Tag Archives: slow-cooked pork

Slow-Cooked Hungarian Pork Loin (serves 8-10)

Here was the situation the other night; I was without a car and the pantry was down to the dregs. When I say dregs, I am talking about what I call the last bits and pieces of what I think one would need to scrounge up some sort of dinner. I am pretty sick of hearing myself say this, but here we go again: if you have what you consider the bare necessities on hand in your kitchen you can always come up with something to put an evening meal together.

a dish that cooks itself!

A dish that cooks itself!

Well, what did I have on hand in my pantry? What I didn’t have was anything green save for the rosemary plant I was nursing through the winter freeze on a sill in the kitchen, or anything quick cooking like eggs or a piece of chicken, fish or even any canned sardines (which I almost always have hidden somewhere – they are great with a bit of red sauce and pasta and pepper flakes in a pinch!).

Essential to this dish

Essential to this dish was another staple in my pantry, Paprika!

What I did have was a big hunk of pork (which I found in the freezer and set out to defrost; Lesson 1 – have a hunk of meat in the freezer at all times) along with three ingredients I deem essential  if you want to build something from nothing; garlic, onions and olive oil. These are things that last forever and even the saddest looking onion is worth saving. The other thing that comes to my rescue is a modest stash of spices, salts and a few select dried herbs and greens like good bay leaves and maybe a jar of Herbs de Provence, (I am not a fan of large collections of dried herbs and spices sitting on the counter in a big carousel, or neat jars in rows over the stove – most of this stuff shrivels up and looses flavor before you have a chance to use it – a few keys things stored in a dark cupboard is a much better idea and less wasteful).

Cook capers with seasonings

Good dried bay leaves go a long way in a pinch (these are from the Laxmi company based in Mumbai, India – I love this company. They have great varieties of bulk spices and herbs, as well as oil seeds like sesame, and dried fruits, namely raisins)

The only thing in this ingredient list that wasn’t something that I normally have on hand in the winter were the plum tomatoes. They had been sitting in the kitchen for several days, leftover from a salsa that I didn’t end up making. I threw them into the dish just to use them up and they were perfect (and sort of substituted for my lack of a vegetable!). So, if you get a pantry in order filled with the things that appeal to you, there will be no panic if you find yourself a prisoner in your own home!

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You will need:

3 tbs olive oil

3 1/2 lbs pork loin, cut into big chunks

3 medium sweet onions, halved and sliced

4 to 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 celery ribs, sliced

4 or so sprigs fresh thyme

1 small spring fresh rosemary

1 tbs hot Hungarian paprika OR 1/2 smoked 1/2 hot OR 1/2 sweet 1/2 hot paprika (any combo will work)

4 or 5 Roma tomatoes, halved

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (OR good quality stock cube and 6 cups water – *If your stock cube is very mild, use two for full flavor)

Method:

Preheat oven 300*

1 – Season pork with good quality salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put saute pan on high heat and add the oil. When it is very hot sear the meat in batches on all sides. transfer to a deep casserole or straight-sided pan as you go.

sear pork loin

sear pork loin

2 – Turn heat down to medium/low and add a little more oil if you need to. Add the onions, garlic and celery and saute for about 3 minutes before adding the fresh herbs. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for another 3 or so minutes.

Saute onions, celery and garlic

Saute onions, celery and garlic

3 – Add the paprika and stir into the veggies. If you are using a stock cube add it now. Stir lightly for about a minute.

add spices

add spices

4 – Add the liquid (stock or water) and turn heat up to high. Add the meat and when the mixture comes to a boil add the halved tomatoes, halved side down (this helps keep the skin in tact!). taste a little of the juices and adjust salt and pepper to your taste .

Add broth, then pork loin

Add broth, then pork loin

5 – Place in oven and cook for 3 hours or until meat is very tender.

cook for 3 hours or so and serve with whatever your heart desires!

cook for 3 hours or so and serve with whatever your heart desires!

