Pork with peaches

After read the post on Gammon with Roast Peaches on Mrs Portly’s Kitchen and practically drooling on my keyboard; since I didn’t have any serious ham at the time, I tried it with pork confit; it was really good! Peach season is here now, and I do want to try some with country ham before good peaches disappear for another year.

I suspect that my variation of this may end up on my cast iron griddle, rather than the grill because I’m such a wuss about the heat and humidity here, but I’m sure it will be good!

Country ham

A pork rillettes addendum

I got just a little hasty clicking buttons while saving and trying to schedule that post on rillettes, so here is a final report:

final seasoning, after the “sizzle”
  • This didn’t require much “hands in” work at all. The meat was so tender that it shredded as I was mixing with the spatula while adjusting the seasoning.
  • I love my Calphalon “everyday” pan, but it was a not a good choice for doing the evaporate and “sizzle” part of the recipe: just not quite heavy enough so that I had some brown stuff (fond) right over the burner (nothing burned, just browned) and around the sides of the pan where there was a little spatter while the evaporating was going on. (Maybe just a bit lower flarm next time?) The evaporation was good since it’s a broad surface, but I needed a heavier pan or a “flame tamer” or use the induction cooktop since that might spread the heat better.
  • Since I didn’t want to lose all the flavor of the fond on the bottom of the pan and around the sides, I deglazed the pan first with just enough water water to cover the bottom of the pan, reduced that a bit, then added a hefty splash of dry sherry and reduced this to about 3 or 4 tablespoons that was mixed with the meat.
  • If you really want to add to the “porky” flavor, you could add just a bit of bacon fat instead of all lard. (I know this because I tasted it with a bit from the jar that lives by my stove, but this time just lots of fresh-ground black pepper,) I can think of lots of interesting ways to season this. It’s just a son gôut!
cooling, waiting for the fridge

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Pork spare ribs

Cooking pork spare ribs to that point where they are extremely luscious and tender is usually a long process, usually involving the oven (at least for me). Even in the cooler weather this didn’t seem to be an option even with windows and doors open; however it occurred to me that I had another option: the Instant Pot. So despite the rather humid (even if cool) weather and the prospect of hotter weather imminent, that package of spare ribs went home with me.

I’ve cooked other meat (e.g. beef short ribs) in my Instant Pot with wonderful results so that was my plan. Realizing that i was going to have an abundance of pork I started thinking of ways to deal with it: some for the freezer perhaps since there are lots of things to do with good cooked pork.

My favorite way of cooking many things in the Instant Pot (IP) is the pot-in-pot method*–a container with a lid inside the Instant Pot. My reason for using this method so often is that in cooking for one I’m often using rather small quantities in a six-quart IP. Often I don’t want to add as much liquid as would be necessary cooking directly in the container of the pot itself.

I like this method especially for meats. The broth that you collect is undiluted by water so you have broth that is flavorful and will gel nicely. So that is how the spare ribs were cooked. The only “disadvantage” to this method is that you may need to increase the cooking times but since I use the IP mainly because of hands-off method and flavor I don’t find that to be a problem.

It really isn’t possible to give quantities for things like the peppercorns or precisely for the salt–you’ll have to judge by your taste.

Ingredients

  • about 2 to 2-1/2 pounds boneless pork spare ribs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • whole black peppercorns (a lot–about a generous teaspoon or more if you like pepper
  • 4 or 5 cloves of garlic
  • salt (more than you would think)–about 2 or 3 teaspoons

Preparation

  • The day before or at least three or four hours ahead of cooking, sprinkle the spare ribs generously with kosher salt.
  • When ready to cook, rinse if there is still salt visible and pat the meat dry.
  • Cut the strips into 2- or 3-inch chunks (to fit into your bowl).
  • Add 1 cup of water to the IP container, place the trivet, and set the covered bowl on the trivet.
  • Close the IP and set to “meat”. These took about 90 minutes at high pressure.

I removed a healthy serving of the cooked spare ribs for my supper on that cool, rainy evening (with sides of cabbage and some rice) and then cooled the remaining in the broth (and the fat) for another use.

Cooks notes: *This is a rather long video but it introduces the pot-in-pot method and containers suitable for this. I almost always use a cover on the inner pot so that additional liquid doesn’t collect in it. For more on containers see this link, this link, or here.

Cabbage and pork

Ready for the oven

I guess it’s the cold weather, but seem to be craving simple, warm meat and vegetable dishes. Not very long ago I was making fårikål–lamb and cabbage stew because I found lovely shoulder chops in the meat case.

