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!
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.
Well, not really a snow day (I wish!), but an ice and wind day, the second in a row here. It’s a grey day with a few snowflakes fluttering around. It’s not so far been a productive day. I’ve been wandering from room to room, fighting the urge to take a lesson from the cat. Neither did he go with me to make morning coffee nor did he get out of bed when I started rattling around in the kitchen. He simply got under the duvet instead of on top.
So I’ve resisted the lure of book and duvet to try to accomplish something, even if not useful or productive, just something I can say that I did. The motif today seems to be opening, peering inside, and closing doors, figuratively and literally, including internet browsing–opening a site and then just passing on to another. I’ve peered into the cabinet where all the plastic storage containers live and close the door tightly and firmly, then opened the internet door (Google search) on organizational ideas for empty containers.
Peering into the refrigerator led to the conclusion that I didn’t want to eat anything that was already in there. The threat of power outage led me to follow a link on what foods were safe after a power outage, but that didn’t catch my interest either (no new information, and no power outage here yet). My list of blogs that I follow l did provide something that held my attention: posts on one taste at a time caught my interest–food waste and eating mindfully. After reading (and reblogging those) my meandering led me back to the kitchen with thoughts of something warm and cozy to eat this afternoon.
This recurring theme eventually led to the freezer compartment of the refrigerator which has been needing organization and sorting for a while. Gazing at a container of stock finally got my interest. What better way to start sorting and organizing that to make something from what I found in the freezer that was approaching its end-of-life-even-if-frozen state. Thus: mostly freezer soup happened–with additions from the crisper drawer.
pulled pork (from a large pork butt, slow-roasted in the Schlemmertopf)
two packages of stock (one pork, one chicken)
the last package of sofrito (a staple, but needing to be used and replaced)
carrots (the last of a bag that had been vacuum packed for later use)
1/2 small rutabaga, diced
two handsful of cabbage, in bite-size pieces (a crisper staple)
One of the frustrations of cooking just for me is that some of the cuts of meat that I like best are typically way too big! For example, one of my favorites is pork butt (also known as Boston butt). Note that this does not refer to the location of the cut on the hog–but to the way it was processed and cut in pre-revolutionary and revolutionary times in New England–it’s shoulder that was salted and packed in barrels (called butts). History aside, it’s good eating no matter what you call it. Enough fat to be succulent, and great for BBQ–friends are always willing to help eat it, but that takes a long time to cook and it’s a LOT of meat, so I generally turn to other cuts.
I use chops (both loin and shoulder) often. I mean, chops are wonderful–quick, tasty, good size for one, but they are not the only good part of the hog! I’d rather have cuts other than the ubiquitous loin chops with so little fat that they can be dry if not cooked carefully–such as, a pork neck steak is great (even if hard to find).
country-style spare ribs
Most often I use country-style spare ribs (from the rib end of the loin), since these can be had in quantities suitable for one person–single-serving plus one for the freezer. These work well for braised pork and cabbage, and in chilli con carne.
pork butt steak
While skulking through the supermarket just the other day is was quite surprised to find a package of pork butt steaks lying there in the meat case. No hesitation on my part, they went right into my basket, and home with me, especially since they were on “manager’s special”, but not a problem since I was planning to cook them right away: maybe griddle one, and pop the others into the Romertopf after salting and seasoning with a little chilli powder and coriander. No water needed to roast these in the Romertopf–but good broth when they come out. I had one hot meal when they came out of the oven, packed two more servings with broth for the freezer, and had some for the hot and sour soup.
Some good eating with very little effort on my part–and all very inexpensively!