It must be the fat.  But what about the old standby favorites?  I think I’ve been shying away from cuts like pork chops and fresh hams simply because, at first blush, seem kind of mundane.

Enter brining.  A great primer, including a simple ratio, from Cooks Illustrated can be found here.  But in a nutshell, this technique of soaking in a salt, sugar and spice “stock,” really livens up the flavor of the more lean cuts of pork and bumps up the much needed moisture.  It doesn’t require any silly flavor injectors and it’s foolproof.   Adjust the flavors and seasonings as you wish and you’ll have a dinner either as familiar or exotic as you want it to be.  Add in some locally and thoughtfully raised pork, mine was from Curly Tail Organic Farm, and the noble pig doesn’t get much better than this.

Basic Brine, make 1 quart per pound of meat

1 qt water

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May 30, 2011

Holiday Weekend | Greek Mezedes

This started with my current obsession, which is oddly and plainly, roasting potatoes.

From which rose a lovely collection of small plates that we passed and shared over a couple of glasses of wine. Well, Cherub didn’t have any wine.

It was all easily pulled together a Monday night on a long weekend, Memorial Day here in America and Bank Holiday for those across the pond.  It’s a leisurely way to enjoy a meal or entertain.   It’s basically the more familiar tapas only with Mediterranean flair.  In fact many a Greek meal begins and ends entirely with mezedes.

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March 15, 2011

Irish Cooking | Pork Rib Stew

So much of Irish cooking was born from necessity.  But from Ireland’s extraordinary hardships came simple, delicious farmhouse dishes that rely on cheap, available ingredients.  In this case, there are a mere four ingredients – pork ribs, bacon, onions, and of course, potatoes.  Then, with a little heat and a little time, they transform themselves into a comforting, nourishing, almost healing stew that makes the house smell beautiful.  Plus, its inexpensive and bountiful – it easily makes enough to feed a sizable group.  So make the most of not very much and bring the family around your table.  And that’s a lot more Irish than green beer.

Irish Pork Rib Stew, Serves 6

2 lb pork ribs (not baby back), cut into six pieces

3 slices bacon, chopped

1 large onion, sliced

4 large potatoes, approximately 2 lbs, two peeled and sliced, two peeled and cubed

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add bacon.  Cook until lightly browned, then add ribs and cover with four inches of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Skim off any fat and foam that rises to the surface.  Add onions and potatoes and cook for another three hours.

Serve with brown bread and homemade butter.  (The easiest recipe which I’ll post tomorrow.)

Playlist included Only Shallow, by My Bloody Valentine.

January 30, 2011

Hangover Cure | Migas

Do not get the wrong idea: Persephone is not hung over.  She doesn’t get hung over.  Let’s just get that straight first.  But I do know that this is a malady that occasionally affects those fashionable folks who enjoy a nice meal with a few (extra) glasses of wine.

A sturdy, spicy breakfast lunch the next morning midday with a good strong bit of coffee is just what Persephone thinks you need, if you’re one of those fashionable folks.  And the refreshing thing about this is that you can be as creative as you like (or as creative as your refrigerator allows). The only basics you need are pork, eggs and tortillas.

For the migas this morning, it was a mash-up between a Spanish version that’s heavy on the pork products and the Tex-Mex version that’s heavy on the tortillas.  Typically the Spanish version uses breadcrumbs, but we have nine zillion corn tortillas in the fridge so there you have it.

To get started, I fried up some chorizo that was sliced into thick chunks, and a few slices of bacon that had been chopped into five or six pieces.  While this was frying over slowish heat, I soaked some corn tortillas in water that was seasoned with salt, some slices of jalapeno, and smashed garlic.  I also chopped up a couple of tiny potatoes and some fennel tops that we had in the fridge.  I whisked a couple of eggs together and added in a handful of watercress that was feeling lonely.   When the bacon and chorizo was just about crisp, I drained the tortillas and dried them then sliced them into thin strips.  I tipped in the tortillas, potatoes and fennel and let it cook a few minutes until most had crisped a bit (not too much, mind you) then added in the eggs and cress.  Stir and cook until the eggs are the consistency you like then divide into bowls and top with a bit of chopped cilantro.

This is pretty seasonal right now, but certainly in the warmer months, you might add tomatoes or kernels of  summer corn instead of the fennel and potatoes.  There’s also a plethora of cheese choices you can add to this everything from cojita and queso fresco (my favorite) to the shredded four cheese blends you get at the store (not so much my favorite, but entirely do-able).

Make sure you set a bottle of sriracha on the table for those that need a bit more help waking up and facing the day.

Playlist included Help, I’m Alive, by Metric.

January 27, 2011

Monday Night Brunch | Pork Belly Bibimbap

I recently followed a debate/skirmish happening in the Atlanta area between a restaurant critic and some local chefs.  Let’s just say the chefs carried the day.  One wonderful chef who responded quite eloquently was Ron Eyester, or The Angry Chef of Rosebud in the ATL.  I discovered, not only is he tremendous in an argument, but he’s doing something fun at his restaurant: Monday Night Brunch.  Well, why on earth not, I asked myself?

So here’s Persephone’s version.  It’s a Korean, Seoul-food classic called Bibimbap.  With braised pork belly, a completely naked salad and a beautiful sunny side up egg on top, it’s a well-balanced dish that’s colorful, light, fresh and fun.  It’s bacon and eggs, kids, just with some Far Eastern flair.  So grab a Bloody Mary and some coffee and you’re good to go all night long.

Pork Belly Bibimbap

1 1.25 lb pork belly, seasoned with salt and pepper (There’s lots of fat, so you’ll only wind up with about 1/2 – 2/3 lbs of meat)

For the Marinade:

3 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 thumb of ginger, roughly chopped

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January 13, 2011

Winter Kitchen | Zuppa di Cavoli

Every winter kitchen needs a good, sturdy soup.  This zuppa, made with lacinato kale, pancetta and fennel, is amazingly versatile.  The leftovers even result in perfect little hors d’oeuvres.  Who knew?

While this recipe contains the classic French base (i.e., carrot, onion, celery), the ingredients are cooked slightly differently than most other soups I make resulting in a surprisingly different flavor.  Regional and cultural differences in cooking techniques really get me going.  This is because I am a food nerd, but again, you all know this.  You don’t have to be, though, to enjoy this truly delicious Italian soup.

Zuppa di Cavoli, Four Ways, Inspired by Flavors of Tuscany

1 c dried canneloni beans (you could use canned, but I wouldn’t recommend it)

Small bunch of thyme

3 oz pancetta chopped (you could substitute bacon)

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped

1 rib of celery chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small bulb of fennel, trimmed of  stalks and root end, thinly sliced

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