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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Puerto Rican Pernil (Roasted Pork Shoulder) Updated Cooking Techniques



I'm updating this recipe for Puerto Rican Pernil to include a few things we've incorporated after making it for several years.  Plus we tried two different ways of "roasting" it this year that worked really well.

We previously cooked the perniles covered with foil at 325 for 30 minutes per pound, then removed the foil and increased the temperature to 375 to crisp the skin.  Here's that method.  It's really, really good.

After some research, we decided to try cooking one pernil lower and slower and finish it off in a very hot oven to crisp the skin.  The results were really good, more tender than the higher heat method.  If you have the time, I highly recommend this technique.  It's pretty foolproof.

We also experimented cooking a pernil with my favorite kitchen gadget, the Sansaire sous vide immersion circulator.  If you have a sous vide machine, this is a really easy way to cook the pernil, then you transfer it to a very hot oven to crisp the skin.  It requires some planning as the cooking time is very long, but there's not much hands-on time.  Once the pork is in the water bath, you don't do anything more than checking the water level and adding water as necessary.


Recipe For Pernil (Roasted Pork Shoulder) Low and Slow Method

8-10 lb. bone-in skin-on pork picnic shoulder

For the marinade:
15 black peppercorns
18 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoon dry oregano
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt for each pound of meat
Optional:  Some juice from naranjas agrias (sour oranges) is a nice addition if it's available.

Crush and mix the marinade ingredients in a pilon (mortar and pestle) or in a blender.  Allow the flavors to marry while you prepare the pork.

Lightly score the surface of the pork skin in a criss-cross pattern, as you would an Easter ham.  This will help  make it easier to break up the cuerito, the crispy pork skin, after it's roasted.  If you forget this step (like I did this year) you can chop the cuerito into chunks with a sharp knife after roasting.


Using a very sharp knife, carefully separate the skin from the top of the pork shoulder, starting at the large end, peeling it back toward the small bony end of the shoulder, stopping before you completely separate the skin from the bony end.


Use your sharp knife to jab deep holes into the meat all over, top, bottom, sides, everywhere, turning the knife to make the holes larger.

Reserve a bit of marinade for the surface of the skin.  Rub the remainder of the marinade all over the pork, using your fingers to work it deep into the knife holes.  Carefully re-position the skin back into place and use butcher's twine to tie it securely.  Rub reserved marinade into the skin.

Place in a ziptop bag.  Either double-bag or put a tray underneath in case of drips.  Refrigerate at least 24 hours.  We've increased the marinating time over the years and now marinate 3 full days before roasting.


Perniles resting in the fridge, marinating.

One hour before cooking, remove the pork from the refrigerator, remove it from the bags and place it on a rack in a roasting pan, skin side up.  While pork is coming to room temperature, preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place pork shoulder in oven and bake for about 8 hours.  Yes, 8 hours.  You'll see that the meat has pulled away from the bone, exposing the end of the bone, and a fork inserted in the side should have little resistance when twisted.

Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Remove the foil and carefully cut and remove the butcher's twine.  Roast until the skin is brown and crispy.  When done, the skin will literally sound crunchy if you tap it.  It can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, so keep a very close eye on it at this stage to avoid burning the skin.

Remove the pernil from the oven and let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes, tented with foil.  Remove the butcher's twine and separate the skin from the meat.  Carve and shred the meat.  Cut/break the crunchy skin into bite-sized pieces.  Serve the meat on a platter with the crunchy skin on the side.


Recipe For Pernil (Roasted Pork Shoulder) Sous Vide Method

8-10 lb. bone-in skin-on pork picnic shoulder

For the marinade:
15 black peppercorns
18 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 tablespoon dry oregano
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt for each pound of meat
Optional:  Some juice from naranjas agrias (sour oranges) is a nice addition if it's available.

Crush and mix the marinade ingredients in a pilon (mortar and pestle) or in a blender.  Allow the flavors to marry while you prepare the pork.

Lightly score the surface of the pork skin in a criss-cross pattern, as you would an Easter ham.  This will help make it easier to break up the cuerito, the crispy pork skin, after it's roasted.  If you forget this step (like I did this year) you can chop the cuerito into chunks with a sharp knife after roasting.


Using a very sharp knife, carefully separate the skin from the top of the pork shoulder, starting at the large end, peeling it back toward the small bony end of the shoulder, stopping before you completely separate the skin from the bony end.


Use your sharp knife to jab deep holes into the meat all over, top, bottom, sides, everywhere, turning the knife to make the holes larger.

