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.

March – Recipe Courage

March – Recipe Courage

We are all cooking from our pantries right now, avoiding the grocery store if at all possible. Most of us are in some kind of forced isolation at home, cooking many more meals than before. Some of you may even be cooking for the first time. How are you doing? If you don’t live in a Fresh Foods or equivalent delivery area, you may have difficulty finding a recipe that exactly matches what you have in your cupboard or pantry. Or your pantry doesn’t contain the exact ingredient you may need for a recipe. Do not despair, there are substitutions that can be made. The recipe will still be delicious if you don’t have creme fraiche and substitute yogurt or half and half with a teaspoon of vinegar.

Sam Sifton from the New York Times has a wonderful article on their blog this morning. It admonishes us to be confident. When it comes to cooking, be brave and inventive. If a recipe calls for an acid you can substitute almost any acid…lemon juice, vinegar of almost any kind including unsweetened rice-wine, lime juice, or orange juice. For maple syrup, you could deploy honey or molasses, agave nectar or corn syrup. They all taste different, to be sure. But they act the same. If you need a bitter green such as escarole, any other bitter green will can fill in…arugula, watercress, or any other member of the chicory family. Kale, chard, and baby spinach are all interchangeable and only the cooking times are different.

Do not worry greatly about making the one correct substitution. Instead, think generally and taste as you go. Acids swap for acids. Sweets for sweets. Fire for fire. Texture for texture. The results of substituting ingredients can be magical, and they make the recipe your own.

Who knows, you may come up with a new family favorite.

If you have any substitution questions, email me or comment on this blog and I will come up with some ideas for you. Don’t let the lack of an ingredient keep you from a recipe you want to try.

And if you are wondering what you should stock in a basic pantry, this post might give you some ideas.

Be safe, be well, stay in touch.

Kitchen Closet - herbs and spices

Kitchen Closet – herbs and spices

March – Asian Spiced Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

March – Asian Spiced Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

The meat section of the store was almost empty, I could tell that the butchers were delving into the very bottom of their freezer or cooler. I bet many of you are experiencing the same situation. I was looking for a family sized package of chicken drumsticks, but there were none to be had. I searched in vain. I wanted to make a recipe from the Frugal Hausfrau for BBQ chicken drumsticks in the Instant Pot. The weather has been mild enough to uncover the BBQ, which I was hoping to do. The recipe made a lot of chicken and leftovers for the week’s lunches would be welcome (it’s always a challenge to figure out lunch and here we are, home all day, every day). As well she has a recipe for making a delicious BBQ chicken chili with the juices left in the pot. It was the winner at our 2020 New Year’s Day chili party.

They did have family sized packages of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Menu change coming up.

In search of a recipe on Pinterest and the www, the only ones I came across were for 4-6 thighs, not the 10 that were in the package. Time to improvise. I think the result was repeatable.

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot – browned in the oven

I didn’t want to go through the trouble of browning that many thighs before cooking, something that every recipe I came across recommended. Why not do that step at the end, a quick roast in a 425 degree F oven would do it. As well, that means the thighs could be cooked ahead and just finished at the end. I was roasting some thick fries at the same time, the oven would already be on. Served with a big salad it was an easy meal with plenty of leftovers.

Salad

Salad with Sweet Candied Pecans

Ingredients:

  • Family sized package of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Trimmed of extra fat and skin.
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup of ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Method:

  1. Place the chicken thighs on the rack in your Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker. You can stand them up to minimize overlap but don’t worry too much about it.
  2. Mix the sauce ingredients together and pour over the chicken, trying to coat all of the thighs.
  3. Set the pressure cooker to high pressure, cook for 13 minutes once full pressure is reached.
  4. Use quick release (I put a kitchen towel over the valve so the steam doesn’t spray all over the kitchen).
  5. Open the cooker and remove the thighs.
  6. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F when you are ready to eat (or heat up your BBQ)
  7. Line the baking sheet with foil for easiest clean up.
  8. Roast the thighs until the skin is brown and crisp, about 15-20 minutes.

Note: Save the juices left in the pressure cooker. Refrigerate them, any fat will come to the surface making it easy to remove. Look for another post about using those juices in an Asian inspired chicken noodle soup.

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

Asian Inspired Chicken Thighs in the Instant Pot

The recipe is a keeper.

 

 

 

 

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.

March – Lemony Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash

March – Lemony Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash

The inspiration for this recipe came from the NY Times, Melissa Clark’s Roasted Chicken Thighs with Winter Squash. She used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, delicata or acorn squash, fresh sage, and lemon. I didn’t exactly have those on hand and my sage plant is late to the party called spring. But I loved the flavor combination of ingredients and I did have a lemon. So here is my adaptation, Lemony Boneless Chicken Thighs with Roasted Butternut Squash. 

Boneless chicken thighs with butternut squash, lemon and baby kale (see the steam rising from the dish?)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lemon, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, and thinly sliced crosswise into wedges
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – divided
  • 1 rounded teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, use less if not kosher plus additional 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon chile powder, depending on the heat of your brand and your tolerance
  • 4 cups of butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach or kale

Method:

  1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil; drop in the lemon slices and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain well.
  2. In a small skillet toast the coriander and cumin seeds until you start to smell their deliciousness and they are light brown. Remove to a plate to cool. Then grind in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to a medium powder. You want some texture to remain.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the lemon slices, 1 tablespoon of oil, cumin, coriander, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and the pepper. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or several hours.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil
  5. In a large bowl combine the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the maple syrup, chile powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt with the cubed butternut squash. Toss to mix, then add the cornstarch, again tossing so the cubes are evenly coated.
  6. Spread the squash out onto the baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 minutes until brown and caramelized. Remove from the oven and cool.

    Roast butternut squash

    Roast butternut squash

  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and lemon slices plus any marinade. Toss until browned and cooked through, add the butternut squash, and kale (or spinach) to the skillet and continue to toss everything together until warmed and the kale is wilted.
  8. Serve with rice, polenta, or other grain.

The tip here is coating the butternut squash with cornstarch, this works with sweet potatoes as well. It results in a crisp exterior and meltingly soft interior.

Chicken with Winter Squash and Baby Kale

Chicken with Winter Squash and Baby Kale

How are you adapting recipes for what you have on hand?