Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Now They're Working...

There's an old joke I can't quite remember - maybe you know the one. First comes the build up (that's the part I can't recall) and then the wife is telling her husband, referring to their windshield wipers, "Now they're working"......."Now they're not!!".

That's the way our weather has been so far in October. We'd wake up to delightfully cool mornings, but be toasting again by mid afternoon as the mercury crept up into the high 80s and low 90s. Again. And again.

One night I'd have to get up and close the windows because it was getting too chilly in the house.

The next night we'd be running the air conditioner because the humidity had returned even though it wouldn't rain (dammit!) and it was too cloying to sleep even with the ceiling fan going at top speed.

Adding to my autumnal angst I kept reading other folks who live in cooler climes posts about how there is a real snap in the air, they have loads of local wonderful apples at the markets, they are tired of apple pie, they are roasting and stewing and braising it up all over the place, blah blah blah.

I had sure enough planted various cold weather vegetables in our garden over the past few weeks. I fretted: where was the cold weather to make any sense out of doing so?Finally we had a desperately needed inch and a half of rain yesterday and much cooler temperatures to go along with it. I dared allow myself to hope. Could Fall temperatures really be here to stay?

Whether or not this is another Faux Fall teaser, I figured to take advantage of the cool afternoon at hand and make something similar to the recipes I've been drooling over at Gastronome, bitchincamero, and elsewhere. Like me these bloggers are similarly stuck in warm weather reality while entertaining cold weather culinary dreams.

I wanted to incorporate some of what I had on hand in order to continue my generalized Fall Pantry Challenge and came up with the following recipe which is my antidote to the Debate Doldrums. I am dubbing this one -
2 lbs (approx) Niman Ranch country style pork ribs
1/2 cup salt/peppered AP flour
2 carrots, grated
1 small onion finely chopped
3 clove garlic finely minced
1 jalapeño, seeded, fine chopped
1 roasted red pepper (1/2 jar), drained and rough chopped
1 bay leaf
1 baby eggplant (approx 3/4 cup) diced
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, peeled, with juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
rendered pork fat
1 cup red wine
1 cup water (or low salt chicken broth)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat dutch oven on stove top over medium heat.
Cut pork into 1/2 inch cubes, putting fat chunks into heated dutch oven to render.
Toss pork cubes with seasoned AP flour lightly.
When fat begins to sizzle, add olive oil to dutch oven.
Brown pork cubes in batches to avoid crowding, about 5 minutes each on two sides to develop brown crust.
Remove meat from dutch oven and reserve.
Add carrot, onion, jalapeño, garlic and deglaze pan, stirring with wooden spoon until onion begins to turn translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add red pepper and eggplant, stirring, for additional two minutes.
Put meat back into pan. Add bay leaf. Add tomatoes, wine and enough water to cover.Bring back to a boil, cover, and put into preheated oven for 2 or more hours. Check at 2 hours to determine if additional liquid needs to be added, adjust seasoning and shred meat. Once meat is fork tender you may serve, or hold in a warm oven as needed. This may be served over noodles as a ragout, or may be combined with rice or potatoes to stretch it a bit.
Serves 4
Enjoy with chewy bread, the rest of your red wine, and a nice green salad.

Recipe notes: I used water but you could use stock, especially if you are using more typical commercially raised pork that has most of the flavor bred out of it. In that case you could start with 2-3 slices of bacon rough chopped in the pan to add flavor and pork fat to your dish.

Newby cooks - if you start to smell your dish noticeably about 90 minutes in? Check to assure the liquid has not boiled too far down and add more water or stock as needed. You might be smelling the sauce caramelizing and potentially burning onto the side and bottom of your pan.

The eggplant is a last harvest from our garden before I pulled it out for the year. It was totally superfluous and disappeared into the sauce. Aside from the essentials of garlic, onion and tomato, you can throw in what you have on hand. If you don't have a jalapeño, throw in a poblano or some pepper flakes or a can of green chiles. Once you've slow cooked it all for a couple of hours, everything joins forces to prepare a rich sauce without identifiable individual flavors really standing out.For an appropriately autumnal salad last night I harvested arugula and mustard from seed sown 9/9 making me feel like a real suburban farmer gal. I combined that with half a cut up crisp organic Jonagold apple from Wheatsville, some roasted Texas pecans, crumbled Cotija cheese and a vinaigrette. Yum.That and a slice of artisanal whole grain bread with a little Remember When dairy butter on top and we were happy campers for our debate watching last night.

Postscript: The recipe delivered. The candidates? Well. Nobody punched anybody or cursed (you know who I mean and you know why I secretly hoped for that drama). It was actually kind of....boring.
Which I keep reading is a good thing. So now all we have to do around here is wait until Octpber 20th, cast our early votes, and hold our collective breath until the results are announced. Then clarified. Potentially challenged, then announced again.

I will believe we have a new president when I am watching the inaugural hooraw. Which I mostly won't. Especially if it looks like we will be facing another 4 years of angry white men acting out their Daddy issues on an international scale and dragging all the rest of us along with them. If that does happen, expect to see a multitude of strong adult beverage recipes featured here.

Hunker down boys and girls - it is going to be a long 20 days.

1 comment:

Flapjacks said...

we are all braising aren't we...? i'm in middle right now. some leftover swine from a glorious pork roast in june.

blog to come.

glad your eating the remember when butter. that stuff is unreal. more later. oh and your boy made some damn fine looking bread pudding...