Pork

Pork Souvlaki with Tzatziki

Meat on a stick.  What’s not to like?  Bonus points for you all if you make your own pita bread to go with this.

Serves 4

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Pork Souvlaki

2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 red peppers, each cut into 1′ slices

2 Tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped (or 1 TBS dried)

2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 TBS dried)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, zest and juice

1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients,  EXCEPT for pork and red pepper, in small bowl, mix well to combine.  Place cubed pork in ziplock bag and pour contents of bowl over pork in bag.  Massage bag to work marinade through the meat, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.  (don’t forget to put the bag in a bowl incase it springs a leak)

Assembly:  Toss red pepper with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Thread pork and red pepper cubes onto skewers.  Cook in a grill pan or bbq about 10 minutes, until cooked thru.  Cooking time will vary, depending on how hot your pan/bbq is.

Serve with Pita Bread and Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)

Tzatziki Sauce

1   6″ cucumber, peeled, seeds removed

1 cup greek yogurt (whole milk)

1 clove garlic, grated

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Grate cucumber and place in strainer.  Toss with a pinch of salt and let sit for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in small bowl.  Squeeze out as much water as possible from cucumbers and add them to the yogurt mixture.  Mix well and serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  1.  If using wooden skewers, soak 30 minutes before using.
  2. The first time I made this, I cut the pepper in half and grilled them separately.  Putting them on the skewers makes more sense.
  3. Tzatziki Sauce can be made 1 day ahead.

 

 

 

 

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Pork

Jerk Back Ribs

I recently found an article containing “11 rib recipes that we must make” this summer.   Really???  Who can resist such temptation!?  Certainly no one in this household.

11 recipes all so wonderful that my life could possibly be less than complete until I have tried each and every one?    Perhaps that is a bit extreme, but anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like to be missing out on anything, especially when it is food related.

I sent Kevin to our local Sams Club for a gross of back ribs, which we separated into several weekly servings to prepare for this grand adventure.    After reading the list, we decided there were actually some we could live without trying and narrowed it down to 5.  Co-incidentally, the same number of portions we got from that enormous package of ribs.

This one happened to be first on the list.    Of course, there are a couple of tweaks to suit our tastes and what I had in the house: amber rum instead of dark, regular allspice instead of Authentic Jamaican, onions for scallions (they looked terrible at the market last week, and Habeneros for Scotch Bonnet (and fewer!), but basically, the recipe was made as written.   Click here for the link to the original recipe.

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Jerk Back Ribs

¼ cup molasses

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons ground allspice

2 tablespoons amber rum

1 tablespoon lime juice

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 habanero peppers, stems removed

1/2 white onion, roughly chopped

4 racks baby back ribs

Put all ingredients except for ribs in a blender and puree until mostly smooth.  Place ribs in ziplock bag and pour in marinade.  Gently massage bag to be sure the ribs inside are well coated with marinade.   (See Cooks Note)  Place bag in bowl large enough to catch any leaks that may occur and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, line a sheet pan with foil and a baking rack.  Discard marinade left in bag. Place ribs on rack on tip of the foil, cover with more foil and seal securely.  Roast at 325F until tender,  2 – 2 1/2 hours.  Remove top foil and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, pour all pan drippings into a sauce pan, bring to boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half.  About 10 minutes.  Let mixture cool.  Brush half of the reduced sauce over cooling ribs.

Heat grill to medium heat.  Grill ribs, flipping and basting often with remaining pan drippings until slightly charred and heated thru – 8 – 10 minutes.  Serve.

 

COOKS NOTES:

  •  It is best if you do not touch the marinade with your hands.  If you want to massage the marinade into each individual rack, wear rubber gloves!   This contains HOT peppers and  your hands will complain bitterly if you don’t.
  • Ribs and sauce can be cooked 1 day ahead, cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • If you want more spice in these, add a couple more habaneros to the marinade.

