March – Forever Roasted Pork Shoulder

March – Forever Roasted Pork Shoulder

I cannot believe I have never posted this recipe! I searched my recipe index but couldn’t find it anywhere, even though it’s a big favorite of both friends and family for years. This dish will give you days of leftovers for pulled pork, carnitas, BBQ pork sandwiches, tacos, etc. And if you are feeling, like I am, sightly depressed…it will make your kitchen smell like a warm hug (something in short supply at the moment). Now is the perfect time to cook something that takes most of the day in the oven, where else are you going to go? Don’t make this in the slow cooker, it will not be the same. You could make it in your instant pot, you would need to crisp it in the oven after. But why? Use the low oven method unless it’s 4 pm and the zombies are at the door (instant pot options at the end), I encourage you to embrace slow oven cooking for this if at all possible.

If you want it have dinner at 6 pm, you need to pop it in the oven right after your Zoom workout or the first conference call of the day at 9. Rub it down with the spices and put it in the roasting pan at 8 am while you are having your second (maybe first these days) cup of coffee. Let it rest at room temperature on the counter until you have finished your workout or your call. At that time preheat the oven, and put the pork in the oven (uncovered) at 10:30. Forget about it all day (you won’t be able to ignore the aroma coming from your oven). It will be ready at 5:30, enough time for it to rest. Resist the urge to steal crispy bits before dinner is officially served, I usually can’t.

You will have the entire day free. Time to deal with home schooling, your toddler, the garden, and/or work.

The original idea for this recipe came from Michael Chiarello’s cookbook Casual Cooking, published in 2002. He was named Chef of the Year by the Culinary Institute of America  and Food & Wine Magazine. Founder of the Tra Vigne Restarurant in St. Helena, CA (in the wine country).

I have dramatically simplified his recipe except for one thing, the amazing mixture of spices that he uses. Toasted Fennel Rub is my absolute favorite spice mixture in the whole world. You don’t need to use it though, use any beloved spice rub of your own. I just happen to have this on hand most times and often give it as a present to friends. I’ve modified it with the addition of some heat. But, use what you have. Any BBQ rub would be excellent, what about taco seasoning, or chili powder with some added salt? Do not fret about it. The trick is the slow roasting which transforms the pork into a meltingly tender piece of meat with a crisp layer of fat on the outside.

Ingredients:

  • One pork shoulder roast (mine was bone-in, about 5 1/2 pounds)
  • Enough rub to coat all sides of the roast (see the recipe for fennel spice at the bottom of this post)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
  2. Rub your spice mixture of choice (see Fennel Rub below) over all sides of the roast
  3. Place the pork, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan or other dish (there may be quite a lot of fat, so a deep one is best). Line it with foil for easier clean up.
  4. Roast, uncovered, for 7 hours.
  5. Let the roast rest for 20 minutes, then slice or shred.

Note: If you don’t have a rack of the correct size for your pan, make one with halved onions or whole carrots or crumbled foil.

Pork Shoulder Roast with Rub

Pork Shoulder Roast with Rub

Pork Shoulder Roast with Rub

Pork Shoulder Roast with Fennel Spice Rub

Here it is after 7 hours, juicy and ready to shred. As usual, I couldn’t stop the fingers from pulling off crispy bits before we were ready to eat dinner.

Forever roasted pork shoulder

Forever roasted pork shoulder

Shredded Pork Shoulder

Shredded Pork Shoulder

It was easy to shred. Served with roasted asparagus, avocado, pickled cabbage, shredded cheese, sour cream, and salsa.

Shredded Pork Tacos

Shredded Pork Tacos

We have some really amazing leftovers for the week. Stay tuned for some ideas.

 

Enhanced Fennel Rub

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fennel seeds
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons white peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • My additions:
    • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 cup chile powder (use something on the sweet rather than on the hot side, or leave it out)
    • 3 tablespoons cumin seeds

Method:

  1. Place a dry small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel, coriander, peppercorns and cumin seeds (if using). Continually stirring, roast until light brown and the smell is amazing.
  2. Turn your oven fan (high), add the chile powder and red pepper flakes. Continue to stir (it will smoke) for a few more seconds. Then remove from the heat and immediately turn the spices out onto a large plate to cool.
  3. Once cool, add the salt.
  4. Grind in your blender, mini food processor, or spice blender to a powder. There will still be some whole spices that won’t be completely ground, that’s okay.

If you want to make this in an electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot, here are some suggestions. After you coat the pork with your spice mix of choice, brown it on the saute setting in the pot or in a large skillet. Then add 1 cup of broth (chicken or vegetable), set the machine to high pressure and cook for 60 minutes, then turn the machine off and let the steam naturally release for 30 minutes. You won’t get that amazing crust, or a whole day of comforting aromas, but you will have dinner on the table for hungry mouths much faster.

Stay well everyone, stay safe, and please stay in touch.

I am going to take this dish to Angie’s at Fiesta Friday #321. Please come check out the virtual party on her site. The cohosts this week are Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and, none other than myself: Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons

And if you would like to join us, link your post to FiestaFriday.net and/or the cohost(s), so you can be featured.

