Pork Shoulder Kapusniak

The snow keeps piling up outside and there’s nothing like a nice warm bowl of soup. Traditional comfort food for warming you up after a day of shoveling. Well, this soup is a modification of my friend’s grandmother’s Polish Kapusniak. It’s a hearty soup traditionally made with pork spare ribs and sauerkraut. I make mine with less expensive chunks of pork shoulder and non pickled sauerkraut (as known as cabbage). I like to get the pork shoulder chunks with a good percentage of fat to meat, but if the pork you get is a bit on the lean side, you can add a few rashers of bacon. So…

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage shredded
  • 3 large carrots cut in chunks
  • 2 rings of celery cut in chunks
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 large Long Island potatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 quarts of water

In a large dutch oven braise the pork over a medium heat. Once a good deal of fat has been rendered, deglaze with a little water. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Saute for a few minutes. Add the cabbage and the potatoes. Start pouring in the water and turning down the heat to low. Add the tomato paste, paprika, salt and pepper.

Let the soup cook on the low heat for two hours. This gives all the ingredients time to meld, and starches from the potatoes ill help to thicken the soup. Ladle this into nice big bowls, and serve with fresh pumpernickel bread. Then watch the snow outside.

kapsuniak

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Tomato, Onion, Cilantro Salsa

I’m still using those limes I picked up at the great Western Beef sale. Today, I share another one of my salsa recipes. This one uses a little lime juice with tomatoes, onions, poblanos, and cilantro. The trick to cutting down on the bite of the onion is to wash the diced onion before adding it to the mixture.

 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 small white onion finely chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • salt and pepper

Put chopped onion and garlic in a strainer; pour 2 cups boiling water over them then let drain throughly. Discard water and let it cool.

Combine onions and garlic with chopped tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours to blend flavors. This makes about 2 cups of salsa.

fresh tomato salsa

fresh tomato salsa

Venison Bacon Bushmills

The ‘peaty’ notes in Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey is just the the right note to compliment this classic venison dish – medallions of venison wrapped in bacon. Don’t we all need a little bit of bacon in our day?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/12 pounds venison loin
  • 6 juniper berries
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 cup Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey plus a little extra for drizzling
  • 12 rashers of bacon
  • 1 cup beef stock

Run the spices through a spice mill until its mixed. It doesn’t need to be ‘powdered’ but finely ground. Slice the loin in 12 evenly thick medallions. Place the medallions in a dish and wrap each with a slice of bacon securing it with a toothpick. Sprinkle the spice mix over the medallions and drizzle them with about 2 tablespoons of whiskey.

Saute the medallions in a pans over high heat for about five minutes or so for a rare steak, a little longer for medium. Add the remaining whiskey and carefully flame it. As I have a gas stove I use the ‘pan-tilt’ way of flaming the whiskey.

Remove the medallions to a platter and keep them warm while making the sauce. Add the beef stock to the pan and deglaze. At this point you can add some cream and mushrooms to make o creamy sauce, or add onions and mushrooms before deglazing to make a lighter sauce.

You can serve the medallions with the sauce on top or on the side, but either way… serve the whiskey too.