Then, on Sunday, we had a great concert in the afternoon. I was very proud of my congregation and especially the choir and Eric. A success. After the concert a bunch of went to the local pub and had a grand time. I came home and watched a little football before falling asleep.
Today I managed to get some grocery and Christmas shopping done--always with a careful eye on Betsy. So far, so good. She is experiencing some minor and irregular "Braxton-Hicks" contractions, but nothing to write home about, yet. Any moment, though....
While we wait... might as well cook! I've been thinking again about French cooking. Here's the recipe I made tonight after Betsy said, "I have this pork shoulder, but I don't know what to do with it."
Palette de porc à la bièrefrom Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook (thanks Meg and Seb)
4 to 6 lbs pork shoulder (bone in)
salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 small onions (thinly sliced)
2 carrots (chopped)
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 Cup apple cider vinegar
12 oz. beer
1 Cup chicken stock (or broth)
4 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. bread crumbs (unseasoned and not toasted)
Cook the Pork
Season the pork all over with salt and pepper. heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the large pot over high heat. The add the butter. Let it foam, right? Like always. Is it hot? Okay. Lay the pork in the pot and cook over high heat for 5 minutes. Then roll the beast over using your tongs and cook for another 5 minutes on the other side. Nice and brown color on both sides? Remove the pork from the pan and set aside on the plate.
Take the pot off the heat, discard the blackened butter, and add 2 tablespoons of fresh oil. Now add the onions, carrots, and garlic in the pot. Cook over medium heat until soft and brown. Add the flour and stir well so it coats the vegitables, then cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the vinegar and beer, scraping up all the good stuff with the wooden spoon. Bring to a boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the chicken stock or broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and return the pork to the pot, being sure to incorporate any juices from the meat. Reduce to a very low simmer, cover the pot, and let cook for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Make the Crust
Preheat the over to 450F/230C. Remove the pork from the pot and place on the baking sheet. Brush the meat evenly with 2 tablespoons of the mustard, then press bread crumbs into the mustard-covered surface of the meat. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the crumbs form a firm, browned crust. Remove from the oven, and allow to rest on the cutting board for 5 minutes while you finish the sauce.
Finish the Sauce
Strain the cooking liquid into the small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, then season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of mustard. Slice the meat and serve with sauce either on the side or poured around the slices.
Above is how Anthony Bourdain writes this recipe. I would just add that it's important to get the temp right when you are initially browning the meat. Don't burn it! Also, this dish ends up being a bit drier and less "porky" then you'd expect--which is awesome. It carves nicely, but there isn't much sauce. Also, I think this recipe does better in a nice thick pot. Like cast-iron or perhaps a dutch oven.
Tomorrow, kiddie-permitting, I'm going to try Bourdain's Boeuf Bourguignon recipe. Seems simpler then Julia Child's version. I'll report back...