Month: June 2008

Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen

My great-grandparents, Elizabeth Heagel Arndt and Johann Arndt, immigrated to Portland from the Norka colony near Saratov, Russia in 1910. So, I think I’ve mentioned once or twice that I’m a (fucking) German girl, and while I generally use that as an excuse for my […]

Pig Roast Redux

Pig Roast 2008 was a success. So much so, in fact, that I created a new tag for my blog: Epic Undertakings. Not since the (poorly-photographed, but delicious) cassoulet last winter have I felt more triumphant and exhausted. Thank god my brother-in-law, Joe, was there […]

Pig Roast 2008

Okay, I’m gonna have my hands pretty full for the next couple days, and have been in southern Oregon for the past two, so this is just a quickie This is What’s Going On post. Also, Happy Birthday to my sexy genius husband!

We’re roasting a whole 100-lb. pig tomorrow. It will be delivered tonight, whereupon I shall slash its skin and smear a dry rub all over the shoulders and hams, and will inject the remaining parts with a spiced brine solution. Overnight it will sit in our storage freezer (turned off), in its cozy little body bag (a mattress bag from U-Haul) under bags of ice.

Tomorrow we will start bright and early getting several bags of Cowboy Charcoal (lump mesquite from Trader Joe’s) going in our chimney starter, and will line our hybrid Cuban-Hawaiian cooking pit (an aluminum-lined hole in the ground with a cinder block oven built around it) with glowing coals. We will layer these hot coals with apple, mesquite, hickory and cherry wood for smoke. I might throw some branches from our quince tree on there for good measure. Every hour or so, we will add another bag of hot coals and a handful or two of wood chips.

We are building a cage of sorts out of rebar and chicken wire to support the pig during cooking, which will be conducted over the hot coals rather than in them. This will require us to flip the pig once. This is what scares me the most.

I plan to have several feasting stations when it’s all ready: one for Carolina-style (buns, vinegar sauce and slaw), tacos (hot sauce, cilantro, minced onion and tortillas), a banh mi station (some julienned jalapeño and cilantro, plus I already made my own do chua that is tasting really good) and the coup de grace: the Cuban. We are going to wrap a few of the hot bricks in foil and use them as a roughshod panini press to create the mother of all sammiches. We’ll have our own ham (uncured, but still) and pork, and I will bust out a jar of quickles tonight. We even already have a wedge of Jarlsberg that needs eating.

Okay, that’s it for now. I need to go find a marinade-injecting syringe and make room for ten bags of lump coal in my car. I’ll update soon!

Los Gatos Comida Salvadoreña

Oh man, so I was in the field for a couple days last week, this time in central Oregon. My intrepid coworker and I were feeling a bit peckish, and still had at least 4 hours to go before we hit Prairie City (oxymoron that […]

The Last (Springtime) Supper

..or, Wherein I Dispatch a Chicken in Under Three Minutes. Summer is just around the corner, but we are finally starting to see the really good springtime-y local produce at our favorite high(er) end grocery store, New Seasons. I really should be getting paid by […]

Pulled pork and sweet potato hash with tomatoes

Man, we had the best brunch this morning. Best of all? It practically cooked itself.

* * *

Last night we had some long-lost friends over for dinner. Well, it’s not that they were lost, but having a couple kids can sure make it seem that way (them, not me). It was great having them, but I was a little disappointed when the Japanese intern they’re hosting had other plans and couldn’t join us. I had really been looking forward to giving her taste of authentic American cooking – not the sort of canned corn and sliced hot dogs on Bisquick “pizza” that defines the Japanese interpretation of American food, but real southern food like slow-cooked pork and juicy heirloom tomatoes.

The menu:

  • Carolina-style pulled pork sammiches with kohlrabi-dried cranberry slaw
  • Sweet potato frites with walnut oil and Maldon sea salt
  • Heirloom tomato salad with parsley flower vinaigrette
  • Seven-spiced peach slump with ginger and pine nuts, topped with vanilla ice cream

I made my usual pulled pork recipe, but with two extra pounds of pork butt (and one less hour to spare in the oven), it was not falling-off-the-tongs tender. Tragedy! I ended up having to chop it up and mop it back through the golden fat to come close to the desired effect (the sweet-and-vinegar-y sauce that makes it “Carolina-style” also helped, as did the addition of a little gochujang for extra tongue-spank). Since I was engaged with my guests and their charming progeny, I wasn’t paying as much attention as I normally would on the fries, and they ended up a bit squidgy with only crispy edges (not all-the-way crisped like I’d prefer). Oh well. Everything tasted good, and that’s what’s important, right? Right?

The salad was tasty and fast: thick slices of three different varieties of heirloom tomato with a drizzle of balsamic/white wine vinegar, olive oil, and sprinkled with chopped parsley flowers (my crop has bolted) and minced shallot. Hit of salt and pepper and you’re laughing.

The dessert was really last-minute. I just sliced some nice organic yellow peaches, tossed them with a bit of sugar and a spoonful each grated fresh ginger and my homemade seven spice (this time with some pink peppercorns added) and pine nuts. I made a basic rolled biscuit dough (recipe from Joy of Cooking, halved, with the addition of a 1~/4 cup sugar). I rolled it out to the size of my casserole, dumped in the peaches and laid the dough on top. I jabbed a few holes to allow the steam to escape and sprinkled more sugar on top. Baked at whatever temperature the oven was already at (I think it was ~350), and pulled from oven when crust was golden.

