Tag Archives: 4505 Meats

Sunday Meals with Framily

I am delighted to find a way to offset the dreaded Sunday blues I have been feeling by having a “framily” dinner – a dinner with friends who are like my family.

This Sunday sadness is an odd phenomenon for me.  For many years I thought it was because on Sunday afternoon I remembered I had to go to work on Monday to a job I hated. As time passed and I changed jobs, then changed jobs again, I was in a series of long-term relationships with men who lived out of the City. Sundays meant either they left to go home, or I did, and there again leaving me feeling lonely at dinner and facing an evening of dread anticipating work.

Osso Bucco dinner

Work got better but I was always seemed to end up alone Sunday night and in my societally-programmed brain Sundays are meant to be spent with family or friends, with a well anticipated family meal capping off the weekend’s adventures with each other, or hopefully, at the minimum, the successful completion of chores that inevitably pile up. But that is not my life, and now that I am single and even without a cat roommate I find the sorrow and loneliness is sometimes overwhelming. Some Sundays I even spent watching Hallmark Channel movies and dabbing at the eyes with tissue, such a deplorable state in which to find oneself.  The Hallmark Channel!!

Last weekend however, I invited friends over for dinner and we had such a nice evening together, full of laughter, silliness and great food, even if it is a challenge to cook in my tiny kitchen astride a scooter. I realized, even after they went home, that I didn’t feel as lonely as I usually do, and this is because my dear friends are my family and that this simple family meal felt right and true and I felt like a member of a family, a family of friends, my “framily”.

I spoke honestly about my feelings over that dinner and found that some of my friends feel the same way.  Either they’re not in a relationship right now, or their partner lives far away like mine used to, or the child custody arrangements mean half of the Sundays they say goodbye to their children and go home alone.  I have proposed a standing Sunday dinner or midday supper going forward where we gather and relax and enjoy.  I know it can’t happen every weekend but I hope it will.

This weekend, despite the 6.1 earthquake that rocked the Bay Area and severely damaged the town of Napa, we in SF were in good shape, a little shaken but not stirred, if you know what I mean.  Saturday, before all of the excitement, I prepared an osso bucco with a large format beef shank from my amazing local butcher, 4505 Meats.  I love making osso bucco and it is very nostalgic for me and I haven’t made it for four years.

Osso Bucco dinner

I made a variation of my usual osso bucco and added shitakes and some local bell peppers, just because I had them, and used a bunch of whole carrots scattered across the top.  Everything cooked away in the oven while I practiced crutching around the apartment.

I was so proud of myself for using crutches almost the entire day, except when I made myself a sandwich for dinner.  It was quite a gourmet sandwich made from leftover smoked beef brisket but once I had made it I couldn’t figure out how to transport it to my dining table.  I tried wrapping it in a paper towel but couldn’t hang onto it while holding onto the crutches and it fell on the floor, happily still wrapped up.  Then I put it in waxed paper and tried sticking inside my tee shirt, but it fell out!  So much for passing the pencil test then, I chuckled to myself.  Then I put it in a ziplock baggie and held it in my teeth, like a dog.  Utterly hilarious.

When my sandwich was done, so was the osso bucco and I let it cool a bit on the stove before packing it up for my friend’s place.

On Sunday, D___  made a gorgeous pot of polenta with lots of butter and cheese, and we reheated the sauce first to thicken it a bit then added the meat and carrots to warm up. While it was heating I chopped up a huge mound of gremolata, the magical mixture of garlic, lemon zest and parsley that is scattered over the top of the osso bucco and livens up the dish.

Osso Bucco dinner
(once you make gremolata you will want to put it on everything)

Another friend made a beautiful salad of avocados and ripe tomatoes and brought some tomato basil bisque to start.

Osso Bucco dinner

Osso Bucco dinner
(from the Unsafeway, delicious!)

We sipped on Prosecco then rose, while the young man in the house enjoyed his milk in a wine glass.

Osso Bucco dinner
Osso Bucco dinner
(there is a huge mound of cheese-laden polenta under that sugo!)

