Raise your hand if this was your favorite week ever. Yeah, I thought so. Oh well, at least we have food. Here’s what we ate this week:
Grilled ham and cheese; chips; string beans
Just another busy Saturday. You can see I made another stellar shopping list, too.
Grilled ham and provolone on sourdough bread with a little mayo on the outside, fried in butter.
Sometimes we slip thin slices of Granny Smith apples inside these sandwiches before frying, but not this week.
The string beans are finally looking less wretched, though, so we had just washed and trimmed them and ate them raw. Dreaming of the garden, if the snow ever leaves.
Porchetta pork roast, farro salad, garlic bread
This was most certainly a bright spot. Best porchetta pork roast in the world. A few weeks ago, the Herreid clan was in the area for a wedding, and John stopped by with a bounty of leftover food. The Herreids are all, as far as I can tell, food geniuses. Ben is the chef at Wildflour artisan pasta restaurant in Leavanworth, WA, and this porchetta is one of his dishes. If you’re ever in the area, I highly highly recommend going to Wildflour. I’ve had the chance to taste Ben’s dishes a few times, and they are outstanding.
Damien recreated the porchetta this week, with a few minor adjustments. I’ll put a card at the end (probably later today. I can’t seem to ever finish this post!).
I was working while Damien cooked, and didn’t get a lot of pics of the pork, so here are some from John Herreid, when he made the same recipe at his house:
Eh? Eh? Have mercy; it’s the food of the gods.
I couldn’t find a nice big roast so we could roll and tie it like you’re supposed to, so we just had some sort of slabs to fold in half; and I couldn’t find white pepper, so he used black pepper and a little red pepper. I always think I don’t like fennel, but when it hangs around with the right flavors, it’s heavenly. So this was fennel root with onions, sweetened with apricot preserves and golden raisins, and heated with the peppers, along with sausage, white wine, coriander and garlic. Amazing. The smell alone will absolutely murder you, in the fun way.
He prepped the meat the day before, and then started it cooking in a 185 around 8 a.m. on Sunday and cooked it until about 5:30, turning it up to 500 for the last 20 minutes. Then you blast the heat and the end and crackle up the fat until it’s ready to melt under the crust. Hot damn.
For a side, I made this farro salad which was good, but not really the right accompaniment to this particular porchetta. They both had very strong flavors which didn’t complement each other as I hoped. The porchetta was more dusky and autumnal, I guess, and the farro more piquant and summery, or something. Anyway, next time I’ll probably just serve plain bread and asparagus or spinach or string beans with the porchetta, and save the farro salad for steak or grilled chicken or something with less complex flavors.
The farro salad was gorgeous, anyway, and really fed my hunger for color. Check out the vegetables:
and check out the dressing:
I do love farro. It’s like if barley and pasta got married and had a kid, and everyone’s like, “Whoa, look who got all the best genes!”
Overall an excellent meal.
I say the combination wasn’t ideal, but yet I also ate a lot of it. A LOT.
Chicken burgers, fries
Monday got eaten up by the locusts, so we had some late, hurried frozen chicken burgers. Which are actually pretty tasty.
Calzones, banana splits, fried cheese balls
Tuesday was Irene’s birthday, and she asked for calzones. Recipe card at the end. I made some plain, some pepperoni, and some olive. I had a lot of help from my kitchen buddy.
I made sixteen calzoni, using four balls of readymade pizza dough cut into fourths. Sheesh, I love calzoni. Is there any friendlier food?
Then you brush a little egg wash on top and they are so plump and shiny.
Notice those little balls on the plate. I had a bunch of cheese filling left over, so I added a few beaten eggs and some panko bread crumbs to it, rolled them into balls the size of ping pong balls, and rolled them in bread crumbs again.
Then I chilled them a few hours and deep fried those suckers.
They were good! I wasn’t sure if they would hold together, since they were mostly ricotta, and I wasn’t sure if the crust would be thick enough, since I didn’t bother dipping them in egg; but they turned out really nicely. I think the small size and the chilling helped them hold together.
