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Man-Food Watch™: Celebrate Super Sunday with slow-cooked pork

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Man-Food Watch™ is a series of recipes for armchair tailgaters who want to raise their game when it comes TV sports and eating. Impress the guys with food that’s hearty, flavorful, easy to make and usually inexpensive.

It takes a whole football season for a team to make it to the Super Bowl.

So if your Super Bowl food is going to be watch-party worthy on Feb. 2, use the next three weeks wisely.

While most of it is cheap to make and cooks in a single pot, hearty, man-friendly cold-weather food takes time to cook.

What could be better?

Practice now, score big points later with loads of easy to serve food that doesn’t depend on 6-foot sandwiches and Chex Mix® unless you want it to.

Welcome to Slow Cooking Month

Your Examiner is big on slow food and not just by training as a fussy chef who always wants the best ingredients and the biggest flavor.

With slow cooking and judicious use of heat, you eek out every last morsel of flavor in whatever you cook.

While traditionalists will insist on the cast-iron Dutch oven as the perfect slow-cooking vessel, not everyone has the bucks to shell out for Le Creuset®.

Get a Crock Pot® and learn how to use it.

A favorite Southern food that might as well have been bred for slow cooking is fresh pork. Read on to learn how to make pot au feu with Boston butt.

Dishes like pot au feu – stews using tougher cuts of meat, aromatic vegetables and herbs and wine – need to cook slowly over relatively low heat.

In short, they’re perfect for an introduction to slow cooking and the slow food movement – the study cooking styles and recipes that preserve the very distinctive flavors of regional cooking using locally-grown ingredients.

GJE’s Pot au feu

Country French cooking – from which pot au feu grows – uses simple, clean ingredients, is nothing new to northeast Florida.

The phrase itself translates roughly to “pot on fire,” a reference to cooking in a cauldron in a fireplace or over a brazier.

A staple of French cuisine, a pot au feu is a good way to use leftover pieces of meat that might otherwise go to waste – briskets, ox tail, pigs’ trotters, pork hocks, etc.

The result is usually a very heavy stew with a dark flavor, sweetish flavor that comes from using carrots, parsnips, nutmeg and cloves.

But with just a few simple ingredients, your pot au feu will be lighter, much brighter in tone and cleaner on the palate.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb. pork butt or larger
  • 2 lbs. leeks, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1” strips
  • 1 cup celery, sliced
  • 2 cups yellow onions, diced, about 1 pound
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
  • 6 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 cup chardonnay
  • Fresh juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Bouquet garni:

  • At least one teaspoon each rosemary, sage, thyme and basil and 2-3 bay leaves. If you can find fresh, great. If not, dried is fine, too.

Old-school cooks will tie the bouquet garni up in a piece of cheese cloth and float it in the stew.

No need, but save yourself a step and mix your herbs together in a bowl.

Traditional bouquets also contain oregano, marjoram and lavender. Oregano and marjoram infuse a flavor like black licorice.

While lavender is very aromatic, many people are allergic to the oil in leaves. Often it’s best just to leave it out.

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Score your pork butt with cuts about ½” deep and insert crushed garlic. Try to distribute scoring and garlic evenly over the surface of the butt.
  2. Rub your butt with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat olive oil in a heavy, deep pan and brown well on all sides to seal in the garlic.
  4. Add fresh lemon juice when the butt is about halfway browned.
  5. When butt is browned, remove and set aside.
  6. Add onions to the pan and sauté until just translucent, then add the wine.
  7. When pan comes back to a simmer, add chicken stock or water.
  8. Add leeks, celery and bouquet.
  9. Taste stock and re-season as necessary.
  10. Bring to a simmer, cover pot, and let reduce for about 30 minutes.
  11. Taste again, adding stock and/or wine as you need to.
  12. Turn the heat down so that the stock barely simmers. Cook uncovered over very low heat for at least two hours. Stir and taste often.

When you can stick a fork into the pork butt and shred it, the pot de feu is finished.

Finish shredding the butt with a fork and check that the center of the pork is barely pink.

The finished consistency of this pot de feu should be more like a soup than a stew.

To serve, ladle over sliced baguette, crostini, biscuits, mashed potatoes, rice or simply ladle portions into soup bowls or soup plates.

Let cool for about five minutes and serve.

Not surprisingly, leftover pot au feu makes for very, very good open-faced sandwiches.

If there’s still some left, pot au feu freezes nicely.

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©2014 All rights reserved.

OFFICIAL BIO: K Truitt is a second-generation, native Floridian born in Jacksonville. Truitt worked in public higher education for 25 years and knows newspaper publishing, printing and graphic design. Contact: kt.4examiner@yahoo.com

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