Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's been a couple weeks since I've posted though I've had some good meals and good shopping lately. Two weeks back we had friends for a dinner of two dishes that we had never made before. Luckily, all went better than expected.

pork shoulder with chipotle orange barbecue sauce

caramelized apple skillet cake

Matt put together the barbecue pork in the slow cooker the night before. I've been nervous about the slow cooker after having made an extremely dry bison roast a few years back. That being said, this roast was perfect. After 24 hours on low, it was fall-apart tender and very flavorful. Matt usually doesn't like barbecue flavors, but we all enjoyed this unique combination of seasonings.

Pork Shoulder with Chipotle Orange Barbecue Sauce
from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool

1/2 c fresh orange juice (we used Simple Orange)
1/4 c honey
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 whole canned chipotle chile pepper, pureed or minced
1 tbsp vegetable or light olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (we left this out)
1 pork shoulder or butt roast (4 to 5 pounds)
1 tbsp finely sliced green onions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (if using the oven).

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, honey, vinegar, mustard, chile pepper, oil, garlic, salt, cumin, and cinnamon (if using).

If using the slow cooker, put pork in cooker, coat with sauce, and cover with lid. Cook on low for 24 hours.

For oven roasting, put the pork in a roasting pan that can be easily covered and coat the pork complete with sauce. Cover with a lid or foil. Reduce oven to 200 degrees. Roast the pork, without opening the door, for 5 hours. Check to see if it is falling-apart tender, and if not, cover and roast for about 30 minutes longer, or until it is tender. Sprinkle green onions as a garnish. Serve with coleslaw on its own or slice/shred and eat on a bun.

For dessert I made an apple skillet cake, which I started after our friends had arrived. Be warned, it takes longer than you might think. We've been lucky enough to have local apples available at our co-op until mid-February, though they've been pretty soft in the last few weeks. That made them just right for making applesauce and this cake.

The batter under the apples is sweet and fluffy with a delightful crunch from a bit of cornmeal. Be sure to layer plenty of apple slices on the bottom of the skillet. At the blog where I grabbed this recipe, the outcome of too few apples was batter stuck to the bottom of the pan, making it difficult to remove. My cake did not get as brown as The Amateur Gourmet's, most likely because I didn't leave the sugar and butter mixture to bubble in the pan long enough. Still, the cake was delicious and I will definitely make it again.

Caramelized Apple Skillet Cake
From The Amateur Gourmet, originally from Karen DeMasco's The Craft of Baking
(click on the link for step-by-step photos)

1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
2 tart baking apples, such as Mutsu or Granny Smith (I used whatever I could find!)
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal or fine polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup whole milk (2% worked for me)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In an 8-inch ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar with 2 tablespoons water, stirring to make sure all of the sugar is damp. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar turns a golden brown caramel, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter.

Peel, core, and using a mandoline or a sharp knife, cut the apples crosswise into 1/8-inch thick rings. Tightly shingle all of the apple rings over the caramel, starting around the outside of the skillet and working toward the center, overlapping the slices.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the remaining 6 tablespoons butter, and the vanilla. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In three additions, add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, to the butter mixture. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into a large bowl.

Clean and dry the bowl of the electric mixer well. Add the egg whites and, using the whisk attachment on medium speed, beat to soft peaks, about 4 minutes. In three additions, fold the whites into the batter. Spread the batter evenly over the apples in the skillet.

Bake, rotating the skillet halfway through, until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes. Place the skillet on a wire rack and let it cool just until the cake is warm, about 30 minutes (we flipped and ate ours after only 10 minutes or so and it was just fine!). Then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The cake is best eaten the day it is baked but can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

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