Tag Archives: pork

Thai Red Curry of Pork with Peanut

The addition of peanut butter to red curry paste and coconut makes this a rich, satisfying dish. Like most Thai food, it features a balance of four elements: spicy, sour, sweet, and salty. It should be fairly spicy but you can adjust the heat level by adding more or less curry paste. I use prepared red curry paste I buy at my local Asian market but you can make your own. The peanut butter should be natural, i.e. without added sugar and preferably unsalted. Either smooth or crunchy is fine. I prefer to make my own coconut milk because I find it lighter than canned. If you use the latter, consider adding a bit of water to it. The pork should be fairly lean; I use sirloin but tenderloin would work equally well, albeit at higher cost. Serve modest portions over steamed jasmine rice.

(Recipe adapted from BBCGoodFoodShow.com)

Serves two generously

Ingredients

Pork

350 grams (12 ounces)

Unsweetened dried grated coconut

100 grams (1 cup)

Boiling water

600 milliliters (2½ cups), divided use

Vegetable oil

as needed

Red Thai curry paste

50 to 60 grams (3 to 4 Tablespoons)

Peanut butter

60 grams (2 to 3 Tablespoons)

Fresh coriander stalks, finely chopped

40 grams (½ cup)

Spring onion, thinly sliced

60 grams (small bunch)

Palm sugar or light brown sugar

15 milliliters (1 Tablespoon)

Lime juice

One lime, about 30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons)

Thai fish sauce

30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons)

Dry roasted unsalted peanuts

50 grams (⅓ cup)

Coriander leaves, chopped

for garnish

Method

Cut the pork into 25-mm (1-inch) cubes then slice each cube across the grain 3-mm (⅛-inch) thick.

Put the grated coconut with 250 milliliters (1 cup) of the water into a blender. Carefully blend on high speed for about a minute.

Heat a small amount of oil in a heavy pot (I use a cast iron chicken fryer). When hot but not smoking, strain in the coconut milk, reserving the coconut. Stir in the curry paste and peanut butter. Fry, stirring constantly until the water has been driven out and the oil starts to separate.

Stir the coriander stalks and spring onion into the mixture then fold in the pork. Stir fry for a few minutes until the pork has lost its exterior pink color.

Return the coconut to the blender jar, add the remaining boiling water, and blend on high speed for about a minute as before. Strain the milk into the pot and discard the coconut. The liquid should just cover the pork. If not, add a bit of water. Stir in the palm sugar, lime juice, and about half of the fish sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pork is tender. Check the seasoning and add a bit more fish sauce if it needs more salt.

Just before serving, stir in the peanuts. Ladle over hot jasmine rice and garnish with coriander leaves.

Chili Verde

Green chili is not well known in the Eastern US; I first encountered it on a business trip to Santa Barbara, California many years ago. The dish contrasts the natural sweetness of pork with the citrusy tartness of tomatillos rounded out with the moderate heat of jalapeños. Served over Mexican-style rice with a bit of queso fresco, a dollop of sour cream, or a sprinkle of shredded Monterrey jack or cheddar it makes a simple, satisfying one-dish meal. Or you can dress it up with some frijoles de la olla and perhaps a bit of guacamole for a festive meal. For variety, add a bit of pickled nopales or pozole. This is basic peasant food which is as good as it gets for my taste.

As presented this recipe serves two generously.

Ingredients

Garlic

2 or 3 cloves to taste

Jalapeño chilies

2 or 3 to taste

Onion, coarsely chopped

1

Tomatillos

1 28-ounce can, drained

Mexican oregano

15 ml (1 Tbsp)

Oil or lard

30 ml (2 Tbsp)

Pork sirloin or shoulder cut into 25 mm (1 inch) cubes

400 – 500 g (about 1 pound)

Pork, vegetable, or chicken stock

150 ml (2/3 cup)

Salt and pepper

To taste

Method

Place the unpeeled garlic cloves into a cast iron Dutch oven over moderately high heat and roast, turning from time to time until slightly blacked and soft. When cool enough to handle, peel and set aside.

Blacken the jalapeños under a hot broiler or, as I do, with plumber’s torch. Wrap in a towel and let cool. Using the towel, rub off the charred peel. Halve each pepper lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and placenta (pith). Chop coarsely and set aside.

Place the garlic, jalapeños, onion, tomatillos, and oregano into a food processor. Process to a smooth puree. Set aside.

Heat the oil or lard in the Dutch oven until just smoking. Add the pork cubes, working in batches if need be to maintain a single layer. Brown thoroughly on all sides and remove to a bowl.