Reserve a bit of marinade for the surface of the skin.  Rub the remainder of the marinade all over the pork, using your fingers to work it deep into the knife holes.  Carefully re-position the skin back into place and use butcher's twine to tie it securely.  Tying securely with butcher's twine is essential for this preparation because the meat will be so tender after sous vide cooking that it won't hold its shape for roasting to crisp the skin otherwise.  Rub reserved marinade into the skin.

Vacuum seal the pernil in a sous vide bag.  We refrigerated the marinated pernil for 24 hours before sous vide cooking it; however, the marinating time may be unnecessary as the vacuum sealing and sous viding forces the marinade deep into the meat.

When ready to sous vide, set up your sous vide circulator and set the temperature to 150 degrees.  When the water comes to temperature, add the vac-packed pernil.  Loosely cover the top with aluminum foil to reduce evaporation.  Cook the pork sous vide for 36 hours, checking the water level a couple of times per day and adding more as necessary.

Remove the cooked pernil from the sous vide bath.  Remove it from the bag and put it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan.  Be careful.  There will be lots of hot liquid in that bag.  It helps to have a partner to do this.

Cook the pernil uncovered in a 250 degree oven for an hour or two to start drying out the skin.  Then increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.  Carefully cut and remove the butcher's twine.  Roast until the skin is brown and crispy.  When done, the skin will literally sound crunchy if you tap it.  It can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, so keep a very close eye on it at this stage to avoid burning the skin.

Remove the pernil from the oven and let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes, tented with foil.  Remove the butcher's twine and separate the skin from the meat.  Carve and shred the meat.  Cut/break the crunchy skin into bite-sized pieces.  Serve the meat on a platter with the crunchy skin on the side.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Red Enchilada Sauce


My stepdaughter Morgan made this enchilada sauce this afternoon.  She'll be using it to make a chicken enchilada casserole.  This sauce has a beautiful deep red color, is full of flavor, and is easy to make.  It has a nice, smooth consistency, both when warm and when cooled.  It's just perfect for enchiladas and enchilada casseroles.

Morgan used regular old chili powder, Sprout's organic version, which is very mild.  I can envision experimenting with flavor options using specific varieties or blends of chile powders to taste.

You can make this with chicken broth or make a vegan version with veggie broth.  Morgan used Pacific brand low sodium organic chicken broth.  Obviously homemade chicken or veggie broth would add more flavor, but we don't have any homemade on hand at the moment.  No one will ever mistake me for Martha Stewart!

Here's the recipe, slightly adapted from a recipe on gimmesomeoven.com:

Red Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
2 T flour
4 T chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cumin
1/4 t oregano
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 oz. tomato paste

Directions:

Heat oil in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add flour and whisk together over the heat until the mixture turns golden brown, at least one minute.  Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through oregano).  Gradually add in the broth, whisking constantly to remove lumps.  Add the tomato paste and whisk to blend.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until sauce thickens.

Use immediately or refrigerate.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chilean Sea Bass With Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes And Hatch Chile Peppers


This dish has so many things I embrace wholeheartedly:  fish caught using sustainable methods, locally grown cherry tomatoes, and seasonal Hatch chile peppers.  This is Chilean Sea Bass from trusted local supplier TJ's Fresh Seafood Market, which sources its seafood responsibly; cherry tomatoes from one of the local, organic farmers at the Coppell Farmers Market; and roasted seasonal Hatch chile peppers from Central Market.

This isn't really a recipe, more of a suggestion.  The fish, three portions approximately 6 oz. each, was sprinkled on all sides with Penzey's Ruth Ann's Muskego Ave Chicken and Fish Seasoning, a blend of salt, black pepper, garlic, lemon peel, and onion.  Any subtle seasoning like that would work well.  The fish is so nice it doesn't need to be overpowered by spices.  I  rinsed a bunch of cherry tomatoes.  I removed the blackened skin, stems, and seeds from a couple of mild Hatch chile peppers and diced them.

I heated a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat for a long time to make sure that it was evenly heated, coated it with good olive oil (in this case a basil-infused Texas olive oil), then added the Chilean Sea Bass filets.  (Interestingly enough, Chilean Sea Bass is neither bass nor Chilean.  Check out this Wikipedia article if you're interested in knowing more:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patagonian_toothfish.)

The filets were really thick, maybe 2", so I cooked them skin-side-down for almost 10 minutes, then flipped them and cooked about 5 more minutes.  It's a relatively fatty fish, so it's pretty forgiving if you "overcook" it.  I removed the cooked filets from the skillet, put them on a plate, and tented it with aluminum foil.

