Weekly Winner: It may be time for a Pork Throwdown!

My husband and I are a pork loving couple.  There is nothing you can do with or to pork that generally, we are not a fan of. You may remember that a while back I posted “The Best Thing I Ever Made” and yes, it was pork.

This past week my husband did a lot of the cooking.  Yes, I do — occasionally — allow him to cook.  He is a fabulous cook and the funny thing is that for the first 12 or so years of our marriage, he was the primary day-to-day chef in the house.  I only cooked on special occasions.  All that changed a while ago when I suddenly discovered a true love of cooking.  But as I said, this week he decided to stake his claim back in the kitchen.  He made this Porchetta-Style Roast Pork last Sunday and declared that it was, quite possibly, “the best thing he’s made”.

Yep, it indeed might be time for a good, old-fashioned Pork Throwdown.  Which sounds so much better than a Pork-Off, don’t you agree?  Anyway I digress.

The recipe comes from Bon Appetit Magazine.  And yes, we are taking applications for judges if and when this Pork Throwdown takes place!

Porchetta-Style Roast Pork

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 5 1/2- to 6-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), excess fat trimmed with thin layer left intact
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth

Preparation

  • Stir fennel seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darker in color and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer seeds to spice mill and cool.  Add kosher salt, peppercorns, and dried crushed red pepper. Grind to medium-fine consistency (not powder).
  • Place pork in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Rub garlic all over pork, then coat with spice mixture. Loosely cover pork with waxed paper. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Brush large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Place roast, fat side up and coating intact, in center of sheet. Drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons oil. Roast pork 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.  Roast pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 190°F, about 3 hours 15 minutes longer. Transfer pork to cutting board; reserve baking sheet. Let pork rest 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pour all pan juices into 2-cup measuring cup. Spoon off fat that rises to top. Place reserved baking sheet across 2 burners. Pour wine and broth onto baking sheet and bring to boil over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until wine mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 4 minutes. Add degreased pan juices and whisk to blend. Pour pan sauce into small bowl (sauce will be thin).
  • Thinly slice  roast. Serve with sauce.

Weekly Winner: Butterflied, Poked & Drunk!

I realize I have already posted a recipe for the best grilled chicken recipe ever.  And I know I said I would throw away all other recipes for any grilled chicken because there was no way they could compete.  Well, it’s not quite as good as the Best Ever Grilled Chicken, but it is very, very close.

This week’s Weekly Winner comes to us from Cook’s Country Magazine.  I swear if they had a recipe for sautéed cardboard, it would be good and I’d try it.  It’s Grilled Wine-and-Herb-Marinated Chicken, and regardless of what I claimed before … it’s a keeper!

Grilled Wine-and-Herb-Marinated Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 (4-pound) whole chicken, butterflied

Procedure:

  1. Process wine, lemon juice, oil, parsley, thyme, sugar, garlic and pepper in blender until emulsified, about 40 seconds.  Reserve 1/4 cup marinade.  Add salt to remaining mixture in blender and process to dissolve, about 20 seconds.
  2. Poke holes all over chicken with skewer.  Place chicken in large zippered storage bag, pour in salted marinade, seal bag, and turn to coat.  Set bag in baking dish, breast side down, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
  3. For gas grill:  Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes.  Turn secondary burners to low and primary burner to medium. (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature between 350 and 375 degrees.)
  4. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry with paper towels.  Discard used marinade.  Clean and oil cooking grate.  Place chicken skin side down over cooler part of grill with legs closest to hotter side. Cover and cook until chicken is well browned and thigh meat registers 160 degrees, 50 to 65 minutes.  Brush chicken with half of reserved marinade.  Flip chicken, move it to hot side of grill, and brush with remaining half of reserved marinade.  Cook, covered, until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer chicken to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.  Carve and serve.

Two Takes on the Same Day

Kids are funny.  What I think I appreciate most about them is their total and utter honesty.  They don’t beat around the bush, they don’t gloss over things, and they certainly don’t hide their true feelings.

Case in point:  I’m walking to the train on Monday and my path takes me by a very nice, popular park with a children’s water playground in it.  As I’m approaching said park I come up behind a little girl, I’m guessing around 4, being pushed in a stroller by — and again here I’m guessing — her grandmother.  She’s going on and on telling her grandmother about the park that they are approaching:  “It’s just the most beautiful park in the world!  The water thingy is so much fun!  And there are these great swings and slides, and oh, I just love it so much!!”

I smile at her exuberance as I pass them going along my merry way.  Then at the entrance to the park there is a little boy, again I’m thinking he’s about the same age — 4, maybe 5 — in the throes of a total and utter meltdown!  As his mother is trying to talk some sense into him I hear him scream: “I just don’t feel like being pleasant today!!!”

Ah moods!  We’ve all got ’em, don’t we?!

Weekly Winner: In Defense of Beige Food

I know everyone says that you “eat with your eyes” first.  Food should be attractive and inviting.  Generally that means colorful and artistically presented which is something that I do usually strive for.  But sometimes, the dish is just so dang tasty that it really doesn’t matter what it looks like.  Not that this week’s winning recipe is ugly or unappealing — it’s just, well, plain-looking…. and monotone… namely beige.  But comforting and tasty it is and that is why I’ve been making this particular recipe for over three years.

And yes, I know… this is really LAST week’s Weekly Winner as I did not post.  And I did, in fact, make this last week.  But things got away from me and I was traveling and we ate a lot of meals out so here it is a week late.  But don’t worry, I’m pretty sure I made this week’s Weekly Winner last night, so stay tuned!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Last week’s Weekly Winner is Chicken Sausage and White Bean Casserole with Sage and it comes from the ever-dependable Everyday Food Magazine.  Although frying the sage leaves sounds like a fussy and unnecessary step, please don’t skip it.  It is a very important component to this dish — not to mention the only thing that is not beige!

Chicken Sausage and White Bean Casserole with Sage

Serves 8

Ingredients

1/2 baguette (about 4 ounces), torn into pieces

1/4 cup olive oil

Coarse salt and ground pepper

1/3 cup fresh sage leaves (about 25)

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 pound fresh chicken sausage, casings removed

1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

3 cans (19 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse bread until very coarse crumbs form (you should have about 3 cups). Add 2 tablespoons oil; pulse briefly to moisten. Season with salt and pepper; set breadcrumbs aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add sage; cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sage to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside (reserve pan with oil).

Add onion and garlic to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add sausage and wine; cook, breaking sausage up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in beans; cook until beans are tender and creamy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer sausage-and-bean mixture to a shallow 4-quart baking dish; scatter breadcrumbs over top. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until topping is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve casserole topped with fried sage leaves.