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October 25, 2015

Food Thread: Oh God! Thanksgiving Again? [CBD]

THANKSGIVING turkey with eat more pork sign.jpg

Yeah....I am sick of turkey. Not that it was ever high on my list of wonderful foods, but after years of working diligently to make excellent Thanksgiving turkey, I have pretty much conceded the point that there is no such thing as great turkey. Oh, I came close; last years dry-brined version was pretty good. And dry-brining is much easier than the PITA that is wet-brining a 20 pound turkey. But still, it tastes....good. So what? Lots of things taste good and don't require that much effort.

On the other hand, a whole, bone-in pork loin that has been carefully left untrimmed of the fat along the bones, and the meat and fat around the loin itself?

crown pork.JPG

That is glorious eating.

Notice the copious quantity of fat left on the roast? That, my friends, is called flavor. And the small muscles and streaks of fat surrounding the loin and the bones also add wonderful flavor. That's why gnawing on a pork chop is so satisfying. In this photo, the loin (actually...two loins) is tied into a circle and called a crown roast. Alas, notice the clean tips of the ribs? That is called "frenching," and it is a crime against all that is sacred and good and just. Leave the damned meat and fat on the bones!

Oh, if you are in the mood for one of these beasts, try to get the entire rack of chops, including the ones nearest the shoulder. Those are the best ones because there is more fat and small muscle around the loin up near the shoulder.

pork whole hog.jpg

What's that you say? The loin is near the belly? I wonder what is made from the belly?

Anyway....I have used this recipe: Wined and Brined Pork Rib Roast to great effect. Notice the comparatively small amount of salt in the brine? That allows you to brine for a very long time, which may allow other flavors to penetrate the meat. Or not. The science of brining is murky at best. All I know is that it works. One thing I really like about this recipe is the full bottle of white wine in the brine. Hell...why not!

I began this post with the plan to describe a rational progression from first glimmer of an idea for the Thanksgiving menu to a concrete plan. But my rambling about beautiful luscious pork has distracted me from....Oooh, a squirrel!

So....for next week we have an assignment: think about a Thanksgiving menu that is pleasing, but not reliant on the traditional foods. Well, except for stuffing and potatoes, because those are mandatory.


And a question...anyone ever use browned butter in a cookie recipe? I found a really nice looking chocolate chip cookie recipe that calls for it. I like the idea, but am concerned that it might overwhelm the cookie.

Nice, standard stew recipe. But notice the correction at the bottom. This is the kind of stuff that makes cooking maddening and fun, all at the same time!

Beef Stew With Root Vegetables


  • 4 pounds cubed chuck roast (1" cubes)
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups diced celery stalks
  • 1 cup diced potato
  • 1 cup diced parsnip
  • 1/2 cup diced turnip
  • 1/2 bottle red wine
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped thyme (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 ounce Vegetable oil
  • 1 ounce butter
  • Flour

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot (I use a 9 1/2 quart French Oven) heat the oil over high heat until it shimmers.

Shake the cubed beef with the flour until it is thoroughly coated.

Shake off the excess and brown in an uncrowded single layer, resisting the temptation to move the meat around. Let it sear completely before you turn the cubes. You will have to do this in two batches unless you have a huge pot.

Remove the meat, salt it lightly, and turn the temperature down to medium.

Add the vegetables, the garlic and the butter and saute for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the pot is deglazed.

Add the wine and boil for a minute or two.

Add the chicken stock, the bay leaves, the thyme if you wish, a few pinches of salt, and several grinds of fresh pepper.

When that returns to a boil add the meat to the pot, cover and simmer for
2 1/2-3 hours.

Uncover, increase the heat and continue to simmer until the stew is as thick as you wish.

Correct the seasoning, allow to cool and then refrigerate overnight. Stew is always better the next day.

If the chuck was extremely fatty now is the time to skim some of the now solid fat from the surface of the stew. You can skip this step if you need extra fat in your diet or if the meat was not too fatty. In fact, if you used very lean meat, toss a knob of butter in before you cool the stew.*

Reheat and serve, garnished with the parsley, over rice or noodles.

*This was in my original recipe which I wrote a long time ago, but I have learned over the years that de-fatting stews is mandatory. That extra fat makes them greasy tasting, not rich.

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posted by Open Blogger at 04:00 PM

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