But here’s the million-dollar question: What do you do when it’s 11-ish on a Sunday morning and you have a fridge full of leftover chopped pork, sweet potatoes and good tomatoes? Damn skippy – you make some fucking hash! Just chop everything (the pork’s already chopped) and fry it all up in a pan using a dab of the congealed, orange pork fat that’s settled into your storage container. When it’s crisped up on the edges, dish it up and slide a fried egg (over easy) across the top.

Since it’s actually nice out for a change, have the Hubz pour some mimosas, and go ahead and heat up the leftover peach slump just for shits and giggles. Butter some leftover wheat levain from Friday night’s orzo and toast in under the broiler. Retire to your shady patio and enjoy brunch while watching the hummingbirds drink up the last of the rhododendron’s nectar, and know that this is the life.

Yes, that is the Deery Lou mug from which I drink my daily coffee. No, I am not five years old.

Orzo with linguiça and clams

I had some linguiça in the fridge that I bought like a month ago. Check the date: Sell By June 08. Perfect. Linguiça (lin-gwee-suh) is a Portuguese cured sausage that resembles chorizo. I don’t think it has tongue in it, but the name suggests it. […]

Nabemono with udon

Okay, it’s getting old now. It’s the middle of June, and we’re still expecting a high temperature of 60-65°. Are you fucking kidding me? I’ve been checking the National Weather Service to see just how far off we’ve been from normal June weather, and it’s […]

Rick Bayless, eat your heart out

Catherine Wilkinson of The Dish sent me not one, but two gorgeous venison tenderloins. Have I mentioned that she is the most generous and sexy woman in the blogthing? She doesn’t know it, but I have something special in store for when she breezes through Portland next month. Are you seething with jealousy? I thought so. Thank you, Catherine, so much.

Seriously, after years of turning the majority of my dad’s venison into mince for Bolognese and hunter’s pie (he usually gives me gnarled bits of silverskin and tendon labeled “stew meat”), it was almost unfathomable to have such perfect pieces with which to experiment. And bringing the foodie blogthing full circle, I decided to cook them for another blogger, my buddy Norm over at Eat or Die (his blog should be Drink or Die, such is his penchant and talent for pairing).

Since this was the first time I was to be cooking for Norm (and his lovely food-stylist companion Susan), I wanted to do something unique, yet familiar (it is generally perceived unwise to attempt a new recipe for a dinner party). I had a plantain and two ears of corn, and that steered me in a Meso-Americanish direction. Easy. Ideas started rolling in: roasted corn johnnycakes and fried plantains with lime crème fraîche, radish and heirloom tomato salad with cotija cheese and a cilantro vinaigrette, coffee-rubbed venison medallions with mole poblano. I have my own mole recipe that I knew would fucking kill with venison.

A dry rub on the meat of a cinnamon stick, tsp cumin seed, 1/2 tsp coriander seed, 1/2 tsp annato seed and 1/2 tsp pepper (toasted and ground fresh with 4 coffee beans), 3 tbsp brown sugar, fat pinches of salt and a tbsp or so of Dutch process cocoa. Fridge for a few hours, and pull the meat out two hours prior to cooking. When you’re ready, just sear on all sides in a grill pan, finish at 375 for ~7 minutes or until it’s medium rare to the touch (just learn the touch test, already). Rest for five minutes and slice into 3/4″ thick medallions. Plate on a mudslide of mole.

My mole is pretty basic, actually – it’s a couple each ancho, mulato and pasilla chiles, with one or two California pods for heat (all dried), seeded/stemmed and soaked in ~2 c hot water until softened. This time I added like a dozen dried cherries and a small handful of sundried tomatoes, to prevent the mole from being too ascerbic. Blended together, sieved scrupulously (mash that shit through your finest sieve with a rubber spatula), then puree again with a handful of pepitas (pumpkin seeds) that you’ve toasted with a drop of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add a couple tbsp of honey or palm sugar, and a tbsp of cocoa powder and a tsp of my Seven Spice™ (okay, it’s just cinnamon, clove, mace, nutmeg, white and black cardamom and star anise, but I collected the mace/nutmeg myself in the jungles of Fiji. No, I’m not shitting you). Another different touch, this time I added about a 1/4-1/2 tsp of almond extract. Simmer and taste/correct with more salt/sweet, simmer again until the flavors are mellow and sexy. I’ve had moles that cloy, and don’t want that, but you can figure out what tastes good on your own palate.

The salad was just some lovely heirloom tomatoes sliced and gently combined with sliced radishes (I got the pretty fuschia, purple, white and pink ones), topped with a little shaved cotija cheese and a sprinkle of cilantro. The dressing was a loose pistou of olive oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard (just a fingertip), shallot and cilantro. Muy fresco!

The plantains were good, too. I thought they’d go well, since I’d had some mole once that had bananas in it, and since my favorite Salvadoran place serves them con crema I thought I’d make a lime crème fraîche (literally lime zest and a drib of juice stirred into crème fraîche).

Caveat: okay, my johnnycakes didn’t come out great. I spread the polenta too thin and when I toasted it in the oven (opting not to fry, for health’s sake!), it just turned into hardtack. Sadface. Next time I’ll just suck it up and make corn fritters. It was a good thing I had some backup: Trader Joe’s homemade-looking rustic flour tortillas. Perfect soppage for the mole (I sense a new favorite snack coming on!).

Norm brought panna cotta (his entry in this month’s Joust) which was a creamy delight with raspberry coulis and a little almond tuille, but more importantly, he brought amazing 2005 and 2006 Pax Syrah that went magically with the meat and all the sides. Thanks, Norm! And thank you again, Catherine, for the sublime meat (that you even killed yourself)! I can’t wait to meet you next month.