37 cooks, coffee marinated pork, cold weather comfort food, comfort food, lock-n-load java, pork

Task Force Zulu: Operation Cochon

The latest sponsor for 37 Cooks was Lock-n-Load Java, a veteran owned coffee company that was more than generous with sending us out our choice of samples. Before I made the ‘Charlie Don’t Surf’ cupcakes, I brined a lovely pork roast with some of their single origin Costa Rican ‘Task Force Zulu’ roast for over 24 hours and it paid off with a richly flavored, tender roast. Saddled up with some all day braised collards and a batch of mac-n-cheese and it was a smile worthy meal.  

Task Force Zulu: Operation Cochon
by Shannon T

1 cup strong brewed Lock-n-Load Java’s Task Force Zulu—Single Origin Costa Rica coffee, cooled
½ cup molasses

¼ cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 ¾ pound pork loin roast, twine removed

Combine the coffee, molasses, vinegar, mustard, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the ginger, thyme and pork chops in a 1-gallon zip-top bag; seal and shake to combine. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (I kept it in for 24).

Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the pork from the bag. Strain the marinade into a saucepan; boil gently over medium-high heat, stirring, until reduced to 1/2 cup, 12 to 15 minutes.

Dry the pork loin with paper towels. Heat olive oil in an oven-proof pan until just under smoking. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper and sear the pork loin on all sides. Place the pan in the oven and cook until the internal temperature is 150, approximately 50 minutes. Remove the pork from the pan, place on a plate, tented with foil, and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice and drizzle the reduced sauce onto the pork. Enjoy.

*Served with garlic and onion sauteed kale and homemade mac ‘n cheese
cold weather comfort food, lots of pork, pork, pork pie, savory pie crust, whole foods market recipes

Pork Pie

Chicken pot pie. Caramel apple pie. Blueberry cream pie. Lobster pie. Chocolate cream pie. I think it’s safe to say that this gal loves her pie. But, before a few weeks ago, I had never had a pork pie. Introductions were made during Whole Foods Market’s ‘Pie Smackdown,” a store wide sampling of various pies to celebrate ‘National Pie Day.’

Each department sampled out their own pies, from pizza in the Grocery department to apple pie in the bakery. But, it was the Meat department’s pork pie that won my vote and had me going back for seconds. The rich gravy and tender chunks of pork loin were a departure from the more traditional English pork pies, which tend to call for ground pork and other porky bits mashed together. This was a decadent, but much less dense, version.

I loved it so much that I snatched up one of their recipe cards and decided to make it at home.

Now, I did make some adjustments to the recipe:

  • I used chicken stock instead of pork. Deglazing the pan with the stock, working up those lovely brown bits from the bottom of the pan, darkened the stock and made the light stock fuller in flavor. 
  • For the mushrooms, I used a combination of sliced chanterelles, cremini and white button.
  • I also used bacon ends, which were less expensive. I threw the bacon and mushrooms in the pan at the same time and browned them up pretty well, until all of the moisture was out of the pan. 
  • I would recommend reducing the broth down a bit as this yielded a bit more than would fit in the pie crust. 
  • I also let it slightly cool before pouring it into the pie crust. 

And, well, a good filling isn’t worth anything without an equally good crust. So, I turned to the New York Times Savory Pie Crust recipe, doubling it to make a bottom and top crust.

2 cup plus 4 tablespoons (about 10 ounces) all-purpose flour, more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 16 pieces*
5 tablespoons ice water, more if necessary.
*I used Kerrygold unsalted butter because of it’s high fat content. I think that was the key to making such an unbelievably flaky, golden crust.

1. Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add butter and turn on machine; process until butter and flour are blended and mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.

2. Put mixture in a bowl and add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix with your hands until you can form dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary; if you overdo it and mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate for up to a couple of days or freeze for up to a couple of weeks.)

3. Sprinkle a clean countertop with flour, put dough on it, and sprinkle top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure, from the center out. If dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If dough is sticky, add a little flour; if it continues to become sticky and it is taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again.

4. Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press patch into place.
–For rolling out the top crust, I followed #3 and #4 above and rolled the crust around the rolling pin and unraveled it  on top of the pie. I then crimped the two crusts together and vented the top crust with a few quick slashes with a sharp knife. I finished with a slight egg wash and placed it in the over to bake.

american cheese society, charcutepalooza, charcuterie, jasper hill farms, pork, science experiments in the house

Guanciale: Phase 1

I love the women of Dandelion Spring Farm, pure and simple. Not only are they extremely friendly and grow some of the most beautiful produce, they have also bestowed upon me my first whole pig jowl.


The deeply blushed red and porcelin white lobe is sitting in the refrigerator now, coated with salt, sugar, pepper and thyme.

