Pork, Kraut, and Cider

“What do you want for New Year’s Eve Dinner? Lobster? Beef Tenderloin?”

“Not really.”

“How about Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Prunes, herbs, and chestnuts?”

This is kind of a joke, as I’ve made two dinners recently have involved prune stuffing of various small animals.

But, hm, Pork sounds like a good choice, maybe something like Charcuterie Garni, but not so complicated?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1/2 tsp juniper berries, 1/2 tsp caraway seed, 1/2 tsp aniseed ground and mixed with curing mixture of sugar and salt.

Smoked Salmon and Meyer Lemon Fromage Blanc

Smoked Salmon with Fromage Blanc mixed with meyer lemon zest, juice, and thyme.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

La Tur Cheese. So good!

Kraut Cider and Pork Chops

Brown the Pork Chops. Give the apples a slight head start in the oven with hard cider. When chops are browned, place in pan, cover with warmed kraut and cook until done.

Dinner

Dinner! Serve with some delicious hard cider and maybe roast winter squash.

Cider

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Mushrooms and Pecans

Tasty enough that I am writing this down, so I don’t forget.

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Mushrooms and Pecans

2 Whole Pork Tenderloins
Tree Oyster Mushrooms
1 large Shallot, Chopped
Thyme
Sage
Breadcrumbs
Pecans, chopped
Butter
Dry Vermouth or White Wine
Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper

METHOD:

Pre-heat oven to 400.

Clean Oyster Mushrooms. Saute in Butter until lightly browned. Add Shallots to pan and continue sauteing until cooked. Deglaze pan with White Wine and stir in breadcrumbs, sage, thyme, and pecans. If necessary, moisten with chicken stock and additional butter. Check seasonings and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Cool stuffing mixture.

Make a Slit in the underside of each pork tenderloin and fill with Stuffing mixture. With the large ends opposite from each other, use twine to tie tenderloins together, stuffing sides together (see picture, below).

Roast in oven until temperature reaches your desired level of doneness.

Slice and serve with oven roasted potatoes, a vegetable side, and a nice wine.

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Mushrooms and Pecans

WOTW–Wild Hog 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Cheese!

Pumpkin Bolani with early girl tomatoes.

Pork tenderloin with roasted vegetables and braised russian kale.

Wild Hog 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

2007 Wild Hog Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir

From our own organic vineyard. This vintage is a bigger, more fruit driven wine than the 2006. Smooth,round mouth feel. Fruit, fruit, fruit. It’s bright and big. Delicious and big. A great vintage.

Porkpourri

It’s funny, a lot of my friends got the Momofuku cookbook and the first thing they tried to make was the ridiculously complicated Ramen recipe.

To me, though, the first thing that stood out was the Bo Ssäm.

All you do is order a pork shoulder from your favorite butcher, say Avedano’s Holly Park Market. Make a sugar and salt rub for a pork shoulder.

Let it sit in your fridge for a day or two. I will warn you, the smell of the semi cured pork shoulder will draw neighborhood dogs. Ignore their pleading eyes and throw it in the oven at 300F.

Get the rest of your dinner in order, like a Plum Frangiapani tart from Mission Pie.

Baste the roasts every hour. Really, who needs air fresheners when you can slow roast a pork shoulder?

And something like 6 hours later, you have a delicious dinner. This was about half way.

Discussing exactly how much longer for the roast. Seemed pretty tender to the fork.

Have some friends over who know how to shuck oysters.

Get set up…

Have them teach you how to shuck.

Though you have to be careful not to stab yourself.

Get rolling on the shucking…

Have some friends over who make beer. My favorite comment of the evening: “You have no idea how hot it is watching my Jewish wife learn to shuck oysters.”

Heck, it never hurts to have a scientist around to remind you about the potential dangers of eating raw shellfish…

Unfortunately, after this things got a little greasy and somehow none of the rest of the photos turned out. Suffice it to say, a good time was had by all.

