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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Snow Day Slow Food

Snow days call for comfort food, cooked slow. Visiting Healdsburg, Calif., last month I spent an afternoon at the Relish Culinary Center where our group prepared the mushrooms featured alongside a delicious braised pork shoulder. Sonoma is known not only for food and wine, but mycology, I learned, which set the stage for quite a few “fun guy” (fungi) jokes at lunch. Try Aihua International Market on N. Green River Road for more exotic mushrooms this time of year.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Garlic and Herbs

•  4 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast
•  Herb-Garlic Rub (recipe provided)
•  1 Tbsp vegetable oil
•  1 yellow onion, diced
•  1 cup dry white wine
•  1 cup rich chicken stock
•  6 sprigs fresh thyme
•  peel from one-half medium lemon
•  10 cloves garlic, whole

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Wipe shoulder roast with a damp paper towel and rub all surfaces with the Herb-Garlic Rub. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or over night.

Place a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add vegetable oil and brown the roast on all sides. Remove the pork from the Dutch oven and pour off most of the fat. Sauté the diced onions in the remaining fat over medium-low heat until translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the wine, stock, thyme, and lemon peel to the onion in the pot. Top with the browned pork. Return the Dutch oven to the stove and bring the liquid to a simmer.

Remove from the burner, cover tightly with a lid or foil and place the Dutch oven in the lower third of a 275-degree F oven. Roast for two hours, then flip the roast in the cooking liquid. Add the garlic cloves. Cover and cook for two to three hours more, until the pork shoulder is very tender when pierced by a fork. Let pork cool, uncovered. When cool, refrigerate covered overnight.

Skim the fat that has coagulated on the surface of the liquid. Transfer the pork to a platter or carving board. Discard the thyme branches. Reduce the jus on the stove on high heat to thicken.

To serve, slice or shred pork. Top with some of the jus and serve the excess jus in a sauce pitcher.

Herb-Garlic Rub

•  1 Tbsp fennel seed
•  1 ½ Tbsp minced garlic, sautéed in a little olive oil until fragrant
•  2 tsp black peppercorns
•  1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
•  1 tsp sea salt
•  olive oil to make a paste

Grind fennel seed and pepper in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Mix with remaining ingredients.

Maggie Glisan, senior food editor at Better Homes & Gardens — headquartered in Des Moines — declared the pork perfectly embodied the “taste of Iowa.” I believe it is completely at home in Indiana.

Chef Donna del Rey, owner of Relish Culinary Center, suggests pairing the pork with a winter green salad topped with sautéed mushrooms, like black trumpets or Maitake mushrooms, in photo, cultivated locally in Sonoma by the company Gourmet Mushroom.

Salad

•  Clean winter greens, such as arugula and frisée.
•  Whip up your favorite vinaigrette to dress. Toss with greens.
•  Plate the greens, top with roasted mushrooms.

To Roast Mushrooms:
Clean dirt from 1 pound black trumpet or other wild mushrooms and trim with a small knife. Toss with ¼ cup of olive oil, 1 Tbsp kosher salt and 1 clove garlic, minced. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast about 20 minutes in a 400 degree F oven. Leave the mushrooms in the oven long enough for the liquid from the mushrooms to reabsorb and for them to lightly brown.

To round out the simple meal, serve with bakery crusty bread. [Serves 6]

The chef, whose husband owns a winery, suggests pairing the meal with an Anderson Valley Pinot Noir for its purity of red fruits like cranberry and cherry and its food friendly zing — perfect for a snow day or Valentine’s Day.

The pork recipe can also be found online at www.relishculinary.com.

(Thank you for reading the extra words in this blog post to accommodate the recipes!)

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