It will live there for nearly a week before its wrapped in cheesecloth, strung up and hung in the Missus’ office. The cooler temperatures will ease it into a cured state and turn the jowl into the Italian bacon, Guanciale.

When it’s ready, in about 3 to 4 weeks, it will be cut down, sliced and paired with my new cheese obsession: Harbison from The Cellars at Jasper Hill.

The newest addition to the Jasper Hill family of cheeses, this is one of the most complex cheeses I’ve had in a very long time. It starts out smokey, akin to a young Winnimere, then a wash of butter and cream hits, ending with a distinct mustard finish. French’s Yellow Mustard to be exact.

That beginning and end makes it a perfect pairing for cured meats. The worst part about the whole thing is the month long wait I’ll have to endure before I can savor these two together. I’ll let you know how it all goes down when the time comes.

lots of pork, pig fat, pig jowl, pork, pork goodness, rendering lard

How To Render Lard

I have been searching for a pig jowl for over a year now. I have dreams of making guanciale. I’ve asked at butcher counters, farmers markets and friends who said they were buying in on a pig and I’ve come up empty on every front. That was until recently when Beth, from Dandelion Spring Farm, came through for me. She had jowl, she said, but it was sliced like bacon. Fine enough for me as I was happy to get the raw product. Pig jowl is very similar to an uberfatty pork belly, with streaks of meat almost like an after thought cutting through the stark white fat. I thought that maybe I could still work with it, cure it some how, until a friend told me that it wouldn’t work. So, what to do with nearly a pound of pig fat, I pondered.

Lard, I thought. Pure, beautiful, crust enhancing lard. Make it now and use it to make a pie crust when the Missus’ family comes up for Thanksgiving. Genius.

I didn’t realize, though I should have asked, that when she said it was sliced like bacon, that it was also smoked. Mistake on my part. It wasn’t, however, going to stop me from spending an hour or so after work tending to the task over my dutch oven. The only thing that would change would be what I eventually use the lard for. Now it gives me two months to figure out a plan for that. But, they’re Lithuanian, so anything pork based and fatty, is fine enough for them.

The crackling, which was munched on while the lard cooled, reminded me of the skin of some of the best fried chicken I’ve had in my life–which, of course, had been cooked in lard. It was easy, hardly time consuming and now I have a pint of liquid gold and some time to think of a really good use for it.

How to Render Lard–from The Homesick Texan.

What you need:
A pound or so of pig fat, either leaf lard or fat back. Leaf lard is the best grade of lard and is preferred for pastry, while fat back is the next-best grade of lard and is appropriate for frying. Each pound of fat will yield about a pint of lard.
A big pot
A lard stick (though a wooden spoon will suffice)
Some water
Some containers—Mason jars work nicely.
What to do:
1. Open your kitchen window.

2. After buying your fat, preferably from a farmer or butcher that treats its hogs humanely, chop it up into little pieces.
3. In a Dutch oven or heavy, large pot, add about a half of a cup of water to the pot, and then add the cubed fat.

4. On the stove, heat the pot on medium low, stirring occasionally (every 10 minutes).
5. After the fat starts melting (about an hour), you’ll hear some very loud pops. Do not be alarmed—that is just the last gasp of air and moisture leaving what will soon become cracklings (little fried pieces of pork). Now is the time to start stirring more often.
6. Soon after, the cracklings will start floating on the surface. Keep stirring frequently, but be careful—you don’t want the fat popping out of the pot and burning you.
7. When the cracklings sink to the bottom, the lard has been rendered.

8. Let it cool, and then pour it into containers through a colander or strainer lined with cheesecloth. The cracklings will be left behind in the cheesecloth and these make for a fine, fine snack, especially sprinkled over salad if that’s not too perverse for you.
9. The lard will be a yellowish liquid. This is what it’s supposed to look like.
10. Refrigerate it overnight and when it solidifies it will turn white. It will keep in the refrigerator for about three months, and the freezer for up to a year.

baked beans, Gourmet, Local foods, lots of pork, pork

Tuesday’s Maple Baked Beans and Pork Belly

From The Gourmet Cookbook.

**I used local Jacob’s Cattle Beans from Green Thumb Farms, located in Fryeburg, ME. I also added about a tablespoon of prepared spicy mustard to it for a bit more bite.

**I rendered the bacon fat, lightly browning the pork, and then sauteed the onions in it before adding all ingredients.

What else would you serve with pork spiked beans other than pork belly? Using up the remaining pork belly I had from Thanksgiving, I cooked it up in the same style.

With this being my first attempt at baked beans since moving to New England, I’m going to say that they were a huge hit on a very cold evening. The beans were creamy and, because of the added acid from the mustard, not overly sweet.