And if you would like a chance to be featured next Friday, please read the guidelines.

Also linking this to Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

March – Italian Soup

March – Italian Soup

My kitchen and garden are my refuges, solace in this time of anxiety. Are you sequestered at home? Our county put out Shelter-in-Place directives a couple of days ago. Here it is the first day of spring, and absolutely lovely out, but a dark cloud lies over everything. I worry about friends and family far away, how are they? I am not a big one for talking on the phone, much preferring face to face communication, but it has become my lifeline right now. How are you doing, what are you doing for comfort? The virtual world is one place to make connections with people.

I find making soup very comforting. And if you are going to make soup, you might as well make a big batch so you can put a quart or two in the freezer. It’s not any more work and then you have that lovely insurance for days you just don’t feel like cooking. It’s like money in the bank. This one came about because of an old friend’s message and it is a winner. It keeps several days in the fridge, and makes a large potful.

Here is the backstory:

A text requesting a specific soup recipe sent me searching through my old recipe files for a zucchini, sausage and tomato soup. One that did not have chicken or another broth. The appeal had come from my high school best friend, Abby, the recipe was a fondly remembered one from our childhood. Since our mothers had been best friends as well, she thought maybe I had inherited a copy from my mother. Regretfully I couldn’t find one, but a search of the WWW found a replica that fit her description.

Never being one to leave well enough alone, I had to take a walk down memory lane and make it myself. The basic recipe was Zucchini Soup III by Irene Yousey. Of course I did some tweaking,  I think it is an improvement on the original.

Italian tomato, sausage and zucchini soup

 

The cool and rainy weather of March makes this a perfect month for soup. This one is substantial enough to be a full meal, it’s almost a stew. When life gets too insane, like the present moment, make soup. It is very therapeutic.

Italian Soup – AKA Sausage, Zucchini, and Tomato Soup

8 generous servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pounds of bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of carrots (about 4 medium), cut into cubes of about 1/2 inch
  • 1 large red pepper, cut into cubes of about 1/2 inch
  • 1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes, preferably fire roasted, plus 1 can of water
  • 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning (I didn’t have any) or
    • 1 teaspoon of oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds, ground
    • 1 teaspoon of rosemary (I used 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary)
    • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes – optional
  • 4 medium zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch slices, large ones halved
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chopped parsley and parmesan for serving

Other optional ingredients include canned white beans, cooked penne pasta, fresh tortellini, and fresh basil if you have some. This is a very pantry friendly soup.

Method:

  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up and saute until browned. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Add the onion to the pot, saute until softened.
  3. Add the Italian seasoning with a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  4. Add the garlic, saute for a minute, then add the chopped red pepper and carrots to the pot. Continue to saute for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes and one can full of water. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the optional potatoes, cover, turn down the heat, and cook for about 30 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are softened but still holding their shape.
  7. Add the zucchini and continue to simmer until softened, about another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and/or parmesan

This soup can be frozen and it’s even better the second day.

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Zucchini, sausage and tomato soup

Stay well, please also stay in touch. Your comments are always welcome. Let me know if you try this recipe.

I am taking this to a friend’s party on the www. It’s a virtual party ‘Fiesta Friday #320‘ hosted by Angie! Click on the link to read all the interesting things going on in the world of food and crafts.

If you would like to join us you can add your link at the bottom of the party page at FiestaFriday.net. I am cohosting this week with Angie and look forward to reading all your posts.

If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

Also linking this to Full Plate Thursday at Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

February – Quick and Easy Stir Fried Vegetables

February – Quick and Easy Stir Fried Vegetables

Sometimes you need instant food and this fits the bill. The title is boring, but it exactly describes this no carb dish and vegetable stir fry. You could always add some leftover rotisserie chicken or baked tofu to make it a one dish meal. Wrap it in a tortilla or serve it over rice if your current diet allows it.

I used some time saving ingredients; a package of riced broccoli and cauliflower, and a package of angel hair cabbage. All that is needed in addition is a large onion, a knob of fresh ginger, a clove of garlic, some tamari or soy sauce, plus a little oil to start the stir fry. This is very quick, maybe 10 minutes in all.

Stir Fry Veggies

Stir Fry Veggies

Ingredients:

  • I large onion, cut in half top to bottom and cut into half moons
  • 1 package of riced cauliflower or riced broccoli or one with a combination – I used Earthbound Farm organic Cauliflower and Broccoli riced veggies (16 oz package)
  • 1 package of finely shredded green cabbage (mine was 10 oz)
  • 1 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • about 2 – 3 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, I used coconut

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large fry pan on medium heat
  2. When shimmering, add the ginger and fry until light brown on each side
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so, you want a golden brown
  4. Add the onion and stir to mix, cook (stirring every so often) until wilted and starting to brown.
  5. Add the riced vegetables, cook for 2 – 3 minutes
  6. Add the cabbage and continue to cook until it is softened, a couple of minutes
  7. Add the soy sauce to taste

It’s almost embarrassingly easy.