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Beef · Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bolognese Sauce

BologneseA family favourite in our house, and so easy to put together.  It does take time, so its a good ‘Sunday afternoon when there is nothing much to do’ project.  The good news is that the flavours are even better the next day, so make on Sunday to enjoy later in the week.  After a long day at the office, dinner will be a snap!  Just boil your favourite pasta and you have a quick and easy mid-week dinner.  This serves 8 generously, and freezes very well.

 

Bolognese Sauce

 

3 Tablespoons oil

2 yellow onions, diced

5 celery ribs, diced

3 medium carrots, shredded

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 lb bacon finely chopped

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

1 can tomato paste (6 oz)

14 oz can tomato puree

1 cup dry red wine

1/2 cup water

1 cup milk (whole milk is best, but skim will work too, if that’s what you have)

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Get your big pot out… not that one, the bigger one – 6 – 8 quarts.   There is lots of stirring and simmering involved here and you will want the extra room a larger pot gives you.

Heat oil in pot over medium heat.   Add onion, celery, carrot and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until onion is translucent and vegetables are slightly soft.  Do not let them brown.  About 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium- high, add bacon, beef and pork and cook, stirring to break up  any chunks until meat is no longer pink.  About 10 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in tomato paste  until well combined with meat and vegetables.  About 2 minutes.

Stir in tomato puree, wine, water, milk, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered until liquids reduce and sauce is thickened.  About 2 hours.  Remember to stir occasionally while sauce simmers.

Spoon over cooked pasta and serve immediately or cool sauce uncovered, at room temperature.  Once sauce has cooled, cover and refrigerate.  Will keep  3 days in the fridge or frozen up to 3 months.

 

 

Main Courses · Pork

Cubano / Cubana

 

img_2112One of the hazards of cooking from books is that, sometimes, I have not yet had the opportunity to sample the original version of whatever it is I am trying to cook.   My first attempt at Guacamole, for example, had people asking what it was because, even though I followed the recipe exactly, it bore no resemblance to actual guacamole.  Why?  Having no previous experience with avocados, I had no clue that they should be soft, like a banana, not rock hard, like a carrot.

Such is the case with Cubanos.  Ever since we watched the movie Chef, I have been fascinated with the idea of these sandwiches.  I mean, for an entire movie to be based upon a sandwich, it must be one heck of a taste experience!  Shortly after seeing the film,   Nagi’s Recipe Tin Eats  published the recipe developed by Chef Roy Choi, for the pork  used in the movie sandwich.

Off to the meat market to buy pork to recreate what was quickly reaching mythical status in my imagination.   The result of our efforts was pretty good.  But, perhaps because of the build up I had given it in my mind, it was not the taste experience I had been expecting.

I shelved the idea of recreating this taste sensation for a long time (been there, done that), until I saw Chef Jose Garces Cubano Recipe  and was tempted to try  once again.

We liked the mustard glaze on this a lot.  Better, even, than the marvellous Mojo marinade on the first try, according to my nerdy food notes, and thus declared it to be our new favourite version.   But at the end of the day, I questioned the value  of all the effort put into preparing and cooking the pork and subsequently, making the sandwich.

In all honesty, it still felt like just a fancy name for a grilled sandwich to me and I could not shake the feeling that there must be something “more” to this.    I mean, if it really was just a sandwich, why all the fuss?  Why, when I google Cubano, do I come up with PAGES of hits.  Why does seemingly every chef out there have their own spin on it?   Pinterest actually has a whole board JUST FOR Cuban Sandwiches!

We stopped at a new place for lunch today, and on their menu was Cubana!  Assuming this to be the Mexican version of a Cubano (a google search later did confirm this to be true),  I ordered one to try to discern what I have been missing in trying to make this at home.