Add a bit more oil to the pan if needed to have a light coating on the bottom and reheat to nearly smoking. Dump in the tomatillo puree all at once. Stir while it sizzles, scraping up any meat stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the reserved pork and stock, turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer until the meat is thoroughly tender, about 30 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot over rice.

Gulasz Wieprzowy

In the nearly four years that I have been posting to this blog I have learned a few things about writing recipes. Although I have much yet to learn, I think it appropriate to repost some of my favorites in light of the experience I have gained. I first posted this recipe in September 2011 as Polish Pork Goulash. 

Although goulash is the Hungarian national dish, similar dishes are popular throughout eastern and central Europe, with differing versions being found in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and southeastern Germany. These vary as to the meat used—beef most commonly in Hungary while pork is usual in Poland; the accompanying starch—small egg noodles in Hungary and kasha in Poland; and whether they contain potatoes, tomatoes, or sauerkraut, the last being distinctly Polish. And while Hungarian goulash is made spicy by hot paprika, Poles prefer a milder version. I especially like this Polish-style pork and sauerkraut goulash enriched with sour cream.  

Ingredients

 

Bacon, diced (optional)

56 grams

2 ounces (2 thick slices)

Pork sirloin or butt, cubed

1 kilogram

2¼ pounds

Flour for dredging

about 50 grams

about ¼ cup

Onion, sliced, 3 or 4 medium

350 grams

12 ounces

Garlic, minced

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Sweet paprika

45 milliliters

3 Tablespoons

Lager beer or stock

340 milliliters

12 ounces

Water

as needed

as needed

Sauerkraut, fresh or canned, drained

one 2-pound bag

one 2-pound bag

Caraway seeds, optional

30 milliliters

2 Tablespoons

Salt and pepper

 to taste

to taste

Sour cream, non-fat or regular

120 milliliters

½ cup

Method

Render the bacon in a large Dutch oven until crispy. Remove and reserve, leaving as much fat as possible in the pot.

Season the flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the pork cubes in the flour shaking off any excess.

Adjust the fat in the pan with oil, lard, or bacon drippings to make about 45 milliliters (3 Tablespoons). Working in batches, brown the meat well, adding fat to the pan as needed, and set aside.

In the same pot, sauté the onions until soft and translucent but not browned, 5 or 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Stir in the paprika and cook for 1 minute. Return the pork to the pot and stir to coat well with the paprika and onions. Pour in the beer or stock and enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and cover the pot so that the stew simmers gently for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and raise the heat a bit to maintain a simmer for another 30 minutes, stir occasionally to prevent sticking, until the meat is very tender.

Stir in the sauerkraut and the caraway seeds. Cook, uncovered stirring occasionally, for another 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the sour cream and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve the goulash over kasha, buttered noodles, or parsley potatoes. Garnish with the reserved bacon.

Pork Cracklings

Before the advent of cheap commercial shortening, cooks used lard or schmaltz—rendered pork or chicken fat, respectively—when they needed a semi-solid cooking fat. Cracklings are the bits of skin and adipose tissue left behind after most of the fat is extracted. This is where it gets a bit complicated. Consider the subset of cracklings consisting of pieces of skin. If the meat is pork these are often called pork rinds in the US but pork cracklings by African Americans, British, and Australians. (Among Ashkenazi Jews rendered goose or chicken skins are called gribenes.) Commercial pork rinds often are just fried strips of pork fat but no skin. If you want real pork rinds/cracklings, this is how to make them.

I adapted (ok, copied) this recipe from Black Girl Chef’s Whites. She has really nice photos.

Ingredients

Skin from the pork belly you are using to make bacon (more on which later)

Salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Season the skin with kosher salt (yes, I note the irony) and put it fat side down on a sheet pan or in a roasting pan. Roast for about three hours, turning about half way through. Cool on a rack.

Note: do not discard the rendered fat. Add it to your lard jar if you have one or just put it into a bowl by the stove for frying eggs.

Ragoût de Boulette du Jour de l’An

My parents were part of the French-Canadian diaspora: the first generation to move from the mill towns of New England where French was heard more often than English and where school—Catholic school at least—was conducted in both languages. Growing up in Delaware I spoke French almost exclusively at home until I started school where there was no language but English. Gradually the language of the home became English—as sadly it has in those mill towns as well. Nevertheless, my mother did cook many traditional French-Canadian dishes although their context was sometimes lost. It was not until, as an adult, I started exploring my Canadian roots that I learned that the ragoût she made from time to time was associated with New Year’s Day, Le Jour de l’An.

