Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009!

Tonight's Menu

  • pork and sauerkraut
  • mashed potatoes
  • mixed greens w/black-eyed peas
Hey, everyone! Happy New Year! This is our traditional New Year's Day dinner, more or less. When I was growing up in the midwest, everyone ate pork and sauerkraut (or cabbage in some other form) on New Year's Day. But down here in Tejas, they are all about the greens and black-eyed peas. So, I combine them, just to make sure we're covered.

The pork was a big Boston Butt roast that was labeled bone-in but turned out not to have a bone at all. I seasoned it liberally with salt and pepper, browned it on all sides in a big enameled cast-iron dutch oven on the stovetop, then removed it from the heat and made sure the roast was turned fat-side up.

Then I opened a big jar of sauerkraut (I like the jar kind better than the canned kind; I don't know why) and drained off most of the liquid before distributing the sauerkraut around the pork roast in the pan. I poured on a bit of apple cider and then sprinkled on some brown sugar and tossed it with the sauerkraut, leaving the meat more or less uncovered. Then I popped a lid on the dutch oven and threw the whole thing in the ACTUAL oven at 225 degrees F for about 5.5 hours. For the last 20 minutes of cooking time, I uncovered the pan and cranked the heat up to 400 to crisp up the roast. The pork was falling-apart tender and delicious! And the sauerkraut was awesome, too. I was worried it would get mushy from cooking that long but it didn't, whew!

The mashed potatoes were from scratch. I know! It's a new thing for me! (I used to use Ore-Ida's frozen mashed potatoes religiously, but they discontinued them. Bastards!) I guess I should tell you how I make them, though it's really not exciting and I'm betting your mashed potatoes are way better than mine! I just peel some russet potatoes, cut them into chunks, simmer them in water until they're tender, then whomp them in a mixing bowl with some butter, milk, salt and pepper and go at them with the electric hand mixer. I know some people add cream cheese or sour cream or roasted garlic or whatever, but to me mashed potatoes are just a vehicle for the gravy (or sauerkraut and pan juices, in this case) so I like to keep them fairly plain. I dunno. I'm weird.

Anyway, the greens in our beans 'n' greens were from this week's CSA box. They gave us a bag of something they call "braising mix", which is really just some baby greens that you would want to cook rather than eat raw. I recognized rainbow chard, beet greens and mustard, but I'm really not sure what all was in there. No matter, though -- it's all good!

So, what I did was chop up some bacon (Pederson's Apple Smoked -- I have become addicted to this bacon!) and half an onion and toss them in a skillet until the bacon was nearly crisp and the onions had a bit of color. Then I added the greens (which I had washed, drained, and given a whirl in the salad spinner) and let them wilt down just a bit. I added a small amount of water to the pan, then covered it and just let the greens steam/braise down until they were nice and tender. Most of the liquid cooked off, and at that point I added one can of black-eyed peas that had been rinsed and drained.

After I'd tossed the beans and greens around enough that the beans were heated through, I sprinkled on just a wee bit of apple cider vinegar and some brown sugar and stirred until it was all incorporated. This is my favorite treatment for cooked greens -- well, the kind that don't have to be cooked very long, anyway. It has kind of a sweet-sour effect that plays nicely with the smokiness of the bacon and the earthiness of the greens. I added a bit of sriracha to my portion at the table and it was FANTASTIC!

Anyhoo, there you have it! The last of our decadent holiday feast meals for the next couple of months, anyway. Now it's back to quinoa and tilapia and other healthy crappe like that! (Just kidding.)(But only a little.)

1 comment:

wosnes said...

I've been reading about the midwestern tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year's. I'm a midwesterner -- and never heard of it. But I like it. I'll have to try and remember it for next year.