Category Archives: Entrees

Pork Chile Verde

I gave my sister a subscription to Bon Appétit for Christmas this past year.  We have decided to each make one thing per month from the magazine and then discuss.  Here’s my pick from February.

Truth be told, they had me at verde.  There is something about a green sauce that just sends me into food heaven.  This dish has several of my favorite green ingredients – green chile, cilantro and tomatillos.

Mild green chiles, mix with the tart tomatillos to create a delicious base for pork to smother and cook in for hours.  A perfect winter Sunday afternoon creation but I could and will enjoy it all year long.

I also finally bought Mexican oregano for this recipe, after using only Mediterranean oregano for years.  The Mexican version does indeed have a smoky flavor that the Mediterranean does not and it is a welcome addition. Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Entrees, Pork

Posole with Chile Colorado

I first discovered posole on a trip to New Mexico way back when.  I have loved it ever since.

Posole is a special type of large kernel white corn that is “slaked” or soaked in lime or wood ash. The lime dissolves the outer layer of skin and then the corn can be dried and preserved.

Luckily, I am now able to find dried posole at the wonder that is Kalustyan’s, New York’s landmark for fine specialty foods. However, I have been known to hit the brakes for a Mexican supermarket, regardless of which town I am in.

Posole stew, like the one featured here, is what I fell in love with in New Mexico. It is a ceremonial dish to celebrate life’s blessings and is traditionally served on Christmas eve.

This particular version contains no meat.  However, pork or chicken often make an appearance and sometimes green chile takes the place of the dried red ones featured here.  The red Chile Colorado sauce is a bit labor intensive but very much worth the effort. To make this a hearty vegetarian dish, simply use vegetable broth in place of  the chicken broth that the recipe calls for.

The closest I ever came to this growing up in Texas was canned hominy.  Sure, I suppose you could substitute it for the dried posole that this recipe calls for but it would be a mushy shame.
Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Entrees, Soups

Porchetta

I love fennel but am never quite sure what to do with the leftover fronds. When I discovered this recipe for Porchetta that actually calls for the fronds and not the bulb, I filed it away in my mental cookbook for the next time I needed fennel for something.

Then, at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, I found something I have never seen before–baby fennel. Heavy on frond and lite on bulb, I picked up a bunch and set out to make Porchetta.

Once the weather cools, there is something about nice, long, slow cooked dishes. They may require a bit of work on the front end but the payoff is almost always worth the effort. This recipe is from Italian Slow and Savory by Joyce Goldstein and is the epitome of a wonderfully slow roasted dish.

Porchetta is street food from central Italy, usually sold from a cart, sliced to order and served in sandwich form. It often involves using a whole pig, which I could never do.

This version is seasoned in the same classic manner used for a whole roast pig. The pork loin is generously rubbed with a savory garlic and herb paste, tied, and then allowed to roast in the oven for  about three and a half hours.  Talk about being worth the effort–the end result is unlike any other roasted pork, deeply flavorful, delicious hot or cold and a wonderful kick-off to fall and the chilly weather ahead.
Here is the recipe…

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Grilled Sardines

Lucky me.  I just returned from a wonderful trip to Portugal.  The food was spectacular and one item that was on just about every menu, and one that we consumed on many occasions, was fresh, grilled sardines.

One of the world’s healthiest foods, sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and are known to promote cardiovascular health.  And, unlike many other forms of seafood, they are extremely low in mercury.

Although best enjoyed fresh off the grill with a cold beer (preferably on a beach in Portugal), you can also enjoy this healthy treat in your own backyard.

Here’s how…

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Chinese Dumplings

Beijing Hutong

Last December, I was able to join M on a business trip to China. One of the highlights of our stay in Beijing, aside from the Great Wall and Forbidden City, was taking a cooking class taught in a courtyard residence in a traditional hutong.

We booked the class with hutongcuisine.com before we left and opted for the class on dumplings. There were only three students in the class and, unlike others we have attended, it was a very hands-on experience.

Chunyi Zhou

Our instructor, Chunyi Zhou, greeted us and promptly outfitted each student with an apron, cleaver, cutting board and their own set of ingredients. The way the class works is that each student prepares part of the meal in the morning. It all comes together by early afternoon and then everyone sits down for lunch and enjoys the morning’s preparation.  I have included photos in this post, and there are additional pictures in Saveur’s Beijing issue.