My plate hit the table with a ‘thud’.  One look at it, and I realized why it was $90 pesos, and the most expensive thing on the menu!   I have never seen a sandwich so big!  It was worthy of  a spot on  Man vs Food !  What a day to have left my camera at home!  It was so big, I immediately sent half of it back to the kitchen to be wrapped to go.

The half sandwich you see below weighed in at 15.8 oz!  And this is only half of it!! Imagine!

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Upon examining the contents of this behemoth, I realized what I have been missing in all my attempts, and which is pretty much the whole point of the sandwich, I think  . . . abundance with humility.

Stuffed between the layers of bread was the expected layer of pork, this one braised in a light tomato sauce.  Also included was a breaded pork cutlet, a scrambled egg (maybe 2), a slice of deli ham, at least 2 grilled wieners, a slice of American cheese (translate that to kraft cheese slice),  a fairly large slab of panela (fresh local cheese), tomato, onion and lettuce.

This sandwich taught me a lot.  Not just about Cubanos and Cubanas, but also about cooking in general.  The Cubanos I had been making, while technically correct and very nearly picture perfect fell far short of the experience I was hoping for .  This was a good reminder that while everyone can cook from a book, it is getting out there to experience the cultures and flavours we want to bring to our stovetops that make us stronger cooks.

Only now, that I have tasted the “real deal” will I be able to fully “bring it “to my own table.   Admittedly, duplicating this exact sandwich in my own home will most likely never happen, just because of its size.  But I will take what I learned from it to kick my next pork sandwich up a few notches.

Main Courses · Pork · Uncategorized

Quick Pulled-Pork Sandwiches

 

Leftovers can be a wonderful thing!  I will do a post for “official” pulled pork another time, but in the meanwhile, this is a good way to take care of any leftover pork roast.

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Quick Pulled-Pork Sandwiches

Serves 2

2 crusty rolls

1 cup leftover Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder, shredded

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup purchased BBQ sauce – I used Hunts Honey BBQ Sauce, but use whatever kind you like, its your sandwich.

dash or 2 of hot sauce, to taste (optional)

1/2 cup carrot slaw

sliced red onion

 

Butter 2 crusty rolls and set aside.

In small saucepan over medium heat, mix bbq sauce and water and bring to boil.  Add shredded pork, toss to combine,  and let simmer until sauce reduces a bit and pork is heated through.  Remove from heat.

Put carrot slaw on bottom of each crusty roll, and divide pork between  rolls.   Top each with sliced red onion.  Serve immediately.

 

 

Main Courses · Pork

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

 

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Serves 4 – 6

There are lots of recipes for pork roast and countless ways to fancy it up.  This method will give you a plain roast pork which allows the flavour of the meat to shine thru.

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder

4- 5  lb bone in pork shoulder with 1/4 inch fat cap

1 teaspoon  seasoning salt

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

2 teaspoons dried sage

2 Tablespoons canola oil

several sprigs fresh thyme

3 or 4 bay leaves

1 cup water (plus more, if needed, during roasting to keep bottom of pan moist)

Place pork shoulder in bottom of roaster.

Mix seasoning salt, marjoram  sage and canola oil together in small bowl.   Using your hands, rub mixture all over pork.   Place thyme sprigs and bay leaves all over top of roast.   Add water to just cover bottom of roaster.

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Even without the fat cap I wanted, this shoulder came out perfectly moist.

Roast in 325 F oven for 4 – 6 hours, checking at intervals to be sure the bottom of the roasting pan has some liquid in it, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of  registers 165 F.   If you are not using a thermometer, cook until meat  flakes easily when pierced with a fork and is nearly falling off the bone.

Remove pan from oven, tent meat with foil and let rest for 30 – 40 minutes.  This will allow  the meat re-absorb its juices.

After resting, use two forks to shred the meat into pieces. Remove any large pieces of fat or bones.

Serve with a light green salad and fresh bread.

COOKS NOTE:  Start checking for doneness after 4 hours.  Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your roast, and the size of the bone hiding inside.