Monthly Archives: November 2010

braised pork with chiles and cumin

cumin and chile braised pork butt

If you are anything like us, you are tired of Thanksgiving food now. Much anticipated, planned in advance, and requiring the focused attention in the kitchen that most people leave empty all year, that dinner is a piece of work. On top of that, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is pretty bland: starches, potatoes, a roasted bird, butter, and more starches. It's no wonder that everyone sits around an hour or two after dinner is complete with their zipper down and their faces slack.

Luckily, we've mixed up the dinner enough to include more spices, less starches, and a bit of pork. (Oh, the cornbread dressing. We'll tell you about that this week.) And because Danny is a chef, he knows how to make enough food to last for a day or two and no more. We ate the last of that bird behind on Saturday.

And so, last night, we were eating spicy pork, braised with chiles and cumin.

You want this, especially now.

Braised Pork with Chiles and Cumin

3 ½ pound pork butt
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled, quartered, and chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock (or pork stock)

Take the meat out of the refrigerator and remove any wrapping or strings.

Pour ½ of the salt, pepper, chile powder, ground cumin, and cinnamon into a small bowl. Combine well. Rub this spice mixture over the pork butt, evenly.

Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Pour in half of the olive oil. Put the pork butt into the hot oil and cook until the bottom is browned, about 5 minutes. Brown all the sides in the same fashion until the entire pork butt is seared. Set it aside.

Pour the rest of the olive oil into the same pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the hot oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until they the vegetables are soft, about 7 minutes. Add the other half of the spices to the vegetables and cook until the spices have released their fragrance, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and stir.

Put the pork into a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour the spiced vegetables around the pork. Pour in enough stock to cover the pork butt. Cook the pork in your slow cooker on low, all day, or 6 to 8 hours, until the meat is tender and falls apart easily.

Feeds 6 people.


tacos al pastor at Primavera

tacos al pastor

We may have regretted having to pass by the rotisserie pork at the Ferry Terminal farmers' market for a few moments, but we were on a mission.

These tacos al pastor.

Primavera makes the most delicious tacos al pastor I have ever tasted. Now, don't get me wrong. Their tamales, for which they are better known, are also tempting. The corn outer covering is soft instead of stiff. The pork inside is delicious strings of perfectly spiced goodness. No one who eats a Primavera tamale is complaining.

However, I just can't resist these pork tacos, cooked with pineapple juice to make the meat even more tender than it would have been on its own, tossed with red onions and cilantro, topped with pineapple, and wrapped in a housemade tortilla.

Seriously, the next time we are in San Francisco, we're heading right to this stand again.


porchetta from Roli Roti

pork from Roli Roti

I can't believe we didn't stop for any of this.

We walked quickly through the Ferry Terminal Farmers' Market on a Saturday morning in San Francisco. Sadly, our time there was brief. Our good friend Anita drove us down there and told us to meet her in an hour. She's lucky enough to do all her shopping there each week. (Sigh. That's the life!) We were in search of breakfast.

We were dazzled, as always. So many local, organic incredible choices. So many good farmers and food makers. So much great food that we were temporarily paralyzed by the choices.

Suddenly, we remembered: the tacos al pastor. We ate them three years ago and we have not forgotten them since. I'll show you those next.

Still, we were struck dumb by the sight of this rotisserie pork, the drippings falling and flavoring the roasted potatoes underneath.

If only we could have eaten two breakfasts…

Roli Roti, at the Ferry Terminal every Saturday. Go.


pasta cheese? and sausage

pasta cheese

“Pasta cheese?” Lu asks me, with great hope in her voice.

Sure, kiddo.

You see, like every toddler, our kid loves noodles. She really, really loves noodles. Luckily, she doesn't need them plain with butter. As long as there is pasta (spaghetti, fettucine, or rotini) and there is some kind of cheese (Gruyere or Asiago, anything with a real taste), she'll eat anything. I sauté up chard or kale, throw in roasted broccoli or cauliflower, jumble in walnuts or sunflower seeds. She happily eats it all.

Her favorite pasta, the one she's eating here? Fettucine, red sauce, and sweet Italian pork sausage. She eats it all, every time.