If you have some mushrooms laying around you could add them. Slice them thinly and add them with the sliced cabbage.

Vegetable Stir Fry

Vegetable Stir Fry

I served it with a few slices of medium rare steak cooked on the grill.

Steak with Stir Fried Veggies

A perfect no or low carb quick meal.

Do you think the folks at Fiesta Friday would like this? This week it is Fiesta Friday #314 hosted by Angie and co-hosted by me. Drop on by to read the great recipes and craft ideas.

November – Palm Tree Leeks

November – Palm Tree Leeks

I’ve never been impressed by leeks unless they are in a potato leek soup. Generally, give me onions or scallions or shallots. That is until I saw this unusual recipe in Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over by Alison Roman. Alison is a regular contributor to the NT Times food section and this is her first cookbook. She shared my opinion, having ignored them for years.

She says “Here, leeks sizzle in a spicy olive oil mixture, the wild tendrilly ends crisping up like they have been deep fried, looking like an extremely festive and delicious party decoration. The pale green centers become creamy and tender.”

This is preparing leeks in an entirely different way! In a way it’s like roasting kale, who would have believed you could take this vegetable and turn it into delicious chips even the youngest child would love. Even better, they look like palm trees which is really a hoot.

Spicy Caramelized Leeks with Fresh Lemon

Spicy Caramelized Leeks with Fresh Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 4 large leeks, dark green parts removed, washed and halved lengthwise with roots still intact
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, seeds removed and finely chopped (I used a preserved lemon, white center removed and rind scraped, then the rind finely chopped)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Pace the leeks cut side down and, without cutting through to the root, slice them lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips. They will look like a palm fan. Place the leeks on a parchment lined half sheet pan or baking dish.
  3. Whisk the olive oil and harissa paste together, then massage into the leeks, getting into all their layers. Season with salt and pepper and lay them straight-ish.
  4. Roast, without disturbing too much until they start to fry and sizzle and brown at the ends about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Top with the lemon and flaky salt before serving.
Leeks

Palm Frond Leeks

Roasted Leeks

Roasted Leeks

You can roast these several hours ahead of time, they won’t loose their crispness. Cover them at room temperature. There is no need to reheat them unless you want to.

Crispy Leeks

Crispy Leeks

This is such an interesting twist on preparing an often ignored vegetable that I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday #302 will enjoy it. Fiesta Friday is a virtual blogging party hosted each week by Angie, this week it is co-hosted by none other than myself. Please do click on the link to read blogs from around the world of food, crafts, and travel.

 

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

November – A Simple Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

You may be aware that the end of October brought a five day power shutdown to over 2,000,000 people in Northern California, including us. This was a preemptive attempt by PG&E to prevent wildfires; the winds were high and humidity low, and our winter rains are very late. We are lucky since we have a generator and a large propane tank, but we still try to conserve energy. We are never exactly sure how long the shutdown will last.  When the power is out due to the threat of high winds and fire, we try and conserve propane as much as possible.

Cook Something from Canal House, hirsheimer & hamilton

One way to conserve power is to avoid the use of my oven, it’s my normal way of cooking chicken thighs but an electric oven uses a lot of energy. I was reading Canal House’s newest cookbook, “Cook Something, recipes to rely on”, and found the pages How We Cook Chicken Thighs…timely, yes? How do they cook chicken thighs? They cook them the same way they cook a duck breast, skin side down in a heavy skillet with no additional fat. I’ve often browned chicken thighs in a skillet before braising them, but this method was not my usual. There were only 2 ingredients, chicken and 1/2 of a preserved lemon. Wow!

 

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH PRESERVED LEMON

  • 6 whole chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • finely chopped rind of 1/2 preserved lemon 
  • fresh lemon, quartered for serving – optional
  • chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish – optional

Method:

  1. Trim any excess fat and skin from the chicken thighs
  2. Season them with salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. Arrange them skin side down in a heavy cast iron or nonstick skillet (cold skillet, no oil)
  4. Turn the heat to medium and cook them, without moving them, until the fat is rendered and skin crisp, about 30 minutes. You might need to adjust the heat if they are browning too quickly.
  5. Remove the core of the preserved lemon and scrape off any white from the inside of the rind, then chop the rind finely
  6. Turn the thighs over and stir in the finely chopped preserved lemon
  7. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until they are cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced.
  8. Serve the thighs with some of the pan drippings, fresh lemon and herb garnish.

I found the pan drippings made a wonderful warm salad dressing with some additional lemon juice.

The thighs were juicy and delicious.

Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

If you have never made preserved lemons, I encourage you to try it. They are simple, only taking a little time. And, they are a wonderful ingredient to add tartness in many dishes. I promise they will become a pantry staple. I have even seen them chopped finely and added to avocado toast. Follow the link above if you would like directions.

I think the folks over at Fiesta Friday might like them. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie, it’s a collection of blogs about food, decorating, travel, and crafts. Click on the link to read all the amazing things going on in the blogosphere at Fiesta Friday #301, the co-host this week is Antonia @ Zoale.com.