This week on my stroll around the meat case looking for bargains I found a lovely package of pork butt steaks–perfect for making another of my favorite winter dishes: braised pork and cabbage with an unusual twist to the seasoning, thanks to Jacques Pepin (and his wife).

A whole pork butt is just not in the picture when you are cooking for one! Even when you freeze part of what you make–and this does freeze well, and I do want some in the freezer for quick meals, I still really prefer making most things in quantities NOT for eight people. This recipe is one that is SO easy to adapt for cooking for one. Chops or steaks are a good alternative to a whole pork butt.

I almost made this recipe just as it was posted in the original–except I browned only one side of the pork since it was going to finish in the oven. My other modification, was to add just a touch of coriander seed to the spice mixture. For chops or steaks like this, about 30 to 45 minutes with the rub is enough.

This is a great mix of a little spicy, a little sweet, a little sour–not what you usually expect when you hear pork and cabbage!

Not photogenic, but very tasty


In cold weather–or even just chilly, grey, rainy weather–I love making braises in the oven. I’m heating the house, so the added heat is fine. The aromas of a good oven-braised dish warm the soul too.

A son gôut!

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Beans & Rice

This was a kitchen happening–not really a recipe with given quantities of anything–just because I wanted rice and beans. Everything is flexible, depending on your taste and how many servings you need. (I wanted to have some extra to put in the freezer for quick side to grilled meat.)

It’s SO hot here that cooking just isn’t very appealing even with air conditioning on. One of my solutions is to eat things can be prepared without turning on the stove. I did this in the Krups multi-function pot that I love and use in so many different ways. (Tomorrow I’ll be using it to make tuna confit since my supermarket had lovely tuna medallions on a really special sale. That will keep me in tuna for my summer salads for a bit.)

Black Beans & Rice with Chorizo

Ingredients

  • rice (about 1 cup)
  • olive oil (healthy dollop)
  • onions, chopped (lots)
  • black beans
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • canned diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • red pepper flakes (dash)
  • pimenton (dash)
  • Mexican oregano (good healthy pinch)
  • pork chorizo (about 1/2- to 3/4-pound fresh)
  • water or extra tomato juice/V8 juice as needed for the rice

Preparation

  • Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent and starting to soften
  • Add red pepper flakes, pimenton, oregano, salt and pepper and sauté until the spices are aromatic
  • Add chorizo and sauté until it starts to turn opaque
  • Add canned tomatoes
  • Add rice and black beans (canned or frozen)
  • cook until rice is tender

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It’s hot and humid here, and I was being particularly lazy, despite my desire for food so I did this in the multifunction pot. I did make this as easy as possible–frozen chopped onions, canned tomatoes, and frozen black beans (these from 13 Foods) but Stahlbush Island Farms also has black beans and brown rice that make a good starting place for this. The result with frozen legumes is much better than with canned, though those will work as well.

A note on the oregano–it was Mexican oregano which is definitely not the same as Greek or Turkish oregano. If you don’t have Mexican oregano, then I would substitute thyme or cilantro. I can’t get my head around the Greek or Italian with this mix of flavors.  The pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika) adds a bit of smoky flavor.

I first measured my rice so that I’d know how much liquid needed to be added to have it cook to proper doneness. Everything else was added (as indicated) by the dash, dollop, or pinch.

The chorizo that I used was fresh, made in-store from my Harris-Teeter supermarket, and not in casings so all I had to do was break it up into the pot to sauté.  Couldn’t get any easier. If you can’t find “loose” then just remove from the casing, or put the whole sausages in to make this a meat-centric dish.

Everything was sautéed using the rice cooker setting with the lid open. Quite quick and easy although it does require a little attention. Once the tomatoes (with juice) and beans were added, with just a bit of spicy V8 juice to give enough liquid to cook the rice, the lid was closed, and I went away to do something else–until my meal was done. The caveat here is that you do need to be sure that the amount of liquid is appropriate for cooking the rice–too much and you’ll have “blown out”, mushy rice; too little and it will still be crunchy–you’ll need to add more liquid and continue to cook until tender.

Quantities and totally flexible–maybe you like more rice than beans–or the other way round. I love lots of onions, but if you don’t, then just don’t use many.  The proportion of chorizo depends on how meat hungry you are–it can vary too, from almost a seasoning to a lot. Next time I make this I will add just a bit more than I used this time, although it was quite good this way.

A son gôut!