I was tasked with making the pork and spring onion dumplings, while M took over the beef and celery version. We gathered around a large wooden table in Zhou’s kitchen and got to work.  As we prepped the ingredients, Zhou was there to guide (and correct) us along the way. Who knew that you could only stir the meat mixture in one direction? I’m still not sure why but I listened and obeyed.

After the fillings were ready, we got to work on making the actual dumpling wrappers. We rolled our dough into an approximately 10-inch long log and then cut it into 16 pieces. We then used a special Chinese rolling pin to roll each of the pieces into a thin disk about 3.5 inches in diameter. We put a tablespoon or so of filling into each wrapper, folded the disk onto itself and then pinched to seal.

Dumpling preparation

The pinch and seal was probably the most difficult task, aside from using a cleaver to cut everything. Zhou was right there for encouragement and correction. She decided to get all fancy with the pinch and seal on her dumplings as you can see below.

Zhou's dumpling on the left, mine on the right

After class, we went straight to the Chinese supermarket to purchase one of the special rolling pins because we knew we would certainly be making these upon our return–and we have–once. And, although I could eat these dumplings every day, due to their labor intensity, they are probably best reserved for special occasions.

Note:

1. You must use a high-gluten flour to get the elasticity required for the dumpling wrappers.

2. Many of the items listed in the recipe are not available at regular grocery stores.  We picked up many of our ingredients, including the high-gluten flour, at the Chinese American Trading Company on 91 Mulberry St. in New York.

3. Making dumplings seems intimidating but it is really quite enjoyable once you get the hang of it.

4. They are really delicious!

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Entrees, Meat

Pan-Seared Duck Breast

After missing my birthday for the past ten years by weeks, and sometimes months, one of my dear friends surprised me this year with Thomas Keller’s ad hoc at home cookbook.  Last year, after making sure that it was not fried chicken night, we had the pleasure of dining at ad hoc during a trip to northern California.  So, this gift was very well received.

The menu at ad hoc changes nightly and there are no choices.  The $49 four course meal  is served family style in a rustic casual setting by a cordial and informed staff.  The night we were there, we had a Portuguese salad, followed by lamb t-bones, followed by a lovely cheese course, followed by one of my favorite desserts ever, tiramisu.

I want to make and eat everything in this cookbook (except the fried chicken, of course…I’m scarred) but I chose the duck breast for my first meal for a number of reasons: 1) I have never cooked duck breast.  2) I don’t generally like duck breast, or at least I didn’t think I did.  3) The duck breast I have had has been dry and tough.  Perhaps, it was not prepared properly and if anyone can teach me how to do it right, it is Thomas Keller.

ad hoc Pan-Seared Duck Breast

The trick is to score the skin first and then cook it over medium heat for a long period of time.  As the meat cooks, the fat renders and you must drain it from the pan as you go.  Once the cooking time has elapsed and the meat is the correct temperature you pop it into the oven for the last minutes of cooking time.  When the meat is done, measure for the correct temperature and let it rest before slicing.

One word for this one: amazing.

Thanks, dear friend.

Here is the recipe…

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Pork with Clams

M went to Portugal many years ago and still cannot stop talking about Pork with Clams, the popular signature dish of the Alentejo region.  I enjoy pork and I love clams but these two items together just didn’t resonate with me.  That is, until I tried it.

Pork with Clams

I discovered a cookbook called Piri Piri Starfish one day when we were at the treasure trove of cookbooks, Kitchen Arts and Letters, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  We make frequent trips to this mecca of over 13,000 cookbook titles and never leave empty-handed.  This particular book, however, did not make the day’s final cut for I don’t remember what reason.

Unavailable in the United States, this book by Tessa Kiros features the cooking of Portgual.  In addition to excellent recipes and beautiful photographs, the book also serves as a travelogue and a wonderful introduction to the Portuguese kitchen.

I surprised him with this for his birthday and he surprised me with…Pork with Clams.

We have made this exactly as it appears in Tessa’s book (delicious) and have also lightened it up with a few variations.  Instead of pork shoulder, we have substituted pork tenderloin, a less fatty cut that requires a shorter cooking time, 30 minutes as opposed to the 75 for the pork shoulder.  Also, instead of frying the potatoes in oil, we have simply added them to the pot ten minutes before the clams.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to serve it with a chunk of crusty peasant bread to soak up all the delicious sauce.

Here is the recipe if you’d like to give it a try

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Filed under Entrees, Meat, Seafood