Thursday, February 18, 2010

VDay 2010: Braised Pork, Purple Potatoes, and a Winter Salad

I will take any excuse to cook a celebratory meal, so we spent our Valentine's Day in, cooking together.  The meal was a collaboration in concept and execution, and we were both more than satisfied with the result.  Since the pork finishes in the slow cooker and the salad is thrown together at the end, there's very little hands-on time, and plenty of payoff.

The sauce is tangy and rich, and it complements the pork beautifully, as it is usually on the lean side.  I got the cut, which I believe is a shoulder piece, from my pork lady (read about her here, including another braised pork recipe.) at a twice-monthly winter market, along with the purple potatoes and chocolate.  It was very easy to throw together, so I highly recommend giving this recipe a try.  The husband requested tomatillos and we immediately thought their tangy flavor would work well, given that so many barbecue sauces rely on vinegar for balance.

Braised Pork v2

Start with a piece of pork that was well-loved on a farm less then 30 miles from your house.  Make sure it has good marbling, too, like this:

It's pretty tough to go wrong from here.  Here's what I did:

Cover the pork with salt and pepper, then it hard on all sides.  Get it nice and crusty and brown.

Remove the meat and set it aside.  In the same pan, brown some veggies.  I used leeks, carrots, onions, and tomatillos.  

I just bought these little prep bowls, which are fantastic because they can be pinched to pour the contents easily.

Transfer the meat to a plate.  Drop in your chopped vegetables and cook until they're a little brown.  

Add your vegetables to a slow cooker, or transfer them to a plate to return to your dutch oven later.  Add the roast on top.  Meanwhile, in the dutch oven, melt a tablespoon or two of butter and sprinkle with flour.  Whisk together until well combined, then cook for 1-2 minutes.  

Whisk in 4-6 cups water or stock.

Cook until it starts to thicken, and season well with salt and pepper.  You want just enough to come halfway up the side of the pork, so the volume will depend on the size of your roast and your cooker's capacity.  

Cover and let it do it's thing for as long as you can.  We did seven hours.  Ten would have been better.

45 minutes before you're ready to eat, scrub up some gorgeous purple potatoes from a local farmer.  


Cut them up into one inch cubes and roast them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and any herb you like.  Throw some minced garlic on near the end so it doesn't burn.

Let the meat rest while you strain and reduce your stock on the stove until it's thick, around 20 minutes.  Pull it off heat and add a tablespoon or two of butter and whisk to thicken more.

Serve the pork over the potatoes

with a baguette, local soft cheese, and your raspberry preserves

And a salad made with 
  • arugula 
  • orange segments 
  • sliced fennel
  • pink lady apples
  • a vinaigrette made with raspberry preserves, orange and meyer lemon juice, and a little mustard.  

This dinner was a beautiful combinations of textures and flavors, especially since it was followed by these:

Things are slowly starting to melt out there, and although we're expecting more snow in the short term, I am reminding myself that spring is not far off, and I'm celebrating by ordering seeds.

Until next time, try to keep warm and soak up those extra minutes of sunlight!

5 comments: said...

how do you cut up your leeks? do you just use the bottom and dice it like you would with celery? id love to try leeks but i stray from trying them because im scared!

Alicia said...

Hey Kate!
I *love* leeks and use them all the time. I hope that once you try them out you'll love them just as much.
I use the white and light yellowish green parts of the leeks and discard the tough dark green tops.
They can be a pain to clean, but I've discovered two methods that work. If you're going to slice them up, do so and then soak them in a sink full of water and run them through your salad spinner. You can also slice them in half lengthwise, keeping them attached at the base. Running cold water and thorough rubbing gets them clean with a little more effort.

Ally @ Sweet & Savory said... sounds like you are from the Iowa City area? I'm another IA food blogger, and live east of Iowa City. In this post you mentioned a twice monthly winter market? Is that still going on or could you send me details? I'd love to check it out:)

C. Roth said...

Alicia, your pictures are getting better and better!

Alicia said...

Thank you so much for saying that. It helps that the hours are longer, and I've been working on my 365 project so I think it's helping, too.

I'm forwarding you the details on the winter market. They have one next weekend. Would you like to meet up and go to market and then have lunch at Lincoln Cafe?! Let me know!

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