There was a moment during dinner where the conversation just halted and we all felt so replete and blissed out.  Having a luxurious and hearty mid-day meal on Sunday was so pleasant and relaxing, it was the perfect moment.  Afterwards we chatted and played games and I knitted a bit while the sun streamed in the window while the room was chilled by the Pacific breezes.  We all felt really happy!  Mission accomplished!

 

Next weekend, tacos!

Recipe:  Overnight Osso Bucco

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Summer in SF Means Sugo

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It was 55 F last night at 6:00 pm and the fog was blowing hard. My kitchen was steamy and this made me happy. I was making a batch of Naples-style sugo for dinner later in the week and the aromas were spilling out into the hallway, torturing my neighbors. Sugo, for those of you who don’t have Italian relatives, neighbors or lovers, is the Italian word for gravy or shorthand for their hearty, meat-filled pasta sauce.

My late ex used to make his sugo twice a year for parties, which were much beloved by his family and friends. We would make up 3′ tall pots of his sugo and then freeze tubs of it for those nights we didn’t feel like cooking but wanted a bowl of heaven. I haven’t made it since he passed away and, although I thought about this a great deal, I just didn’t have the heart to pull out my notes.  They were notes of dinners we made, recipes we created, his family recipes, my family recipes, and drawings by his daughter.  I have three notebooks full of our food diaries, hiding in my bookcase.  But it has been quite a few years and I had a lot of large cuts of meat in the freezer that needed cooking, and it’s “summer” and I wanted sugo.  Ecola, the time is now.

His recipe contained a lot of ground meat and meatballs but his brother would often make it with large pieces of meet from the game he harvested and other goodies.  I pulled out the 4 pound pork neck I had in the freezer, some sausages and goat chops and also a pound of Roma tomatoes that I made last summer, the most ripe tomatoes bursting with juice, peeled and roasted slowly to concentrate their juices. With my cutting board mounded with ingredients I whipped on an apron and got started.

I browned off the meats in my largest cast iron Dutch oven with some grapeseed oil until they were richly browned, then added some butter before adding the vegetables. This was Marc’s secret to his sugo, lots of butter! I had an enormous onion, several carrots and some cloves of garlic which sauteed until they were soft. Then I added the thawed roasted tomatoes and about half of bottle of this amazing Cabernet Franc from Murrietta’s Well. It was probably too good to cook with but it tasted amazing and I knew the smooth richness of the wine would marry well with the meats. I had another tin of San Marzano tomatoes that I squeezed between my hands to crush and added some herbs – rosemary, sage, crushed chiles and California bay laurel, and a few handfuls of porchini, a gift from Anna. I snuggled the seared meats into the rich sauce and added a bit of chicken broth to fill up the enormous casserole and let it slow cook in my oven for hours.

Every once in a while I stirred up the pot and turned over the pork neck and added a bit more water to keep the liquids up above the meats. It smelled divine and I tried unsuccessfully not to burn my hands when I removed the heavy cast iron lid off my pot. The meats were so tender and falling off the bone but still sweetly juicy. The sauce was thick and dark with caramelized flavor from the long, slow cooking and an intensity from the wonderful wine.

I removed the meats to a separate bowl to cool and ladled out the sauce to a large bowl and set them by the window opened a touch to blow cool fog over them, nature’s air conditioning put to work!

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the chopped meats

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the sugo after a purée

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the finished sauce, ready for dinner

Tonight when I got home I roughly puréed the sauce, added a touch more butter and some vermouth and the chopped meats and cooked up some pasta. I can’t wait to tuck into a steamy bowl with lashings of grated cheese on top, snuggled into the corner of my settee and watch the fog blow by.

Making this sugo is a little bit like reclaiming my past life and forging ahead with new memories. The 7 quarts of sauce will last me quite a while and I will gift some to some friends so that they can have a little sugo love this chilly summer.

Recipe to follow

Happiness Is… This Month’s Meat CSA

Happiness is…..my beautiful butcher’s bag from 4505 Meats monthly meat CSA.

