Tag Archives: Dutch oven

Braised Pork Stew

27 Jan

Because I just can’t stop buying cookbooks, Michael Smith’s latest, Family Meals, has appeared on my shelf. I’ve always liked Smith: he was my gateway into cooking fish for the first time and his recipes (while sometimes a bit short on the salt for my taste) never fail me. I like his philosophy that a recipe is simply somewhere to start, a thing to be played with, an idea upon which to expound. I feel the same way: when I come across a new recipe, I’ll generally leave the fundamentals alone but will alter things like seasoning and heat levels to suit my taste.

This particular book has some fantastic slow cooker recipes and quite a few vegetarian recipes that look enticing. I tried out the slow-cooked pork shoulder stew this weekend it’s a keeper. We added a few dashes of hot sauce to our bowls but kept it out of the main pot to avoid burning foodNURDling’s little tongue. It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t have a ton of ingredients. It’s hearty, filling and healthy. This recipe also makes a TON so you will definitely have leftovers. Cook once, eat many times. Works for me.

Serves 4

Ingredients

3lb pork shoulder, halved
salt & pepper
2 tb vegetable oil
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 potatoes, chopped
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 ts dried thyme and/or rosemary
2 ts salt
7c water
1c white wine (or, if you don’t want to use alcohol, skip it and add 8 cups of water instead of splitting it)

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 300F.
2. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan (a Dutch oven is perfect) to medium-high heat. Add the oil and watch for it become shimmery. Season the pork generously with salt & pepper and the two pieces of pork to the pan, searing on all sides until nicely browned.
3. Add in the celery, potatoes, carrots, onions, herbs, salt and liquid. Bring to a simmer. Cover with  a tightly-fitting lid and place in the oven for 3-4 hours.
4. Remove the pot from the oven. The pork will now be fork-tender; shred or cube the meat. Serve and enjoy!

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The Indispensables

27 Mar

Anyone who spends time in a kitchen can tell you there are a few things they use to cook that they can’t live without.  It might be a particular pan or a Silpat or even cooking range. For me, it’s my chef knife, my Dutch oven & my trusty wooden spatula.

Getting my chef knife was a big deal to me. As I wrote in A Bit About A foodNURD, I was afraid of knives when I first started cooking. I would insist on using, essentially, a steak knife to do all the prep work. Years later, I have graduated to the Big Girl Knife and I love it. It gives me a sense of confidence in the kitchen: I can wield this thing and get the work done. (It also reminds me not to get too big for my britches with its sharpness. I have a scar on my left index finger from the time I was carelessly, quickly chopping rosemary with it. Whoops. It served as a good reminder and I haven’t sliced myself since.) It’s so important to get a knife you like: it will make your time in the kitchen simpler and more enjoyable.  I encourage you to do some research and see what might work for you!

My weapon of choice.

Finger frenemy.

The Dutch oven was a present to myself before the foodNURDling arrived. I’d wanted one for some time: I had a slow cooker (which nearly made this list, but lost out to the oven) and I had pans I could get hot enough to get a good sear, but not the all-in-one glory of the Dutch oven. Soups, stews, sauces, chilis…you name it, it goes in here. (Though, for the sake of transparency, J is the resident chili maker and it is goooooooooooooooooooood.) It is a solid beast – I have the 8L – of enameled cast iron which allows me to make large batches of all sorts of things from Mexican pot roast tacos to chicken cacciatore to Thai red curry mussels. It holds heat beautifully (watch out for the hot handles! Ouch!) and it ain’t bad to look at either.

purple

She’s so pretty.

Finally, there is the trusty, ancient wooden spatula. I’ve had it forever and it shows. Useful in almost every dish cooked in the kitchen from scrambling feta-laden eggs to flipping roasted potatoes, it is the all-purpose, unsung,  unsexy but entirely necessary tool. It’s the workhorse. It’s starting to wear down from use but I won’t give up on it until it becomes a dangerous nub. We have other, similar spatulas but I prefer this one.

So what about you? What are your prized kitchen gizmos and gadgets?

Mexican Pot Roast Tacos!

4 Nov

I finally got around to buying a Dutch oven, something I’ve been promising myself for months. (Yes, I promise myself kitchen toys.) The great thing about Dutch ovens is that they function like a giant cast iron pan: they retain heat beautifully. You can get them nice and hot so you can sear your meat properly, but then you can turn the heat way down and make all sorts of tasty meals in just one pot. I lugged that sucker home and picked up beautiful beef blade roast from a wonderful butcher just a few blocks from the house. (Royal Beef – check ’em out if you’re in the neighbourhood!) This is a great cut of meat for low-‘n’-slow cooking and so it was perfect for these tacos. I adapted the recipe from Tyler Florence, a foodNURD fave, and it was delicious as usual. We had enough leftover for snacks the next day, always a bonus!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1lb shoulder/blade beef roast
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tb extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 14oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tb chile powder
2 tb cayenne pepper
2 tb cumin
3 bay leaves
2 dashes hot sauce, optional

Directions

1. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the beef.
2. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven (or heavy duty pot with a tight lid) on high. Add in the garlic and sear the beef, getting a nice crust on all sides.
3. Toss in the onions and cook til they’re softened and lightly browned, roughly 3-4 minutes.
4. Add in the tomatoes, 1 can of water, spices and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then add in enough water (again) to cover the beef.

Happily simmering away…

5. Cover the pot, lower the heat and let simmer for 3-4 hours, until the beef is tender. Allow the beef to cool in the liquid.
6. Shred with a fork and serve with warm tortillas, guacamole, cilantro, pickled red onions and salsa.

Ready to be eaten!

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