Tag Archives: pork

Serendipity is unpronounceable in German.

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Serendipity occurred Saturday night in a German restaurant. Dipping a bite of weisswurst in mustard, I immediately recognized the same sharp, bitter taste I had battled working with turnips, two nights earlier. Cookbook after cookbook, recommended heavy cream or rich caramelization to balance the flavor. Our test kitchen feedback on Facebook suggested everything from beer-braising to brown sugar.

Wanting something lighter and stove top-friendly, and noting turnips’ starchy similarity to potatoes, we settled on hash browns.

Last fall I failed miserably at hash browns, undercooked centers, burned and blackened exteriors. Squeezing the water out of both potatoes and turnips was step one. Next came that bitter, sharp mustardy taste. Seasoning and sugar didn’t help, we needed fat. We tried cooking them in rendered pancetta fat to no avail. Parmesan helped but they were still off balance. An egg, lightly beaten, finally did the trick.

Back to serendipity. Not just happy coincidence, serendipity is an ah-ha moment that occurs when happenstance is observed with knowledge. The perfect pairing of sausage and mustard brought the realization that these hash browns, served alongside a thick slab of rich, sweet roast pork, would achieve dinner plate nirvana. I know what we’re serving for Sunday supper.

Turnip Hash Browns

*This dish doesn’t look pretty, but it tastes great! Two visitors to my Saturday demo at DC’s Eastern Market last weekend mentioned making turnip latkes for Hanukah. The sour cream and apple sauce they serve along side provided the same balance of sweetness and fat that a thick slice of pork would. Great suggestion, prettier presentation and I can’t wait to try it with some fresh homemade applesauce. Thanks!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs brandy
  • 2 medium potatoes, grated
  • 2-3 small turnips, grated
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Nutmeg
  • Cayenne
  • 2 tbs butter

Directions:

  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté onions with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar until caramelized, 15-20 minutes. Deglaze pan with brandy, scraping up the brown bits and cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Meanwhile, wrap potatoes in a tea towel and squeeze the water out. Repeat with the turnip.
  • Mix potato, turnip, cheese and egg with the caramelized onions.
  • Season mixture with salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Fry a small patty to check seasoning. Adjust to taste as needed.
  • In a clean skillet, Cook over medium heat in a thin layer. Flip when golden and cook until done.
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“I’ll take ‘things you can make from scratch’ please, Alex.”

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It’s not often I pull out a cookbook and follow a recipe step by step. Usually faced with an ingredient or inspiration, I pull book after book off the shelf combing them to profile flavors and techniques before hitting the kitchen to experiment. But recently I was bored.

Armed with thick-cut, bone-in pork chops, the season’s first fresh peaches and young zucchini, I wanted to do more than salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh herbs. I went to my go-to, Chris Schlesinger, the chef of Cambridge, MA East Coast Grill, and he didn’t disappoint. I made his barbecue sauce and marinated, grilled zucchini as written. It was delicious!

No longer bored, I was inspired. The grilled peaches were delicious, but I wanted that peach flavor right on the grilled pork. I started by cooking down fresh peaches into a thick pulp, then deglazed the pan with peach infused vinegar. Cumin, cardamom and dry mustard gave depth, chili powder and fresh ginger heat, and a chili oil delivered smokiness. Glazed grilled pork chops were delicious. as were the Asian Barbecue sausages from Eastern Market’s Canales Meats.

Peach Barbecue Sauce

Rule #1 of barbecue sauce: use it toward the end of your cooking and place your sauced ingredients just to the side, not directly over, the hot coals, so it glazes. Otherwise the sugars will burn. About 2 minutes per side, right at the end.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/2 Candy Sweet red onion, diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 peaches, diced.
  • 1 tbs minced ginger
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 /2 cup Peach Vinegar*
  • 1 /2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup Red Chili Chilean Oil*

*Order these online from DC’s Sapore Oil and Vinegar or substitute with white vinegar and a chopped chipotle chili.

Directions:

  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté onion in butter until softened.
  • Add peaches and ginger. Cook until they are soft and mash with a fork. If your pan gets dry add a little water or peach juice to keep peaches from burning.
  • Add all remaining ingredients except Chili oil and simmer for 20 minutes until thickened.
  • Add chili oil and simmer for 2 additional minutes to bring together.
  • Season to taste with additional oil, vinegar or molasses, salt and pepper. You are looking for a nice balance of acidity, sweetness and fruit.
  • Use immediately or store in the fridge. I don’t know how long it will hold. We keep eating all of ours.

