Monday, December 29, 2008

Melted Pork Sammiches

In the wake of the first holiday wave, we're finally getting settled back into some semblance of a routine. There always seems to be a bit of let-down after so many consecutive days of activity, so it seems appropriate to share something delicious and comforting.

You might recall the meltingly tender pork roast recipe that we shared with you earlier in the month. Well, in addition to serving as a delicious dinner that first night, the pork also turned out to make some great leftovers. And this sammich is one of the best of the best.

The inspiration began when we found these delicious looking pretzel rolls at the supermarket bakery.

We bought up a couple of them, brought them home, and started cooking up our sammich concept. The first step was to chop and saute a bit of onion.
And why not get some good caramelization in while we're at it?
We shredded up a bit of the leftover pork...
... sliced up one of the rolls and spruced it up a bit with some of those delicious melted apples and onions.
At that point, we added the pulled pork, a nice handful of the caramelized onions, and a few slices of aged swiss cheese.
And we put the sammich right under the broil to melt the cheese and brown everything up a bit.

The results were beyond fantastic. In fact, this was the perfect sort of sandwich for pairing with a nice pumpkin ale on a cold, snowy evening.

My advice? Make up some of that pork roast and try it for yourself!

Meltingly Tender Pork with Apples

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Imagine the Feasting!

We hope that each and every one of you enjoyed a fantastic holiday... and that it was replete with great food and good company. Ours was beyond enjoyable, despite the seemingly endless snowfall that left us with some sore shoveling muscles and an eight-foot mountain of snow in the back yard! We enjoyed much feasting with our families (including a delicious prime rib dinner at our house on Christmas Day).

The menu:
Roasted chestnut and porcini soup
Rib roast marinated in garlic and fresh thyme leaves
Porcini mushroom and bacon gravy
Baked mashed potatoes with fontina
Butternut squash gratin with goat cheese and hazelnuts
Steamed spinach

and for dessert...
Frozen Grande Marnier Torte with Chocolate Crust and Spiced Cranberry Topping
We failed to take photos of the complete feast, but I did manage to get a few shots of the rib roast before we set it up for a couple of days of marination time. Not long ago, Amy from We are Never Full posted a recipe for Herb and Lavendar Stuffed Standing Pork Loin Roast (um... YUM). As great as the pork roast was, it was her comments about finding a good neighborhood butcher that rang the most true.

We have a fantastic neighborhood butcher shop just down the road from our house. Bunzel's has been our savior when it comes to last minute dinner parties, mid-summer grilling, and Christmas rib roasts for the past 4-5 years. Not only do they provide a quality product, but their service is impeccable. This year, we put in our order for a USDA prime rib roast the week before Christmas. Not only did Bunzel's come through with a fantastic roast -- but they trimmed and tied the roast up for us on the day we needed it. Just check out the marbling on this roast!

We slathered it up good with the marinade -- which consisted of about 10 cloves of fresh garlic, a few tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme, some salt, and a few tablespoons of olive oil.
The smell was enough to convince us that this roast was to be a thing of beauty...
And from there, we laid it to rest in the fridge for a couple of days until it was ready for roasting.

The roast was seriously fantastic, especially when paired with the porcini gravy. I'm still mourning the fact that I didn't get photos of the finished product... then again, you can probably imagine this beauty for yourself.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Peace & Joy to All!

Here's hoping that each and every one of you is blessed with a very happy holiday -- awash with the company of good friends, family, and plenty of delicious food!

We're taking a short break to enjoy the holidays with our family... but we'll be back in no time to share the joy with all of you!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Meltingly Tender Pork Roast

Although we are not huge meat eaters at our house, when it's time to pull out the roaster we tend to go whole hog. And, in this case, I mean that literally.

This recipe is my absolute favorite way to cook up a pork shoulder. The slow cooking renders the pork meltingly tender, and the apples and onions (which are dessimated by the length of the cooking process) make a seriously fantastic sauce. On top of everything, this roast is a cinch to put together -- although it does require a bit of foresight, as the overnight marination really helps the flavors to permeate the roast.

