Our old friend and neighbor Rob was in town last week and, craving an Amateur Gourmet-cooked meal, swung on over with our friend Luke (am I allowed to say “our Oscar-winning friend” Luke?) on Sunday night. Like a good Italian grandmother, I had a pot simmering on the stove all afternoon and by the time everyone was assembled at the table, my plan to kill everyone with meat was in full effect.
We’re all aware of Porchetta the destination, aren’t we? Located on East 7th Street in New York’s East Village, Chef Sara Jenkins (who I met and interviewed a few months ago) has created a universally beloved destination for pork lovers. The menu there features two main choices: porchetta on a sandwich or porchetta on a plate. The experience of eating the Porchetta porchetta–which the Porchetta website defines as “roasted pork with crispy skin, highly seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, garlic, sage, rosemary and wild fennel pollen”–is so sublime, so otherworldly, I knew I had to recreate the experience here in my Los Angeles apartment.
What if you could make hamburgers for your whole family in a matter of minutes, without dirtying your stove or having to light a grill?
That’s the beauty of this game-changing recipe from Molly Stevens and her latest book, “All About Roasting.” I’ve been a huge fan of Molly Stevens ever since I bought her braising book (“All About Braising”) and, I’ll confess, that when the roasting book arrived (I was lucky enough to get a press copy) I dropped whatever it was I was doing and immediately tore into the pages. The recipes and pictures of glorious roasted meats all screamed out to me (I’ve got like 20 recipes bookmarked already) but the one that intrigued me the most was the one for roasted hamburgers.
There are two chili recipes in Lisa Fain’s incredible and indispensable new “Homesick Texan Cookbook.” The first is, according to Fain, “an all-day affair,” a real-deal Texas chili (that means no beans) that requires careful shopping (seven different chiles–anhcho, pasilla, guajillo, chipotle, chiles de arbol, cayenne, and pequin–are employed) and five hours of simmering on the stove. The second chili is a one-hour chili for those who “don’t have the time or the patience to wait for a hearty bowl of red.”
As I considered these two chilis last Friday I had to ask myself some tough questions. Was I going to take the wimpy way out and do the one-hour chili? Or would I man up and face the challenge and make the intimidating, time-consuming, costly, and dirty-dish causing Seven Chile Chili? Two chilis diverged before me and readers, I’m proud to say, I chose the chili less traveled by. Here’s how it all went down.
One of the best things that I made before I packed up my New York kitchen and moved to California is the dish you see above. I’m calling it Peppadewed Pork Chops with Cauliflower, but the truth is I didn’t use Peppadews; I used pickled red jalapenos I’d been testing for my cookbook. However, the next time I make this–and there will be a next time it was so good (more on that in a bit)–I plan to use Peppadews, which are those sweet, spicy, red, pickled peppers you can buy in a jar. You work them into the dish twice: you chop them up and add them to a pan of caramelized cauliflower; then you use the Peppadew liquid to deglaze the pork chop pan to make a sauce with butter.
When the James Beard award-winning editor of The Washington Post food section writes a cookbook, you know you better buy it. In my case, I blurbed it–(look for me on the back cover!)–because the book in question, Joe Yonan’s “Serve Yourself,” is truly excellent. It’s not one of those cookbooks full of familiar recipes that have been tweaked in such minor ways you wonder why you bought it; here everything is fresh, smart and mouth-watering. Especially the recipe on pg. 66: “Yucatan-Style Slow Roasted Pork.”
Christmas Dinner isn’t something I ever ate growing up, being a Jew and all.
For the past few years, though, I’ve been visiting Craig’s family in Bellingham, Washington and Craig’s dad, Steve–a really excellent cook (see his apple pie)–has made some kind of roast to serve on the big night. And this year the prime rib that he made–a “well-marbled ten pounder,” he tells me over e-mail–was so juicy and flavorful, it’s entered the sphere of legend. We’ll be comparing all the prime ribs we eat from now on to this one. What made it so good? How did he do it?
No matter what holiday you celebrate this holiday season, there’s going to be a dinner and since you’re reading a food blog right now, there’s a good chance people are going to expect YOU to make it. Your options will be fairly limited–people have certain expectations when it comes to holiday dinners–and in the canon of culinary techniques available to you, you’ll most likely choose roasting since that particular verb yields so many classic holiday dishes: roast beef, roast turkey, roast reindeer (see my banner.)