Posts tagged pork
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

agrodolce meatballs

Meatballs for my client. Just wait til you read about it. No tomato sauce in sight. #latergram #nofilter

Greetings from the land of overbooked and overextended. Somehow, the end of May and the month of June have managed to shape themselves into something far more demanding than the sum of its parts. There’s work here, and work there, and work seemingly seeping out of every crevice I happen upon. This might sound like complaining, but it’s far from it – a few short months ago I was growing increasingly listless and anxious about not having enough to do, so having too much on my plate is arguably better. Still, some things must take priority and others less so, which is why instead of a picture of finished meatballs, you get an iPhone photo of the ones in the process of browning. To be honest, since I cooked a week’s worth of dinners that day, I just forgot to take a picture. Also, below is a random picture of mirepoix cooking. Aaaaaand you’re welcome for that one!

As I mentioned in my last post, I managed to pick up a private chef gig for the month of June. The upside is that my client eats almost everything – which makes cooking actually fun. But still, there’s quite a bit of work involved: from menu-planning, shopping for ingredients, prep, actual cooking, and to the dreaded clean-up. By the time I was done with this first week’s worth of meals, the kitchen looked like a small battle took place there, and I had to resort to Brillo pads and good old elbow grease to put the kitchen back together the way I found it. It took awhile.

Continue reading agrodolce meatballs.

Monday, February 4, 2013

bratwurst, cabbage, and sauerkraut

brats, cabbage, sauerkraut (and beer)

This, above, might not look like much: bratwurst with cabbage looks humble enough, but let me tell you – it’s something, all right. On a cold February night accompanied by freezing rain, I can’t think of more satisfying dinner. Also, feel free to file this under “Crap, it’s [fill in the day of the week] night, the fridge is empty, and there’s no dinner plan” kind of a meal. Happens in this household more often than I like to admit. And also a random but important aside (and please tell me if I’m alone in this): on the worst kind of nights, the kind where there’s bitter winds and cold rain or sleet, I am loathe to call for take-out because (and follow me here a moment) I feel badly about sending the delivery guys out in this weather delivering my food. I worry that they might get sick and there’s no health insurance; I fret over the fact that people’s driving is more erratic when there is bad weather and the delivery guys might get into an accident. I know my logic is flawed (by not ordering I am costing them income), and when we do order in on such nights, we tip extra for the delivery guys’ effort, but still, the pang of guilt in making them go out into the elements – I feel it every time.

Bratwurst served with sauerkraut is, I’m told, a very common thing in Germany. It’s hearty, hardy fare, downright pedestrian if you think about it; honest cooking without much cooing or pretense. It’s meant to warm you right down to your bones and fill your belly, and goes down beautifully with a pint of beer. Right about now I might crave Florida sunshine, a pool, and an umbrella drink, but for this, friends, you need the all the misery of the Northeast February (or anywhere where it’s cold) with all its inglorious freeze to fully appreciate what visually doesn’t, in the least bit, look arresting.

Continue reading bratwurst, cabbage, and sauerkraut.

Friday, March 4, 2011

pelmeni

pelmeni

I’m worried that by writing about pelmeni, the famed Russian meat-filled dumplings with a cult following, I might inadvertently open the Pelmeni Pandora’s box and pandemonium will ensue. This is a dish that elicits passionate responses as there are just as many different persuasions on how to make pelmeni and how to eat them as there are Russians, probably more. And while the gist might be the same, the nuances, the proportions – will vary vastly. Whether or not you put garlic in your filling can become a central argument point of the evening. And believe me, it’ll turn into a very long evening, indeed. As far as my personal experience goes, every Russian family I’ve ever met (and I’ve met many given my background) equipped with a recipe will lay claims to making not only the best pelmeni, but also the most authentic. Authenticity is huge with Russians. The number of times I’ve heard at a dinner table, “That’s not a real [],” – I’ve officially lost count. To prevent another heated debate, I’d like to tell you, right off the bat, that this is just my family’s version. And, as expected, I like my version the best. But that’s entirely a matter of opinion.

If given the opportunity, I could wax poetic about pelmeni – I’d like to write it little haikus about how delicious they are, how they make a night of no-time-cook-dinner into a veritable feast. But then I’d be writing poems and totally forget to give you the recipe. So you’d be looking at pictures of pelmeni and how to make them without actually know how to bring this bounty to your own table.

Continue reading pelmeni.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

cider-braised pork shoulder with caramelized onions

brown food ain't pretty, but it sure tastes good

Perhaps because I wasn’t reared in the culture of pork eating, I am at odds with the animal. It’s not like I didn’t have pork growing up – I remember slivers of lardo and slices of speck, and an occasional pork loin, slow-cooked, studded with garlic cloves and bay leaves. There might have been a cutlet or two in there somewhere. But pork, at least in my memory, wasn’t a staple in our household in Russia, and became almost non-existent the minute we landed in America. My father, for reasons he still can’t furnish, considers pork to be somehow less kosher (or more unkosher, to be exact) than other tref foods. His ruling was final – pork was out – and so it didn’t enter our house unless my mom and I snuck some in, mostly in the form of bacon.

flying pigs, who else?

