Tag Archives: pork

more of that other white meat: pork loin and pomegranate

10 Aug

If you know me, you’re probably familiar with my disdain for chicken. The only white meat I’ll eat is oinkin’ delicious swine — so there.

Pork loin is pretty much the leanest, healthiest cut that can come from a pig, and therefore it’s often cooked to dry chewy oblivion. In case that happens (as it often happens to me), nothing masks your booboo better than a delightfully complex sauce. It must be the Frenchwomen in me.

pork loin and pomegranate sauce
from the pages of gourmet magazine, cause i’m fancy sometimes

* 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
* 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
* 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 pork tenderloins (each about 3/4 pound)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 cup plain pomegranate juice
* 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
* 1 tablespoon water
* 1 to 2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Stir together cumin, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, and salt in a shallow bowl. Pat tenderloins dry and dredge in spice mixture until evenly coated.

Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to moderate and cook pork, turning occasionally, until meat is browned on all sides and thermometer inserted diagonally into center of each tenderloin registers 145°F, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pork with tongs to a cutting board (reserve skillet) and let stand 10 minutes.

While pork stands, pour off and discard any fat from skillet, then add pomegranate juice to skillet and boil over moderately high heat until reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 3 minutes (if side of skillet begins to scorch, reduce heat to moderate). Stir together cornstarch and water and whisk into juice, then boil sauce until thickened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and add Sherry vinegar to taste, then swirl in butter until incorporated. Pour sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and skim off any fat. Season with salt. Slice pork and serve with sauce.

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i want my baby back ribs

15 Mar

Growing up, dinner at Tony Roma’s was reserved for only very special occasions. Nothing says “Happy Birthday” quite like saddling up to a sticky vinyl booth for a rack of baby backs drenched in tangy bbq sauce. Toss in a loaded baked potato, bib, and wet nap, and you’ve got a 5-star dining experience.

As a San Franciscan foodie, I would be scorned for my love of Tony Roma’s non-organic, ketchup-bottle sauced ribs. They will forever remain my dirty little bbq secret.

Hit with a baby back rib craving, I turned to Food Network genius Alton Brown for a suitable stand-in for my prized Tony Roma’s racks. Instead of a wet rub, Alton recommends a brown sugar, salt and chili dry rub, followed by a white wine and vinegar braise.

I opted to infuse my ribs with the dry rub overnight for extra flavor. The 2.5-hour braise in foil resulted in a falling-off-the-bone tender rack — exactly the texture one dreams of. Finally, a reduction of the braising liquid yielded a lovely deep brown bbq sauce, perfect for a finishing glaze.

These ribs have a sweet and tangy flavor, surprisingly reminiscent of Chinese spareribs. As expected, Alton has perfected a flawless technique for succulent baby back ribs… damn good eats!

baby back ribs
ribbed for your pleasure

* 2 whole slabs pork baby back ribs

Dry Rub:
* This recipe makes several batches of dry rub. If more rub is needed, it can be extended by any amount, as long as the ratio of 8:3:1:1 remains the same.
* 8 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
* 3 tablespoons kosher salt
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno seasoning (I omitted)
* 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning (I omitted)
* 1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme (I substituted dried thyme)
* 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Braising Liquid:
* 1 cup white wine
* 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
* 1 tablespoon honey
* 2 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat the dry rub into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour. In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave on high for 1 minute.

Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet. Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid. Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until of a thick syrup consistency. Brush the glaze onto the ribs. Place under the broiler just until the glaze caramelizes lightly. Slice each slab into 2 rib bone portions. Place the remaining hot glaze into a bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze.

roku. chow. pork.

15 Nov

In an effort to quit evil Comcast cable, I recently acquired Roku. For $80 (less than I would pay for a month of cable), I snapped up a lower-end HD hardware box about the size of 3 stacked CD jewel cases. What sold me on Roku? Well, it’s cheaper than Apple TV, Boxee, Google TV or a dedicated PC, plus they seem to have solid content partnerships.

Honestly, I had higher hopes for the level of free content available, which currently consists of old b&w movies, bad internet programming, a zillion Pandora-esque stations, and porn (if you are so inclined). I’ve resigned to using it purely as a Netflix-streaming watching box (and Hulu Plus, whenever that gets released). The Vimeo and YouTube channels could be good diversions, but are inconvenient to search and navigate.

I do appreciate that Chow has a free channel on Roku. Sure, it’s no replacement for the Food Network, but it does have fun videos including a Celebrity Go-To Dish section with a Steamed Ground Pork with Salted Fish recipe by Charles Phan of Slanted Door fame.

In the video segment, Phan improvises his favorite family comfort meal — a rustic pork patty studded with dried Chinese salted fish (haam yee) and steamed to juicy perfection. Most Chinese folks (myself included) grew up eating this simple to prepare home-style dish served over rice. Unlike Phan, we never “ground” our own pork with dual cleavers, nor spiked the pork with Vietnamese fish sauce.

