My second cooking class occurred on February 2, and was called "Getting Started in the Kitchen II--A Basic Pantry Plus Moist Heat Cooking". We learned how to make poached salmon with basil sauce, beef stew with vegetables, braised pork, and port poached pears. I did not find the poached salmon to be an improvement in any way over the steamed salmon, and it seemed slightly more complicated, if only for the fact that I don't have the right equipment at home. I actually already had a beef stew recipe that I was comfortable making, and that Captain America enjoyed eating.
I did try the Mediterranean Style Braised Pork, and Captain America declared it the best meal I've made yet. Unfortunately, it is not a gluten-free recipe, as you bread the pork. I asked, and Katherine Emmenegger, the chef, said that if I was going to use gluten-free flour, to use brown rice flour. I don't own that, and I'm not sure if my sister does either, so if I make it for her, we might just be using Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Flour and hope for the best.
I made the whole recipe because I figured Captain America would like it, and while it serves 6, we're big eaters in my house. So here's what you need:
3 1/2 lbs pork shoulder roast, rinsed and pat dry (if you've seen Julie & Julia, you'll know that this helps the meat brown)
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (apparently grapeseed oil has a high smoke point, and is therefore less likely to burn. Katherine only recommends using olive oil for dipping, as it has a low smoke point, although she did say that one could mix it with another oil--such as grapeseed--and raise the smoke point)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 lbs large yellow onions, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 lbs medium-sized Roma tomatoes, washed, cored, and quartered (Captain America does not like tomatoes, but he ate these anyway...they must be okay when served more or less stewed with pork and onions)
1 c vegetable stock
2 sprigs rosemary, washed (I couldn't find fresh rosemary, so I used dried...it seemed to work out just fine).
Season the pork with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour to coat. Katherine says it flavors the meat better to salt and pepper the meat, although some recipes say to mix the salt and pepper in the flour. I guess, do what you want!
In a large roasting pot (they used a Dutch oven in class, which I HAVE to get because it can go from the stove-top to the oven!!), over medium high heat, heat the oil. Sear the pork on all sides to a golden brown, and transfer to a platter.
Add a bit more oil to the pot if needed (we were taught to drizzle it down the sides so it warms up slightly before reaching the bottom). Saute the garlic and onions until lightly softened, about 5 minutes. As an aside, my pot wasn't big enough to cook all of the meat at one time...I should have also cooked the onions in parts. Oh well!
Return the pork to the pot, and scoop some of the onions on top (see, if I had cooked my onions in parts, I could just say, dump the other onions on top). Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, and rosemary.
Cover the roasting pot and place in the oven (did I even bother to tell you to preheat it to 350? No, of course not, since I didn't cook mine in the oven. If you're cool enough to own a Dutch oven, preheat your oven to 350). OR, you can leave on the stove on low heat. OR, you can make it in the slow cooker, but you'll still need to sear everything on the stove first, and I don't know how long it will need to be in the slow cooker.
After your 2 hours or so is up, remove the meat from the pot and let stand for 15 minutes. This is supposed to make it easier to slice, but I thought it just made our meat less hot. So next time I might skip this. At any rate, serve with the tomatoes and onions. It helps to scoop the tomatoes and onions out with a slotted spoon. Otherwise you'll get a lot of broth.
I did not make the Port Poached Pears with the pork recipe, but you could. This will give you something to do for two hours. Okay, it won't take the full two hours, but either way, here's what you need:
This recipe originally served 8, with each person getting a full pear, but Katherine suggested serving everyone half a pear, and slicing it almost to the end of the skinny part, and fanning it out, so it displays nicely. I'll give you the recipe for 8, but when I did it the first time, I quartered the recipe, and the second time I did some guesstimating. Don't tell Captain America. He doesn't like it when I make stuff up in the kitchen. But there's no raw eggs or meat involved, so it's not like something might end up undercooked. So how badly could this really turn out anyway? And you serve it with ice cream, so if you really mess up the pear bit, you'll still have ice cream! Yay!
Okay, on to the recipe, serving 8, as it was written (well, of course I'm going to editorialize this. This is Virginia's Rants, after all).
You'll need 8 pears, washed, peeled, and cored from the bottom, and a quart (or any amount you want) of vanilla ice cream.
For the poaching fluid, you'll need:
6 c of port. In class we used Quarles Harris, but I couldn't find it so I just used the least expensive port I could find. I figured we we cooking with it, not drinking it. Although Captain America thought he'd try it, and he declared it terrible. I think he may have spit it out. It was that bad. But the dessert was good.
1 c sugar, or to taste (that's all me. I added sugar after the pears are done...in the part below when we're making syrup. Maybe if I had used better port, I wouldn't have needed to add sugar, but I have quite a sweet tooth, so who knows.)
1 c water
1 cinnamon stick (apparently you can't use ground cinnamon, as it will make a slimy mess. I have not tried this out. I don't want a slimy mess for dessert. If you happen to live near a Henry's, in their bulk spices section, you can buy just one cinnamon stick, and it will cost you about $0.15.
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
4 black peppercorns
In a deep pot, bring all of the poaching fluid ingredients to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, making sure all of the sugar is dissolved.
Bring the poaching fluid to barely a simmer (yes, this is repetitive). Add the pears and cover with an inverted plate to keep them submerged below the surface of the poaching liquid.
Poach for about 15 minutes, or until tender.
Transfer the pears to a platter and cool to room temperature.
Remove spices from the poaching liquid (I can never find my peppercorns, so they just stay in there. It's like a little adventure for whoever gets a bite of one!). Increase the heat of the poaching fluid and boil it until it is reduced to a light syrup consistency. This is actually what the directions say, including parentheses: (This takes approximately 30 minutes, and it is totally worth it!)
Cool syrup to room temperature.
Cut the pears in half and fan them on dessert plates. Serve with a scoop of ice cream, and drizzle some of the port sauce. Try not to lick the pot in front of any guests!