Archive for the ‘Pork’ category

BBQ ribs in the oven

April 27, 2019

When you have a hankering for BBQ ribs but the weather prevents you from firing up the grill, try this. I confess to having been doubtful at first–how could an oven duplicate the flavor of cooking over wood or charcoal? I was pleasantly surprised.

The coffee, with its bitterness, mimics the slightly charred flavor of the grill, and the liquid smoke adds authentic smokiness (it is, after all, a natural product made from condensing wood smoke).

2 racks St. Louis style pork spareribs
1/2 c ground dark roast coffee
2 TB liquid smoke
1 TB salt
Store-bought BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

If it hasn’t been done already, remove the thin white membrane from the underside of the ribs. If desired, cut each rack in half crossways.

Put the coffee and 1 c water in a small saucepan and simmer for 5-10 min. Strain thru a paper coffee filter or paper towel; discard grounds.

Add water to the coffee to make 3 c, then add the smoke and salt, stirring to dissolve. Put ribs, meat side down, in one layer in a roasting pan. Pour in the liquid, cover the pan tightly with foil, and bake for 90 min.

Remover meat and discard liquid. Brush the ribs on both sides with sauce and place on a rack on a rimmed cookie sheet. Return to the oven and bake for 90 min, brushing more sauce on the top after 45 min. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil, and let sit for 30 min before serving.

Pork and cabbage with Madiera

October 13, 2018

The sweetness and grapey flavor of the wine is a perfect note in this dish. The recipe is quite simple and lets the pork and cabbage flavors come thru. Fresh cabbage makes a big difference. I made it in an InstaPot but surely it can be adapted for other methods.

1 2-3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast
1/2 c diced carrots
1/2 c diced onion
1/2 c Marsala
1 c chicken or beef stock, divided
2 quarts cabbage in 1-2 inch chunks
5-6 boiling potatoes, peeled or not per your preference, cut in half

In the morning, salt and pepper the roast and let sit all day. Put a bit of oil in the insta-pot and heat on the sauté setting. Pat the meat dry and brown on all sides. Add the veg and stir for a few minutes. Turn off the pot and add the wine and half the stock. Cover and cook on the high pressure cooker setting for 1 hour. Let the pressure release naturally for 15 min then release the rest manually. Remove the cover and check the liquid level. If there’s at least an inch, you’re OK. If not, add the remaining 1/2 c stock. Add the cabbage and potatoes and stir in. Pressure cook on high for another 10 min. Turn pot off and let the pressure release naturally for 15 min then release the rest manually. Eat!

Chinese barbecued spareribs

August 22, 2016

These are traditionally an appetizer at Chinese restaurants but they make a fine main dish when served with a vegetable stir fry.

3 lbs pork spareribs (can also use baby back ribs)
1 tennis ball-size onion, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c water
1/2 TB Chinese hot chili paste or more to taste
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp black pepper
1 TB fruit jam such as fig or apricot
1-2 TB brown sugar
2 TB vegetable oil

If necessary, separate the meat into individual ribs. Put the ribs in a pan large enough to hold them in one layer.

Put all remaining ingredients in a food processor and zap to a paste, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add to the ribs and bring to a simmer. Cook for, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

At this point the ribs (in the sauce) can be refrigerated for a couple of days.

If refrigerated, let the ribs come to room temperature. Remove from sauce and broil or grill until nicely browned, turning and brushing with sauce once or twice. Note: because of the sugar in the sauce it can burn easily, you do not want them too close to the broiler or to use a really hot grill.

Red chili beef

December 18, 2015


This is a very versatile dish, and it features the taste of chili, which I love, and can be made as spicy as you like. It goes well served over rice, wrapped in tortillas for tacos, or on its own with cornbread and salad. Sliced radishes, chopped red onion, and cilantro are great toppings. The dish freezes well, too. Replace some of the beef with pork for a tasty variation. The dried peppers are widely available, if not in the local supermarket then at any tienda. They keep forever, so buy extra. These peppers are not spicy, but you can add heat to the dish with cayenne if you wish.

3 lbs beef chuck or 1-1/2 lbs each beef chuck and pork shoulder
2 baseball-size onions, peeled and cut in quarters
8 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
3 dried guajillo chiles
dried ancho chiles
6 dried whole bay leaves
4 tsp ground cumin (see note below)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 bottle of flavorful beer (optional)
cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Note: If at all possible, you should roast and grind your own cumin – the flavor is much improved. Put whole cumin seeds in a small, dry fry pan and cook over medium heat, shaking often, until fragrant and just beginning to brown. When cool, grind in a spice mill.

