Roasted Ribs

Line a roasting pan with foil. Put a rack in the roasting pan. Rub a mixture of Kosher salt, black pepper, minced garlic or garlic powder and your favorite herbs and spices (such as chile powder, paprika, sage, mustard, paprika, sage, oregano, brown sugar) onto pork spareribs. Lay spareribs on the rack, fattiest side on top.

Let the ribs sit on the counter for an hour, allowing the spices to penetrate the meat. Roast the ribs in a 325 degree oven for about 1 ¼ hours, or until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the ribs apart between the bones and serve.

Ribs are great as left-overs, re-heated the next day.


Braised Pork Shoulder with Thyme 

1 piece of pork shoulder, bone in, 3 ½ pounds [or 4 lbs. boneless butt]
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 large garlic cloves, skin left on and lightly crushed
2 carrots, unpeeled, diced
1 leek, rinsed and diced
1 3-inch piece celery, diced
7 sprigs thyme
2 small sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs parsley plus extra, chopped, for serving
1 small bay leaf
4 juniper berries (optional)
½ cup red wine, plus a splash to finish

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat an enamel-lined Dutch oven or casserole over medium high heat until hot. Season the pork generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Lay the pork fat-side down in the casserole and brown it well, adjusting the heat so it doesn’t scorch. Turn the pork with tongs and brown all sides.

2. Remove the pork to a plate and pour off the fat from the casserole. Add the garlic, carrots, leek, celery, herbs and juniper berries. Sauté over medium heat until vegetables are browned on the edges and soft. Pour in the wine and scrape up the pan drippings. Lay the pork on top of the vegetables and add enough water to cover just 1/3 of the pork (about 2 cups). Cover the pan with heavy duty foil and then the lid and put it in the oven. Braise the pork until it is very tender and falling from the bone, about 2 ½ hours, turning the meat every half-hour (keep it on top of the vegetables) basting it with the juices.

3. When the pork is done, let it sit for 20 minutes or so (or even better, serve it the next day), then slice (it will probably fall apart more than slice) and arrange on a platter. Strain the pan juices through a sieve into a saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract all the juices. Pour off the fat, add a splash of wine, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Heat to boiling and pour over the pork. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Yield: 4 servings with leftovers


Cider Braised Pork Shoulder with Onion

1 3–4 lb. pork bone-in shoulder or boneless butt
2 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ lbs. onions (5 or 6 medium onions), sliced
1–1 ¼ cups apple cider
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Make slits all over the pork with a sharp, small knife. Insert a garlic sliver into each slit. Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a 4–5 quart ovenproof heavy pot or Dutch oven over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown meat on all sides, using tongs to turn the meat. Remove pork from the pot and put on a plate.

Add onions to the pot and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to turn brown (about 5 minutes). Add ¾ teaspoon salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden and caramelized, about 8–10 minutes more.

Stir in cider and bring to a boil. Then reduce to simmer. At this point, you can either return the pork to the pot, cover pot with lid, and place pot in the oven—or you can transfer the onion-cider mixture with the pork to a crock pot, set on low. Either way, you will need to cook the pork until it is very tender, about 2 ½–3 hours. If you are using a bone-in cut, it should be pulling away from the bone quite easily. The internal temperature should be 160 degrees, but it will probably be much higher. Don’t worry—it is difficult to overcook this cut.

Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest for 8 or 10 minutes. While it rests, boil juices remaining in the pot on the stove until mixture is reduced to no more than 2 cups. (If you have used a crock pot, transfer the juices to a large skillet and boil). Add salt and pepper if necessary.

Slice the pork (it will fall apart in chunks more than it will slice) and serve with some of the sauce.

This pork can be made a day or two in advance and reheated.


Smoked Ham Hock and Hominy Stew

Heat oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons corn oil, 1 large onion (chopped), 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon dried red crushed pepper or cayenne and sauté for 5 minutes. After sautéing, you can transfer ingredients to a crock pot if you have one, and finish the dish in the crock pot, or you can finish it on the stove.

Add a 1½–2 pound smoked ham hock, 2 14½-ounce cans of chicken broth (low-salt), 1 14½-ounce can tomatoes (diced, sliced, or whole), and 3 large garlic cloves(finely chopped) to pot and simmer until meat falls off the bone, about 2 hours. Remove hock from the pot, allow to cool, and then using your hands remove meat and shred into bite size pieces. Discard fat and bone. Return meat to pot.