As one might well expect of a recipe that has been handed down through a half-dozen or so generations, this one has nearly endless variations, each staking its claim to true authenticity. Still, there are a few invariables: balls of ground pork and beef cooked in stock thickened with a slurry of toasted flour. Most often the stock was purpose-made from pigs’ feet, the meat of which was shredded and added to the meatballs. Today it is not unusual to find recipes calling for chicken, rather than pork, stock. Mostly because pigs’ feet are rather difficult to find where I live, I use a stock made from a pork shoulder bone. The flavor is similar but it lacks the gelatin that the trotters impart. I have used chicken stock when nothing else was available, but the result is—to my taste—a bit flat. The spices always include cloves with some recipes calling for cinnamon and nutmeg while others specify allspice. I use all of them!

Finally, there is the matter of what to serve with the ragoût. Boiled potatoes and beets, boiled or pickled, are traditional. Louis-François Marcotte, chef and owner of Cabine M in Montréal, whose recipe I have translated and adapted here, suggests mashed potatoes. I agree with him—with beets.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

 

Bread, preferably stale, 2 slices

100 grams

3½ ounces

Milk

125 milliliters

4 ounces

Onion, minced, 1 small

100 grams

3½ ounces

Olive oil

30 milliliters

2 Tablespoons

Ground pork, lean

900 grams

2 pounds

Ground beef

450 grams

1 pound

Allspice, ground

3 milliliters

½ teaspoon

Nutmeg, ground

1 milliliter

¼ teaspoon

Cinnamon, ground

1 milliliter

¼ teaspoon

Cloves, ground, divided use

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Flour (optional)

60 grams

½ cup

Oil and butter, as needed

~60 grams

~¼ cup

Stock, preferably pork

1 liter

1 quart

Water, as needed, divided use

~500 milliliters

2 cups

Toasted flour (see note 1)

60 grams

½ cup

Corn starch (see note 2)

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Salt and pepper

To taste

To taste

Method

Cut the bread into small dice or chop in a food processor. Moisten with the milk and set aside.

In a skillet over medium-high heat, caramelize the onions in the olive oil.

Combine the onions, bread, ground meats, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and 1 milliliter (¼ teaspoon) of the cloves in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper then mix thoroughly with your hands. Rinse your hands, leaving them wet, and form the meat into balls about 25 millimeters (1 inch) in diameter. You should have about 40. If you wish, roll them in the optional flour to coat.

Heat enough of the oil and butter in a heavy skillet to coat the bottom by about 3 millimeters (⅛ inch). When it is nearly smoking, brown the meatballs, working in batches. As they are done, place them in a large Dutch oven or similar pot. Pour the stock over the meatballs and add just enough water to just cover them. Sprinkle on the remaining 4 milliliters (¾ teaspoon) of ground cloves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.

Put the toasted flour in a lidded jar along with about 125 milliliters (½ cup) of water. Shake vigorously to make a slurry. Add more water, a bit at a time, until it is about the texture of peanut butter. Stir into the stock. Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. If the sauce is too thin, make a slurry with corn starch and water, stir in and bring to boil for a couple of minutes.

Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

NOTES

1: Toast flour in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat or in a 200°C (400°F) oven, stirring often with a fork to prevent burning. It should be about the color of bread crust.

2: Pigs’ feet add quite a bit of gelatin to stock. A slurry of corn starch and water added near the end of cooking approximates the texture of the original. It is, however, optional.

Spiedie Spaghetti

No, that is not a typo; spiedie does not refer to alacrity but to a popular Binghamton specialty of marinated meat cooked on a skewer. Despite a great deal of local legend surrounding the origin of spiedies they most likely arrived with Sicilian immigrants in the form of spiedini which in turn probably derive from shish kabob introduced to the island by the Moors in the 10th century.

In the Binghamton area, spiedies are cubes of lamb, pork, venison, chicken, or even swordfish and shark. Purists insist that they must be lamb or pork and that chicken spiedies are an abomination invented by people too cheap to buy the right meat. Nonetheless, today chicken spiedies appear to be the most popular. Venison is the choice of the many hunters in the area; beef or seafood of any sort are viewed with suspicion as possibly being invaders from downstate, i.e. NYC. My own preference for spiedies is pork sirloin, a nice flavorful chunk of meat from behind the ribs and in front of the pelvis of the hog—loin is too lean, in my opinion, and shoulder too fatty.

