I hadn't intended to participate in this week's Sunday Supper, which is all about favorite chef-inspired dishes. I was busy, overwhelmed, and trying to keep up with the regular day to day. I just couldn't think of a chef's recipe that I would want to do. The research seemed daunting. And then I got the reminder email about posting #SundaySupper recipe titles to the group. And I smacked myself on the forehead. Just that morning, I had started pickling some pork, using Alton Brown's recipe. Uh, oh yeah, duh. Silly me. Serendipity strikes again.
I haven't cooked that many celebrity chef recipes even though you could call me a cooking show addict. I especially enjoy the shows where they pit chefs head to head: Top Chef, Iron Chef, Next Iron Chef, Chopped, The Next Food Network Star. Love 'em. My husband and I try to come up with ideas for the mystery basket. Ideas that we have never tried, unfortunately.
One food show that was particularly important to us was Alton Brown's Good Eats. It taught us so much about the precise methods of cooking just about anything you could think of and make it good. The show also covered food history, culture, and science. For geeks like us, it was irresistible. And it was funny. AB was such a goof on that show, so much so that we were surprised to learn about his extraordinary skill and professionalism as a producer (which we discovered on The Next Food Network Star). (And I also enjoy his natty Southern gentleman style.)
However, more important than the specific lessons in cooking various items of food or the history and science was the insight that to cook really well requires precision, knowledge of the ingredients, knowledge of the techniques. This may seem obvious, but it isn't. In some ways it was a revelation: To get superior results, you have to understand how different kinds of pans heat food differently, that some foods need to be cooked at low temperatures for a long time and some need high heat for just a few seconds, and so much more. Understanding the differences and learning to apply patience or be careful about timing really does make a difference. It was exciting because there was room for growth. It's still exciting because the only way to go is toward continual improvement if you are willing to learn.
Another key to learning as a cook is to take risks and experiment, to try things that don't sound good or to try new methods. This dish is a perfect example. The first time I heard of pickled pork, I had doubts. It didn't sound good to me at all. Sounded kind of scary actually, like those giant jars of pickled eggs you see sometimes. Thankfully, my husband went ahead and tried it about a year ago (I am in no way to be commended for my kitchen courage in this story, but the mad scientist definitely is); cooked long and slow with some beans, tomatoes, onions, and herbs, the pork transformed into a rich, filling dish perfect to take the edge of a cold night's chill. You won't believe the rich smell that rises when you remove the lid from your Dutch oven.
This dish is not difficult or labor-intensive to make but it takes a lot of time. The initial pickling of the pork takes three days, then the dish itself needs to simmer 2 to 2 1/2 hours. But it's worth it. You will divide the pickled pork in half and freeze the unused half for another day. The pork and beans, served over white rice, last a few days (unless of course, you go back for seconds and thirds, as we did last night).
For the pickled pork recipe, head over to the Food Network's website for Alton Brown's recipe. I followed this nearly exactly (skipped the celery seed; didn't have it, didn't want it). For the rest of the recipe, read on:
- 1/2 batch of Alton Brown's pickled pork, drained (drain and freeze the other half for another use)
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups cooked beans (1/2 lb dried beans, cooked); I used cranberry beans, you can use pintos, white navy beans, cannelini beans.
- 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, briefly chopped in a food processor
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsps olive oil
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/2 Tbsp salt (or more to taste, but add near the end of the cook time to avoid oversalting)
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
- If you use dried beans, Pick-A-Pepper just turned me on to a great, no-soak method of cooking beans that cuts cooking time to 2 hours (at most) and leaves you with soft, creamy beans. I went ahead and cooked a whole pound at once and froze the second half in leftover cooking liquid.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven until it shimmers. Add the chopped onions, cook until they are soft and just starting to brown a bit.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir them together gently until evenly distributed. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven.
- Leave it in the oven for 2 hours. Taste to test the seasoning (careful, it will be very hot). Add salt to taste. Remove from the oven.
- Let it cool while you cook some white rice to serve it over. Then eat it and love it. And try to avoid going back for seconds. I dare you.
