Archive | December, 2010

Day Fifteen: Pulled Pork with Greens and Polenta

19 Dec

This post is about 1 week late – I’ve been a little lazy in posting. My mind has been elsewhere these days, getting ready for the holidays I guess.

This past April, Christian accompanied me on a work-related trip to New Orleans. The food there is rather fantastic, and as always, there wasn’t one bad meal. Cochon, Coquette, and Meauxbar all served up memorable meals for us. While reminiscing about the trip and what we ate, I became inspired by the flavors we experienced. However I wasn’t sure now was the time to play with these thoughts…..until we got the new CSA box delivery that included some great braising greens.

This recipe was just something I threw together that reminded me of a lot of what we ate on the trip. It was delicious and so easy. Every once in a while, I like to venture from the typical ketchup-based bbq. Pork goes so well with mustard sauces, doing this was a no-brainer. This one was tangy with just the right amount of sweetness. You could definitely add more heat, but we liked it as is. The greens tasted great, full of flavor and still had a bit of crunch – not soggy, braised greens. And the crisped up polenta on the bottom added another welcome texture. While soft polenta or grits are great, I’m not always in the mood for mush. The polenta itself was simple from a flavor perspective, and served as a nice base for the more bold flavors of the greens and the pork. Nothing overpowered anything else – it all just worked together, kind of like a pork symphony.

One unintentional result of the dish was that, because of the chard in the mix, all the onions and the braising liquid turned pink. It just made for some pretty onions on the plate.

If you happen to have leftover polenta, the recipe just got even easier for you. The recipe for polenta below will yield more than you need for this recipe too.

Also, a note about the greens. The bag we received had really small leaves that didn’t need chopping. There were also no thick, tough stems to deal with. If you don’t have tender greens like that, be sure to remove the tough parts of the stems and if they are large leaves, chop them up. A lot of recipes will have you cook them in boiling water for a few minutes first. I didn’t feel the need to do this, based on what we got, but by all means, do it if you want. To me, it was just another step that I didn’t want to deal with.

Being that this is the last pork post of 2010, I was relieved it turned out so well. Glad we went out with a bang. Although, it puts on the pressure for the first post of 2011. Definitely will want to start out 2011 on the right foot. So with that, to anyone that is reading this, I hope you have a happy holiday season!!

Pulled Pork with Braised Greens and Polenta

  • leftover pulled pork
  • 1 cup mustard
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cups polenta
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2/3 lb braising greens
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To make the mustard bbq sauce, mix the mustard through cayenne pepper in a small saucepan. Simmer for about 10 minutes over low heat. Set aside.

Boil the water and salt in a saucepan and slowly whisk in the polenta. Turn the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to thicken and pull away from the sides, about 15 minutes. Oil (or spray with non-stick spray) a baking dish and spread the polenta evenly. Let cool, and then put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to firm up.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat renders and the bacon begins to crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside to drain on a paper towel. Add the onion to the pan and cook until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the braising greens, chicken stock and bacon. Cook on low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes. When done, add the cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, set aside about 1/2 of the mustard sauce. Add the leftover pork to the sauce that is left in the pan, cover and reheat over low heat.

When the polenta is firmed up, flip the baking pan over to release the polenta, and cut into triangles. Based on the size of the pan I used, we got 4 large triangles. Preheat the broiler on high. Brush the polenta with oil and place in the oven; broil until the surface becomes browned and crisped.

Put one triangle of polenta on a dish. Top with the greens and then the pulled pork. Drizzle extra mustard sauce over and serve.

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Day Fourteen: Red Chile Pork Enchiladas

13 Dec

When I was a kid, I would only order cheese enchiladas when we went to a Mexican restaurant. The mix of super melty and stringy cheese with the red sauce was just something I couldn’t get enough of. As I grew older, I still enjoyed these but got tired of what I learned was the “Americanized” version of enchiladas. Now, we’re lucky and have what I think is the best Mexican restaurant ever in our small little mountain town – Lupita’s. This place is authentic and doesn’t give you a plate of enchiladas covered in so much sauce and melted cheese that you can’t even see them, next to grayish colored refried beans with yet more melted cheese. No, this place will give you 2 amazing enchiladas filled with whatever you want (shredded beef, please), just the right amount of sauce and a sprinkle of crumbly cheese, all  next to real Mexican rice and real beans with just a touch of more cheese. And the sauce itself is amazing – it blew my mind the first time I ate it. I essentially lick my plate when I’m done, it is so good. I could just order the sauce and be happy. Now that the staff actually knows us and knows what we order (no menu needed), I’m tempted to ask for the recipe. If they were smart they’d keep that recipe a secret.