As I've mentioned, first you must marinate the roast. When you've slathered it all over with a mixture of anise, rosemary, thyme, garlic, peppercorns, salt, and olive oil, you should wrap it up as tightly as you can in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for a day or two. Trust me, it will be beautiful.
When you've got the roast all nicely marinated, you should chop up a few apples. I like to do five apples. But, if you've only got four, that will do nicely. Also chop up a couple of onions.
Season the apples and onions with salt and pepper and place them into the bottom of a nice roasting pan with a cover.
Add the pork roast right on top. I chose (this time) to chop my roast into two pieces. It seemed to work fine, so you can follow my lead if you like. You're also welcome to leave your roast in one piece.
You'll roast the pork at 450ยบ for about 30 minutes. Then you'll turn the temperature way down, add a bit of wine to the pan, and continue cooking it for about 3 more hours. What you'll find in the oven upon your return is a lovely thing. Sweet, succulent pork on a bed of the softest apples you've ever laid your eyes upon.
Don't hesitate to plate the whole mess up nicely on a platter and serve it to guests. They'll love you for it.
We had this beauty for Thanksgiving this year with a side of shaved brussels sprouts and some smashed potatoes with white truffle oil.

Stupendous stuff.
And the best part is, you can make it yourself.

Meltingly Tender Pork with Apples

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Roasted Chestnut and Porcini Soup

I didn't expect to find locally grown chestnuts in our local market the weekend before Thanksgiving. But, when I found them, I couldn't resist buying up a nice handful. I wasn't sure exactly what I'd do with them at first. But, when I ran across this recipe, which I'd clipped out of an old Bon Appetit magazine, I knew it would be the perfect starter for our Thanksgiving dinner.

We'd never roasted chestnuts before, but we figured that now was as good of a time as any to figure it out. We didn't have an "open fire" lying around, so we opted for a more modest method -- roasting the nuts in a cast iron pan. It worked out quite well, if you ask me. And I'd recommend it, if you've ever got yourself a few cups of chestnuts and a 1/2 hour's time. If you're interested, you can read about our technique here.
When the chestnuts were done roasting, they needed to be peeled. A bit labor-intensive, maybe... but totally worth it in my guesstimation. I am all about enduring a bit of pain for the sake of good, honest food, though. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt if you're the type who looks for instant gratification.
While we were peeling those pesky chestnuts, we set a few porcini mushrooms afloat in some nice hot water.
The rehydrated porcini and roasted chestnuts were thrown (albeit gently) into a mid-sized saucepan with some delicious stock. We let them frolic there for between 20-30 minutes so that their flavors could meld and the chestnuts could pick up a bit of additional tenderness. And then we pureed the crap out of them...
... which resulted in one of the silkiest, smoothest soups you can imagine.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, we chopped up some rutabaga and carrots and sauteed them until they were nicely caramelized. We'll spare you the details, but when all was finished, we piled them nicely into our prepared soup bowl.
When covered with the delicious soup, the veggies bobbed up top for a bit of air.
This soup definitely relies on the porcini mushrooms for its earthy character; but the chestnuts lend sweetness and texture that really takes the soup up a level. The caramelized root vegetables add interest, and they offer something toothsome to the otherwise creamy soup.

On Thanksgiving day, it was just the two of us. But, this soup is good enough that it needs to be shared. So, I'm suspecting it will have to make an encore performance at Christmas Day dinner.
Am already looking forward to it. *slurp*

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Been Tagged: Seven Random Facts

Been tagged by Lisa over at What We Eat! (OK, got tagged aeons ago... but thanks to Lisa I was inspired to blog again) So, although this is only remotely food-related, I'm going to give it a whirl. My project for class is wrapping up this week, so I promise there will be posts about food very shortly.
  1. I took over five years of piano lessons, and still can't seem to play piano.
  2. I love Lakefront Pumpkin Lager, but I think that Three Lakes pumpkin wine is pretty horrible. Am choking down the last few sips right now, as I type. I'm not sure why I'm still drinking it.
  3. I managed to get through college (as an English major) without having read McBeth.
  4. I roasted chestnuts for the first time on Thanksgiving. Does roasting them on my gas stove count as an "open fire"?
  5. I have been toying with the idea of going back for my master's degree for almost six years now. Ultimately, I think I've decided that I love cooking more than I love school. For some reason, that realization was a little bit scary.
  6. I would really like to get my nose pierced.
  7. I haven't blogged in so long that I'm almost scared to start again.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Foodies on TV?

Remember the pig roast we attended back in September?
Well, apparently, footage from the event was being taped for the television show, Wisconsin Foodie, and Farm to Fork will be shown on Milwaukee television. Catch it this Saturday @11:30 on WISN Channel 12.

You might also be able to catch the FARM TO FORK episode online at

Who knows? Take a gander and you might be able to catch a glimpse of Peef or Lo!

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