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Pork confit

 

Cool weather inspires cooking! Something warm and cozy–confit as a “pantry” staple for a starting point for multiple dishes. With the weather a bit up in the air I decided to make something that would give me lots of possibilities even if Matthew decides to visit.

Confit was originally made as a method of preserving meat–often duck or goose, but it’s a method that can be applied to other meats, fish, and seafood–e.g. tuna which I love for summer salads and cold meals but it’s a great starting place for cool-weather meals too. The traditional method is to poach meat in fat (oil) at low temperatures which yields meat that is intense in flavor, and absolutely luscious in texture. If you’re wondering, it’s NOT greasy! The Science of Cooking addresses many of the questions often asked about confit.

With cool weather here I decided to opt for my favorite meat–pork–and to try a slightly different method of achieving the end results. This inspiration sprang from finding country-style spare ribs on special at my local Harris Teeter market. Since the weather wasn’t quite cool enough for me to want to have the oven on for hours, I decided to use the my multi-function pot in slow-cooking mode to make pork confit.

packaged pork from the meat counter in the supermarket

Since country-style spare ribs have a lot of fat on them I decided that I didn’t need to submerge them in oil–the fat would render from them as they cooked in the slow-cooker. From experiments when I was trying to do monk fish sous vide, I knew that the slow-cooker mode would keep the temperature at 185ºF. Most confit recipes suggest temperatures between about 190ºF and 200ºF. I thought 185ºF would be workable (especially since the confit will be refrigerated after cooking) but will be covered with the rendered pork fat.

I took my country-style spare ribs and salted them liberally over night–e.g. “dry brine”, then rinsed, and patted them dry. Because of the fattiness of this cut, I added only a couple s tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of the cooker and packed in the meat. I didn’t add seasoning other than the previous salting so I have a flavorful (but kind of “blank” canvas) to build other dishes. I set the cooker for eight hours and went on to do other things–like hive inspections.

The liquid which (intensely flavored broth/gelatin) was separated from the fat that was rendered and will ultimately make its way into soup or as “au jus” with the confit. The meat is now tucked away in the fridge sealed in the fat. Since this was originally a method of preserving meat, now with the addition of refrigeration, there is a long shelf-life if you separate the broth/gelatin liquid from the fat and then “seal” the meat in the fat. Old method, but useful in modern cooking.

This cooking method works with any meat–a favorite in this household is confit made with chicken (especially leg quarters or thighs). I think that this fall as “turkey” season rolls around I will try to find thighs to cook this way. It might improve my attitude toward turkey given the flavor and texture changes that result from the confit process.

The result? Absolutely as good as if I had done it in the oven though requiring less added fat than I would have added for that method.  Enough fat rendered to submerge the meat about three-quarters of the way up the sides. Even without additional seasonings the meat is luscious immediately after cooking–pure unadulterated pork flavor.

What’s on the menu for supper? Well, I’m thinking cabbage steak (done under the broiler) with pork confit that has been quickly reheated and browned (also under the broiler) but with the tahini sauce replaced with the juice from the confit process.

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Krups rice cooker IMG_3796

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Always Hungry? Another improvisation

Pork is one of my favorite meats, and it is not on the list of approved protein sources, although I assume it is in the category of “game and other meats” so I’m improvising a Phase 1 meal with a pork chop this evening. After reading a recipe from The Kitchn for 20160322_163300“Sweet and Spicy Braised Cabbage” my mouth was set for pork. The sweet part is going to prevent me from having that to go with my pork chop this evening (save this one for Phase 2 or 3).

I thought about taking  the lazy way out for vegetables and carbohydrate–use some of the mixed greens and borlotti beans that I had with my tuna steak, with  an addition of a little extra seasoning for the second time around, but that just did not tingle my taste buds today. So, sautéed kale this evening. I have a large bag of kale that I’m first going to sauté  simply with olive oil and then add seasonings to what I’m going to have with the pork chop–leaving the “extra” for later use to season differently  for later use. (I do quite often to avoid wasting food because I’m a picky eater who doesn’t want the same thing over and over.)

Supper this evening was part of this pork chop cooked on my cast iron griddle as described for pork neck steak–smoking hot griddle, first two minutes on each side, then turned at minute intervals until it reached an internal temperature of 130 degrees to allow for continued cooking while resting. Kale sautéed with black-eyed peas, and a side of sautéed apple (not good enough to eat out of hand, but fine when cooked). The sautéed apple replaced dessert with this meal. The contrasts of the slight bitterness of the kale, the earthiness of the black-eyed peas, and the sweetness of the apple with the pork did make my taste buds sit up and take notice.

20160322_171559

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