Trim the meat of excess fat and membranes and cut into 1-2 inch chunks. Remove the stems and seeds from the chilis and cut each into a few large pieces. Put the meat, chilis, and all other ingredients (except the cayenne) in a heavy-bottomed stew pot. Add water to just cover (less water, obviously, if you used beer). Bring to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The meat will become very tender.

After the dish cools a bit, remove just the meat to a large bowl. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the remaining solids – peppers, onions, etc – along with a bit of the cooking liquid to a blender or food processor. Zap to an almost-smooth puree, adding more cooking liquid as needed. Taste and add some cayenne if desired.

Use two forks to shred the meat into coarse shreds. Add the sauce to the meat and combine. Check for salt. Eat.



The versatile pork shoulder

October 28, 2014

This isn’t a recipe, really, but rather my approach to using the delicious and versatile pork shoulder. Pork is perhaps the most versatile of meats (chicken may be a close tie!), and the shoulder offers a lot of advantages. But, a shoulder typically weighs 6-10 pounds, and that’s a lot of meat! My approach is to cut it up and freeze the portions, then use them as desired. It’s fairly inexpensive cut, and the higher fat content makes it extra tasty for many uses.

  • You can get a couple of compact  1-1/2 to 2 lb roasts from the more “together” parts of the shoulder. These small roasts are perfect for pulled pork, lechén asado (Cuban roast pork), and a lot of other dishes.
  • Other regions of the shoulder can be cut into cubes for stews, soups, posole, and the like.
  • Remaining scraps can be ground for inclusion in meatballs or meatloaf, sausage, Chinese stir fries, or pork and fennel burgers.
  • If you used a bone-in shoulder, simmer the bone for a while with some aromatics to create pork stock, which has a host of uses.


Pork shoulder in the slow cooker

February 23, 2014

Simple, delicious, and – did I mention simple? A great way to feed a crowd. I learned this basic idea from my son Ben. The Hawaiian sea salt adds a subtle “something else” that takes the dish above the ordinary. This salt is coarse-grained and a rosy-red in color,  showing off the trace minerals found in sea water – the sea water near Hawaii anyway – that provide the extra flavors. The smoke flavor is optional, per your preference.

1 pork shoulder about 8 pounds (does not need to be precise weight). Bone in or boned, tied with kitchen string if the latter
3 TB Alaea Hawaiian sea salt
Liquid smoke seasoning as needed (optional, about 1/4 c)
1 c ginger ale

The evening before, put the meat in the slow cooker’s ceramic insert and brush all over with the liquid smoke (if using). Use your hands to rub the salt into the meat all over. Arrange the meat fatty side up and cover with plastic wrap. Into the fridge overnight.

The next morning, remove the ceramic insert from the fridge and put into the body of the slow cooker. Pour the ginger ale around the meat – not over it, as it will wash off the salt. Cover and put the slow cooker on high. Because the meat is large and cold, it will take a while to get the cooking going.  Once the juices are simmering gently – 2 or 3 hours – turn the setting to low. Go away.

Later, maybe 8 hours, it is really not critical, you can return. Use a bulb baster to remove most of the liquid from the cooker. Let the liquid sit for 5 minutes then skim off the fat (there will be a lot), discard the fat. The remaining pan juices are your “gravy.”

Remove the pork to a large bowl. It will be falling-apart tender. Discard any bones. Ready to eat! Nice accompaniments, other than the pan juices, are:

  • BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s for example).
  • Lingonberry preserves.
  • A really good mustard, such as Kozlick’s fig and balsamic mustard.

Pork chops in a ginger-pomegranate sauce

August 24, 2013

This was a serendipitous recipe that came about when I was thinking about how to cook the lovely pork chops we had from the farmers market. Not your ordinary supermarket chops, which are from pigs bred to be low fat (gimme a break, next we’ll have low-fat butter and cream – or do we already have those?). No, these locally raised pigs are traditional breeds with wonderful flavor and texture – and, humanely raised, too. OK, I was thinking about a dry rub and grilling over charcoal, but it was looking to rain and I knew if I fired up the grill it was a sure thing that the torrents would descend. Then, while looking for something to drink I spied a mostly empty bottle of ginger ale in the fridge – and right next to it, a bottle of pomegranate molasses. Pork + fruit flavor + sweetness = GOOD! Aha, I had my plan.