Inspired by Phan’s fancification, I set out to recreate the dish one Sunday evening. Instead of fresh mushrooms, I rehydrated a fistful of dried shiitakes and opted for a 50/50 mix of fatty and lean ground pork from the local butcher. At the Chinese market, I grabbed a nice and stinky dried mackerel sold in hanging plastic bags with the tail exposed.

I’m not old school Chinese, so I don’t own a wok or bamboo basket steamers. Phan describes how to fashion a steamer from foil and a skillet, but I prefer to use a heatproof footed ceramic bowl carefully set it into a large lidded pot with half-inch of simmering water. My grandparents always used this bowl-steaming trick to maximize surface area — simply push the ground pork up the sides of the bowl with uniform thickness to form a cup-like patty.

steamed ground pork with salted fish
umami in a bowl

* 1 pound ground pork
* handful of dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and finely chopped
* 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus more as needed
* 2 teaspoons cornstarch
* Salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 2 (2-by-1-inch-long and 1/2-inch-thick) pieces salted mackerel
* 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, then cut into very thin matchsticks

Fill a large wok with 1 inch of water and place a large bamboo steamer inside. (The water should not touch the bottom of the steamer.) If you don’t have a wok and a bamboo steamer, try my bowl-steaming method. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

Place pork in a medium bowl. Add mushrooms, shallot, fish sauce, cornstarch, oil, and a large pinch each of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Check mixture for proper seasoning by forming a small, thin patty. Pan-fry it until the center is no longer pink. Taste, adding additional fish sauce, salt, or pepper as needed, keeping in mind that there will be additional salt in the dish from the salted fish.

Place pork mixture in a slightly rimmed (to contain the juices) heatproof dish about 8 inches in diameter. Press the pork across the dish to form a large 1/2-inch-thick patty. If using salted mackerel, place it in the center of the pork patty. If using anchovies, scatter them in a single layer on top of the pork patty. Evenly sprinkle with ginger. Carefully place the dish in the bamboo steamer or into pot. Cover the wok or pot with a tightfitting lid or a sheet of aluminum foil and steam until the mixture is just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with rice and vegetables.

Serves 4. Adapted from Charles Phan recipe.

kabocha, gobo and pork stew

25 Oct


Food and weather. Any mathematically inclined cook will tell you the two are inversely proportional: Heat wave, ice cream. Chilly rain, stew.

After a handful of Indian summer days in October, blustery weather and frigid rain has finally set in. Not wanting to stray far from home, I headed to the Chinese grocery store for kabocha (pumpkin), gobo (burdock root) and pork shoulder.

I love kabocha pumpkin for its creamy texture, petite size (easy to handle), and quick-cooking (when compared with the other squashes of the season). There’s a heartiness and sweetness to its yellow flesh, plus you can eat the nutritious green skin. Kabocha is a favorite of the Japanese, who serve it simply boiled, hot or cold as a vegetable side dish.

To make it a complete one-pot meal, I decided to braise some pork shoulder with the kabocha and an earthy Japanese root vegetable called gobo. Served over steaming hot white rice, this Japanese stew becomes the highlight of any rainy evening.

kabocha, gobo and pork stew
a culinary haiku about sunshine on a rainy day

* 1 lb pork shoulder
* 2 lbs kabocha pumpkin
* 2 foot-long pieces of gobo (burdock root), peeled and sliced diagonally into 1/4″-thick pieces
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 5 cups dashi
* 1/4 cup mirin
* 1/3 cup soy sauce
* 1/2 cup sugar

Cut meat into 2-inch pieces and pat dry with paper towels (do not rinse). Spread meat on a large piece of waxed paper or the butcher paper it came in. Sprinkle flour over meat, toss to coat, then shake meat in a colander to rid it of excess flour; do in batches if the colander is small.

Coat bottom of a 5- to 7-quart Dutch oven with a thin film of oil and set pot over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add enough meat to cover bottom in 1 layer. Cook, without stirring, until meat lifts easily from pot with tongs and is well browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side, about 5 minutes more. Transfer meat to a plate and continue with remaining meat, adding more oil to pot in between batches as needed.

When last batch of meat has been removed, add some of the dashi to pot, stirring to released browned bits. Return meat and any accumulated juices to pot. Add gobo and all of the remaining ingredients except for the kabocha to pot. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 60 minutes or until meat is tender.

Meanwhile, with a large, heavy knife, cut the kabocha in half through stem end. Scoop out and discard seeds and strings. Cut kabocha into 1-inch chunks.

After meat has cooked 1 hour add kabocha to the pot. Let liquid come to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes more. Serve over white rice.

Serves 6.