Some of the trees have lost their leaves, some are still thinking about it. Now all of this can seem great if you're weary after a day of shoveling snow. And it definitely makes getting out for a walk a more pleasant idea if you know you don't have to battle icy winds to do it. But even after living here for over 20 years, I still have a hard time with the seasons.
One of the reasons is that I like to cook meals according to the seasons. There's a simple principle in Chinese Medicine which says that if you suffer from cold, then use things that warm. If you suffer from heat, then use things that cool. Salads, for instance are cooling, as are all raw fruits and vegetables. Cooked foods are warming. So in the winter, it's usually better to eat cooked foods, and in the summer, it's better to eat more raw foods. Makes sense, right?
But when you live in a place where the nighttime temperatures can be quite chilly (OK - don't even THINK of laughing, all you who live in a more frigid climate! Live here for a while and see how it feels to YOU! ;-)), and then the daytime temperatures are moderate enough that you can leave the coat or sweater in the closet - what do you eat? Warming or cooling?
Since I tend to run a bit on the cool side, I tend to err in favor of warming foods - even in our mild winters. Besides, I love the aromas coming from the kitchen when I'm cooking a stew or a roast. So I can take a walk while my food is simmering in the oven. I can admire the flowers and trees in my neighborhood. Yes, this is a jade plant in bloom!
And then I get to come home to a meal which will feel right when the sun goes down.
I saw this recipe at epicurious, and couldn't resist. I had everything but the pork, so I walked to Whole Foods and asked for a pork shoulder butt. I confess, I found this request confusing. I have asked for pork shoulder before, but combining "shoulder" and "butt" seemed like an anatomical impossibility. The butcher, however, wasn't confused at all. She gave me 3# of it (I didn't need 8 servings!). If I were to make this again, I would use a pork loin roast instead. I like that cut of meat better.
I don't know what came over me, but this time I pretty much followed the recipe. Except that I used 3.5 pounds of meat, and cooked it for probably just under 4 hours.
1/2 tablespoon whole white peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons coarse sea salt (preferably gray crystals)
1 tablespoon plus 2 1/4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Pork and Onions:
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 3/4 to 4 pounds onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 cups water
1 5-pound pork shoulder butt with bone
For spice rub:
Stir peppercorns and coriander in small skillet over medium heat until spices are darker in color, about 5 minutes. Transfer to spice grinder; grind finely. Place in small bowl; mix in remaining ingredients. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.
For pork and onions:
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté 10 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups water; cover and cook until onions are soft, about 15 minutes. Uncover; continue to cook until onions are beginning to brown and water has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300°F. Sprinkle spice rub on large sheet of foil. Roll pork in rub, pressing to coat. Set pork on rack in large roasting pan. Top pork with 1/3 of onions; scatter remaining onions around pork in pan.
Roast pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center registers 165°F, stirring onions in pan occasionally, about 6 hours. Transfer pork to platter. Season onions in pan with salt and pepper; spoon around pork.
Per serving: 538 calories, 27g fat, 7g saturated, 152mg cholesterol, 765mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 48g protein (nutritional analysis provided by Nutrition Data)
I don't understand what's going on with the date. It says "Thursday, Jan. 10", when in fact, it's Sunday, Jan. 13th!