Weekly Winner:  A few of my favorite things

In the spirit of the holidays and The Sound of Music, I present a few of my favorite things — all of which came together last night for dinner.  In the song, they talk about “Schnitzel with Noodles”, so stay with me here.

Schnitzel is usually made from pork, and you know pork is definitely an all-time favorite of mine.  And who doesn’t like egg noodles??  This time of year I also love putting the slow cooker to use.  I’ve found that pork shoulder is one of the best-suited cuts of meat for the slow cooker.  It comes out incredibly luscious with absolutely no work.  So it goes without saying that if I can take a pork shoulder, put it in the slow cooker with minimal prep and come up with an amazingly satisfying Sunday Supper, then I am totally sold.  That’s exactly what this recipe offers.  Even better?  Everything else that goes in the slow cooker is puréed first in a food processor.  You simply can’t get easier than that.

I’ve had the recipe for Slow Cooker Chipotle Pork for quite some time.  It was just one of those recipes that I would pause at as I was flipping through my recipes for inspiration and think “yep, I’ve got to make that sometime”.  Well Sunday was the day.  We were going to be busy with last-minute holiday preparations and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  But it was going to be the last time for a while that it would just be the two of us for dinner, so I wanted to make it special.  Man, was it!  This was a glorious winter dinner.  The egg noodles are just the right “bed” for all those luscious chunks of slow-cooked porky goodness.  And whatever you do, do not omit the orange wedges or the green onions as garnishes.  They brighten the dish right up!  Amazingly enough, the recipe comes from Good Housekeeping, and it goes something like this:

Slow-Cooked Chipotle Pork

Serves 8

In a food processor, purée 1 medium onion, quartered, 1/2 cup each chicken broth and ketchup; 1/4 cup each chipotles in adobo and creamy peanut butter; 5 cloves of garlic; and 2 Tbsp cocoa until smooth.

Sprinkle 1 tsp salt all over 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 3-4 lbs), quartered; place in slow-cooker.  Pour onion mixture over pork.  Cook 5 to 6 hours on High or 8 to 9 hours on Low until pork is tender but not falling apart.

Transfer pork to cutting board.  When pork is cool enough to handle, remove and discard all fat.  Pull pork into bite-size chunks.

Serve over curly egg noodles along with sauce.  Garnish with orange wedges and green onions.

Weekly Winner – A Big Vat of Baked, Naked Goodness

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/095/22266412/files/2014/12/img_1497.jpg What’s not to like about a bit dish of baked pasta, right?? I mean, first and foremost, its pasta. Then usually it is baked to ooey-gooey perfection. Lots of sauce bound together by loads of melty cheese. It’s heaven. But every once in a while …. less is more. And when that “less” equals luscious pork shoulder slow cooked in a fabulous aromatic broth and then shredded into pasta and baked? Yes please! More please!

This week’s winner was Baked Orecchietti with Pork Sugo. It is not a quick recipe, but it is very easy. I got the recipe ages ago from Food and Wine (I think) and have made it a couple of times. But this week it really hit the spot. And I think because we hadn’t made it for so long – absence really did make the heart grow fonder.

The thing about this pasta dish is that there is no real “gooey” factor. It’s just the pasta and the pork and a smattering of parmesan. That’s it. And really, that’s all it needs. Well, that and a nice glass of red wine.

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo
Serves 8

3-1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 carrots cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
4 thyme sprigs
5 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp chopped oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1-1/2 pounds orecchiette
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 7 ounces)


Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs. Pulse just until the pork is shredded. Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well. Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce. Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Weekly Winner: Seeing Summer Out With an Amazing Slab of Pig

IMG_0461.JPGIt just seemed fitting to celebrate Labor Day with throwing something on the grill.  After all, it is how we welcome in summer, how we cook most of the summer, and how we say goodby to it.  When in doubt, we tend to throw something on the grill.  And in this household, if you’re going to bother to fire up the grill, it’s a pretty safe bet that pork will be involved.

The only real question this Labor Day weekend was, what to grill?  Ribs are a safe bet.  Always tasty and always a hit.  For just the two of us, the go-to cut is bone-in pork chops (as has been well documented in this blog.)  But in both of those cases, there’s no adventure to it.  We’ve been there and we’ve done that again… and again… and again.

So for this Labor Day Eve when we found ourselves in need of a Sunday Supper and a suitable celebratory meal welcome in Labor Day, I thought it would be the perfect time to give this little number a try.  Gochujang Pork Shoulder Steaks.  The recipe comes from Bon Appetit and intrigued me for a number of reasons.  First of all: pork shoulder.  For my money it is the best part of my beloved pig (well, maybe bacon is, but I digress).   Secondly: Gochujang.  I have just recently discovered this wonderful sauce.  It is a Korean hot pepper paste and it is perfectly spiced.  Its got heat, but will not overwhelm.  It also has a gorgeous red color that turns everything it touches to a burnished red loveliness.

Now for a word on the two different photos.  The top one is the one from Bon Appetit.  That picture also had a lot to do with me pulling the recipe.  It is gorgeous.  The lower one was our final result.  Not as gorgeous, but dang, was it good!

Gochujang Pork Shoulder Steaks


8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 2” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced

½ cup dry sake

½ cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)

½ cup mirin

¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for grilling

1 ½ lb skinless, boneless pork shoulder, sliced ¾” thick


Puree garlic, ginger, sake, gochujang, mirin and ¼ cup oil in a blender. Set ¼ cup marinade aside; chill. Transfer remaining marinade to a large dish. Add pork; turn to coat. Chill, turning occasionally, at least 2 hours.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. Remove pork from marinade and grill, basting with reserved marinade, turning occasionally, and moving pork to a cooler area if flare-up occurs, until cooked to desired doneness, 20 minutes for medium.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.