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.