I put the pretty yellow cherry tomatoes and diced Hatch chiles in the skillet and cooked them, giving everything a good stir now and again, until most of the tomatoes burst, then poured in the juices that had accumulated on the plate the fish was resting on and stirred that in.  Then I just plated and served.

This is a quick, easy, healthy, and responsible dinner that anyone can make in no time.  There's little prep and few ingredients.  High quality, sustainable fish isn't cheap; however, its flavor is so good you only need a small portion.  Plus when you eat well you're making an investment in your future health and the health of our planet.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Almond and Parmesan Chicken Tenders



This one is kid and adult approved.  It's a great, more healthy alternative to flour-laden, carb-dense recipes.  Yummy!

Recipe For Almond and Parmesan Chicken Tenders

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
3 eggs
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup of almonds, chopped in a food processor to a coarse meal texture
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic or onion powder
big pinch of kosher salt
couple of grinds of black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Set up a breading station:

  • Whisk eggs and then whisk in lemon juice and put in a shallow bowl. 
  • Mix the almonds, parmesan, paprika, garlic or onion powder, salt, and pepper and put in a shallow bowl.

Working a couple at a time, coat chicken tenders with egg mixture, then with almond mixture, and shake off excess.  Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet; no crowding.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Crustless Quiche



This is a breakfast/brunch dish for those of us who have childhood issues with runny eggs and need them to be thoroughly cooked and disguised with plenty of cheese.  Our picky kids seem to like this one too since it has the flavors of broccoli cheese soup.  You can bake this recipe in individual ramekins, which I think makes it kinda fun for kids, but you can also bake it in a pie dish.

Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Crustless Quiche Recipe

10 ounces fresh broccoli
6 large eggs
1/2 cup half-and-half
big pinch of salt
couple grinds of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of your favorite seasoning:  nutmeg, toasted onion powder, garlic powder, etc.
3/4 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
butter for greasing ramekins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter four 8-ounce ramekins or a 9-inch pie dish.

Bring a stockpot of salted water to a boil.  Add broccoli.  Return to the boil and cook 1 minute.  Drain well. Transfer broccoli to a cutting board and blot dry with paper towels.  Chop broccoli coarsely.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, a big pinch of salt, a couple of grinds of pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of your favorite seasoning.  Stir in broccoli and cheese.

Place ramekins or pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet.  Ladle the broccoli/egg/cheese mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly, or ladle it into a pie dish.  Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out pretty clean, about 35 to 40 minutes for individual ramekins, 10 to 15 minutes more for a pie dish.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Baked Shrimp Scampi


Maybe not the healthiest shrimp recipe, but seriously delicious!  This is better than any shrimp scampi you can get at a restaurant!  This recipe is slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa's Baked Shrimp Scampi Recipe.

Recipe For Baked Shrimp Scampi

2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stick butter, at room temperature
4 minced garlic cloves
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried breadcrumbs)
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish.

Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter-crumb mixture evenly over the shrimp.
 Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.


Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad with Vinaigrette


This recipe has it all.  It's crisp, cool, and refreshing.  It's ridiculously easy.  And it's really nutritious.  Enjoy!

Recipe for Cucumber, Tomato, and Feta Salad with Vinaigrette

Salad
2 cucumbers
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 package of feta cheese, 6 to 8 ounces
1/4 red onion

Vinaigrette
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (I like Penzey's pasta sprinkle)
salt and pepper to taste

Using a vegetable peeler, remove 4 strips of peel from the length of each cucumber (giving a striped appearance).  Trim away the ends, cut each cucumber in half diagonally, and scoop out all the seeds.  Thinly slice the cleaned cucumbers.

Put the sliced cucumbers in a colander set over a bowl.  Sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt and shake the collander.  This will help to draw extra moisture out of the cucumber.  Give the collander a shake now and again to disperse the salt evenly over the cucumber.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.

Cut the feta into small dice.

Very finely dice the red onion.  Rinse the onion in a collander to remove some of its pungency.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, freshly ground pepper, and salt (go easy on the salt until you taste the finished salad, since you've already sprinkled salt over the cucumber).  Drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil while wisking to make a nice emulsified vinaigrette.

Combine the sliced cucumbers, cherry tomato halves, diced feta, and diced onion in a salad bowl.  Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the salad (you may have extra vinaigrette left over that you can dress another salad with).  Taste the salad and add extra salt if necessary.