Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kicking Summer to the Curb

D and I recently hosted a "Kicking Summer to the Curb" party. It didn't work--we've still had too many hot and humid days here in New York. But the food was good, the company excellent.

Inspired by a wonderful dinner party we went to in the country last weekend, we made a slow-roasted pork shoulder, a Puerto Rican dish called "pernil." People raved about it, we loved it, and we had plenty of leftovers. Here's how we made it.


1 pork shoulder (about 10 pounds), with the skin on
15 garlic cloves
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine or champagne vinegar

The first thing you want to do is brine the pork shoulder about two days before you need to eat it. Place the raw pork shoulder in a pot, bag, or bin of water mixed with salt, pepper, sugar, and garlic. I recommend 4 tbsp of each. Submerge the shoulder in the water and keep for 12 to 24 hours in the fridge. This will make it really juicy.

Put the garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper in a mini chopper and chop chop until it forms a kind of paste. Remove from the chopper and place in a bowl. Stir in the olive oil and vinegar.

Take a knife and separate the skin and fat from the meat, leaving it attached so you can fold it back over the meat. Stab the meat with a sharp knife in 1/2 inch incisions, 1 inch deep so that the paste can penetrate the meat. Rub the garlic paste on the meat, and cover the coated meat with the skin again, securing with a skewer so that it doesn't pull away while cooking.

Cover the pork and let marinate for at least three to six hours. Depending on how long you let it sit, and how warm it is out, you might want to consider refrigerating it. Make sure you allow enough time to let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes before you roast it.

Preheat the oven to 350 and roast for about 10-12 hours. Some recipes will tell you to roast it at different temperatures for a shorter amount of time, but this length of time worked for us and we had nicely falling-off-the-bone pork, which is how I like it. If you want to get the skin crispy brown at the end, you can put it back in the oven and roast it for about 20-30 minutes at 450.

Let the meat rest on a cutting board for 20 minutes before slicing.

I used a recipe from epicurious, found here.

We served this on a big platter with pico de gallo, corn tortillas, rice, and beans, with a cilantro-lime-garlic viniagrette dressing to drizzle on top. I also froze about three sandwich bags full to make pork tacos at some point in the future. Tonite, we're having leftovers of this pork cooked with some BBQ sauce.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Excess Tomatoes

Tim and Peter's neighbor in the country brought them over a big bag of tomatoes from her garden. They didn't have time to use them, so they gave them to me. This is what I did with them.

Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce

3 lbs off-the-vine tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
2 medium onions
3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
handful of basil

Saute chopped garlic and onion in olive oil until browning and fragrant. Chop tomatoes into small cubes and add to the garlic and onions. Bring to a boil and then simmer for up to an hour as it thickens. Season it anytime you want with the salt and pepper. Add chopped basil at the end.

We served it over some angel hair pasta with more chopped basil, fresh ground pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Give Me Spots on My Apples....

...but leave me the birds and the bees. Pleeease. --Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi

I spent last weekend in the Catskills at a friend's country house catching up with two friends I hadn't spent time with in over a decade. The last we saw each other, we were all living in Buffalo, New York. They both agreed to drive over five hours to meet at this house, and we had a great time. One of my friends has an apple tree growing in her yard. Even though she apologized for how funky they looked, she brought a big bag of apples with her, and we used them in oatmeal and pancakes. At the end of the weekend, there were still a lot left, so I spent the last day I was at the house making applesauce. I froze it because there were too many leftovers to eat before they all went bad. I expect thawed applesauce in the fall will be a nice reminder of the time we shared.


3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples
5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup of organic sugar
1 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Put all ingredients into a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and process to desired consistency in a food processor, or mash by hand with a potato masher. Enjoy over yogurt, vanilla ice cream or as a side dish to pork chops.