Fall, and favorite foods fun. And alliteration.

October 10, 2016

Not very good photo. Very good dinner.

Not very good photo. Very good dinner.

I love it when fall finally starts creeping around. When you break out your fuzzy slippers (those of us permanently afflicted with chilly feet). When the morning nip in the air perks you up when you take the dog outside. When the leaves start to drift downward, when you smell wood smoke, when you want to go spend a day hiking in the woods.

When you want to braise something.

I’m trying to empty my freezer, as my yearly allotment of cow will be arriving later this month. One of the things in it was an eight-pound pork roast I’d picked up when Kroger had a good sale on shoulder roasts a while back. I decided it was time.

I hauled it out of the freezer Saturday night, deposited it in the sink, and went to bed. Got up Sunday morning to find it thawed, and set about determining how to cook it. I pondered it as a cut off a sizeable portion of skin and fat cap, which I set aside for another experiment, to be detailed later.

The beast fit just about perfectly into my cast iron Dutch oven. I would have cooked it in apple cider, but I didn’t have any. What I DID have was a six-pack of Yuengling lager I’d bootlegged back across the river from Memphis last week. And I had some dry rub left over from making pastrami a while back. Those two, I thought, ought to do the trick.

I coated the roast down liberally on all sides with the pastrami rub. I made my own: it’s

  • 4 tablespoons fresh coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

Into the Dutch oven it went. I peeled and halved two small onions and stuck them down to the sides, and then poured a bottle of Yuengling gently down the side of the pot, so’s not to wash the spice off. Into the oven at 300 it went, and off to get a shower and get ready for church I went.

Well, but first I did a few other things to get ready for dinner. I had soaked some Rancho Gordo pintos the day before, intending to cook them to go with the chicken enchiladas I did not cook either, for dinner the previous evening. I chunked those in the Instant Pot, went looking for my bacon, absolutely could NOT find it, so seasoned them with a bit of vegetable stock base. I had thawed a pint of corn, also for the dinner I didn’t cook the night before, and threw together a Jiffy cornbread mix cassesrole so I could slide it in the oven when I got home; and made up a batch of yeast rolls.

Then I showered, got me and the Amazing Grandchild ready for church, and headed out. Got home, and the house smelled SO good. Grilled AGC a cheese sandwich, got him settled, and set about finishing up Sunday dinner. I peeled sweet potatoes, cut them in wedges, tossed them in olive oil and salted with seasoned salt, and stuck those in the CSO. An hour on steam bake at 350, followed by a 15 minute crisping at 450 on convection bake just before we were ready to eat turned them out just perfectly. Made up the rolls and put them on a sheet pan to rise. Stuck the corn casserole in the regular oven, from which I pulled the pork out to let it sit for a bit.

It was a thing of beauty. It had braised a bit longer than 5 hours at 300 degrees, covered the entire time. The beer had been joined by a bunch of jus from the pork. The spices on the portion not covered by liquid had formed a beautiful crust. I tugged at it with a pair of tongs, and it pulled like a dream.

It turned out there were only three of us, so there’s a good bit of dinner left over. The pintos will see a reprise as refried beans with the enchiladas I’ll make tonight. I pulled the rest of the pork last night, discarding the fat and a big bone, and have about 3 1/2 pounds of pulled pork we’ll see in various guises over the next few days. Chunked the remaining corn casserole and sweet potatoes, as they don’t warm up well. Today’s lunch, I think, will be a pulled pork sandwich on one of those leftover rolls, with caramelized onions and melted Gruyere. Ya think?

I do, you know, have a gracious plenty of both rolls and pork left over. If you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em wanted to stop by, I’d feed you a sandwich.




3 Responses to “Fall, and favorite foods fun. And alliteration.”

  1. Kath the Cook Says:

    Hi Kay – this looks wonderful. Read your earlier post re: Bolognese and had to send this to you. It is a time commitment, but I know that isn’t an issue for you. I have made this recipe many times and it is just terrific and I believe, very traditional. see below – happy cooking – Kath the Cook. Yes, it is long – lots of notes…

