Wednesday, January 27, 2010

carrrrrrnitas baby

Week 6 of our porkilicious CSA brought me a 3.7 lb boston butt with a glorious fat cap and marbling throughout. I took one look at that chunk of meat (the approximate current weight of Christine's baby bump, as we were discussing last night)and thought about how perfect it would be all chunked up with crisped, caramelized edges, doused in salsa and crema and wrapped in soft corn tortillas. The carnitas cooked for about 3 hours, exuding an intensely incredible porky aroma, apparently all through the 4th floor of our building. But the amazing thing about these carnitas is that you just leave them there to cook and DO NOTHING. They go from pink, to brown, to crispy brown, to heaven, and you barely even touch them. MAGICAL.

The roasted tomatillo salsa was pretty damn easy, too, and the perfect tangy, fresh accompaniment. Recipes after the jump:

Adapted from Homesick Texan

3 pounds of pork butt
1 cup of orange juice
3 cups of water
2 teaspoons of salt

1. Cut pork into strips (three inches by one inch), add to a large pot with the liquids and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered on low for 2 hours. Do not touch the meat.
2. After two hours, turn heat up to medium high, and continue to cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the pork fat has rendered (about 30 minutes). Stir a few times, to keep pork from sticking to bottom of pan.
3. When pork has browned on both sides, it’s ready (there will be liquid fat in the pan). Serve either cubed or shredded (pork will be tender enough that just touching it will cause it to fall apart). Serve as soft tacos with soft corn tortillas, green salsa (recipe to follow), crema, sliced radishes, chopped fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Serves 4-6


1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3 JalapeƱo peppers
Salt to taste

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well to remove some of the stickiness.
Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 7-10 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, jalapenos, and sugar in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator.

Makes 3 cups.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

the relief of pasta: pappardelle with lamb ragu

It should come as no surprise that as soon as our stove top was turned on, the first thing I NEEDED to cook was pasta. I was dying for pasta. I can't even believe that I went as long as I did without pasta, but the rice I was eating every day was reminiscent of my childhood, so I made it through. The stove finally got turned on right as the really cold weather hit, so I needed to focus on warm, filling, gutsy food, and preferably something that would give me an excuse to go up to my new cute local butcher. Mmmmm meat.

I wanted a meaty ragu of some sort. I've done ragus with duck, rabbit, beef, veal, but strangely enough I've never made any with lamb. I found this recipe from Andrew Carmellini, who I love, and was excited by some of his simple but different touches. Fennel seed, coriander, cumin, a touch of fresh mint to finish. The result was a deeply umami sauce that was perfect for a cold winter night, and it was really simple to put together. Recipe after the jump:

From Food & Wine Magazine

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3/4 pound fresh pappardelle
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 tbsp chopped mint

1. In a large cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Add the lamb, coriander, fennel, cumin, rosemary and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates, 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, along with the stock and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, 25 to 30 minutes.
2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, shaking well. Add the pasta to the sauce. Add the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and toss over low heat. Serve the pasta in bowls, topped with the ricotta and mint.

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

we have a stove!

It FINALLY got turned on just days before Christmas. Merry Christmas to me! And boy, it is a great stove. I was really quite stunned with how quickly a big pot of water came to a boil. Because of course the first thing I cooked was pasta. Can you believe how long I went without making pasta?

Anyway, that pasta post will be coming along shortly, but until then, here is my last no stove post, an oven-roasted lemon chicken with fennel.

This one couldn't be any easier, it just takes a bit of planning ahead because of course, the longer you can let these babies marinate the better. If you can remember to whip up the marinade and get this in the fridge one night, then the next evening you have a super simple and delicious dinner with no effort at all. Recipe after the jump:


2 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly cracker pepper
1 large fennel bulb

Generously salt and pepper the chicken breasts and place in a baking dish. Whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, oil, salt and pepper. Pour half of the marinade over the chicken, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Trim, core and quarter the fennel bulb and scatter in the baking pan with the chicken. Roast the chicken breasts skin side up for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and juices run clear. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken, cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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