We be jammin’.

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Confession: I’m not remotely cool enough for this title, but a couple weeks back, I did serve up some pretty good sauces for Washington, DC’s second annual Lamb Jam. The event, put on by the American Lamb Board, an industry promotion group, brings together local chefs to showcase – you got it – lamb. The food was amazing, as were the brewers and vineyards inside who were pouring some pretty generous samples for the 300+ person, sell-out crowd.

I had the pleasure of working with Renee, the owner of Sapore Oil and Vinegar, to create some recipes for what became known as “the condiment table.” Using her wonderful products* I created three sauces that would rock on lamb, or any other meat you plan on grilling this summer. The first, a summery bright orange, is a spicy tropical mango lime sauce. The second, thick and rich, is a blackberry balsamic shallot marmalade. Bright green, grassy and spicy (but not hot) is an arugula, gremolata pesto. These recipes were definitely developed to highlight specialty oils and vinegars, but I’ve got some suggestions below for making them at home if a trip to Washington, DC’s Capitol Hill isn’t in the cards.

They all hold (and freeze) well, so make a batch, pack it in your cooler, and bring it along to the beach or country this weekend. The pesto is great with a steak, the marmalade is a rich pairing for pork, and the mango takes grilled chicken someplace tropical. And they are all fantastic over lamb.

*In full disclosure, I fell in love with Renee’s oils and vinegars at first taste. It has been so much fun working with them in the kitchen and featuring them during my Saturday morning cooking demos at Eastern Market. Consider this a full-blown, un-paid endorsement for exceptional-quality, great value (read:she could easily get $10 more a bottle), and a business owner who knows and loves her product.

Tropical Spice Mango Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and pit removed
  • 
1/4 cup Lime Oil
  • 1/3 cup Tropical Spice Vinegar
  • 3 tbs brown sugar
  • 1” ginger, peeled*

*The easiest way to peel ginger is with the edge of a teaspoon. The peel comes right off without losing any of the flesh.

Directions:

  • Place mango, lime oil, tropical spice vinegar, and sugar in a food processor.
  • Grate ginger finely and add to other ingredients.
  • Pulse in food processor. You can leave it pulpy for some texture or process it until smooth.
  • Season to taste with a pinch of salt and additional sugar and vinegar as desired.

This sauce gets nice heat from the tropical spice vinegar and is balanced by the sweet mango. Great over grilled meats. For the Tropical Spice Vinegar, combine white vinegar with a pinch of red pepper flakes and let sit for an hour. For the Lime Oil, add a mild olive oil or vegetable oil and a tsp of finely grated lime zest.

Blackberry Balsamic Shallot Marmalade

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs grape seed oil*
  • 1 pound shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar*
  • Nutmeg
  • Cardamom

* You can substitute vegetable oil for the grape seed oil, and brown sugar for the maple sugar.

Directions:

  • Sauté shallots in oil over medium-high heat. Stir often to avoid burning. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Add vinegar and sugar, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of cardamom, continue cooking another 5-10 minutes until thick and jammy.
  • Season to taste with salt and additional nutmeg and cardamom.

Use this everywhere! Over a salad, on sautéed, grilled or roasted meats, even in an omelet! Any rich, syrupy aged balsamic vinegar can be substituted for the Blackberry Balsamic.

Arugula Gremolata Pesto

Gremolata is a traditional Milanese condiment made from garlic, parsley and lemon zest.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups loose packed arugula
  • 1/2 cup loose packed parsley
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Meyer Lemon Oil
  • 1 tbs lemon zest.

*This tastes a bit “green” on it’s own, but balances wonderfully with the rich flavor of roasted or grilled lamb and beef.

Directions:

  • Toast walnuts in a sauté pan over medium heat, being careful not to burn. When you can smell the toasted nuts, immediately remove from the pan.
  • Place arugula, parsley and garlic in food processor. Pulse twice for 2 seconds to roughly chop.
  • Turn on processor and drizzle oil through feed tube. Turn off processor while there is still plenty of texture.
  • Add nuts and lemon zest to processor and pulse 3-4 times until nuts are chopped and pesto is blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The Meyer Lemon Oil is wonderful and bright. You can substitute a good-quality, grassy olive oil and an additional tablespoon of lemon zest.