Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Milk Braised Pork Shoulder

Milk Braised Pork Shoulder

I think it may have been the weather that made do this. Early this month the weather in Portland, Oregon had been creeping into BBQ territory. Even though I probably grill 100+ days a year outside there are times when I don't feel like getting soaked while trying to coax some wet hardwood charcoal (yeah, I am a total Luddite) to light.
So, the weather is cold and wet and I was surfing some cooking sites when something nudged me to do a google search on "Milk Braised Pork". This is a technique that an Italian Grandmother developed and I wish I could say that it was an old family recipe, alas it isn't. I tell you this though, if you cook this, your family will remember it and they will tell the story of their Mother or Father who cooked this succulent pork dish.

Milk Braised Pork Shoulder
4-5lb Pork Shoulder (boned and tied)
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil
2 Onions (chopped)
4 Shallots (chopped)
1 qt. Whole Milk
Fresh Thyme-2-3 big sprigs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Season the Pork Shoulder with salt and pepper and add to a enamel lined cast iron pot with some olive oil. Brown all sides and remove. To the pot add the onions and shallot and cook until soft, add the milk and the pork and bring to a simmer then add the thyme. Add the pot to the oven and cook the pork for two hours (keep the lid to the pot slightly open). After two hours transfer the pork to a warm dish to rest for 20 minutes. Place the pot with the milk mixture on a medium burner and reduce this mixture for 15 minutes. The mixture will look a bit gnarly.....the milk will curdle, but if you hang in there and reduce and then puree with an immersion blender you will have the silkiest, most savory gravy you have ever tasted.
Season the gravy to taste, slice the pork and plate with a side vegetable. This gravy would be awesome on mashed potatoes as well.

Heads up, the remaining gravy and a couple of handfuls of left over pork (chopped) make a pasta dish that is worth going to the trouble to make by itself. Buon Appetito!

Friday, March 4, 2011

David Arthur

..........................David Arthur Vineyards.................................................................. Barrel Room .......................

....................Sam Sundeleaf & Tyson Ducker.............................................. Conception Oak Tree .......................
I was in the Napa Valley last week for 5 days. Myself and 5 other serious food/wine friends flew down and we rented a house together. Keep in mind this isn't just a casual group of wine drinkers who would be happy hop scotching up and down Hwy 29. This group is either in the wine trade, has a wine collection or both. We are all on some exclusive mailing lists and we called in every favor we could.
The first "big" stop of the week was at David Arthur. This was my first real foray east of the Silverado Trail into an area known as Pritchard Hill. The valley floor in Napa is somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 feet in elevation. David Arthur is at about 1200 feet. The winery produces about 3000 cases of wine which makes this basically a "cult" winery (re: expensive and hard to get). The winery is open to visitors with an appointment and if you are on the mailing list (like my buddy Sam) you can get a grand VIP tour (like we did). We had a chance to taste through the entire lineup of wines that David Arthur produces which for the 2008 vintage includes:

Sauvignon Blanc
Meritaggio (California take on a Super Tuscan)
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon (actually a Bordeaux blend)
Elevation 1147 (100% Cabernet)

View from above the winery looking West

David Arthur Vineyard

Thinking that things couldn't get any better (trust me, they did)

We had a fantastic afternoon tasting the wines and talking about vineyard practice, barrel management and philosophy of making wine from these hillside vineyards.
This was to be the 1st of a series of great winery visits we had on our trip. Great day, great friends, great wine-cheers to David Arthur Vineyards!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The French Laundry

Champagne at the French Laundry

I just got back into town on Sunday after a five day trip to the Napa Valley. Six of us were there to celebrate my buddy Tom's 40th birthday. If you know anything about wine, then my telling you we spent time at Abreu, Continum, David Arthur, Dunn, Karl Lawrence & Rudd (I will do a post of this later) might strike a chord. If you are more in tune with food then I could say that the above wineries are to wine what The French Laundry is to food. Speaking of The French Laundry, the group of us decided over a month ago to bite the bullet and see if we could get a reservation. Long story short, we did and we went (blog post to come later.......c'mon, with 15 courses this may take a while).