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  • a quart of lamb stock
  • chicharonnes
  • chicken livers
  • bone-in beef rib eye
  • harissa-rubbed sirloin medallions
  • pork rib chop
  • chicken apple Calvados sausages
  • ground beef
  • harissa-rubbed flapskirt

    This month I specifically requested a selection of meat suitable for grilling plus I asked for chicken livers, and it was so nice of them to accommodate me. Other than making my mom’s pate de maison and a steak with macque choux I haven’t really mapped out what I’m going to cook with my meat allotment this month.

    I also scored another amazingly tasty treat.

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    Magic Bacon Bombs!!

    Magic Bacon Bombs are the 4505 Meats’ version of crack: queso and chorizo stuffed jalapeno poppers wrapped in bacon. Kaboom.

    I bought the last of them last weekend and they haven’t made anymore but when I called today about picking up my meat CSA Nicholas very kindly agreed to make me some more.

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    It was fun to chat while they finished assembling them for me and then they wrapped them up for my trip home. The drawing was a hilarious touch!

    Usually one puts them on the grill and cooks them until the bacon is crispy, but since I live so very high above the street with no grilling facilities, I will do them up in the oven and in my humble opinion they’re even more delicious.

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    Fantastic…

    It will be fun to plan out my my menus. I have friends coming over this month and plan to put my broiler to good use.

    Please remember to support your local butcher, particularly if they are like 4505 Meats and purchase pasture-raised whole animals and butcher them nose-to-tail.

    Get your own meat CSA!

    Under the Calamansi Tree

    As a California girl I grew up with the ubiquitous citrus trees in the yard; everyone had citrus coming out of their ears in my neighborhood. Our lunch boxes were stuffed with giant naval oranges, every mom’s kitchen had bowls of lemons and limes everywhere that were deployed for sherbets, and every kid on my block would set up a lemonade and limeade stand in the driveway.  I used to lie under the orange tree when it bloomed to just inhale the sweet fragrance.   Mom used to paint orange or lemon leaves plucked from the trees with melted chocolate and then slowly peel off a perfect glossy leaf to make decorations for our summer cakes. One horrible year our rabbit almost killed our trees by nibbling away all the bark, almost girdling them. It was a close call but we caught him and put him back in his hutch with a branch of leaves as an apology for his ongoing confinement. You just can’t trust a rabbit.

    Photo from Wikipedia Commons

    Photo from Wikipedia Commons

    What we didn’t have, however, was a calamansi tree.  The Citrofortunella microcarpa, aka the Calamondin or calamansi is a tiny green/orange marble-shaped citrus fruit that tastes like a cross between an orange and a lime, and is most commonly used in Filipino cuisine.   I first got to try this charming citrus varietal during my working days at the Bank. My coworkers, who were Filipino, had weekly potlucks with lots of halved calamansi to squirt over our adobo and pancit and as a flavoring in desserts. This group loved to cook and loved to have parties and I was instantly smitten with their cuisine and their beloved calamansi lime.

    I forgot about the rare calamansi until years later when I was at the Russian festival and one of the volunteers gave me a shot of a unique sour orange infused vodka. Served ice cold in tiny shot glasses the stuff was lethal and the guy explained that he found a tiny tree growing these strange round mini oranges in his back yard of his new home in Daly City.  They looked like oranges but were so tart and aromatic, so naturally he made vodka with them. What else? He didn’t know what they were called but I knew they looked familiar to me.  It was such a puzzle.

    Fast forward again to a month ago when food blogger Gapultos of Burnt Lumpia. was touring his new Filipino cookbook, The Adobo Road. It was a wonderful event and the book is really exciting, a mix of traditional Filipino recipes with local California ingredients and a modern edge.  Of course Marvin’s delicious food was served and much to my delight decorating his noodles were a few halves of calamansi!

    Adobo

    (you will want to buy this)

    One taste and suddenly everything clicked. I remembered the fruit from the bank and from the vodka tasting booth and I think I might have shouted, “That’s it!!!”   I relayed this all to Marvin and we had a good chuckle.