My pork enchiladas were a success, and really easy since it used leftover meat. Sure there were a few steps, but it was worth it. I’d classify this as either a wholly weekend meal, or maybe a Monday nighter since you can make the sauce and pickled vegetables the day before.

The red chile sauce was that deep, rich red that is reminiscent of Lupita’s sauce. It has a good heat to it, but not so much that it over powers what is wrapped inside the tortillas. Adding the sweet pickled vegetables also cut the heat a bit, and added a nice flavor combination if you got it all in one bite.

My only complaint about this dish was the enchiladas were messy – they just fell apart when you tried to transfer them from the baking dish to a plate. Granted, it didn’t change how they tasted, but they definitely looked disheveled and more like an enchilada casserole, rather than individual enchiladas.

Red Chile Pork Enchiladas

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover pulled pork
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 2 dried New Mexico or Guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 dried Ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 whole cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 small watermelon daikon julienned, or 2 small radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 c rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 oz Queso Fresco
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • juice from 1/2 lime

To make sauce and pickled vegetables:

Boil the water. Tear the dried peppers into pieces. In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil and when hot, add the peppers. Cook for about 1 minute or so. Add to a pot and cover with the boiling water. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

While the peppers are soaking, mix the water, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Place the vegetables in a bowl, and cover with the pickling liquid. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water, then cover and place in  refrigerator until ready to use.

Once the peppers have finished soaking, pour the pepper and cooking liquid into a food processor. Add the cloves and garlic and puree until smooth. Season liberally with salt.

To make enchiladas:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1 cup of enchilada sauce in another skillet and simmer over medium low heat. Ladle another 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Place one tortilla in the skillet with oil and cook on each side for about 5 seconds, then dip each side into the enchilada sauce. Place on work surface and add some pork and cheese. Roll up and place in the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining 5 tortillas.

Pour the sauce from the skillet over the enchiladas and spread to cover. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until heated through and cheese has melted.

To plate, place enchiladas on a plate and garnish with the cilantro, tomato and green onion. Mix the sour cream with the lime juice and drizzle over the enchilada(s). Add the pickled vegetables either on top or on the side.

Pork Free Post: Pretty Pretty Pretty

11 Dec

The CSA box this week delivered something so pretty, I had to write a pork free post about it. Watermelon daikon radishes. From the outside they look like nothing special, but once you cut in, it is amazing. Bright intense pink with an outer ring ranging from a saturated grass green to a light white-green. Truly a beautiful vegetable.

I’ll be using these a few ways this week, but tonight I threw together what I think must be the most beautifully colored salad ever. It was all on a whim, definitely not a planned part of the night’s meal. I julienned some of these beauties and added them to thinly sliced red cabbage left over from last week’s box. Into the mix went some cilantro, arugula and green onions. The mix of greens, pinks and purples was quite lovely. To finish it off, I whipped up a dressing with lime juice, a touch of apple cider vinegar, oil and honey. The sweetness was a nice contrast to the spicy arugula and radish.

It really is amazing how a food’s color can inspire you. There was just something about the brightness of the radish that made me want to create some sort of salad color explosion. Not only did it taste fresh, but it looked fresh, and what a difference that can make. Color like this is a nice break from the winter blues, that’s for sure.

Day Thirteen: Pizza with Pulled Pork, Taleggio Cheese and Arugula

9 Dec

I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. This is a dish that Jamie Oliver crafted. Playing around with pizza is fun – the possibilities are really rather limitless.  Upon finding this, I loved the idea of creamy taleggio cheese melted with the pulled pork, and spiced up with some lemony arugula.  I just had to try it.

Overall, this pizza was good. I definitely thought it was better than Christian did, and that probably has to do with the fact we’re eating gluten-free crust. I suspect this would be way better with regular crust, but whatever. The flavors were great, and I was happy with the result. Admittedly, not the best dish and nothing special, but good nonetheless.

I’m not going to include the written recipe here – it isn’t very difficult and is rather simple. In fact, I didn’t even follow it. Pizza isn’t rocket science – having the recipe was good for getting the flavor combination.