Add 2 15-ounce cans of hominy (drained) to pot and simmer until hominy is hot, about 15 minutes. Taste first (canned broth and hocks already contain salt!) and then season with salt and pepper if needed, ladle into bowls, and serve.

Split Pea Soup

In a large heavy pot cook 8 slices bacon (about ½ pound) over moderate heat until crisp. Remove and transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but about ¼ cup fat and save in your fridge for other cooking.

Add ½ onion (chopped) and 2 carrots (cut into ¼” dice) to bacon grease in pot and cook until softened. If you have a crock pot, you can transfer ingredients to the crock pot at this point and continue preparing recipe in the crock pot. Add 1 pound dried split peas (rinsed well), 2 quarts water (adding more if necessary), 1 1½–2 lb. smoked ham hock, and 1 bay leaf and simmer until meat falls off bone, about 1 ½ or 2 hours. Add water if soup gets too thick. Remove hock from the pot, allow to cool, and using your hands remove meat and shred into bite size pieces. Discard fat and bone. Return meat to pot.

Discard bay leaf. Taste soup and add salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve. If you have not already eaten the bacon, crumble a piece on top of each serving.

Sauteed Pork Chops with Sauce

Season 4 pork chops, cut 1¼ to 1½ inch thick with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. When the pan is hot enough to sear the chops but not burn them, add the chops. They should make a gentle hissing sound when they hit the pan, not an explosive sputter. Adjust the heat if the pan seems too hot or remove the pan from the heat for 30 seconds or so (count this time as part of the overall cooking time). Sear the chops on one side for 1 to 2 minutes, or until beginning to brown lightly. Turn the chops over and sear for 1 minute more.

Reduce the heat so that the chops continue to sizzle—do not turn the heat so low that there are no more sizzling sound; if the heat is too low, the chops will sweat and juices will exude from the meat and leave it dry. Cover the pan and cook for 3 or 4 more minutes, depending on how thick the chops are. Turn and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes more on the other side. The chops are done when the meat is firm but not hard when pressed with a finger. Better still, test them with an instant-read thermometer—the meat should measure 145 to 155 degrees and will still be acceptable at 160 degrees. Remove the chops from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and let them rest for 5 minutes or so before serving, to stabilize the juices. Serve the chops or, while they are resting, make a quick pan sauce.

Master Pan Sauce

Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan, leaving any meat juices. Adjust the heat to medium and put in 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic. Stir and cook for 30 seconds, then add ½ dry white wine or dry vermouth, ½ cup chicken or beef stock, and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, savory, or dill (or ½ teaspoon if dried). Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it over high heat until it just turns syrupy. Put the pork chops back into the pan and turn them several times in the sauce to transfer the flavors. This should take no more than 30 seconds—do not cook the chops in the sauce. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve the chops with the sauce.

Maple Bourbon Pan Sauce

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat and add ½ cup finely chopped onion. Cook for 3 minutes, covered, over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in ½ cup chicken stock, ¼ cup bourbon whiskey, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and a pinch each of ground ginger and nutmeg. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes. It should not become syrupy, but will have an intense flavor nonetheless. If you prefer a thicker sauce, whisk in 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water (optional) just before serving. Taste for salt and pepper, pour the sauce over the chops, and serve.

Onion and Mustard Pan Sauce

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan and add 1 cup thinly sliced onions. Sauté for 5 minutes and stir in ½ cup white wine or dry vermouth, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and ½ teaspoon chopped fresh or dried dill or rosemary. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil the sauce for a minute or two until it begins to turn syrupy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in ¼ cup low fat or regular sour cream. Pour sauce over chops and serve.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Season two ¾-1¼ lb. pork tenderloins, trimmed of silverskin, with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Let rest on the counter for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare to make the pan sauce by chopping the scallions and measuring out the wine and broth (see below). By preparing in advance, you will be able to make the pan sauce quickly, before the tenderloins cool.

After the meat has rested for 30 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the tenderloins lightly, turning them frequently to brown on all sides, just 3 to 4 minutes total. Place the skillet in the hot oven and roast the pork for just 12-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature is no more than 145 to 150 degrees (note: the USDA recommends 160 degrees). Remove the meat from the pan and let the meat rest on a platter, covered loosely with foil, for 5 minutes while you make the pan sauce.

To make the pan sauce, place the skillet with the remaining bit of fat on the stove over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons chopped green onions (scallions) or shallots and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in ½ cup dry white wine. Bring to a boil, add ¾ cup low-salt chicken stock, and reduce until the sauce just turns syrupy. Carve the meat into ½ inch thick slices, pour the sauce over the top, and serve.