    I have been meaning to shop in the Mission and pick up a bag of calamansi so that I can cook some of Marvin’s recipes and also infuse some vodka of my own, but again, the thought slipped my mind. However, today, my coworker brought me a treat from her weekend visit home where her grandparents were visiting from the Philippines – she brought me a bag of calamansi!

    Calamansi

    I was so excited! I dashed to the kitchen immediately and sliced up a few to add to my ice water. The bright flavor really perked up the stuffy afternoon. We are going through a mild heat wave and the chilled citrus tang in cool water was a most welcome treat.

    A chilly treat

    When I got home I washed them and piled them in my favorite souffle pan, which doubles as my fruit bowl. Humming my version of the song from Dr. No I started perusing my other Filipino friends’ blogs for recipes using calamansi.

    “Underneath the calamansi tree me honey and me can watch for the moon…..”

    (apologies to Diana Coupland)

    My coworker had suggested making a syrup from the calamansi or just squeezing the juice and freezing it.  This bowl of calamansi is especially ripe so I must work with them quickly and I plan to zest them with my microplane grater before juicing them.  One idea I bookmarked for the juice is a marinade with soy sauce and garlic for pork or beef.  Another popular use is squeezed over fried or grilled fish.  This made me think about the delicious shrimp poke I had over the weekend with D___, wouldn’t a shrimp cervice with calamansi be delicious?  I am working on a recipe for this.

    I came across Jun’s calamansi whiskey sour.  I just happened to have everything required and it was perfect (thanks Jun!) way to relax while I read a mound of cookbooks for inspiration.

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    While I was relaxing a friend called and we decided to go out to a movie that started in 23 minutes at the theater down the street.   Hurriedly I made up a rather large batch of calamansi whiskey sours and strained it into a canteen, then filled up a baggie with ice cubes and added some plastic cups and shoved my illicit cocktail party into my capacious handbag. There is a reason ladies carry large handbags and sometimes my handbag is the happiest place on earth!

    Dayum. Calamansi rye sour.

    During the movie I poured out the heady cocktail into ice filled cups, filling our row with a heavenly scent of citrus, rye and honey. We sipped them slowly and enjoyed watching a very handsome Superman; it is truly a most civilized way to see a movie!

    Tonight I will marinate an orphaned pork chop from 4505 Meats with soy and garlic and broil, and add some some sauteed baby bok choy and steamed brown rice to complete my dinner.  While this cooks I will zest and juice the remaining bowl of calamansi to be stashed in my freezer.  The rinds will go into a rather large bottle of vodka to infuse it with the sweet tang of the fruit.   A few weeks from now I will have a rather lovely bottle of infused vodka to drink over ice with splash of bubbly water or in an elegant version of a “calamansi” drop.

    If you ever see calamansi in your shop or see a tree at your garden center I highly recommend you scoop them up.

    My First Goat, with Mojo

    I received a special treat in my 4505 Meats Butcher Bag, a bone-in goat shoulder roast that was over 3 pounds. Goat! I have never eaten or cooked goat before, what a fun adventure!

    Goat is the most popular meat in the world and yet it is rarely served here in the United States. Similar in flavor and texture to lamb, goat meat is very lean and is best cooked in a braise or a combination of roasting and braising to ensure juicy meat.

    At first I was a bit daunted, I didn’t want to mess up such a beautiful piece of meat.

    Goat roast

    Researching goat recipes on the internet was great fun and I thought of making birria, which is a traditional Mexican stewed goat dish with lots of chile. Then I thought of making a goat adobo, which is again a braise with a careful balance of vinegar and sweetness that is from the Phillipines. I kept putting it off though, and I realized it was my fear of making a mistake that was holding me back. I have never actually eaten birria before and it has been years since I have had adobo. How could I accurately make a dish when I wasn’t sure what it should taste like? I could make the dish taste great but it might lack the authenticity that I desired.

    Time passed and then I found a bottle of sour orange juice from Miami in my pantry and I realized, that was IT! I would make a mojo marinade and then slow roast the goat.