BOTW–Double Trouble & Chilayo

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

When I was growing up, my sister and I weren’t really allowed into the kitchen. Basically, about the only things we were allowed to do were load and unload the dishwasher and decorate Christmas cookies. Especially since the family roles were very traditional, even if I displayed some interest in cooking, men were really only allowed to grill things outdoors in our house.

Consequently, I was sent off to college with very little idea of how to feed myself. I survived the first couple years on dorm food, Ramen, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

But then I went and spent what little money I had saved on Comic Books and Records, so I had to get a job. I also needed to an apartment outside of the dorms, so I didn’t have to spend summers at home with my parents.

I really don’t remember how I ended up getting a job at Brat und Brau, I don’t think it was anything more than a random job application submission. Anyway, after they determined that I was unsuited for service work, I was assigned to the job of getting the dining room in order for lunch service, including setting up the salad bar and popping the corn.

Somehow, I parlayed this experience at Brat und Brau into a job as a prep cook in the catering department of a local deli chain.

It was there that I realized that I really enjoyed cooking. I mean at first I didn’t make anything more complicated than my typical bachelor food: fried potatoes with bacon, eggs, and cheese, but I sort of sunk into it and started to absorb the business and culture.

I’d always felt a bit like an outsider, and the people at the catering company were people I felt more comfortable with than a lot of the friends I had grown up with. They were outsiders. In the 1980s and 1990s, cooking was not yet really a reputable career, and my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with this new direction. I even tried to drop out of college my junior year and just cook, but they wouldn’t let me, “We’ve paid for your tuition this far, you WILL graduate.”

Anyway, I did eventually graduate, with a lovely and useful Bachelor of Arts in English, but as soon as I had finished college, I went into cooking full time at a local Southwestern Restaurant.

At the Southwestern restaurant, I was initially thrilled, this was really good food. Or, well, it seemed to be at the time. But then I started reading about actual Southwestern and Mexican Food, Mark Miller and Diana Kennedy were my first two big authors, and realized what we were serving was, well, not that good. A mishmash of Italian-American comfort food and Southwestern food, even though we were using decent ingredients, it bore no resemblance to any of the dishes I made from Ms. Kennedy nor even Mr. Miller.

Along with the early influences of Ms. Kennedy, Mr. Miller, and the Chinese Food Books of Nina Simonds, one of the people who has been most influential on me later in life is Alton Brown.

I always really like people who get down to the basics and demystify things that seem too complicated. Or, well, things that other people have made seem too complicated. Sure, cooking is complicated, but there are methods which allow us to understand it, and even generally end up with predictable outcomes.

I really like that he has always been on the side of demystifying food from a technical perspective, but not only that, but that he has championed American Food and Food Culture. He even seems like a sensible man.

I recently learned that Alton Brown has decided to stop producing new episodes of his Good Eats show on the Food Network, after a mere 249 segments and something like 10 years. Get sad about the end of a TV show? Especially one on the Food Network? Seems a little pathetic. But, I am. You can make fun of me now.

The first beer this week, is the Orchard White from the Bruery.

Orchard White is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned Belgian-style witbier. This hazy, straw yellow beer is spiced with coriander, citrus peel and lavender added to the boil and whirlpool. A spicy, fruity yeast strain is used to add complexity, and rolled oats are added for a silky texture.

I didn’t read the label at first, and was like, “What’s that flavor?” Put on my glasses, checked the fine print. Oh right, Lavender. Well, at 5% ABV or so, the Orchard White is easy drinking and enjoyable. Spiced Wit Beers are not generally my favorite Belgian style, but this isn’t bad, despite the Lavender, maybe on a hot day, when you’re feeling a little floral. Interestingly, I recently read that the Bruery is reorganizing its beer production and varieties, and to make room for other things in its schedule will be discontinuing the Orchard White.

Monty, however, is not impressed, with all this boring monkey talk about beer and food preparation. Until all this blah blah is over, he will be waiting on his chair at the table.

