A new pickle will perk up old summer favorites

Pork Tacos w. Pickled Corn

Pork Tacos w. Pickled Corn

These three things are not much of a surprise to anyone who knows me: I love corn, pickled anything (except herring) and culinary magazines. So when I came across a recipe for pickled corn in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, I waited…oh, like two hours before making it.

Seriously. Two hours, no lie. The magazine arrived that afternoon, I leafed through it while basking in the sun and then it was time to start cooking.

My husband and I had decided to make tacos for dinner and I had two beautiful fresh ears of corn that I wanted to use up. I almost just shucked them and added them to the pot of beans but then I gave in and made this instead. It seemed too serendipitous to resist the temptation.

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Pork and Pineapple 2.0 — New meat, New method

Sriracha-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Sriracha-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

A year or so ago, I bought a fresh pineapple for the sole purpose of making a recipe I had been dying to try — a boneless pork butt slathered in Sriracha and slow roasted for hours on a bed of pineapple. It turned out pretty amazing, a tangy combination of sweet, spicy and sour.

While I loved the flavor, the leftovers turned out to be slightly dry because of the cooking process. The meat ends up glazed and tender, but it lacks a sauce to help keep it moist upon reheating. And even though we are, as I like to put it, “professional eaters,” my husband and I couldn’t polish off the whole six-pound piece in one sitting.

So, since I had recently been daydreaming about the dish, I decided to make it again using a pork tenderloin instead. The key difference is that the pork butt needed to roast for a long time at low temperature to be tender, whereas the tenderloin would be tender cooked to medium-rare. I figured this would offer more forgiveness for the leftovers.

Pineapple cooked in sugar and vinegar

Pineapple cooked in sugar and vinegar

I kept the same preparation, cutting the meat in a spiral and rubbing it with spices and Sriracha before tying it up in kitchen twine. Since the cooking time was dramatically reduced, I started off the pineapple (tossed with equal parts brown sugar and apple cider vinegar) a good hour beforehand.

Once the pineapple was tender and fragrant (and, oh man, it smelled so good!), I placed the tenderloin on top, and let it roll. About 20 minutes later, I opened my oven and was greeted to the most beautiful sight:

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Triple Threat Wings are Violently Delicious

Triple Threat Chicken Wings

Triple Threat Chicken Wings

Chicken wings, cooked the way my grandma always makes them, are a nostalgic food for me. The recipe she uses has been in the family for years and with one bite, they instantly transport me back to my childhood. Cooked low and slow, the wings end up as glossy little things, coated in a sticky mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar and wine. I love them so much it’s hard for me to even contemplating trying out a different wing recipe.

However, fellow Portland dweller Cam (who makes “violently delicious food for a modern life”) just posted a recipe for Triple Threat Chicken Wings on her blog Gekiuma. Her photos of the lacquered wings dripping with garlic, ginger and chilies were enticing enough to make me reconsider. And it seemed too much of a coincidence, serendipitous in fact, that I happened to have a package of chicken wings in the fridge.

So within 24 hours of her post, I broke tradition and gave her Triple Threat Wings a shot.

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Water Buffalo Larb (for when tradition goes out the window)

I love larb — it’s one of my favorite meals to eat when it’s hot outside and I’m craving something spicy but light. Larb (a dish that hails from Laos and Thailand) is often prepared with ground pork, but I have also made it with ground turkey, just for health purposes. Even with such a lean meat, the lime juice, chilis and fish sauce keep it flavorful and delicious.

This time around I decided to go really out there and make it with some ground local water buffalo that I had on hand, another perk of my job as a meat distributor. Water buffalo is very lean and a bit beefy (more so than regular bison) so it seemed like a good fit for this dish.

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Black bean soup: dinner for when the sun refuses to shine

It may seem weird posting about a soup in June but as my blogging friend (and fellow Portland dweller) Not Without Butter noted yesterday, our weather has been very temperamental this year. Instead of basking in the sun drinking a piña colada, I spent last week making soup. Sadly I’m not talking about a nice cold gazpacho or vichyssoise. Oh no, I’m talking about a thick, hearty and comforting black bean soup. Of course, even if it was hot outside I would still like this soup — after all spicy foods pair perfectly with cold beer and summer sun.

However, this dinner was certainly more on the warm-me-up-please scale of soups.

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Pork & Pineapple Revisited: Sriracha works its magic

Roasted Pork Butt & Pineapple: Resistance is futile

Roasted Pork Butt & Pineapple: Resistance is futile

So after my fabulous pork chop and fried rice extravaganza a few weeks ago, I have been daydreaming about the sweet and slightly spicy flavor combination of pork and pineapple. There was a voice in the back of my head, compelling me to go to the store and buy another pineapple. Which I did the following week — I have no willpower. Then the following day at work, as if she had been reading my mind, a coworker presented me with a perfectly adorable little pork butt.

That’s actually not as strange as it may seem, considering I work as a meat distributor. But it was a little unusual because the pork butts are supposed to come two pieces to a pack, with the pack weighing about 12-17 pounds. Yet somehow this singly packed pork butt managed to find its way to our warehouse. It weighed almost six pounds, which was just the right size for me to take home. Clearly it was a sign.

I braised half of it in a curry, with plenty of vegetables and some farro thrown in for good measure. But I kept looking longingly at the pineapple in my fridge and suddenly I remembered I had the perfect recipe to try out. I dug through my binder and came up with this gem: Slow-Cooked Sweet-and-Sour Pork Shoulder with Pineapple.

I will tell you a little secret. I haven’t done much low-heat dry roasting before. Give me a pork butt or a beef chuck and I immediately think of braising. I know barbecue restaurants often season bone-in pork butts with a dry rub and then cook them at a low temperature until the meat just falls off the bone. But while I’ve cooked that way with ribs before, it’s never been a technique I’ve used on this particular cut of meat — and besides my butt was boneless, giving it a higher chance of drying out. So I was a little apprehensive — I didn’t want tough pork, but I knew that I had to make that recipe.

I waited a day before biting the bullet…then I got to work.

First I cut the pork butt in a spiral, so it would lay flat. Then I got together all of my ingredients for the dry rub — Sriracha, hot smoked paprika, and garlic and onion powder. And salt and pepper, of course.

After you get the pork seasoned with the dry rub, slather the whole thing with Sriracha. It will be messy, I’m not going to lie. Then roll it back up into a log and tie it with butcher’s twine. Let it marinate at room temperature.

Once two hours have passed, it’s time to get started on the pineapple. Basically cut a ripe pineapple into one inch chunks. Put them in a roasting pan or large skillet and mix in equal parts apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. Place the pork butt on top of that and stick the whole thing in your preheated oven.

This is about the time you will start to have regrets — because it already looks amazing but it won’t be ready to eat for another three or four hours.

The good news is this gives you plenty of time to drink a beer and mainline some Gossip Girl. That show is my latest obsession. I am currently in the midst of a pretty serious infatuation with Blair and Chuck.

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