    Sour orange juice from Miami

    Usually the Cuban’s use pork marinaded in mojo, but why not the goat? I have made it with pork many times, you marinate the pork shoulder in sour orange juice, garlic, oregano, a little cumin, olive oil and salt and pepper and roast it slowly covered with foil for the most part until the roast is tender and yet browned and glazed on top. The pork is sliced thinly and made into sandwiches with lightly pickled red onions and pickles and melted cheese, or my family just like to eat it sliced for dinner with pickled red onions and a cheesy potato dish on the side.

    Cuban mojo marinade

    I made up the marinade in a ziplock bag, I just threw everything together quickly. The garlic this time of year is especially wonderful. The skin is just barely formed and it is so tender and fragrant. I love how my hands smelled after mixing up this mojo marinade.

    Garlic

    I slid the meat into the bag and ensured all of the garlic and oregano were distributed evenly, and then placed the bag into a dish and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight.

    Goat meat in mojo

    The next day was a work day and all day long I thought about how wonderful my kitchen was going to smell once the goat started roasting. I wanted to use my wonderful vintage porcelain chicken roaster from the famed Taylor & Ng. This roaster was a gift from my dear A___ one year, it is such a treasure as they are no longer being made. When it’s not being used it lives under my coffee table as a decoration! Doesn’t everyone decorate their homes with their cookware? In the living room?

    Chicken roaster, ready for the oven

    The advantage of this roaster is that it is quite capacious, and roasts and browns the meat but keeps in the moisture, rendering the chicken or other protein rich and juicy. It is pure magic.

    I removed the meat and then strained out the herbs and aromatics into a strainer to go on top of the meat, leaving a bit of the marinade in the bottom of the roaster. The meat went onto a bed of sliced fiery and eye-watering Spanish onion. A sprinkle of salt and pepper and into the oven it went with its chicken lid. I added a few unpeeled carrots as well, as I love a roasted carrot almost more than meat itself.

    Marinated goat I mojo, on a a bed of onion and carrot

    All of the recipes I found on the ‘net said a goat roast of this size should slow roast for 3-4 hours in a slow oven, e.g., 325 F, after bringing the roast up to room temperature. The warming process of my roast took 2 hours but the enclosed browning environment of the chicken roaster must have sped up the cooking process. My roast was done at 2 hours and 15 minutes, with an internal temperature of 180 F, the meat was so tender to a fork’s touch and had withdrawn perfectly from the bones.

    Finished early! The garlic browned nicely.

    The garlic cloves that I had strewn on top were caramelized too! There was a pleasant amount of juices left at the bottom of the roaster, which I defatted it and used it as is.

    Pleasant amount of juices for the roast

    Despite my taking the roast out of the fridge the moment I got home, and the quicker than anticipated roasting time, the goat mojo was done very late in the evening, it was past 10:30 pm, so I let the meat rest for a bit in a tin and then put everything away in the fridge for another evening. I did carve off a nugget and the goat did taste like lamb, but a more elegant and softer flavor and so very, very tender. I think that goat is my new favorite meat over lamb now.

    The following night, I had my great friend D___ over for a goat dinner. I carved the meat and saved the bones for stock, and laid the meat and carrots and onions in a gratin pan and wiggled out the completely gelatinous juices over the top, and let them warm gently in the oven. I had obtained three enormous bunches of rainbow chard from the farmers market with the widest and thickest stems I had ever seen, they were gorgeous! I removed the stems and sauteed them until tender with lemon olive oil and slivered garlic and then made my mom’s delicious bechamel sauce to spread over the tender vegetables and topped the whole thing with soft levain bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese to become a gratin.

    We spooned out rich slices of goat and tender roasted carrots and garlic cloves, and heavenly rich scoops of chard gratin with its crunchy top and then spooned the savory meat juices over the plate. It was Negroni night and we really enjoyed the complimentary flavors of the herbaceous and tart cocktails with the goat.

    I drink alone, yeah, with no body else! #Georgeknows

    Despite my initial fear over cooking this kind of meat, I am now completely in love with Goat Mojo and plan on making it many times again.