Spiedie marinade, to cut to the chase, is pretty much Italian salad dressing (for which statement I may well be run out of town). And, of course, it is another topic of much debate. Purists insist one must make it from scratch using olive oil, vinegar, and herbs especially mint and oregano (see my point about the Italian dressing?). There are two commercially prepared marinades available fairly widely in the Northeast, one from Sam A. Lupo & Sons in Endicott, NY, the other from The Rob Salamida Company in Johnson City. Those who follow this blog know that I eschew prepared ingredients almost to the point of obsession. I make an exception for spiedie marinade for which I prefer Salamida’s State Fair Spiedie Sauce.

I buy the pork for my spiedies from MaineSource, the retail division of Binghamton-based Maines Paper & Food Service which has several stores in the Central New York and Northeast Pennsylvania. It comes in roughly 10-pound vacuum packages containing three or four sirloins. I cube all the meat then, unless I am having a party, marinate what I can use in a few days and freeze the rest. The last time I made spiedies I decided to try dividing the cubes into three one gallon-sized freezer bags and pouring in the marinade. After a day in the refrigerator I popped the bags, marinade and all, into the freezer.

Which brings me back to the story of the spiedie spaghetti sauce. The problem with this scheme is that once I thawed three pounds of meat we had to eat it within a reasonable time. And, much as I love spiedies, four straight days of them is a bit much. By Sunday, I had a pound and a half of pork cubes left in the refrigerator and absolutely no desire for yet another meal of spiedies. So, I thought, spiedies are Italian, spaghetti is Italian, surely there is a way to combine the two. Aha! Ragù alla Bolognese!

First I drained the meat, reserving the marinade, ground it, browned it in a bit of olive oil, and set it aside. Then I sweated a simple soffritto of onion, garlic, and bell pepper—a bit of carrot is nice too but I was out of them. When soft I added a 28-ounce can of crushed Italian-style tomatoes, the reserved marinade, and some herbs from my garden: basil, thyme, parsley, and a sage leaf. After letting the sauce simmer for a half hour or so I pureed it with a stick blender then stirred in the meat. Then I put water on to boil in which to cook the pasta. By the time the pasta was done another half hour or so had passed and, with a bit of salt added to taste, the sauce was ready.

Ecco spiedie spaghetti!

A Porcine Adventure

Yesterday was my brother-in-law’s 60th birthday—a great occasion for a family cookout. On the menu, besides the usual burgers and dogs, were pork ribs that a friend had received from a local farmer and had contributed to the cause. However, this being upstate New York, very far indeed from the pig-prizing country south of the Mason-Dixon Line, no one had any idea what to do with them. Enter yours truly, a transplant who lived most of his life either east or south of that line. (Mason and Dixon surveyed the western boundary of my home state of Delaware as well as that separating Pennsylvania and Maryland.) When I arrived at the appointed place I found the “ribs” awaiting in a plastic bag of barbeque sauce. But they were not, in fact, ribs but rather, I divined, so-called “country-style ribs.” Country-style ribs are a marketing fiction rather like “sirloin tip,” a beef cut known in the trade as round knuckle. There are two types cut from one or the other end of the pork loin. Those most common in the supermarket come from the front, or shoulder, end, confusingly called the butt; the others, with which I was confronted, are cut from the rear, or sirloin, end and include small pieces of the floating ribs. This is, in fact, a very nice cut of meat: flavorful and not too fatty. But it can be tricky to cook. Also, I was faced with making the four attached ribs feed ten or so people. The answer, if you have not already guessed, was barbeque.

Generally I am not a fan of store-bought barbeque sauce which usually is just flavored high-fructose corn syrup. But this was a local favorite, Sensuous Slathering Sauce from Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. Still, I like a dry rub on meat I smoke so I rinsed off the excess sauce saving the rest in a saucepan. For the rub I mixed some brown sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. With no little effort I removed the bones, then cut the meat into large cubes, applied the rub, threaded the cubes onto skewers, and went off in search of suitable wood for smoking.

My brother-in-law and his wife live in a lovely little house next to a stream and surrounded by trees, some of which occasionally fall or have to be cut down. So he has a very impressive woodpile. The latest addition was a large sycamore. Unfortunately, sycamore is one of the few deciduous trees that is not suitable for smoking. After a bit of digging I came up with nice foot-long piece of hardwood that I think was cherry. I tested it by holding one end into the gas flame of the stove and smelling the smoke. Perfect! A chop saw quickly turned it into suitably-sized chunks.