Starters or Snacks:
- Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog - Oyster and Brie Soup and Wine Pairings for Celebrity Chef #SundaySupper
- Linda at The Urban Mrs. - Inspired by Bobby Flay, Lobster Chowder with Roasted Corn Salsa
- Erin from Dinners, Dishes and Desserts - Rachael Ray’s Cinnamon Popcorn
- Cindy over at Cindy’s Recipes and Writings - Jamie Oliver’s Bread and Tomato Soup
- Jeff at The Catholic Foodie - Drop Biscuits – Breakfast with Chef John Besh
- Renee over at Kudos Kitchen By Renee - Giada De Laurentiis’s Garlic Toasts with Red Pepper Aioli
The Main Dish:
- Sheila at Cooking Underwriter – Paula Deen’s Chicken in a Crock Pot w/ Sauerkraut and Apples
- Laura over at Small Wallet Big Appetite – Martin Yan’s Beef Chow Fun
- Sarah over at Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends - Michael Symon’s Lola burger with crab tater tots
- Susan at The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen - Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi
- Tammi at Momma’s Meals – Ree Drummond’s Sloppy Joes
- Lane over at Supper for a Steal - Bobby Flay’s Rosemary Bricked Chicken
- Tara from Noshing with the Nolands - Michael Symon’s Pork and Apple Scallopini
- Shannon at Country Girl in the Village – Simple Red Sauce over Rigatoni. Inspired by Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos
- Kris over at In the Kitchen with Audrey and Maurene - Rachael Ray’s Muffin Tin Meatloaf
- Nicole from The Daily Dish Recipes - Paula Deen’s Slow Cooker Pulled Pickled Pork Sandwiches
- Becca from It’s Yummilicious - Ina Garten’s Grown-Up Bacon Mac & Cheese
- Alice at Hip Foodie Mom - Sunday Pot Roast with Risotto Cakes from Kelsey Nixon
- Jen over at Juanita’s Cocina - The Neely’s White Turkey Chili
- Brianne from Cupcakes & Kale Chips - Crockpot Beef Pot Roast with Mushrooms inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis
- Isabel at Family Foodie - Polenta with Garlicky Shrimp inspired by Chef Todd English
- Wendy from The Weekend Gourmet - Shrimp Penne in Pesto Cream Sauce from Emeril Lagasse
- Bobbi over at Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen - Cheesy Poblano Chicken
- Patti at Comfy Cuisine - Tyler Florence’s Chicken Francese
- Roxanne over at The Roxx Box - Jambalaya Pasta with Penne, Chicken, Shrimp, and Andouille
- Sue from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz – Rachael Ray’s Spicy Corn Chowdah Mac ‘n’ Cheese
- Jamie at Mama Mommy Mom - Penne with Asparagus, Smoked Gouda, and Prosciutto. Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
- Tora over at Tora’s Real Food – Pork and beans with Alton Brown’s pickled pork
- Elisabeth over at The Hand That Rocks The Ladle - Emeril’s New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice
- Megan from I Run For Wine - Curtis Stone’s Acorn Squash Roasted with Thyme
- Sandi over at Midlife Road Trip - Gabriele Corcos’s Gnocchi di Patate
- Shelby at Diabetic Foodie - Orange Pecan Black Rice, adapted from Ina Garten
- Katie from She likes Ruffles, He likes Truffles - Chef Fabio Viviani’s Spinach and Artichoke Risotto
- Renee over at Magnolia Days – Brownie Tart
- Conni at The Foodie Army Wife - Inspired by Ree Drummond – Scrumptious Apple Coffee Cake
- Paula over at Vintage Kitchen Notes - Bill Granger´s Cherry Tart
- Pam from The Meltaways – Savannah Sheet Cake
- Katy over at Happy Baking Days - Mary Berry’s Treacle Tart
- Jaime over at Mom’s Test Kitchen - Southern Tea Cakes
- Amy over at Kimchi MOM - Crack Pie, I Can’t Quit You
- Lyn from The Lovely Pantry - Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Squares
- Melanie at From Fast Food to Fresh Food – Sand Tarts
- Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
Please join the Sunday Supper group via Twitter for #SundaySupper throughout the day on December 2, 2012. In the evening, Sunday Supper members will meet at 7 PM EST for the weekly #SundaySupper live chat. All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us through TweetChat. Also check out and pin to the #SundaySupper Pinterest board, which has more than 1,600 pins with all kinds of tasty dishes.