    Morocco In My Kitchen: Lamb Tagine

    Fickle Spring is here, some days it feels like pure summer, some days it feels like the wind has icy teeth. With the fog bank lurking out of sight behind the horizon despite the mild days as soon as the sun sets it is chilly and I have been indulging myself with rich flavors that are yet lean in calories. My latest kitchen gadget, the beautiful tagine from one of my bosses, fit the bill perfectly for the night I decided to make a Moroccan lamb tagine.

    The recipe is inspired by a fellow cook on a Facebook recipe swap forum. Debbie Maizel used apricots and nuts in her dish, which I omitted for annoying allergy reasons, but I used what I had in my kitchen and it was quite versatile. As I am trying to be budget conscious and use what is in my pantry and freezer, such as this generous lamb chop from 4505 Meat’s monthly butcher bag, I like recipes that are more method than a strict requirement of ingredients.

    What made this tagine special is the spicing of the meat. Exotic and yet familiar, the use of ras al hanout and harissa gave the dish great flavor and some spiciness and elevated the lean lamb to a richness that made a small portion feel quite grand. In hindsight I will leave out the chile as the harissa was spicy enough for my wimpy tolerance.

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    Lamb Tagine
    1 lamb shoulder chop, bone in, ~ 1.5 pounds
    2 T olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    1″ piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
    3 cloves of garlic, chopped
    1 preserved lemon, pulp removed, rind chopped
    1 red bell pepper, chopped
    1 pound of carrots, cut into small pieces
    1/2 a cauliflower, cut into small pieces
    1 cup frozen petite peas
    3 T ras al hanout*
    1 tsp Harissa paste*
    1 Seranno chile, seeded and minced (this chile was in the jar with the preserved lemons and was moderately spicy with a nice vinegar kick)
    1 tsp turmeric powder
    Salt
    1 3/4 cups of beef broth
    1/4 c dry white wine
    1/4 c chopped parsley

    cooked couscous, tossed with chopped green onion

    * I obtained these spices from a new organic spice store in San Francisco, Spicely.

    In the base of my tagine I heated the olive oil and while it was heating, I generously seasoned the lamb chop with salt and pepper and then browned it to a dark golden brown on all sides of the chop. I set the chop aside and added the onion, garlic and ginger to the tagine and stirred the fragrant mixture over medium heat until the onion was soft and tender. Then, I added the spice mixtures, the preserved lemon, bell pepper, chile pepper, and the vegetables and cooked this for 5-8 minutes. Then, I added in the broth and the white wine and stirred to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the tagine, tasted for salt and then snuggled in the browned lamb chop into the mixture. On went the tagine lid and I turned down the heat to low and simmered it for 45 minutes, then turned the lamb and simmered for another 40 minutes until the lamb was tender and falling off the bone. About 10 minutes before the end I strewed over the top of the stew a few handfuls of frozen peas that I had thawed in a strainer in the sink.

    Again I was out of parsley, but I did have a bit of cilantro that was about to go off, so I added a few leaves of what was viable to the stew.

    I scooped out a cup of cooked couscous and ladled on a good dollop of stew, and sat down at my little table to watch the sunset and savor spoonfuls of this rich and spicy stew. I sipped red wine until the light grew purple and felt quite content with life.
    Urban heure de violette

     

    (printer-friendly recipe)

    Happiness Is… Mac N Cheese with Sausage

    Sometimes dinner is a simple and thrifty affair.

    A box of Annie’s macaroni and cheese topped with sausage and put under the broiler. Make the sausage 4505 Meats cheddar brats and this frugal supper becomes something divine.

    Happiness is…. Mac n cheese with sausage.

    20130302-083732.jpg(many thanks to S___ for the idea!)

    The Finale: Slow Braised Pork with Squash and Orzo

    It was worth the wait.

