Thursday, July 16, 2009

Recent meals

Looking back at some of the meals I've spent time on in the past couple weeks (as opposed to the meals that came out of the freezer), it seems I've been in a piggy mood...or maybe pork has just been cheap lately. Anyway, here are the results:

Pork loin roulade
Want a great tasting dish that looks impressive, but is actually quite simple? This is the way to go. Since it was just the two of us, I used only a portion of loin, not the whole thing, and still had leftovers for lunch the rest of the week. Prep is very easy: trim the loin, "unroll" it, spread the filling, roll it back up, wrap with bacon (optional; otherwise, oil and season), tie it up with butcher's twine, roast 400 degrees until the center is 160 degrees (took about an hour), rest, slice, eat. I used spinach, scamorza cheese, toasted pine nuts and a commercial raspberry-chipotle sauce (if I do this combination again, I'm going to try putting the spinach between the sauce and the cheese; the sauce turned the cheese purple, rarely an appetizing color in a savory dish), but you can use anything that strikes your fancy. Try a pizza theme with marinara, mozzarella, sausage and pepperoni, or go mediteranean with tapenade, roasted vegetables and feta. The spinach in mine did not require any pre-cooking, but if you're using a vegetable that need a longer cooking time, cook them ahead. I cooked mine on my big green egg and added cherry wood chips for a nice smoky flavor. About halfway through the cook, I threw some halved brussels sprouts into the drip pan, where the bacon renderings had started to brown. They were great. If you hate brussels sprouts, but have only had them boiled, you've got to try roasting them; they taste completely different.

Jerk pork
Lots of ingredients, but simple prep. Just toss everything (except the pork) in the food processor, give it a whirl, butterfly the pork shoulder, poke holes in it, spread the marinade on the pork (get it in the holes), refridgerate overnight, cook, eat. I used more habaneros in the marinade this time than I did last time I made jerk pork. While the pork was cooking, the fumes from the cooking chiles made my sinuses burn every time I opened the grill, but once the pork was done, the cooking had removed most of the heat. It was spicy, but not overpowering, just a bit of a kick. Again, I used the big green egg (of course). I smoked it with hickory at 350 degrees for two hours, then grilled it direct to give it a nice sear. Served with grilled asparagus.

Pesto pizzas
With friends coming over, but needing an intermission from pork, we went with pesto pizzas; one with shrimp, the other with mozzarella. The sky looked ugly, so I decided to cook them in the oven, rather than on the egg. Of course, the rain went around us, and we got only a sprinkling. Oh well, the pizzas were still good, just not great.

Spare ribs
With Cori's brother Mike and his wife Sarah coming over on Saturday, we decided to go with ribs. Our local grocery had a good price on spares, so we bought two slabs. The ribs were coated with a commercial bbq rub and smoked with hickory. Sauces were served on the side: maple-bourbon bbq sauce (Cori's new favorite) and Famous Dave's. I also cooked up some of the trimmings (rib tips) chinese-style for pork fried rice the following week.

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