Sunday Supper at Lucques
This month Vons/Safeway via FoodBuzz offered me the treat of a $100 stipend to order groceries on delivery and write a blog post about it. FoodBuzz is awesome. They offer some really amazing contests and blogportunities that have really rocked my world. One example was Project Food Blog, which I was kicked out of after my fifth post (very little bitterness here, it really helped me stretch myself, I said very little, not none). Also, their 24x24 monthly interactive thing-a-majigger. Myself and friends executed ours last holiday season and it was ridiculously fun. I will surely apply for another go- round this spring.
This time the job was simple. Receive a $100 stipend to order groceries via Safeway/Vons delivery and post about the service. Naturally, I am using the groceries to cook up something good around which to post. The groceries arrived at the top of the stairs chez moi right on time delivered by a smiling deliveryman very patient with my need for a photo opp.
Bags are hauled up in a sturdy plastic box so as not to challenge the structural integrity of thin plastic bags climbing up the steep tile stairway.
Loves: Could not love more the timeliness of delivery. I scheduled between 5 and 7 in the evening. Around 3PM guy calls me and asks what time I will be home. Well, just before 5, natch and there he was at 4:59 alerting the shepherd by climbing the front steps. Sweet.
Doesn't love: The main ingredient in my recipe was not delivered. Three pounds of pork loin, out of stock. During the phone conversation I was not alerted to the out of stock item. If I had been I could have stopped off at the grocery store on the way home to pick up the protein. Luckily, I have a husband who actually likes to run errands on the way home from tennis, no lie. "Sweetie, three pounds of pork loin chops please?"
Suzanne Goin's Sunday Supper at Lucques was an excellent birthday present a few years back at an extremely significant birthday. Please note the signed front page. *preens* This fall night I chose to tackle spiced pork stew with polenta, root vegetables and gremolata. Seasonal with fairly simple ingredients.
Loves: Fresh produce from Vons delivery. I was a little skeptical that Vons would deliver nice produce without my hand picking. The produce was fine and dandy. Every single piece. Nothing exotic, just fine examples of late fall staples. There's a bottle of wine in the back corner up there. They deliver a small selection of name brand grocery store wine. This was La Crema Pinot Noir.
A nice assortment of herbs bottled and fresh organic, the standard array of dairy and dry goods.
Let's get down to the cooking.
Pan roasted root vegetables with gremolata. I always roast veggies in the oven. This was actually a little faster and the flavor was immense. From top left corner moving clockwise: carrots, turnips and a sweet potato pan roasting simply in olive oil and a little salt, stir stir stir, as veggies begin to caramelize add a tablespoon of butter to each pan (it took two similar size heavy bottom pans to do all veg) and continue to pan roast, carrots, remove from heat and cool slightly, toss with gremolata. I love gremolata. Mom uses it in a couple of her recipes. It's simply lemon zest, garlic and flat leaf parsely. I roughly chopped all of it by hand and feeling it wasn't finely chopped enough I ran it through my food processor very briefly.
Above, starting the pork. Again moving clockwise. Chop the loin in one inch cubes, more or less. Yes, I was drinking, AGAIN (I'm drinking right now, truth be told). In Goin's recipe, she asks you to separately toast cumin, fennel and coriander seeds in a pan then grind with a mortar and pestle. I roasted just the fennel seeds until their perfume filled the kitchen. Vons didn't offer coriander nor cumin seeds and I do not offer a mortar and pestle. No bother, I used pre-ground cumin and added the fennel, cayenne, garlic, fresh oregano, and fresh thyme the recipe called for, processing it in my Braun. I then tossed the meat in the spice/herb mixture and set aside for about an hour.
After an hour, above left I spread the pork out on my bamboo cutting board to ensure even coating. I then browned the pork on all sides. You must brown a small batch at a time in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven so as not to crowd the pork thus steaming it instead of nicely browning the cubes. Bottom right, after deglazing the Dutch oven with white wine and reducing add all pork, chicken broth, sprigs of cilantro, wide strips of lemon peel, crumbled chile de arbol, and bay leaves.
This dish needs to braise in the oven for 2.5 hours. I'm a dummy. I read the recipe, but not all the way through. I thought I could finish it in one evening but by the time this beautiful dish went into the hot oven it was already 8 o'clock. I took it back out and stuck it in the fridge overnight. D cooked a giant bowl of rigatoni in canned spaghetti sauce, we both drank more and put our feet up.
The following evening just as D got home from tennis I pulled the finished dish out of the oven and plated.
First I lay the long beautiful gremolata covered carrots across our bowls, and added turnips. No sweet potato? Umm....I might have kinda eaten them for lunch straight from the tupperware container. I left carrots and turnips and D didn't even notice.
The starch is the polenta. I typically use yellow cornmeal which I think is prettier, I didn't even realize I had white until I opened the box. It tasted the same.