Monday, February 14, 2011

I'm so ready to cook.

After last week's non-cooking, I'm ready for a challenge…so it's officially Jamie Oliver week. I totally got excited/ahead of myself and shopped for like a week's worth of food...only to later realize that I'd only be cooking Sunday, Monday, Tuesday (only for myself, Hubby has a game), and Wednesday...Thursday I'll be in LA hanging with Daniel Tosh (as well as two of my fave gf's), followed by a ridic weekend of LA/SD/LA/back home. So needless to say, a lot of what I bought ended up in the freezer. On the menu we have beer butt chicken, green chili, and couscous and zucchini salad...and once things are thawed, we also have gumbo and enchiladas. First, however, we're trying braised pork with greens and turnips.

I have never made collared or other greens…I've only even used kale and swiss chard like once each, so I have no idea what I'm doing. Jamie was kinda vague, so I did a quick peek around the interweb and took some advice from Ms. Paula Deen—after washing the greens, I cut out the hard center stalks before slicing them. Pretty sure this was a good call, cause they were super tender.

Jamie's recipe also calls for pork knuckle…I have no idea what that is, and the only real descriptions I found online were less than helpful ("A lean boneless cut from the tip portion which is the front part of the leg above the kneecap also known as the forecushion of the hog. Braised or "red cooked" pork knuckle is a classic Shanghainese dish"......oh.). Whatever the hell it is, Vons definitely didn't have it…so we went with pork shoulder, instead. And it was fantastic...fall off the bone-tender-fantastic.

As I served this, I told Hubby that Jamie is convinced that everyone has a favorite part, be it veggies, pork or broth, and to be ready to pick one. So once all the dishes were clean and we were settling down for the Grammys (you're so welcome to everyone who got to follow my running commentary on fb last night), I asked for his decision. His answer? "I liked the veggies...and the broth...and the meat was great."

Normally I would totally roll my eyes at this non-response, but to be honest, I totally agree. The meat was perfectly tender, the veggies were delish, and we both slurped up the broth at the end, totally face first. Next time I may even try this in the slow-cooker and see how it turns out. Cause there will definitely be a next time.

And with that, day one of the Jamie Oliver Experiment complete, I gotta say...I'm excited for the rest of the week.

Greens with Pork and Turnips
Pork Shoulder (ours was 3lbs, that was the smallest they had)
Cooking spray
4 Bay leaves
A couple large bunches of greens (I used one bunch of mustard greens and one bunch of kale, both washed and stalks removed)
2 or 3 carrots, peeled and cut in big pieces
2 or 3 stalks of celery, trimmed and cut in big pieces
4 or 5 medium sized turnips, peeled and quartered
Vinegar and tabasco to serve

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Coat a large soup/stock pan with cooking spray and heat over high heat. Be sure and use a large enough pan; I started with my dutch oven, but had to relocate everything to a stock pan once it came time for the veggies. Not something I recommend. When hot, add meat. Place two bay leaves on top and cook over high for a couple of minutes. Turn meat over, repeat with remaining bay leaves, and brown the other side another couple minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add about 3 cups water. When it comes to a boil, cover and let simmer over medium low for about 2 hours or until the meat starts falling off the bone. Add carrots, turnips and celery and a good pinch each of salt and pepper. If the water is really low, add another half cup or so. Cook about 20 minutes, add greens (smash them down if you need to!), stir it up a bit, and cook another 30 minutes or so or until tender. (If you are using collard greens, they take longer, so put them in at the same time as the turnips, carrots and celery and cook about an hour total.)

The meat should be basically unattached from the bone at this point, so it should be easy to remove. Besides the bone, also remove any pieces of fat you can see and the bay leaves. Add a good few shakes of tabasco and/or vinegar before you dish it up (and we each added more tabasco at the table).

You'll probably want to serve with some bread to help mop up any extra goodness.

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