They were very light and tender, as tasty as fried mozzarella sticks but not so heavy. We dipped them in hot marinara sauce.
The only down side was that they were absolutely overkill as a side dish for calzones! It was like going to see a Shakespeare play and then stopping off for some sonnets on the way home. I would make these again as a side dish to something that wasn’t already mainly hot cheese, and maybe stick a little pancetta or basil or something in them.
Ham, mashed potatoes, peas
Benny asked for this dish very ardently.
I think mainly because I found some Wooly Willy dishes at a thrift store. I went looking for an Amazon link out of habit, and this is what I found:
Decorative use only, you guys. You’ve been warned.
The only useful advice I have about ham is this: if you buy a pre-cooked one, you can slice it up and then heat it, and it heats up much faster. You don’t want to know how long it took me to figure that out.
Beer brats, smoked wings
Damien made this outside on the grill. Very delicious. He used his sugar rub for the wings and let them sit for several hours before grilling. He boils the brats in beer and onions before grilling. I’ll put recipe cards at the end at some point today.
I feel like we had an assortment of chips. It was only yesterday, but my memory is foggy. I blame the locusts. You can see the lengths we went to to prepare an attractive table, too. Ehh, the meat was good.
Waffles, eggs, home fries
That’s what it says on the blackboard, anyway. Looking back, this week’s menu was designed to kill us quick, but here we still be.
And now I find out if the formatting is completely screwed up. I updated my blogging system and now everything takes an extra four steps and sometimes doesn’t work! It’s awesome. Everything is awesome.
This is the basic recipe for cheese calzones. You can add whatever you’d like, just like with pizza. Warm up some marinara sauce and serve it on the side for dipping.
- 3 balls pizza dough
- 32 oz ricotta
- 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 cup parmesan
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 egg yolks for brushing on top
- any extra fillings you like: pepperoni, olives, sausage, basil, etc.
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix together filling ingredients.
Cut each ball of dough into fourths. Roll each piece into a circle about the size of a dinner plate.
Put a 1/2 cup or so of filling into the middle of each circle of dough circle. (You can add other things in at this point – pepperoni, olives, etc. – if you haven’t already added them to the filling) Fold the dough circle in half and pinch the edges together tightly to make a wedge-shaped calzone.
Press lightly on the calzone to squeeze the cheese down to the ends.
Mix the egg yolks up with a little water and brush the egg wash over the top of the calzones.
Grease and flour a large pan (or use corn meal or bread crumbs instead of flour). Lay the calzones on the pan, leaving some room for them to expand a bit.
Bake about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.
Ben Herreid’s Porchetta pork roast
- 1 deboned pork shoulder
- 2 sweet Italian sausages, removed from casings
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 bulb fennel, sliced like the onion
- 2/3 cup apricot preserves or quince paste
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 3 cups dry white wine
- kosher salt
spice rub (makes a little less than a cup)
- scant 1/2 cup ground fennel
- 1/4 cup ground coriander
- 1/4 cup garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp ground white pepper OR black pepper with some red pepper flakes thrown in
Cut open pork shoulder so that it can be rolled up. It should be cut sort of like a tri-fold brochure, keeping the fat as the outside layer. Season liberally on both sides with spice rub and kosher salt.
Make filling by sautéing fennel, onion, sausage, garlic. Once sausage is browned and both fennel and onion is soft, set aside and let cool. Mix in golden raisins and apricot preserves. Season with salt.
Put fennel/sausage mix inside pork shoulder and roll tightly. It will be messy. Tie with baking twine as you would a roast. Transfer to a covered roasting pan.
Roast at low temp (185) in covered pan with three cups of dry white wine for 7-10 hours, or until the pork is fork tender. Drain the drippings and set aside.
Uncover and roast at 500 for 20 minutes or so, rotating the pan midway through. You want to crisp the exterior up and render the outside fat.
Slice and serve.
If you like, reduce the drippings to add back in on top of the pork.