Paving the road to hell

January 16, 2012

It’s been a weekend of incomplete projects. The road to hell being paved with good intentions, ‘n all that, don’t’cha know.

I think I'll call it "A Study In Brown." Also, I'll call it good.

I did at least complete this dinner. It’s a very monochromatic dinner. No matter. It was good.

I’d ordered a nice pork shoulder roast from the PJF people, planning on braising it in apple juice in an attempt to approximate the flavor of that marvelous pork shank I’d had at Murphy’s in Atlanta last month. I didn’t quite get there…but it was a pretty doggoned good way to cook pork roast, I have to admit.

I browned the (still mostly frozen; don’t tell anyone) roast in my Dutch oven, decanted about a pint of apple juice over and around him (her?), and dropped a quartered onion in the pot. I pondered for a few minutes, and added some caraway seeds (maybe a half-teaspoon?), a half-dozen allspice berries, and four or five whole cloves. Then I cut a circle out of parchment a tad smaller than the pot, and stuck it down inside and over the roast, because I didn’t want all the liquid to cook away while I was at the racetrack losing my ass.

I’ve always read that the parchment thingy works. I can now testify, at least anecdotally, that it does. There was very little, if any, of the juice that had cooked away 3 1/2 hours later when I got home. This is a Good Thing when you’re going to braise something a long-ass time and not be at home to add liquid. The things you learn.

Anyway. I let it braise for another 45 minutes or so while I hydrated myself with a glass of wine and started some side dishes, and then pulled it out and popped it onto a rack in a hotter oven to give it a nice overall crust. I strained the solids out of the juice, put it in a saucepan to reduce, and used some of it to baste the roast while it was browning. I was going for that wonderful sticky-sweet crust Murphy’s got on its pork shank, but I didn’t get it. Still, I damn-sho wouldn’t throw it out of bed.

I used a little more of the sauce in a side dish for which I have to credit Michelle at Thursday Night Smackdown. She had, in a stroke of what I can only consider genius, caramelized onions and combined them with fried apples to strew over spaetzle with pork chops. Genius. Genius, I tell you! So I promptly caramelized me some onions, threw some apple slices in the pan and let them get soft, and helped everything along with a splash of the pork sauce.

Can I just say Sweet Baby Jesus here? The pork was good; the apples and onions were divine. It just looks funny to type “apples and onions” as a single dish, but try this stuff. I’m telling you. It’s marvelous. Killer good.

Before I left for the track, I took the rest of the slaw mix from Friday night’s okonomiyaki and made up a hot vinegar bath for it, hanging with the caraway and allspice and clove theme. Made a good, very different, slaw; if I ever didn’t want to do red cabbage with German food, I’d do this. And it ought to be just kickass with brats or knockwurst. Just sayin’.

Gnocchi. Residing in my freezer as we speak, for when I get ready for 'em.

Roasted turnips and parsnips rounded out the very, very beige-and-tan plate. They were good, but they were not what this dinner needed. It needed a green thing. If I had it to do over, I’d’a roasted the broccoli I had on hand to roast with the next night’s dinner that was going to be duck confit over butternut squash gnocchi, which was one of my unfinished weekend projects because my stomach took that opportunity to inform me it was missing gluten and was Not Happy About It. So I roasted the confit leg quarters, and made the gnocchi, both of which are now residing in the freezer, and I’ll deal with that another time.

Lovely little duckies, they are. Now they're shredded duck meat in confit in the freezer.

The other unfinished project had to do with baking, and I’ll get to that in another post.

So that’s it for paving the road to hell with my good intentions. I’ll do the same next weekend, since I will barely have time to get to the market and pick up my fresh farm milk! both sheep and cow variety! before leaving for a three-day conference in Orlando. So making cheese will have to wait until the middle of next week, and boy, am I a happy camper about THAT!

So that’s it from the Chez Brockwell kitchen tonight. You and y’mama ‘n ’em get ready to head on back to work with me after this long weekend, and we’ll see if we can’t pick backup on some of these projects later in the week.


2 Responses to “Paving the road to hell”

  1. Len Cleavelin Says:

    The pork shoulder was very good, as was the rest of the meal, monochromatics notwithstanding. 🙂

  2. Kate Says:

    Being colorblind is ok sometime!

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