By the time I got a couple of handfuls of charcoal going, the rub had done its magic and the meat was ready to smoke. I pushed the embers into two piles at opposite sides of the kettle grill, put a chunk of wood on top, and arranged the skewers in the center away from direct heat. An hour later the meat had lovely smoke rings and was nearly done. Since I needed to get the grill ready for the burgers and dogs, I moved the pork to the oven at 275° to finish cooking.

While the pork was cooking in the oven I added a cup of bourbon to the cup or so of barbeque sauce in the saucepan and brought it to gentle simmer. (If you try this be sure to have a lid handy in case you need to extinguish flaming alcohol.) When the meat was done I removed it from the skewers, coarsely chopped it, and then mixed the sauce into it.

Voila! The only genuine pork BBQ in Ithaca!

Herby Pork Burgers

herbs-2

This time of year the sun both direct and reflected from the south wall of our house makes sitting on our deck during the day impossible. My potted herbs, on the other hand, find this much to their liking so long as I water them daily. So I am always trying new dishes using herbs. For these burgers I used a sprig of savory, several of parsley, a few sage leaves, and a clipping of rosemary. Feel free to substitute whatever herbs you prefer.

Note: this recipe is per burger. Multiply as needed.

Ingredients

1 clove garlic

½ small onion

Herbs to taste (see above)

170 grams (6 ounces) lean ground pork

Salt and pepper

Method

Mince the garlic and onion.

Chop the herbs.

Mix into the meat.

Form patties.

Season with salt and pepper.

Grill until done (70°C, 160°F), about 8 minutes on a side.

Serve on a bun with mayonnaise.

I do this the lazy man’s way: in a food processor.

Pork Rinds

It is a cliché that one can eat all of a pig except squeal. That is certainly true but today most of us live “high off the hog” and generally partake only of the loin, ribs, and ham. Bacon and pork rinds are the notable exceptions. While bacon is popular everywhere, pork rinds are usually associated with the South. More is the shame because they are a delightful snack especially suitable for those on a low-carbohydrate diet. Traditionally pork rinds are deep-fried but in this recipe from the irrepressible Paule Deen they are done in the oven. She uses ham skin but I make mine from the rind I cut from the pork belly I use for bacon. I do not think it makes a great deal of difference which you use. Note, though, that these are a bit chewier than commercial pork rinds. The taste makes a bit of extra chewing well worthwhile.

Ingredients
Pork skin
Salt

Method
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Cut the pork skin into strips about an inch (2 cm) wide and three inches (75 mm) long. Spread the rinds on a sheet pan, sprinkle with salt (I use kosher salt for the irony), and bake until crispy, about three hours. Cool on paper towels or a cooking rack.
Save the rendered fat for cooking but remember that it is a bit salty.

Ham Stock

It amazes me that there is a market for boneless ham when there is so much good to be wrested from a ham bone. Making soup, especially bean or pea, is a traditional use for such a bone and one to which I often put it. Lately, however, I have discovered that ham stock offers more flexibility: I can use it as the base for soup or I can put it to a variety of other uses from ham gravy to risotto.

There is no magic to brewing a pot of stock. Brown the bones in oven, or not, put them in stockpot with some mirepoix, a few seasonings, and water. Simmer for a good long time—how long depends on the bones—strain, cool, defat, and freeze in suitable containers. Done!

I recently decided to try making stock in my electric pressure cooker. The results were far better than I expected. The tradeoff is speed and ease for quantity. While I can make five or six quarts at a time in my stockpot, the pressure cooker only yields about three and half. But it is done in under two hours—less if I preheat water while preparing the ingredients. Incidentally, do not take the quantities in this recipe too seriously, they are approximate.

Ingredients

 

Ham bone

1

1

Onion, diced (2 medium)

8 ounces

250 grams

Carrot, diced (1 or 2)

4 ounces

125 grams

Celery, diced (1 large stalk)

4 ounces

125 grams

Garlic, crushed

2 cloves

2 cloves

Bay leaves

3 or 4

3 or 4

Cloves, whole

4 or 5

4 or 5

Peppercorns, whole

8 to 10

8 to 10

Water (see method)

about 4 quarts

about 4 liters

 

Method

Put everything into the pressure cooker. Use just enough water to fill it to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Cook for one hour at high pressure—in my Cuisinart electric that is about 10 psi (69 kPa). Allow the cooker to cool for 10 or 15 minutes then release the pressure per the manufacturer’s instructions. Using tongs, remove the bone then strain the stock into a large bowl or pot. Refrigerate immediately. When cool, skim off the fat. You can discard the fat if you wish but I usually save it to cook with. (Ham fat is particularly good for making bubble and squeak.) Decant the stock into one quart screw top plastic freezer jars.