The second beer is Hops on Rye from Firehouse Brewing. I really know zilch about this beer and brewery other than a friend recommended it to us. Looks like it is brewed at a sports bar chain which has locations in East Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. The beer isn’t bad, a Rye based IPA, but I think Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye is a more, uh, elegant example of this style. Mrs. Flannestad enjoyed it more than I, it seemed just a little unpolished to me.

One of the first dishes I made from Diana Kennedy’s “Art of Mexican Cooking” was a pork stew called Chilayo. Like most Mexican dishes, there’s a bit of semi-labor intensive prep on the front end, and then its pretty easy. Preheat your oven to 300. Basically, soak some chiles in boiling water, then puree them with onions, garlic, and spices. While that is going on, cut up some pork stew meat (this was a very nice piece of Kurobota pork shoulder from Avedano’s Holly Park Market), pour warm water (or stock) over it, start it simmering. Add the pureed chiles and a half pound of quartered tomatillos. Cover and move to the oven and cook until the pork is tender. I served it with Rancho Gordo Cranberry Beans (cooked with a ham hock), Plain Brown Rice, spicy braised chard, and warm corn tortillas.

Definitely Good Eats.

Piggerac

Bonus Sazerac!

I challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February, but I’m not quite done. We’ve got a few bonus Sazeracs coming up that didn’t fit into the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me.

030

Piggerac

1 1/2 oz Calvados Reserve, Roger Groult
1/2 oz Pork Belly Fat Washed Wild Boar, er Turkey, Rye
1/4 oz “Orchard Syrup”*
Dash Peychaud’s

Stir and strain into a chilled absinthe rinsed glass. Twist a fat swath of freshly cut lemon peel over the drink and drop in or discard as you prefer.

Tsunami Advisory.

One of the sort of ridiculous things about having a ridiculously cute dog, is that you often meet people at the dog park. Really, they just want to pat your dog, but for better or for worse, they also have to talk to you. For a while I’ve occasionally been getting sandwiches at Pal’s Takeaway in San Francisco. One morning I noticed that one of the men who worked there walked his dog in a park near my home.  We had chatted about our dogs, but not really made the connection between non-dog walk life and dog-walk life.   On one of my off days, when Monty and I were on the way to the beach, I stopped at Pal’s to get a Sandwich for lunch and said, “Hey, didn’t we meet the other day walking our dogs?”  Struck up an acquaintance of sorts.  Some time later, walking our dogs, we got to talking again and it turned out he was enormously fond of Rye Whiskey.  A man after my own heart!  Anyway, as we were jawing about booze, he mentioned he was curious about these meat infused whiskies he’d been hearing about.  I said, “Yeah, cool, fat washing is fun, but I think you need a really smoky bacon.  I tried it once with the Niman bacon and was pretty underwhelmed.”  “You want bacon?  I can get you bacon!  I cure and smoke my own!”

A bit later, one night when I got home, there was a canning jar full of Fat Rendered from Cured Pork Belly and a Meyer Lemon sitting on our steps.

Obviously, I needed to revisit fat washing!

Keeping mind that he had said he really liked Rye Whiskey, I decided to forgo the usual Bourbon/Bacon axis and go with Wild Turkey Rye instead.  I followed the P.D.T. instructions, adding a generous ounce of hot pork fat to the rye, infusing for a few hours, then freezing to separate.  I also embellished, in my usual free association manner, adding a teaspoon of toasted caraway seeds to the Rye.  As I was tasting the final product, I was pretty sure that all I was tasting was pork, no smoke.  Interesting and very, very porky.

I brought the pork fat washed rye in to the most recent Savoy Cocktail Book night, where opinions varied.  Generally, the opinions were split between, “I can’t even think of drinking that,” and, “This is wrong, but I can’t stop drinking it.”

Amusingly, Daniel Hyatt had been making drinks for a Cochon 555 Event in Napa that day, so for him, it was a little beyond the pale.  “I’ve just had 10 plates of pork, and man, is this whiskey porky.” He did finish the glass, I believe, despite it probably not being in his best interest.  Anyway, as we were chatting about what to do with the pork fat washed rye and he mentioned cutting it with Calvados to temper some of the pork-i-ness.

