Rainy weekends call for tinkering in the kitchen. Tinkering, however, runs smack up against one of the hidden catches to having children. They never tell you this beforehand, for fear of putting you off. It belies description, this 10th circle of hell, this other-worldly zone of chaos, sugar, and tears. See, just a few words and you already know what I am talking about: children’s birthday parties.
Like Sartre’s No Exit, you cannot escape. The unwritten rule is that your child has to go to every birthday party of every other child in his or her class. And (warning: you cannot escape this either), those children have to come to your child’s party too. They, and by “They” I of course refer to SPECTRE, who after some market testing decided to rebrand under the code M.O.M.S. … They insist on attendance, but (wait for it) they want you to take the kiddo. It’s right there in the M.O.M.S. 21st Century Handbook: when facing suicide mission, find patsy to take the fall.
Fear not. With almost catlike powers of resurrection, I have emerged from these experiences, emotionally scarred, occasionally paint splattered, and usually hard of hearing. Kitchen tinkering has been disturbed, oh so unjustly, but it has taken place as it can. This weekend’s journey took us through the beginnings of pickled limes, slow baked dry rub pork, and the stuffed cabbage that kept on giving (subject of another post).
Like many these days, I am interested in the DIY world of charcuterie, pickling, etc. I dug up this recipe on Cookstr for pickling limes, and am 3 days into the process. I’m not actually going to be able to taste the results for another month, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The recipe brought to the fore once more just how difficult it can be to write cooking instructions. You try to make things clear and simple, and questions pop up from every which way.
In my case, the recipe called for 10 limes. How big? Are the jars to be stuffed tight (well, I’m apparently supposed to stir it for 6 days)? OK, stir all the spices and salt into the bowl… do I need to try to get every last bit of salt from the sides of the bowl once the limes are in the jar? And in my case, 2.5 cups of olive oil was not enough (I added more). Did I do something wrong? Hopefully no to the latter, because I am charging ahead and will fill you in on the results in a month if they don’t poison me!
Slow Baked Dry Rub Pork
I was forced to do another “tinker” move with some beautiful country style pork ribs I had picked up at Fleishers. My grill is out of action while I wait for some parts, so I was lamenting what to do with the meat. Then I realized, you can cook meat on indirect heat for ages on a grill, so why not in the oven? Result: the meat came out melt-in-your-mouth beautifully, and now I’m wondering why I’ve never done this before as an alternative to broiling and braising during the off season.
First step is to whip up a dry rub for the meat. There are a million directions to take a dry rub, but here is one mixture that you want to grind all together:
1 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 dried bay leaf
Rub the ground spices all over the meat. Place the meat on baking dishes and into the oven set at 275F. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, then flip and lower heat to 250F. Continue baking for another 3 hours, flipping about once an hour, and periodically basting the tops of the meat with the melted fat.
For this to work, you don’t want meat that is too lean. As you can see in the above picture, the pork I was using had a lovely amount of fat (and Fleishers pork in general is less lean than typical US supermarket pork). Another idea I had for this kind of dish was to lay some smoked bacon strips around the pork in the baking dish, and regularly baste the tops of the meat with the melted bacon fat.
Say hello to my li’l frennes, sacrificed to the lime pickle.