Pomegranate molasses (if you are not familiar with it, you should be)  is a  concoction made from – well, you know – along with some sugar. Perhaps the consistency of maple syrup or a little thicker, it combines sweetness and tartness with pomegranate flavor. It seems to be a middle eastern specialty, at least I find it in middle eastern shops. In small quantities it has many uses – add to stews, soups, salad dressings, brush on roast meat, add to pie fillings, and so on. Keeps a long time in the fridge.

So, the recipe. I patted the chops dry and gave them a sprinkle of salt and pepper. After rubbing with some oil (I used grape seed oil, but any oil will do) I put them in a nonstick skillet that had been preheated over medium-high heat and let them cook for a few minutes until one side was nicely browned. After flipping, I let the second side brown for a couple of minutes then turned the heat down to medium low. I added 1/2c ginger ale mixed with 1 TB pom molasses (you can use old, flat ginger ale as long as it is not diet soda), covered, and simmered for about 6 minutes until cooked through. The sauce will have reduced to a few tablespoons by this time. Serve the chops with the sauce poured over, very good!

Pork loin with garlic and rosemary

April 30, 2011

Brining and not overcooking result in a tender, juicy roast.

1 3 to 4 lb boneless pork loin
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c kosher salt
6 c cold water
1/2 c fresh rosemary leaves
4 large garlic cloves
1/2 TB salt
1 tsp black pepper
1-1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c low-salt beef, chicken, or other stock

Make sure to get a loin with a nice layer of fat on one side. Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water and place in a large plastic bag with the pork for 4 hours (refrigerated). Remove pork, and rinse; discard brining liquid. Coarsely mince garlic and rosemary. Put in a mortar with the salt and pepper and mash into a coarse paste. Position the pork with the fat on top and make a horizontal slit along its length, leaving about 1/2″ uncut at the other side, so you can open it like a book. Spread the garlic/rosemary paste along the slit, then close the slit and tie the loin with kitchen string at 1 inch intervals.

Place on a rack in a baking pan with the fat side up. Place in a 450 f oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325f and pour 1/4 c wine over the roast. Continue cooking for an addition 45 minutes, pouring another 1/4 c wine over the roast every 15 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast and continue cooking until it registers 145 f (yes, that’s 100% safe with pork, it’ll be slightly pink in the center). Remove from oven and put pork on a warm platter, tented with foil. Place the roasting pan on a stovetop burner, add the remaining wine and stock, and boil, scraping up the “brown bits,” until reduced to about 3/4 c. If desired, de-fat the sauce. Slice the pork about 1/2 inch thick and spoon a little sauce over each slice when serving.


Pulled pork barbecue in an electric smoker

April 30, 2011

One of the first things I, a New Yorker, learned when I moved to North Carolina is that “barbecue” does not refer to throwing some burgers and dogs on the charcoal or gas grill—that’s grilling. No, barbecue means to slowly cook meat over low heat with smoke. And, some glorious things indeed are done this way! One of my favorites is pulled pork BBQ. The “pulled” comes from the fact that the pork is cooked until very tender and it is pulled apart with 2 forks (it can also be sliced if you prefer). It is traditionally served on hamburger buns with coleslaw or on a plate with sides such as coleslaw, hush puppies, baked beans, fried okra, or turnip greens. The good news is that you can make pulled pork at home, and the results are every bit as good as, or even better, than you can get at a BBQ joint.

This recipe is sort of a hybrid between eastern North Carolina style BBQ, which uses the whole hog and a vinegar based sauce, and the western style. which uses only the shoulder and a tomato-based sauce. (more…)

Roasted mock wild boar with Grand Veneur sauce

April 25, 2011

This recipe is from my mother. It marinates a fresh ham in a way that results in a flavor similar to wild boar. It is delicious, and makes a wonderful centerpiece to a holiday meal. Yes, it’s quite involved!

1 whole fresh (not smoked or cured) ham, 10 to 14 pounds

For the rub:
2 TB ground black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 TB Accent (this is MSG and may be omitted)
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp powdered bay leaf, or 1 crumbled bay leaf
1 tsp caraway seeds, crushed
3 cloves garlic, mashed
4 TB salt
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange rind

2 medium onions
1 large carrot
2 stalks celery with leaves
1/2 c olive oil
1-1/2 c dry red wine
1 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c cognac (more…)

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