    Over the past few days, the slow braised pork medallion had marinated in orange zest, garlic and cumin and cooked to utter tenderness in a savory broth with onions and butternut squash and a dash of balsamic vinegar to balance the sweetness. I deglazed the Dutch oven with a tablespoon of dry sherry and added this to the meat.

    Did you know that those small silicon basting brushes are great for deglazing sides of pots like this one?  You just dab it into the liquid and wiggle the brush along the sides and all that lovely fond comes off and enriches the broth. Brilliant.

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    I pulled everything out of the fridge and preheated the oven.  I had tried to return to work after a long bout of flu and secondary infections but was still quite unwell. I really needed some good nutrition. I had to finish this dish despite a lack of appetite and the ability to taste anything but I knew I would enjoy it regardless.

    The oven was hot so I scooped out the meat and veggies and pulled off about a cup and a half of solid fat from the surface of the cooled broth. I was glad I took the extra day to remove the that thick layer of unctuous pork fat!

    Everything went into my new lidded Le Creuset casserole dish and I popped it into the oven to get bubbling and hot. I added a half of a package of orzo to the broth and put it back into the oven to cook and absorb all the great flavors from the braising process. A final sprinkling of salt and it was ready.

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    The orzo had absorbed just the right amount of the broth but still had a pleasant brothy aspect. The meat was so very tender and yet not over cooked or stringy as one often finds in slow braised dishes. The onion had almost caramelized and the squash was tender and yet whole.  Succulent is a wonderful word for this dish.
    All I can say @4505_Meats is mmmmm and I <3 pork #meatCSA

    I untied the twine around the pork medallion and it fell apart into perfect hunks.  I wish I had some parsley but it was just wonderful without it.

    This is quite a rich and hearty dish, despite the defatting, and the 1.75 pound of pork would have easily fed six people.  After eating a cat sized bowl and a small glass of wine (which I shouldn’t have had but it tasted wonderful), I portioned up the rest for work lunches.

    On the 3rd day I realized suddenly that I could taste the nuances of orange and cumin from the marinade.  I am so glad the flu etc. had ebbed enough to allow me to appreciate how these lovely flavors mingled together.

    Printer friendly recipe

    Braising the Beast: Slow Cooking the Pork Shoulder Medallion

    After yesterday’s grand adventure of getting out of bed following the flu, my marinated pork shoulder medallion was ready to be braised. I was hungry.

    I took out the bag with the hefty pork medallion and through the plastic I could see the chunks of garlic, bright shreds of orange peel and pools of gleaming olive oil, it looked so inviting. I knew this was going to be a great dinner.

    I rummaged through the vegetable bin and it was mostly empty save lots of unopened packs of bacon, 3 very strong Spanish yellow onions and the bottom, seedy half of a butternut squash. I decided to save the bacon for later and started cooking.

    I lifted the pork from the bag, scraping off the fragrant marinade as I went, dried it a bit and seasoned it heavily with salt and pepper. In my 5 quart enameled Dutch oven I browned the pork until it achieved a deep brown on all sides. I started the browning with a spoonful of duck fat but the pork has such a thick layer of luscious creamy fat that it didn’t take much to render a good inch of fat during the browning process.

    I removed the browned pork onto a platter and poured off the fat. Seemed such a shame to toss it but I would rather not eat it especially given the recent state of my stomach.

    The pot had lots of lovely browned, stuck on bits so I added the chicken stock that I purchased from the butcher (sadly I was out of homemade and hadn’t roasted a chicken in ages, my empty freezer keened over the loss). While the stock was heating up I added in a cutting board full of chopped onions, salt and pepper, a fresh bay leaf, all of the marinade from the plastic bag I could scrape out and a slosh of balsamic vinegar. The pork went in the pot next, almost submerged in the savory broth, and the top to the Dutch oven went on. I slid the pot into what is quaintly called a slow oven, in modern kitchens this is between 300-325 F.

    I set the timer on my phone for 2 hours and went to bed with the phone right next to my more clear ear and conked out solidly.

    A lovely nap later and a cup of tea, I peeled and seeded the hunk of butternut squash and cut it into large dice. I added them to the Dutch oven, making sure the pork shoulder was still cozy and covered with the braising liquid.

