Porchetta-Style Roast Pork

February 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

There is nothing finer, or easier, than a perfectly cooked pork shoulder. Shoulder is an excellent canvas for all sorts of flavors, but if you just rub salt and pepper on that baby and stick it in a low oven for a few hours, it will still taste like heaven. Shoulder is a cheap cut of meat, so get the best quality pork you can find. You will be rewarded with superior flavor and moistness (it’s the fat).

pork spices pork with crust

I have a slew of favorite pork shoulder recipes, from all over the world, and all of them are ridiculously easy to execute. If you’re in the mood for Mexican, conchinita pibil is perfect – shredded pork swimming in a rich sauce spiked with achiote and citrus. For a beautiful and celebratory take on a Korean dinner, Bo Ssam is where it’s at. Sam Sifton wrote an article called The Bo Ssam Miracle, that captures the wonder of this dish – tender pork encased in a crust of sugar. Oh, man. When the weather turns and fog rolls in, I look for comfort. This dish, Porchetta-Style Pork Roast is comforting and classic, but is also perfectly suited for a dinner party. You rub the pork with a mixture of  garlic, fennel, salt, and pepper, then leave it overnight to take on those flavors.  The next day, blast the roast in the oven to get a lovely crust going, then continue cooking it for a few hours at a low temperature. The result is a pork roast that is moist and tender with a super flavorful, crunchy skin. Thickly slice it and serve it warm with a pan sauce and love it again the next day in a sandwich.

cooked pork

Porchetta-Style Roast Pork 

serves 6

recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

1.5 Tablespoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoons black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

1 3-pound boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed with thin layer left intact

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 -2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. Stir the fennel seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until they’re slightly toasted and and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer seeds to spice mill or mortar with pestle and cool. Add kosher salt, peppercorns, and dried crushed red pepper. Grind to medium-fine consistency (not powder).

2. Place pork in a glass baking dish or on a plate. Rub garlic all over the pork, then coat the meat with the spice mixture. Loosely cover pork with waxed paper and refrigerate it overnight.

3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Brush a large rimmed baking sheet with oil. Place the roast, fat side up and coating intact, in the center of the sheet. Drizzle the pork evenly with 1 tablespoon oil. Roast the pork for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and continue to roast the pork until it’s very tender, about 3 hours longer. The pork is ready when you can poke it with a fork and it easily shreds. Transfer the pork to cutting board and let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Serve the pork warm, thickly sliced.



Baked Dungeness with Paprika & Garlic Butter

January 21, 2015 § 1 Comment


Hello friends – I won’t apologize for my long silence, because I know you understand the predicament of desire vs. time when you’re a grown up. But today my desire to write and my free time have happily collided. So, let talk about Dungeness crab, quickly, before this precious window closes…

Winter in the Pacific Northwest has many well-documented downsides but the silver lining is pristine seafood. It took me a few years to catch on to this, but now I travel with an oyster knife in my Subaru’s dashboard – toujours prête. Local oysters are spectacular in the winter, and they can be bought for a song at quick marts in tidal communities, as long as you know how to spot a fresh oyster. Or, if you’re not a risk-taker, head to Mutual Fish on Rainier Avenue. They’ll sell you delicious oysters for half of what you’ll pay in a restaurant and happily give you a shucking lesson, I’m sure.  Oysters are a treat, but Dungeness crab is a winter dinner staple at our house. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to catch our own in Puget Sound, but Mutual or the grocery store is always stocked with cooked crab, and they’ll clean the suckers for you. This means you can walk out the store with your fully prepared dinner in a bag – serve the crab cold with a few simple sides and it’s faster than picking up a pizza.


It’s still dark terribly, terribly early in the evening (afternoon, really) here in Seattle. That calls for a hot dinner – something in the oven that will fill the house with rich smells and drive the children into the kitchen asking what’s for dinner, when’s it ready, what’s for dinner again and again and again. « Read the rest of this entry »

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

May 23, 2014 § Leave a comment


Today the rain came back. The weather has been so fine in Seattle this spring. When the sun shines my productivity slows to a crawl and I am swollen with gratitude that I don’t have to be indoors.  Perhaps I ought to be indoors, but I lack the willpower to plant myself in front of a computer or a stove when it’s 70 degrees outside, and the birds are chirping, and it’s still sunny for hours after dinner.  Our cupboards have become bare, because how on earth could I have spent any of those precious sunny minutes in a grocery store? Children, eat this leftover macaroni and cheese and these adorable petit peas from our freezer and then let’s go outside.  Yes, you can have a popsicle.

But now it is raining and I will spend this day indoors.  I have had a hunk of pork shoulder in my fridge for a few days that I kept meaning to roast but, you know, I was distracted. The sun was shining.  This morning I realized that  this roast was destined to become shreddy, tangy pulled pork.  A dinner that will evoke the sunny days of the past week, but would never have been possible without today’s rain.   « Read the rest of this entry »

Rhubarb Compote

May 5, 2014 § 1 Comment



I wonder if I would get so excited about rhubarb if its season was in August, if it had to compete with luscious tomatoes and sweet, meaty melons?  It’s a much tougher sell than those later season jewels.  For one thing, you have to cook it.  And it’s tart as heck, so you have to dose it with sugar.  The leaves are poisonous, so those need to be tossed away.  As I write, I’m beginning to wonder who even considered rhubarb as an ingredient in the first place? It must have been a cook long long ago who had endured a horrible winter … When the spring thaw finally came that cook spied bright pink stalks radiating from the soil.  She was drawn to the rosy glow of the rhubarb plant and nibbled a leaf.  It tasted horrible and she felt ill.  Looking around for something else fresh to pick, she saw absolutely no other options. So, she returned to the rhubarb and broke off a stalk and chewed on it.  It was awful – tart and astringent.  Desperate for any fresh produce that wasn’t kale she brought the rhubarb into her kitchen, took down her sack of sugar and went to work… « Read the rest of this entry »

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette & Escarole

April 2, 2014 § Leave a comment


At my house, chicken thighs spent years at the bottom of our poultry totem pole (…your family doesn’t have a poultry totem pole?). Chicken breasts are lean and kind of fancy, the kids clamor for drumsticks, and we all love wings.  Chicken thighs failed to make an impression. UNTIL.


« Read the rest of this entry »

Spaghetti all’Amatriciana

March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment


When I was a kid my mom and I went grocery shopping once a week at the local Giant.  As I write, I realize what an inhospitable name that is … Giant Supermarket …. but that is where we went once a week, usually on Sunday.  My mom had a grocery list that sat on our kitchen counter and we would add things to the list through the week.  By Sunday, our list was long and we went to the store with a plan.  Lunches, dinners and breakfasts for five days. One big shop, time efficient and cost effective.

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Now I am the main provider of meals for my family and my approach is very different (‘approach’ sounds too intentional).  Life happens, and I find myself at a grocery store nearly every day of the week.  It’s the opposite of time efficient and cost effective, it is time sucking and expensive.   « Read the rest of this entry »

Chicken Salad with Preserved Lemon and Herbs

March 3, 2014 § 2 Comments


Yesterday my husband gave me the gift of BBQ from Kau Kau, his favorite source for roasted meat in the International District.  Sweet man.  I ate the Roasted Pig right away (I don’t know why they don’t call it ‘pork’, but neither do I anymore). To eat the roasted chicken also, in one sitting, would be unseemly.  So I tucked it in the fridge, anticipating the leftovers. Today at lunchtime I realized I had every ingredient I needed to make a fine chicken salad, even celery. Twice blessed by roasted meat.      « Read the rest of this entry »


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