Adventures in Cooking

I am not a foodie in the food snob sense, but I do love food, no question.  I’ll try anything at least once – and this after a childhood so picky that my name might as well have been “No Potatoes and No Beans”, my response whenever I was asked what I wanted for dinner – and I’ve experimented a lot more in last 6 months, making hummus and homemade mayo and stuff like that.  This past week, though, I did some pretty cool stuff that I ended up really happy with.

It started with a pork butt from Bobolink, the helpful cheesemakers.  A nice piece of whey-fed pork, pink with white fat.  I decided to make pulled pork with it, something I have made a bunch of times in different ways.  This time, I decided to slow-cook it in a crockpot, so I made a rub (salt, garlic powder, pepper, cayenne, Everglades Seasoning [I can only find this in Florida.  Find it.  It is awesome.], sugar, and a touch of molasses [because I didn’t want to open the brown sugar, heh]) and then pan-seared it on each side.  When it was nicely browned, I dropped it into the pot, then added some organic brown ale, a little bit of Carolina Gold mustard-based barbeque sauce, two chopped apples, an onion, and a little water to cover, then let it cook overnight until it was completely tender and easily shreddable.

Holy crap, was it good.  Best pork I’ve ever eaten in my life.  I didn’t even bother saucing it to eat it.  So good.  Tender, amazing mouthfeel, incredibly moist – just a dish I was proud of.

This weekend, I then decided to try two different things.  The first was something I’d heard on a million cooking shows – risotto.  Never been a huge rice fan, myself, and I’ve never actually seen it in real life.  After seeing the Do the Rice Thing episode of Good Eats a while ago, though, I decided I wanted to try it.  I got the ingredients I needed – Arborio rice, some portabella mushrooms, wine, chicken stock, and an onion – and decided to give it a whirl.  I knew it would take a while to make, but the result is supposed to be creamy and delicious.  I didn’t think I’d pull it off, but figured what the hell.

I pulled out two cast iron pans (pretty much all I cook with nowadays, unless I need a saucepan for oatmeal or something).  In one went a little butter, the mushrooms, and a dash of garlic and onion.  I sautéed them for a few minutes, then set them aside.  In the other went a little more butter and about half an onion, which got sweated down for about 5 minutes, then I added the rice.  I had heated up the chicken stock and had it ready.  After a couple of minutes, I added the wine to the rice and stirred over medium-low heat until all the wine was absorbed, then added some chicken stock, just enough to cover the rice, and kept stirring until it was all absorbed, which takes a while.  Then I added more stock and stirred.  Then I added the rest of the stock and stirred and stirred and stirred until it was mostly absorbed.  At that point I added the mushrooms, some basil and oregano, and some grated Parmesan cheese.  It was done.

I was still apprehensive about how it turned out, but it ended up being really good.  Lady Aravan seemed to love it too, so I felt good about that.  So now I finally knew what all the fuss was about with risotto.

Finally, I decided to try a puttanesca sauce after watching Nadia G make it on Bitchin’ Kitchen.  Honestly, I think the story behind the name is what made me want to try it: the name allegedly derives from the fact that in Italy, problems with wives and their husbands’ mistresses at the market forced a law to be made that the mistresses/whores could only shop on a certain day of the week.  Denied fresh food, they needed cured or other preserved ingredients to make their sauce.

Charming enough to make me want to try it, and I loved anchovies anyway, so I figured it was worth a try.  I browned some garlic in olive oil, then added mashed anchovies, followed by a couple of cups of grape tomatoes cut in half.  I let that cook until it started to thicken into a sauce, then added some chopped kalamata olives and capers.  That was it.

Funny thing is, I hate olives.  Lady Aravan hates capers.  Somehow, though, it all came together into a really nice sauce.  The olive and capers blend into everything really well.  All in all, I ended up really happy with everything.

About Alan Edwards

Cancer caregiver, writer, accountant, gamer, poolboy, and dispenser of terrible advice that should never under any circumstances be followed.

Posted on February 22, 2011, in Kerfluffle and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Both dishes rocked!

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