    Of course, there is no single recipe of Bolognese Sauce, but the basic ingredients must be the same. It’s a serious thing too: in 1982, the Academia Italiana della Cucina officially registered the recipe with the Bologna Chamber of Commerce. The classic recipe must contain: onions, celery, carrots, pancetta, ground beef, tomatoes, milk and white wine.
    Ingredient notes:
    • Onion, celery, carrots: Now is the time to use your knife skills. Dice everything evenly in small ¼-inch dices. The size uniformity of these ingredients will allow them to cook evenly and will produce a more enjoyable texture. By the way, this combination of ingredients, cooked in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, is called a soffritto and is the base of many Italian dishes.
    • Tomatoes are not a main ingredient in the sauce – you add a bit of it for taste but it is a meat sauce, first and foremost.
    • Meats: Use lean ground meat (for a special treat, ask your butcher to chop the meats coarsely – 1/3 inch thick) and best-quality pancetta.
    • Milk: Yes, milk is the surprise ingredient responsible for producing a more orange than red sauce (it also makes the meat more tender).
    • Broth: Although the registered 1982 recipe doesn’t include broth, most recipes I’ve encountered include some instead of water. It makes more sense to me taste-wise to choose beef over chicken broth.
    • Seasoning: This recipe (perhaps surprisingly) doesn’t contain any aromatic herbs or spices. It is frowned upon to add bay leaves or red pepper flakes. The only flavoring in this recipe is sea salt and black pepper. It is highly recommended to use sea or kosher salt as it lends a more refined taste than regular table salt.
    • Pasta: This is a hearty sauce that should be eaten on pasta that can support its weight: it is often served with the wide and flat tagliatelle (fresh or dry).
    • Cheese: Please – please – use only freshly grated authentic parmigiano-reggiano. It makes all the difference in the world.
    • Method: Finally, note that this sauce doesn’t like to be rushed. Some recipes with offer shortcuts but the only way to allow the flavors to develop fully and the sauce to become so rich is a very long simmering – and I mean, 4 hours long. The base of the recipe isn’t complicated or time-consuming to make and the rest is just passive time in the kitchen. You start a bit batch, stir in once in a while and enjoy for many meals to come.
    • My recipe is a blend of two favorites: the first from Josée Di Stasio, an Italian-Canadian celebrity cook and TV host in Quebec, and the second one from the (awesome!) new book, The Geometry of Pasta. I liked that the first mixed ground veal and pork with beef, and I thought the addition of beef broth in the second one would produce a deeper taste.
    • –
    • Ragù Bolognese
    Authentic Bolognese Sauce
    • Makes about 8 servings
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    4 tablespoons butter
    • 1 large yellow onion, finely and evenly diced
    4 small (or 2 very large) carrots finely and evenly diced
    4 stalks celery heart (or 2 large celery stalks) finely and evenly diced
    4 garlic cloves, very finely diced
    120 g diced pancetta (1/4 to ½-inch cubes)
    • Kosher or sea salt (I’m using kosher salt, which has less salting power than sea salt, in this recipe)
    Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 kg ground meat (blend of veal, pork and beef – or just beef, if you prefer)
    • 1 cup dry white wine (like a Chardonnay)
    2 cups milk
    1 28-oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes, diced (you will use both the liquid as well as the tomatoes)
    1 cup beef stock
    • To serve
    A few knobs of butter
    Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
    Fresh or dry tagliatelle, pappardelle, spaghetti, rigatoni or even farfalle, cooked in salted boiling water according to the manufacturer’s instructions

    Place a large saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic with a good pinch of salt (about ½ teaspoon) and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the diced pancetta and cook for a further 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened and pancetta is golden.
    Increase the heat to high and add the meat a third at a time, stirring and breaking lumps with a spoon between each addition. Adding the meat gradually allows the water to evaporate – which is key if you want to brown your meat and not boil it. After the last addition, when no pink can be spotted in the meat and no lumps remain, set a timer to 15 minutes. You want your meat to caramelize and even become crispy in spots. More water will evaporate and flavors will concentrate. You want golden bits of meat to stick to the bottom of your pan – this flavorful crust will then be deglazed with white wine. Watch over your pan as you don’t want your meat to burn. When you see some serious caramelization action happening, lower heat to medium to each the end of your 15-minute sautéing time (on my stove, that’s after about 8-9 minutes).
    Over medium heat, pour the white wine into the sauce pan. With a wooden spoon, scrape all the brown bits stuck to the bottom of your pan. Push the meat all around to make sure you scrape it all off. By the time you’re finished, the wine will be evaporated (2-3 minutes). Be careful not to let the meat stick again (lower the heat if necessary).
    Add milk, diced tomatoes (with liquid), beef stock, 1 teaspoon salt and a good grinding of pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower to the lowest heat and let simmer very slowly, half-covered, for 4 hours. Stir once in a while. If your sauce starts sticking before the end of your cooking time, lower the heat (if possible) and/or add a bit of stock or water. In the end, the sauce should be thick, more oil- than water-based and thick like oatmeal. Adjust the seasoning one last time – don’t be afraid of adding more salt (tasting each time you add some), it is this recipe’s key seasoning.
    To serve: Reheat the sauce. Mix in a knob or two of butter and about two generous tablespoons of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano per serving – these last additions will produce an incredibly creamy flavor. Drain your pasta very well and return to the pot. Spoon some sauce, just enough to coat the pasta. Serve in bowls with a few leaves of basil sprinkled on top and more freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, to taste.

  2. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Thanks! Will try this!

  3. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Thanks for that! I need to try a batch, one of these good cold days, if we ever get any of those!

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