M. Andrew Gordon

A Rather Unusual Dinner

In Main Dish, Soups and Stews on November 7, 2009 at 9:33 am

Yet again I was faced with using some ancillary ingredients and a few things left in the refrigerator and I was dealing with two facts:

1. I would be getting home after work and needing to cook for a couple of people, none of whom were opposed to trying something bizarre. And,

2. Pork shoulder is a great cut of meat but it needs time to tenderize it.

IMG_3065So, before I left the house for work in the morning I devised the basic building blocks here: a slow-cooked pork in a flavorful, ale-based, braising liquid, which by the time I got back to the house twelve hours later it would be fall-apart tender.  I would serve that over a “salad” of roasted pumpkin, cubes of toasted cornbread, and cranberries.

One problem arose with this plan.  Embarrassingly, I have never worked with a raw pumpkin before and assumed I could slice off the skin as easily as most squashes.  In fact, sugar pumpkins have a brittle, hard shell; or at the very least, this one did.  Luckily enough, there was a spare buttercup waiting to be used.

This was an incredibly easy thing to prepare and really seems best as a strategy for using leftovers.  I actually had some reservations about serving but one of the guests allayed those fears when he said upon his first bite, “the only problem with this is that there isn’t going to be any left for seconds.”

Pork

  • 2 ½ pounds pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oil
  • 1 bottle brown ale
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 red onion, cut into eighths
  • 1 large carrot, broken into 2 inch sections
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 dried poblano, seeds and stem removed

1. Season pork with salt and pepper and brown, in batches, in hot skillet.  Transfer to slow cooker and add remaining ingredients.  Cook for at least 6 hours.

2. Remove cinnamon stick and carrots.  Serve over cornbread-squash salad.

Corn bread

Jiffy Mix using buttermilk instead of regular milk.  Buttermilk is unnecessary, I just happened to have some I wanted to use up.  I also baked this in larger dish so the bread was thin.  Any not too-sweet cornbread will work fine here.  Cut it into 1 inch pieces and toast in oven for about 10 minutes so that all sides get a little crisp.

Squash, skin removed, cubed, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roasted, 40-45 minutes, flipping squash once to evenly brown.

Vinaigrette

  • Half medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries

1. Combine liquid ingredients and whisk.  Add onions and cranberries and stir.  When ready to serve, combine squash and corn bread in large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.

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