Weekly Winner – The Best Thing I Ever Made… Period.

So this was an incredibly busy week.  I, like many people, decided that I must celebrate Julia Child‘s 100th birthday with a dinner party made up of Julia’s favorite recipes.  I did that and it was fabulous.  However, nothing that I made that night compared with last Sunday’s dinner.  To date … without a doubt … this was the best creation that ever came out of my kitchen.

Once again, the recipe came from Food & Wine Magazine.  It seems I’ve been having fabulous luck with those recipes lately.  Try it. You’ll adore it.  Anything that can beat out a Julia Child celebration dinner deserves a post.  So here it is.

Slow-Cooked Sweet & Sour Pork Shoulder with Pineapple

Ingredients

2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon smoked hot paprika

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon garlic powder

One 7-pound trimmed boneless pork shoulder, at room temperature

1/4 cup Sriracha

One 2-pound ripe pineapple—peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

Procedure:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika and onion and garlic powders. Set the pork fat side down on a work surface. Using a boning knife, cut between the natural separations in the meat in about 4 places. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the pork, then rub all over with the Sriracha. Roll up the roast and tie it at 1-inch intervals with kitchen twine; let marinate at room temperature for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a roasting pan, toss the pineapple with the brown sugar and vinegar. Spread the pineapple in the pan and set the pork roast on top, fat side up. Roast for 4 hours, basting every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 165°. Transfer to a carving board to rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Set the roasting pan with the pineapple over high heat and boil the pan juices until slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Remove the strings from the pork, carve into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange on a platter. Add carving juices to the pan and season with salt. Serve the pork with the pineapple and pan juices.

Weekly Winner – Sometimes You Just Need a Burger

There comes a time in everyone’s life (well, at least mine and hubby’s) when all that will do is a burger.  A big, juicy, luscious, burger.  We don’t make a lot of burgers at home simply because we are surrounded by amazing burger joints that offer instant gratification.  But this recipe for Bacon Hamburgers with Catalina Dressing intrigued me.  OK, I’ll admit it – it was the bacon.  And not bacon on the burger, but bacon IN the burger!

And then there’s the sauce.  They call it Catalina, but it tasted more interesting than that.  It was deep and earthy — and worth the extra steps.  Do not be tempted to add anything else to this burger than what is called for.  It truly does not need it!  I got the recipe from Food & Wine magazine and yes, we will be making it again!

Bacon Hamburgers with Catalina Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large beefsteak tomato, halved crosswise and seeded

1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for rubbing

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 small garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Hot sauce

1/2 pound sliced bacon, coarsely chopped and frozen for 15 minutes

1 pound ground beef chuck

Butter, for spreading

4 sesame-topped hamburger buns, split and toasted

4 thick slices of sweet onion

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Put the tomato in a small baking dish and rub with oil. Turn the halves cut side down and bake for 20 minutes, until they start to soften. Let cool, then peel and chop the tomato. Transfer to a blender; add the vinegar, paprika, tomato paste, garlic, sugar and the 1/4 cup of oil and blend. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the bacon until very finely chopped. In a large bowl, using your hands, blend the ground chuck with the bacon. Form the mixture into 4 patties.
  3. Heat a large skillet. Season the burgers with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until well-browned on the outside and barely pink in the center, 4 minutes per side. Butter the buns and place an onion slice on the bottom halves. Top with the burgers and some dressing, close the burgers and serve.