And so, based on this history, I’m really weird when it comes to pork. Really, oddly, inexplicably weird. First of all – we must exclude bacon from the pork umbrella. Bacon is special and is a food group in and of itself. So is speck and lardo and other cured meats like prosciutto. But other stuff is fair game. Pulled pork sandwich? Yes, please! I’ll take seconds too! Pork chop? No, thanks. Pass. Yawn. Pork cutlet? Pass, again. How about an apple-cider braised pork shoulder? Um, here’s my plate, please pile some meat on it! Confused yet?

Continue reading cider-braised pork shoulder with caramelized onions.

Friday, July 16, 2010

oven barbecue ribs

barbecued ribs

In my next life, I want to be a pit-master. I want to live in Texas, preferably in the Hill Country, and dedicate my life to slow-cooking meat. I can’t imagine saying this twelve years ago at the height of my impassioned vegetarianism. Ironically, it was barbecue that brought me back to my meat-eating ways. Ribs, to be precise. My, how I’ve come full circle. I’m now not only eating ribs, I’m making them too. Twelve years ago, I couldn’t imagine myself ever eating meat, but now! Now one of my dream vacations involves a hands-on intensive course learning how to grill properly. Grill like I mean it – with gusto.

liquid glaze misemixing the rub

Sadly, in my current life, I am outfitted with an apartment sans a back yard, and subsequently without a grill or a smoker. If I want barbecue, I have to either go out for it, or make it myself. In my kitchen. Using an oven. I can just see barbecue devotees rolling their eyes as they read this – barbecue in the oven? You’ve got to be kidding! And I swear to you all that the second I get my hands on a backyard, some serious, real, honest-to-goodness grilling is going to happen. You can hold me to it. I’ll make up for lost time.

ribs, rubbed

Speaking of time, the key to making ribs in the oven at home is simply ample time. You can’t rush the process – or disaster will follow. This is a thing of patience: you surrender the ribs over to low heat for several hours and you let the slow-cooking process do its thing as the meat grows tender, flaky, relaxed. [I resist using words like “succulent” and “moist” because I strongly dislike them. These, as well as the word “juicy” make me shudder and lose my appetite.] Instead of just cooking your meat at high temperature, which can yield some tough and chewy results (fail!), you gently coax it into a state of gradual submission (success!), so it practically falls off the bone when you try to bite into it.

It didn’t hurt that the meat came from one of my favorite purveyors – these ribs were perfection, with a nice layer of fat to keep them from drying out, and a healthy pink color. I’ve been to the farm where these ribs came from and you can tell – these are some of the happiest and well-cared-for animals you’ll see. The pigs were practically smiling.

ribs, rubbed

I made these over the 4th of July, when the East Coast heat wave was in full swing and it was far too hot to do anything outside. I turned the a/c on, dialed the oven to 200 degrees F, and puttered around the kitchen busying myself with potato salad and pie until the ribs were done and ready for our plates. We ate them in a pinch with only a few ribs left over for the following afternoon lunch. When life gives you ribs – you fire up the grill. But when life gives you some ribs and an oven – well, you know what to do.

ribs, rubbed and rested

Continue reading oven barbecue ribs.

Monday, January 8, 2007

mozarella-stuffed meatballs

Mozarella-Stuffed Meatballs

In the days leading up to me starting my new job, I was in a perpetual state of lamentation like woe is me, when will I ever find time to cook? What’s to become of my blog that I’ve maintained in my two months of leisure? What would I feed the boyfriend if I am coming home at 9 o’clock at night thinking of little besides Lean Cuisine?

In one of those particular stretches of despair, I found myself casually flipping through a Williams Sonoma catalog, wishing I could just wave a magic wand and the entire contents of the store would magically outfit my kitchen. I should be so lucky. Plus, my ant-sized kitchen can barely fit a few pots, nevermind an arsenal of cookware and cutlery. And as I was about to flip another page, regretting my budget and my limited shelf space, I spied a recipe so good, I paused to read it, and made mental note: mozzarella stuffed meatballs!! Bliss, happiness, melted cheese! Can anything be more perfect and breathtaking? And then I got distracted by a photograph of a ladle. And flipped the page.

A few hours later, after the boyfriend, flipping through the same catalog mentioned the recipe to me, my heart was set on making the meatballs. Soon, I promised him, maybe Tuesday. And sure enough he wasn’t about to let me forget. “Is it meatballs night,” he wrote Tuesday morning.

After running my pre-work errands that evening, I stopped at Bazzini to pick up the ingredients. I will tell you now, that I modified the recipe – so if you go and look up the stuffed meatballs recipe on Williams Sonoma website, you will get a slightly different version than I have here. Personally, I think mine’s a lot better, but that’s just me here. I’ll tell you what I did differently. I omitted the parsley and instead finely chopped an onion – I think it gives the meat deeper taste. Secondly, instead of beef, I opted for turkey. I figured with equal parts of veal and pork, beef would be maybe a little too rough in flavor and that turkey would give it a gentler taste, not to mention make it a tad healthier. So those have been my changes. I stand by them and think you ought to make your stuffed meatballs my way.

Meatballs with Mozarella

But then again, you have the right to have those balls any way you like.*

*The author is in no way, shape or form suggesting anything lewd and is shocked and appalled that your mind would even go there. ;-)

Continue reading mozarella-stuffed meatballs.