Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pork - that Magical Meat

I love pork. I guess if you eat meat, and pork is not kept off your menu for religious or vegetarian purposes, it is a favorite of most. Bacon makes everything taste good. My sister-in-law quipped once that "Bacon could even make cardboard taste good." I'm not sure I would go quite that far, but I expect you know what I mean.

There are so  many parts of the animal that are usable, though I usually stick to the more common ones. Bacon, of course, pork loin roasts, pork tenderloins, pork chops, pork ribs, other pork roasts, ham. Once in a while I will cook something like a boneless pork shoulder roast to use in things like a barbecue for summer sandwiches. Pork Barbecue is one of my more favorite things to serve on a bun. The terminology is different in some places. My mother-in-law called what I would term Sloppy Joes, "barbecue". But when I say Pork Barbecue, I mean the wonderfully tender shredded pork roast with barbecue sauce. Yum!

I have made pork barbecue occasionally for many years, though I never thought to set down a "recipe" as such. I rectified that lately, and put the recipe on my website. I used my own Sweet Tangy BBQ Sauce recipe for the sauce, and it is just insanely good. Still, any preferred barbecue sauce will work. In past, I have used a regular red barbecue sauce alone, or used a combination of a red sauce combined with a honey-mustard variety. Whatever your preference, it will be good, I am sure. It is a simple meal to prepare. The only messy part comes when you have to remove all the fat from the cooked roast and shred the meat. Obviously, a pork shoulder roast is fatty, and will cook down a fair bit. I just place it into a pot with water nearly to cover and add in some salt, bay leaves, pepper. Sometimes I add an onion, sometimes not. I allow the roast to cook, covered for up to 3 hours, or until it is falling-apart-tender. Remove from the cooking water and let it cool. Breaking it up a bit will speed the cooling process. Then remove fat and shred the meat and you are almost done with no real work involved.
Pork Barbecue

Pork Barbecue

Serves about 6 - 8

3 - 3½ pound boneless pork shoulder
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 large onion, chopped
3 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Sweet Tangy BBQ Sauce, or other barbecue sauce

Place the pork roast into a pot large enough to accommodate without crowding. Add water to almost cover, then add in the salt, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook slowly for 2½ to 3 hours, or until the pork falls apart easily. Remove the meat to a plate until cool enough to handle.

Once meat has cooled, remove all fat and discard, then shred the meat, cutting across the grain to make some strands shorter and more easy to eat. Set aside. In a large skillet, fry the onion until golden brown. Add the garlic and fry for a couple minutes more. Add in the meat and the BBQ sauce; toss to combine and heat through.

Pork Chops with Sage & Currant Jam
Pork chops are a favorite standby. I make them in various ways. One of my favorite go-to-recipes for pork chops is to place the chops into a cold skillet and bring up to fairly high heat. Brown that first side and while it is browning, sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper and then use either fresh sage or rosemary. Chop the herb of choice very finely and sprinkle that all over, along with some minced garlic. Once the first side is browned, flip the pork chops and repeat with the seasonings. Once the second side is browned, place about a tablespoon of Marion Blackberry Jam, or currant jelly on top of each chop. Cover and simmer for about a half hour. The jam/jelly will have made a wonderful sauce around the meat and given great flavor. These are a particular favorite with my husband and his sister. Recently, when I made some "Champagne Pink" Currant Dehydrator Jam, while the jam was too tart for serving on toast, it was fantastic on these pork chops.

I make pork tenderloins all summer long on the grill. I love using the marinade for either chicken or pork tenderloins. I usually clean any fat and silver skin off the tenderloins, then cut them on a bias across the grain into three pieces. They are then about the size of a chicken breast. This marinade is so exceptionally good on either chicken or pork. The meat is great after a half hour of marinating, but can easily be left overnight if it is a time crunch. This is the recipe:

Pork (Chicken or Turkey) in Indian Spices


Pork in Indian Spices
1 1/2 to 2 pounds pork tenderloins (or boneless chicken or turkey breasts)

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons coriander seed, ground
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cardamom, ground
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a zip top bag or other container. Prepare meat: For pork tenderloins, trim any silver skin and slice the tenderloin diagonally into 3 or 4 pieces. If using chicken breasts, leave whole if small. If large, cut them lengthwise into two pieces. For turkey breasts, cut them lengthwise into 2 pieces each. Place the meat of choice into the marinade and allow at least 1/2 hour of marinating time, turning often so all sides of the meat are in contact with the marinade.

Once the meat is marinated, remove from marinade and grill to desired doneness. It is wonderful with a side of rice.

I could go on and on, but all this is making me hungry! I hope some of these ideas will give you new avenues to explore.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.