When our local grocery store offered us the choice of a free ham, turkey, or bone-in pork shoulder as holiday deal for spending $400 this year, we opted for the shoulder. However, since we order our groceries online and have them delivered, the roast’s exact weight was an unknown. So, when it appeared at our front door, it was a whopping 8.25 pounder, at least three pounds more than I had expected. Consequently, I was forced to shelve the recipe I had chosen for it and look for an alternative.
A search through my cookbooks failed to yield a recipe for a roast of this size. Most that I found were for boneless pork shoulders ranging from 3 to 5 pounds. I tried to adapt them for my gargantuan specimen, but with little success. I even thought of butchering it and making a stew, but my husband and I were set on serving the guests we had invited a roast.
To meet this objective, I decided to google “8 pound roasted bone-in pork shoulder recipe” and, amazingly, the first recipe that appeared sounded perfect. Not only did I have all its ingredients on hand, but the recipe included relatively precise cooking times for roasts ranging from 3 to 10 pounds. There were also copious reader comments with glowing reviews and success stories. Best of all, it required a minimum of effort.
“Meatballs.” Just the word conjures up feelings of culinary comfort for me; and when these tasty morsels are paired with pasta, I’m transported back to my childhood where they often showed up as part of a Sunday dinner. I do know that some Italian-food traditionalists may scoff at these meaty orbs coated with tomato sauce, dismissing them as Italian-American fare. Indeed, I recall having dinner with a friend from Italy who looked at me in disbelief when I ordered one as an appetizer in a well know Chicago restaurant. “Stai scherzando,” (You must be joking) he said. I trust the satisfied expression on my face after I consumed the last tasty morsel proved him wrong.
This post will be the first in a series devoted to meatballs that I plan to publish periodically over the next few months. The recipe, “Pasta with Meatballs” comes from Nigella Lawson’s cookbook Nigella Bites and can also be found online. (I used the latter.) I chose it for a number of reasons: I found some ground pork in the back of the freezer; there was no frying or roasting involved; and it yielded 30 meatballs slightly larger than a cherry tomato. Another motivation came from finding her online version of the recipe, which substituted semolina for breadcrumbs as well as jarred passata for canned tomatoes.
More often than not, our weekday dinners are determined by an item in the fridge that’s near its “use-by” date. Such was the case on Monday, when my husband announced that we had a pound of Italian sausage that needed to be used or tossed. When I suggested making my go-to sausage and roasted peppers, he said: “Again? Why not try something new and use it for the blog.”
While making something new might not pose a problem for those of you who have a nearby market or a car, for those of us who don’t, it often involves seeing what’s on hand and then searching for a suitable recipe. After discovering a package of green lentils in the pantry, I turned to my cookbook collection, where I found the perfect match, “Lentil and Sausage Casseroles,” in a volume from the Good Cook series by Time-Warner: Dried Beans and Grains.
Spotting two perfectly plump pork chops on a recent trip to the market inspired this week’s post. Each weighed a little more than a pound and measured at least 1½-inch thick; the ideal size for an Italian-American recipe I’ve been wanting to make for some time: Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers from Patsy’s Cookbook by Sal Scognamillo.
Similar to a dish I wrote about here almost 9 years ago that was based on my mother’s recipe, this one also has a family tie. My father was the attorney for Patsy Scognamillo and urged him to buy the building on New York’s West 56th Street, where Patsy’s continues to be one of the city’s landmark restaurants. It was one of the few restaurants that met my father’s stringent standards for the Neapolitan (or at least Italian-American) food with which he grew up. Who knows; these pork chops could have been a favorite.
We keep reading over and over in the news about the rising cost of food owing to the rate of inflation. Indeed, even so-called economy cuts like short ribs and oxtails might today be considered luxury items. In my opinion, one of the best options these days, in terms of value and flavor, is pork; and for entertaining, a boneless pork loin a great choice.
I’ve posted a couple of recipes on this blog for this cut: one for a Bolognese roast braised in milk and another for a Tuscan pork loin roasted with rosemary and garlic. This post, however, features a recipe from a pioneer of California cuisine, Sally Schmitt, who perhaps is best known as the founder of two of Napa Valley’s most famous restaurants: Mustard’s Grill and The French Laundry. Her recently published, beautifully illustrated cookbook, Six California Kitchens, traces her culinary career in Northern California from her childhood kitchen through her five restaurants accompanied by recipes from each of them. The recipe I chose, “Roast Loin of Pork with Mustard Caper Sauce” was from the French Laundry, where she worked from 1978 to 1994.
Upon his physician’s advice, my husband recently decided to go on the Keto diet for the next two months. Given the intrinsic role food plays in our lifestyle, I couldn’t let him do it alone. So I’ve joined him on this a high-fat, moderate-protein, no carb or sugar venture.
When it comes to Spanish cuisine, I can’t think of any better authority on the subject than Penelope Casas. While she may not be as famous as the celebrity chefs who dominate the airwaves, she ranks highly among those scholarly chefs, like Paula Wolfert, Fred Plotkin, or Nancy Harmon Jenkins, to name a few, who strive to capture tradition and authenticity in their recipes.
Valentine’s Day 2021, our latest holiday during this pandemic, was possibly our happiest. Perhaps, the mood swing could be contributed to our having secured our first shots of the vaccine a week ago or even to the beautiful two dozen roses that were delivered to our door that morning. But while those events may have played a part, I’d have to say my husband’s suggestion for our Valentine’s dinner deserves most of the credit.
My search for a novel recipe for pork chops led me to a well-worn cookbook on my shelves: 1,000 Italian Recipes by Michele Scicolone. Although its title might sound a tad gimmicky, the 657-page tome comprises authentic Italian recipes by one of the most respected, and prolific, authorities on Italian cuisine.
For years, I’ve been a fan of the British chef Jamie Oliver. His down-to-earth approach to food and emphasis on rich flavor have led me to add several of his cookbooks to my collection. One of my latest additions is Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals, a companion volume to his television series by the same name, which is the source of today’s recipe. Read more