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    It looked pretty good to me.

    It went back in the oven for another 45 minutes, which gave me enough time to have a steamy shower and to tidy up the kitchen with my hair wrapped up turban-style. I really wanted a caftan to wear but that was not to be.

    When the timer went off again I removed the merrily bubbling pot from the oven and gave myself a brief sauna when I opened the Dutch oven lid. I think it smelled good, my poor nose is pretty malfunctional. I tasted the squash and it was perfectly tender, meltingly so. The pork was extremely tender but still holding its shape.

    The thick layer of porky fat on the medallion had given off so much fat that there must have been a good cup and a half of it floating on top of the pot. I was planning on removing the meat to let it rest and add orzo to the pot to soak up the savory broth and with the squash become the most delicious pasta base for chunks of the tender pork. I just knew that I really needed to chill off the braising liquid to remove this fat, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the dish.

    With a heavy heart and an empty stomach I removed the pork and then, with a slotted spoon, removed the creamy onions and butternut squash pieces to a storage bowl. I poured the broth and fat into a tub and marveled at the thick layer that already began to separate from the broth. I slid the tub of broth into the freezer and put away the pork to chill in the fridge and then ordered a pizza. It was a perfectly fine pizza and the salad was excellent, but I wished it was the next day. I know though that this dish will taste even better the next night.

    Tomorrow, the finish…

    Emerging from Being Under the Weather and the Joy of a Meat CSA

    I’ve been under the weather for almost three weeks now, the flu had me in a tight grip like a siren holding me fast under a turbulent sea. There’s nothing one can do except hunker down and hope it goes away.

    Copious amounts of tea, water, aspirin, cough syrup and half dozen boxes of tissues and throat lozenges have been used up and now I’m left with a sinus and ear infection that has me feeling like an alien in a fish bowl. It is, however, a bit of an improvement and after eating a bland dish of pasta I started to feel slightly perky.

    With this little bit of energy I pulled out a pork shoulder medallion I received in this month’s meat CSA from 4505 Meats. I froze all of the goodies from my CSA bag with the exception of this medallion and the chicken, Campari and apple sausages that I cooked up and nibbled on during the week. I have also been living on a large tub of chicken stock from the shop, reheated and sipped with a sprinkle of salt for each meal. (I will write more about the meat CSA and how to join at another time.)

    Tonight, after I rinsed off my dinner dishes, I removed the large slab of pork with its rich layer of creamy pork fat and all tied up nicely with twine, and slid it into a bag for marinating. There’s not much left in the Roost since I haven’t shopped for ages but I do have garlic, a softening Cara Cara orange and lots of spices.

    I roughed up the garlic and used my julienne peeler to zest the orange, put in a teaspoonful of cumin seeds and a few dried California bay leaves in the bag with the pork and a slosh of olive oil purloined from the Fancy Food Show. I pressed out as much air as I could from the bag, gave the pork a brief massage, bunged it in the fridge.

    The fever has me craving all kinds of things, like cool fruit juices, milkshakes and Rhine ice wine, but today a dear friend brought me a salted caramel milkshake and a hilarious “this is what a pie-shake does to two bouncy eight year old boys” show and a rather fun sing-a-long with a yodeling pickle. I swear that this bit of hilarity really made me feel so much better. Of course I slept for for hours after they left, but here I was, puttering lopsidedly in the kitchen. But cold, sweet fruit juice, how I want some so badly, it’s been 19 months since I’ve had any.

    I looked at that denuded orange sitting on the cutting mat and juiced it and decided to try drinking it. It looked so pretty, Cara Cara oranges look like pink grapefruits inside and are so lovely and sweet. Maybe it’s this flu or that I can’t barely taste anything or maybe, dare I hope?, my food intolerances are easing, because I drank that shimmering pink juice and didn’t feel any nasty tingling or bee sting feelings at all. It surely was a satisfying little glass of juice!

    So back to bed I go, tomorrow is another day. I’ll figure out how to braise the pork medallion in the morning.