Tag Archives: slow and low

Slow Roasted Spice Rubbed Pork Shoulder

You may recall I purchased an entire pig last December and split it with a good friend.  We each ended up with 100 lbs. of fresh, locally loved and raised, lean pork and have been busy enjoying every bit of its truly incredible flavor.  So where are my posts about this first time ever foray into purchasing locally raised meat?  Outside of my initial experience making a Chilie-Brined Fresh Whole Ham, I haven’t written about any of it.

Call me lazy.  Go ahead.

But you know I’ve been avoiding sitting here to avoid thinking about food in general, so I hope that helps explain my lack of motivation.  I’ve been keeping myself busy with spring cleaning by reorganizing my kitchen and sorting though dishes and things I rarely use so I can donate  them along with the several bags of clothes I’ve weeded from my closet that no longer fit.  I’ve saved one pair of slacks so I might hold them up at some point and take a picture, showing just how far I’ve come so far, but I’m not quite ready for that.  I’ll get there.  I will.  Soon.

In the meantime,  I can’t put off writing any longer because the recipes are piling up waiting to be shared, and there’s no better place to begin than with a cut of pork I’ve prepared many times:  the shoulder.  That would be from the front portion of the pig as opposed to the rear where the “ham” comes from.  Although most shoulders are purchased sectioned into either what’s often called a picnic roast and a Boston Butt (which seems confusing considering the cut is from the opposite end of the animal), I happened to have the entire shoulder — about 10 lbs. of pork.

The shoulder is much more fatty than the ham, so cooking it slowly over very low heat allows all that fat to melt into the meat, creating amazingly tender pork perfect for pulling.  I’ve prepared a much smaller cut from the shoulder using a slow cooker to make one type of pulled pork for sandwiches, braised it on the stove top in this recipe with Guinness and dried cherries, or in the oven using lots of garlic and chardonnay for this recipe, and have often used the indirect heat method on the grill — especially in warm weather when I don’t want the house to heat up.  This time, we slow roasted it in the oven over a nine hour period of time until it was dark and crispy on the outside, and fall apart tender inside when two forks are inserted and pulled away from one another.

Oh, my.

Not much is better if you love pork.

And although you’ll be tempted to eat it all by itself like we did late one evening just to try it, it makes the most amazing pulled pork sandwiches when you have just the right slaw to go with it.

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Spinach Lasagne with Ragu alla Bolognese

IMG_1994 I think it’s fair to say that I equally enjoy baking sweets as much as I enjoy cooking something savory.  Regardless of what it is, I normally rise to a challenge and can’t think of a better way to spend a day in the kitchen because the end product can be so rewarding.  Although most of the past Daring Bakers’ challenges have been of the sweet variety, this month, we had a rare opportunity to bake something somewhat unexpected:  Lasagna.

I’m certainly not new to lasagna, and true to my passions as a cook, I’m not sure I’ve ever made lasagna the same way twice.  No, really.  It must be because there are too many wonderful recipes out there to try, and each one poses a sort of opportunity to find the perfect one.  And guess what?  I think we’ve decided that it’s been found.  Who knew that it didn’t need to be packed with ricotta and mozzarella?  Well, okay, I did, because I have made lasagna with mushrooms and a bechamel.  But I’ve only made my own pasta once, and I’ve never made spinach pasta.

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Many thanks to all the hosts, as I enjoyed this challenge quite a bit — both process and product!

There were several parts to this challenge, but in a nutshell they were to:  1) make a meat ragu sauce; 2) make the lasagna pasta by hand; 3) make a bechamel; and 4) make the lasagna, of course.  The choice factor was to make a ragu different from the one provided, and that’s exactly what I did.

Suffice it to say that amidst my husband’s unwavering focus on the first big week of March Madness, I spent the day in my kitchen preparing this absolutely yummy dish.  My Ragu alla Bolognese, inspired by a version presented in Saveur that in turn was inspired by British chef Heston Blumenthal, was completely delicious — and I didn’t have to go to the grocery store for one ingredient. Miraculous.


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Chunky Beef Chili with Butternut Squash


If you’d asked me even at age 25, I’d have told you squash wasn’t something I thought I’d enjoy eating at any point in my life.  I’d just begun to experiment with zucchini about then and that’s only because I had a small garden and harvested a few that were more than a foot long and five inches in diameter.  I quickly became someone who could cook anything with zucchini.

It was the yellow and orange squash I continued to not like the idea of, and I think it may have had something to do with texture.  When I saw it prepared, it was always soft and mushy, and ironically, sweet.  It’s always been a challenge for me to consider eating meat or vegetables that have been sweetened…well, as long as nobody counts Sweet & Sour Chicken, right?

Thankfully, I’ve gotten past the few issues I’ve had with squash, so when I saw the copper pot full of glistening “Texas Beef Brisket Chili” on the cover of Bon Appetit last month and realized those orange chunks nestled up against the beef were nuggets of savory butternut squash, I knew what we were having for dinner and quick.

But there was just one thing…this dish was anything but quick.  In fact, it was the epitome of slow and low — and just perfect for football watching on Sunday.

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Roasted Tomatoes Two Ways

I love tomatoes.  I always have.  I can remember when I was about eight and my family was living in the small town of Chipiona, Spain, my mother brought home a bunch of tomatoes.  I know they weren’t ours since the patio surrounded by two-story walls that was our backyard then had no garden.  I do remember that we had a strip to plant things in along the drive, but tall sunflowers grew there, while we waited patiently for the seeds to be ready to eat.  Maybe a friend shared their tomatoes with her, or perhaps she thought that the outdoor market had a good price on them that day.

But they must have been irresistible to her, too, because she told us that the very best way to eat tomatoes was to bite into them like one would an apple, and sprinkle on the salt.  So that’s what we did, the juice running down our arms and shirts as we played outside.  Who knows what the locals thought of us wandering about with tomatoes in our hands, surprised to see us eating them — not throwing them.

I don’t eat them like apples any longer, of course, but when they’re especially delicious, slicing them and sprinkling on some extra virgin olive oil and salt is guaranteed — especially when I’m not in the mood or too lazy to make a salad, or a salsa.

My favorite way to eat them now is cooked — either sauteed or roasted.  Other than turning on the oven, or getting out a frying pan, nothing could be easier.  And the flavor after such little effort is so rewarding considering the number of ways you can incorporate them into great dishes like grilled meat or pasta.

But you don’t have to add them to anything.  You can enjoy them with bread and a bit of good cheese, one bite at a time, all by yourself.  If you decide to share them, your friends will ask, “How do you make these?”

Try them either of the following ways, both very, very delicious.  And don’t forget to get every last drop of the pan juices onto your plate.  The first is very similar to the “Pomodori al Forno” published in the September ’08 issue of Bon Appetit and featured by food blogger Molly Wizenberg. The second is adapted from a recipe from the August ’08 issue La Cucina Italiana which showcased a variety of tasty tomato recipes.

Honestly, I think next time, I’ll create a mix of both slicing instead of halving, with lots of garlic and shallots, with the oil somewhere in between the two.  Now, if I actually remember to order San Marzano seeds to plant in pots, that will really be something.

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