For this dish, I threw a pork shoulder in the crockpot this morning, which I’ll also use for the next two dishes after this one. And the tomato sauce I used was an easy one I throw together frequently for pizza – just saute up some garlic (1 large clove) and onion (about 1/4 onion)  in olive oil, add some fennel seeds (a tsp or so) and a bay leaf, then throw in a little wine and some canned tomatoes (I use whole tomatoes that I crush with my hand as I add them). Simmer that for a bit to thicken, puree with an immersion blender, simmer a bit more and season with salt and pepper. One can of tomatoes yields enough sauce for 2 pizzas that are about 10″ to 12″ in diameter.

I cooked these on a pizza stone – first prebaking the crust at a high heat to make it crispy, then topping with the pork, cheese and thyme, and then baking again until it was bubbling; total baking time was maybe 15 minutes, but it will depend on your crust. The dressed arugula gets added when the pizza is done.

I’d recommend trying this, especially if you’ve got some leftover pork that you aren’t sure what to do with, or if you’re sick of the good old “standards”. It is surely something different and quite tasty. Just make sure the leftover pork isn’t highly seasoned with something like barbeque sauce. That wouldn’t be so good.

Recipe for Jamie Oliver’s Pork and Taleggio Pizza with Arugula

Day Twelve: Pomegranate Spice Pork Shoulder

6 Dec

Saturday we had some great friends come into town and stay with us. Saskia and Donner are so much fun to eat with – they, just like Christian and me, love to make the occasional meal an experience, not just a dinner. These events are always a good time, and surely end with a dance party (reverse choo choo and jack-knifing, of course) to work off all the food. This Saturday was no exception. In fact, this Saturday was taken to a whole new level with the addition of the now-permanent disco ball hanging in the bar.

Still working my way through random ingredients leftover from the holiday meal, I really wanted to use up the pomegranate juice that is in the fridge.  I zeroed in on this as a great ingredient to work around for a new pork dish. My thought was to create a dish with Moroccanish flavors, using lots of spices, orange and pomegranate.

This was a pretty simple entertaining dinner, as far as I’m concerned. I really wanted the pork to be the main focus and not get too many things going on. So we opted to serve this with brown rice couscous and some pan roasted carrots with saffron butter. Nothing fancy, just simple and good.  Before dinner we started with some pomegranate-ginger champagne cocktails, and then moved on to an Alsatian Gewurztraminer to serve with this fabulously stinky Alsatian muenster I picked up at Whole Foods, along with some caraway crackers.  We finished dinner with a triple cream brie with creme fraiche alongside some berries and grapes. This cheese, from Whole Foods as well, is like addictive liquid cheese – it is amazingly creamy and gooey. I can’t get enough of it, but was glad we had 2 other people to help us eat it. Christian and I once ate an entire wedge after dinner. Gross, but so good.

A quick note about the couscous – this stuff, made by Lundberg’s, has been the best discovery since Rudi’s GF bread. I really love couscous, and this tastes just like the real thing. In fact, Christian has commented that he likes it better than regular couscous. That is saying a lot.

Anyway, back to the dinner. The pork turned out great – just what I was hoping for. The orange flavor really came out and balanced the tartness of the pomegranate. The pork was very tender, and just on the verge of totally falling apart. This was good because I had wanted to serve it sliced rather than as a shredded platter of meat. All of the components of the meal worked really well together – the simple couscous was a great base for the pork and the pan juices/sauce. And while the taste of saffron is pretty difficult to describe and varies so much, all I can say is that the flavor with the butter and carrots was divine and a wonderful accompaniment to the pork.

Pomegranate Spice Pork Shoulder

  • 3lb boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup red wine
  • chopped mint

Mix the paprika through salt together in a small bowl. Rub all over the pork and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat some olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat and brown pork on all side, about 10 minutes total. Remove pork and set aside. Add the orange juice, pomegranate juice and red wine to the pot and stir, scraping up browned bits on the bottom. Add the bay leaf and garlic and bring to a boil. Add the pork shoulder, cover, and transfer to the oven.

Cook the meat for about 3 hours, until tender, turning every 45 minutes or so. When done, remove the meat and let it rest. Heat the pot over high heat and bring to a boil; cook the liquid down for about 8 minutes. Slice meat and transfer to a platter, drizzle with some of the sauce, and garnish with some chopped mint. Serve remaining sauce alongside the pork.

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