Having a spare hour or two in the afternoon, I decided to braise a whole pork shoulder for dinner. Although I run a lot, I could count on the help of a few friends—six to be precise—to finish off the beast. Pork shoulder is intrinsically delicious (oh fat, oh crispy skin, so the ode proceeds), cheap ($1.99 a pound!), and extremely easy to cook. In fact, I left the shoulder in the oven for two hours unsupervised during my evening class. No harm done. It does, however, require time, and time’s attendant, patience, for a proper preparation. Do not undertake a pork shoulder roast lightly: it is not a dish to be trifled with. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Pork
Sunday morning, we rubbed down a pork shoulder, started a fire, and let smoke slowly coax meat into submission. With all afternoon to while away (over Scrabble games, teen garden party supervision, and other such petit-bougie tasks), we prepared a skillet cornbread (complete with sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms on the top) and steamed a head of cauliflower. When dinner takes all day, anticipation reaches a breaking point. As the carving knife slid through bark and smoke ring and collagenous flesh, I could barely contain my appetite. In this video, we demonstrate how to make Sunday dinner last from morning till night, no sweat necessary.
Look for our short documentary, In the Most Unlikely Places: Eating Somewhere South, coming soon to a computer near you.
Chipotles in adobo sauce taste like swirls of dust in New Mexico, smoke, bacon, and then a numbing fire that kisses the barest edges of lips and tongue. With a more vegetal heat, grassy and green, serranos cut a stabbing stroke across the palate. Looking down at my peppers of choice, I shrugged. Frankly, I lack any depth in my knowledge of Mexican cuisine: regional variations, proper spicing, correct technique. I do, however, possess a pleasant friendship with Tex-Mex, the sloppy enchiladas and tacos served up at semi-chains and neighborhood start-ups. Chevys, Hacienda, Canyon Cafe. Taco Bell (gasp). I know what a pizza crepe taco pancake chili bag is. And I know how to use it.
Obviously, the quality of cuisine at chain Mexican restaurants usually disappoints. Nevertheless, the authenticity fetish feels more and more tired and inappropriate with each passing “foodie” fad. “We have to go out and get some tongue tacos from that guy with the tiny stand in Queens!” “Yeah, and after that, let’s go get authentic British pub food at The Breslin! Because that’s just what British pubs are like!” For those suffering from an authenticity fetish, every ethnic cuisine produced in America feels vaguely unsatisfying and wrong. Ordinary meals turn into disproportionate disappointments, even if the food tastes perfectly fine. Even delicious.
Pork tenderloin gets a bad rap.
“Dry.” “Flavorless.” “Lackluster in every imaginable way.” So I’ve heard this cut insulted. I, however, disagree. When properly prepared, briefly cooked over heat equivalent to the surface of a star and then finished in a gentle oven, pork tenderloin transforms into an insanely tender dish. With hints of luxurious liver and musky pig, this narrow sliver of protein plays well with fruit.
Craving some pork—who isn’t—I wanted to develop a recipe that would sauce the admittedly lean meat with acid and sugar. Although June seems early for peaches, I figured that the recipe would perform well throughout July and August, even with slightly under ripe fruit. A lonely onion camped out in the vegetable drawer, so I decided to craft a savory-sweet marmalade to provide a summery dressing. Originally, I intended to prepare a buttery sunchoke mash, rough and nutty, but the local megamart had no little knobbly roots lurking on the shelves. So I picked up a parsnip, similar in flavor profile, and roasted it in thin slices to generate a chewy, crispy texture.
If only I had a kitchen in my dorm next year, I could cook for myself every night. Or at least until I got tired of the work, since this meal (while technically easy) took around 45 minutes. For less than $10 though, I felt I got my college money’s worth.
Although I’m sure they exist elsewhere, thin pork chops seem particularly popular in St. Louis. In a city so obsessed with beer, baseball, and pig products of all kinds, one might expect to find big, honkin’ double cut chops walking across the average grill. Most St. Louisans that I know, however, prefer the skinny variety, less meat and more sauce. Typically, these chops come boneless, and pose serious bbq-ing challenges. How to get the pork well-seared while preserving juice and tenderness continues to stump backyard chefs armed with only a cursory knowledge of zone fires and food science. Continue reading