Serve with whatever you like; rice, spaghetti, pici pasta, fresh crusty bread, and sautéed greens. The sauce is great with any of the above.

Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs (serves 6-8)

This past weekend was a hectic one to say the least and I had to be smart about what to cook. The best kinds of dishes to cook when you have guests and are on the go are ones that demand little time to prepare, slow cooking and are hearty enough to keep everyone happy for hours.

This dish most certainly fit all the criteria and was more delicious than I could have imagined.

This Weekend: Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs

This Weekend: Really Great Smokey Baby-Back Ribs

I implore you to add this to your list of ways to cook my favorite kind of pig: Baby-Back ribs!

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You will need:

4 tbs olive oil

2 racks baby-back ribs, cut into 2 to 3 rib pieces, seasoned lightly with sea-salt and black pepper.

1 large (not huge) Vidalia onion

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup roughly chopped flat-leafed parsley leaves

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (click here if you don’t know what this is)

1 tbs adobo sauce (use 2 tbs if you want more smokey heat)

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes)

1 tsp sea-salt (if using a fine-grained salt, start of with a 1/2 tsp)

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups chicken broth OR 1 good quality bouillon cube (Rapunzel) and 4 cups of water)

Equipment: you will need a very large casserole with lid for this dish.

* I served this with basmati rice but you can serve with a pasta, like spaghetti*

Method:

Preheat oven 400*

1 – Sear the prepared ribs (see ingredients list instructions) in batches on high heat in large saute pan until browned on both sides. You will need to add more oil as you go. Transfer to a big casserole (with lid) that can be put into the oven.

sear ribs

sear ribs

2 – turn heat down to medium and add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the chopped chipotle peppers, adobo sauce and parsley.

saute onions, add seasonings

saute onions, add seasonings

3 – Add the tomato puree, broth (or water and bouillon cube) and salt and bring mixture to a boil.

add liquids

Add liquids

4 – Pour this mixture into the casserole over the ribs and place in the oven for 1  1/4 hours. Remove from oven and check meat by piercing with a sharp knife. If it is very tender you can remove it from the oven. Let it sit covered for about 10 minutes before serving. Taste the sauce for additional seasoning. Also, if the sauce is very thick you can add a little more water to thin it out to your liking.

assemble dish and cook

Assemble dish and cook

Serve each person 2 or 3 rib sections with whatever you like, (suggestions below). You can also have some cayenne pepper flakes on the table for those of you who like more heat. A sprinkle of some flat-leafed parsley would not go astray either!

Serve alone or with rice, pasta or bread

Serve alone or with rice, pasta or bread

The meat can also be removed from the ribs and returned to the sauce which makes it easier to eat, especially if you serve it with a long pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle.

Slow-Cooked Pork with Pungent Juniper & Caraway (serves 12-14)

Amazing Pork dish

Amazing Pork dish

Planning the Christmas menu is always a challenge for me. I am a sort of irreverent traditionalist in that I like to refer to the foods that relate to the holiday, while at the same time, serving dishes that are a little unexpected. My idea of the perfect meal is one where the entire length of the table is filled with an astounding sea of platters filled to the brim with the flavors of the season.

Christmas day cooking

Christmas day cooking

I spent at least 6 weeks composing our Christmas dinner. This makes me sound a little intense and a tad overly meticulous, but I assure you most of the planning was done while day-dreaming about food while driving, or when lying in my bed late at night when my brain refused to turn itself off.

dessert would not be complete without Christmas Crackers!

dessert would not be complete without Christmas Crackers!

This year was more ambitious than others, with 15 people to cook for.  Four close friends would be staying at the house, as well as my two brothers, one of whom was bringing his wife, three kids and mother-in-law! They were all traveling from places as close as New York City, to as far away as Colorado and Canada. Right there was pressure to please all of my wonderful friends and family who were making the effort to spend time with us. I wanted everything to be spectacular and fill them with so much goodness that they would think of nothing but that when they remembered the Christmas of 2012!

