21 December 2012

fried goat cheese

When we travelled to Tuscany we stayed at Il Canto del Sole, a farmhouse villa in Monteroni d'Arbia. Owned by a charming couple, Luciano and Laura, the highlight of our stay there was an amazing multi-course dinner they lovingly prepared for us.

As great as the meal was, the wine was even better. Luciano shared from his private stock of Brunello di Motalcino. I must have drunk a lot because I can no longer remember all that we ate. I do know we had a delicious fried goat cheese, which I've tried to reproduce here.

1 round of goat cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried herbs de Provence or thyme or any mixture of herbs
1/2 tsp. powdered garlic
1/2 tsp. pepper
pinch of kosher salt
1 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of flour
olive oil

Put the panko in bowl. Add herbs, garlic, pepper, and salt. Mix well to combine. Beat the egg in a separate bowl. Put flour on plate.

Remove any outer casing from cheese and dredge in flour. Drop the floured cheese into the beaten egg. Flip it gently to coat with egg on both sides. Lastly, put it into the seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Flip it to coat on both sides. Put a little olive oil in a nonstick pan. Use just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil shimmers, you’re ready to fry.

Set the cheese down gently in the hot oil. It should start to bubble around the edges immediately. Keep an eye on your cheese…it cooks fast. When the cheese is brown on the bottom (this will happen very quickly), flip it over carefully with a spatula. Remove and serve.

13 December 2012

slow cooker pulled pork

Winter is not a good season if you're a pig.

Traditionally, hogs have been butchered in early winter. Pigs born in the spring are mature by this time, so a winter slaughter reduces the amount of feed needed for the long, cold season. And, with fewer mouths to feed, farmers are free to sleep in mornings.

Regardless of season, pork has become my favorite type of meat since moving to Canada. It's not that Canadian pork is better than the US, it's more that Canadian beef and lamb are much less tasty than their American counterparts.

Since I've come to eat more pork here, I've also found it to be extremely versatile and varied depending on the cut. On a recent shopping adventure I found boneless pork shoulder roast on sale. Not knowing exactly what to do with it, I bought it on impulse. Once home, I discovered that this is the cut used for pulled pork, a dish I've loved when eaten in the Southern US but never attempted to make until now.

2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup root beer
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (4-1/2 to 5-pound) boneless pork shoulder (also known as pork butt)
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
3/4 cups reserved cooking liquid

Place the onions and garlic in an even layer in the slow cooker and pour in the root beer.  Combine the sugar, chili powder, salt, cumin, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pat the pork dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture all over the pork and let stand in refrigerator overnight. When ready to cook, place the meat on top of the onions and garlic. Cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 10 - 12 hours on low.

Turn off the slow cooker and remove the pork to a cutting board. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the onion mixture from the slow cooker through the strainer and return the solids to the slow cooker. Set the strained liquid aside.

Using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces, discarding any large pieces of fat. Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker, add the barbecue sauce and reserved cooking liquid; mix to combine.Taste and season with salt as needed.