Letting that percolate for a couple days, I decided to give it a try in a Sazerac mixed with Calvados.  But Calvados reminded me of Jennifer Colliau’s experiments with “Orchard Syrup“.  I’d always meant to give an Orchard Syrup a try, so figured: Pork. Caraway. Apples. Why the Hell Not?

*Tiny Orchard Syrup

1 cup Apple Cider
1/8 Cup Natural Sugar
1 Clove
1/2 teaspoon Caraway Seed

Reduce to 1/4 Cup and strain out spices.

Huh, that orchard syrup IS really tasty, I’d pour it over ice cream, no problem. Nice viscosity, too. Pectins?

032

Anyway, should you dare drink a Piggerac, I hope you are imagining a perfectly browned whole suckling pig, apple in its mouth, crisp skin crackling as you cut, unctuous fat oozing through your fingers. Lift the haunch to your mouth. Go on, take a bite. You know you want to.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

BOTW–Hairy Eyeball

Certainly featuring Lagunitas Brewing often enough on this blog!

Lagunitas make a couple strong beers every year around the holidays. Brown Shugga usually shows up around Thanksgiving. The story with that beer, is, one of the Brewer Assistants mis-read the amount of Brown Sugar called for in their Barley Wine style Ale recipe, Olde Gnarlywine, and dumped a ridiculous amount into the mash. What resulted was not unpleasant, so they bottled it and sold it. It is extremely, and dangerously, drinkable for a beer whose alcohol content is around 9.9%.

Hairy Eyeball usually shows up around Christmas or January, and is another strong beer. It is a bit Barley Wine-esque. Lagunitas would probably say, “It’s just beer, don’t get hung up on labels.” Beer Advocate classifies it as an “American Strong Ale.” And, indeed, at 9% ABV, it certainly is strong. It’s a pleasant malty beer with a strong alcohol kick. There’s a little hops in there, but nothing approaching the more “Extreme” West Coast beers from brewers like Stone and Moylan’s. Pretty well balanced, but very sweet. Almost a dessert beer.

I was reading Accidental Hedonist this week and noticed that they had published a recipe for Puerco Pibil. Mrs. Underhill had been jonesing for some Pork Roast, so I thought it would be a fun, and low effort meal. Unfortunately, I mentioned that the recipe was based on one Robert Rodriguez had given in a video called “10 Minute Cooking School–Puerco Pibil.” There was a bit of disagreement, as Mrs. Underhill informed me that Mr. Rodriguez had recently left his wife of 16 years to go out with Rose MacGowan, who is about 10 years younger than him. Eventually, Mrs. Underhill relented, and let me go ahead and make the Pibil.

I didn’t have time* to use the shoulder suggested in Mr. Rodriguez recipe, so used country spare ribs instead.

Darn, that makes me hungry again, just looking at the picture! I can only imagine how much better it would be with a nice slow cooked bone-in pork shoulder. I served it with some brown rice and seasoned canned beans. The beans turned out pretty well, for canned. I added some sauteed onions and garlic, bacon, the greens from the radishes and some chili powder.

Hocus Pocus Syrah from Black Sheep Finds. Not as intense as the Four Vines, it is still a meaty West Coast Red Syrah. Definitely a reasonable and tasty wine with enough backbone to stand up to hearty meats.

And in another blog related turn, Jennifer over at Straight From the Farm recently had the brainstorm to make a Parsnip Cake. When I mentioned this to Mrs. Underhill, she got pretty excited about it. We both really like Carrot and Spice cake type desserts, and substituting parsnips for carrots seemed a genius idea. I did slightly overcook it. Still, it turned out quite tasty! Recommended!

“Here’s Lookin’ Atcha’!”

*The recipe calls for Pork Shoulder, which will take about 4 hours of low and slow to get to tender. If you use country spare ribs, it will only take a couple hours.