Everybody has now come and gone, and a quiet has descended upon my kitchen. It was a marvelous whirlwind of conversation, laughter, games, silliness (the silliness part being mostly my brothers’) and a joyously frantic marathon of cooking and eating.

The Christmas table had a parade of food including: slow-cooked pork with root vegetables, (recipe below), turkey breast with rosemary scented gravy, curried meatballs, roasted aromatic bread stuffing, baked rigatoni in a rich beef ragu sauce, Celine’s famous Meat Pie, creamed mashed potatoes, cranberry/orange relish, balsamic dressed green beans, romaine salad, and for dessert, Italian trifle, warm plum pudding, an array of Christmas cookies, and chocolates.

Delectable Christmas Cookies (labourious made by my freind Bird)

Delectable Christmas Cookies (laboriously made by my friend Bird)

I am only posting one recipe, but it was one of the biggest hits and could be made any wintry night. It is rich, mouth-wateringly good and unusual. I was definitely pulling from and inspired by a recipe from one of my latest Saveur magazines, but as with all recipes I believe you should allow yourself the liberty of tweaking it to your own taste and convenience. For instance, the recipe called for juniper berries which I decided to pulverize and make into a paste using extra-virgin olive oil and the other spices. Also I used the vegetables of my choice (what was available in my supermarket) and added more liquid and wine. Feel free to ad-lib from my recipe below to make something that is more you!

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Preheat oven 350*

You will need:

6 to 7 lb pork shoulder, de-boned and butterflied (I took this to the butcher right at the supermarket counter and got him to it – all you have to do is ask!)

2 oz pancetta (don’t worry if you don’t have this ingredient)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

10 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 1/2 tbs dried juniper berries (you can find this in well-stocked supermarkets or spice shop)

5 tsp  caraway seeds

1 tbs fresh rosemary leaves

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp course sea-salt (I use Maldon sea-salt flakes)

2 pale green inner celery ribs including leaves, roughly chopped

4 big carrots, peeled & sliced thickly OR 2 cups baby carrots, left whole

3 big parsnips, peeled and sliced thickly

1 very large sweet potato, cut into big chunks

1 good quality stock cub (I use Rapunzel brand, herbs with sea salt)

1 cup red wine

4 to 6 cups water (more instructions in the method)

Equipment: Roasting pan or big saute pan (oven proof), kitchen string/twine

Method:

Preheat oven 350*

1 – Put juniper berries, caraway seeds, garlic, rosemary leaves, salt, pepper  and the 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil in a food processor and grind to a rough paste (pulsing action works well).  Open butterflied pork (like opening a book), and rub paste over every part of the inside. Lay pancetta in a single layer keeping about 1 inch from the edge. Roll the pork up as tightly as you can and lay on cutting board with opening facing down. Firmly tie with string.

Prepare meat

Prepare meat

2 – Put roasting pan or big saute pan on high heat and add the 1/4 cup olive oil. When it is hot, add the pork and brown on all side. This will take about 20 minutes. When done, place on plate and set aside.

cook veggies

cook veggies

3 – Turn heat down slightly and add the root vegetables and thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes. Add stock cube and stir. Add wine and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Turn heat off and place the pork on top.

Cook

Cook

4 – Cover with foil and place in oven until meat is done (until meat reaches 165* This will take anywhere between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Check each hour and add water if it looks low (about 1 cup each time).

Rest meat, then slice adn serve with veggies

Rest meat, then slice and serve with veggies

5 – When done, rest meat on a plate for about 20 minutes and keep veggies with au jus warm on low heat on stove top.

I cannot tell you how cook this tastes. You may just have to make it for yourself!

I cannot tell you how cook this tastes. You may just have to make it for yourself!

Slice meat and lay onto a serving platter. Pour the pan juices and vegetables over the top and serve. This is great with rice or mashed potatoes and a fresh green salad on the side.

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!