I had to be careful. If I blew it, Suzen was not going to make this dish for me. I could not seem selfish or self-serving. That requires enormous concentration and energy. You could argue that if I just focused on being … What fun is that?
“You, uh, you do like jalapenos?” I asked her.
She put down the paper and her coffee. “What are you talking about? Are we married or not?”
“No, no,” I said. “It’s just with the acid reflux you’ve been having, I wondered if you could eat, say, a cooked jalapeno?”
“Cooking in what?” she asked. Her eyebrows were up. If our cat’s ears are up, I know that is good. If Suzen’s eyebrows are up, and her ears are twitching, that’s bad.
“Cooked in a little cheese. Sort of soothing.” I had to back her down.
“Maybe.” The eyebrows lowered. “Show me.” She extended her hand.
I passed her our new copy of The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers. It was open to the picture of this chili with its jalapeno cheese dumplings.
She seized book, staring with the recipe but here attention immediately shifted to the picture: a steaming bowl of chili topped with dumplings. Her eyebrows descended fully. The ears were motionless. Her eyes shifted to me. “Why the hell didn’t you say so? Get your wallet. We’re going to Whole Foods.”
This book, The Whole Hog Cookbook, is brilliant, one of the best cookbooks we’ve seen in a year. Author Libbie Summers has earned her credibility with a lifetime in food. She began as girl visiting her grandparents’ hog farm in Missouri. She’s been a private chef on yachts [tough work but someone has to do it], worked for many food companies, is a food stylist master [see the pictures in this book], and is now the “driving force in kitchens of Paula Dean.”
Every time you turn the page in this book, you stop. You may want to begin cooking at once, or you may need to read to make sure you understand what the devil you are looking at:
- Sweet Potato Pork Pie
- Sweet Tea-Brined Pork Roast
- Buttery Potted Ham
- Prosciutto Pretzel Knots
- Bacon Beignets
- Rosemary Bacon Scones
This is one of those cookbooks that you’ll keep close at hand. You can cook your way through it all this fall and winter.
Besides the recipes, there well-photographed how-to sections demonstrating techniques for preparing your meat, like how to remove the membranes from pork ribs. Literally everything you need to know for creating outstanding pork dishes is all here in this craftily written work.
Oh, the dumplings? Oh, those dumplings. I love this chili, and it is a bit spicy, but the dumplings are what will bring the tears to your eyes.
Hog-Tied and Hungry Chile with Jalapeno Cheese Dumplings
Yield: 6 servings
For the chili:
- 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and drained 1 pound ground pork
- 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (4 ½ ounce) cans chopped green chiles
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 cups tomato juice
- 2 cups pork stock (page 154)
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
For the dumplings:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup masa harina
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable shortening, melted
- 2 teaspoons honey
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
In a large stockpot, cover the beans with 3 inches cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, simmer for 2 hours, or until the beans are fork tender. Drain the beans and set aside.
In the same large stockpot, cook the pork until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the onion, garlic, green chiles, chipotle, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Sauté for 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, tomato juice, stock and chocolate. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings: Whisk together the all-purpose flour, masa harina, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together the egg, milk, lard, and honey.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the cheese and jalapenos.
Drop heaping tablespoons of the dumping dough into the simmering chili, leaving a little space between the dumplings so they do not touch. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid while the dumplings are cooking. The dumplings should be firm to the touch, still moist in the center. Serve hot.
Source: The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers
The word “great” is used too often. Not every good thing is great. And there can be real debate sometimes about whether a thing or a chef is great. When it comes to Chef Joel Robuchon, the only debate is over how great: greatest French chef of the last 20 years, 50 years, 100 years, or just plain ever.
If you have ever had the pleasure of dining in a Robuchon restaurant, you are probably tempted to say “ever.” If you haven’t dined yet, but you turn instead to The Complete Robuchon, you’ll say “ever.” This book is subtitled “French home cooking for the way we live now.” And that description tells you why this excellent cookbook is approachable by any of us. Don’t let the “Robuchon” name frighten you at all. Let it inspire you.
This really is home cooking, not restaurant style recipes you might not be able to tackle. And, it is contemporary in the selection of recipes. Okay, one of the chapters is Poultry and Rabbit. Not just Poultry. This is a French recipe and the ideas here surely reflect the inspirations of France, city and country. I will blog a rabbit recipe and you will like it. Just not until after Easter.
The 800 pages in this book span everything you would expect in a French home cookbook of integrity. There is a Stocks and Sauces chapter, for example, that has five butter sauces including Nantais Butter Sauce for poached or grilled freshwater fish. That’s an example of the breadth of recipes here and how they are targeted to specific foods. Robuchon know what goes with what.
Last weekend, I wanted pork. Which my husband Brian loves. I wanted cabbage. Which Brian hates. I didn’t care, and he ate the cabbage and he liked it. He knew I was cooking from Robuchon, and he knew better than to complain.
This recipe is simply fantastic. It appears wonderfully complex on your plate. Each bite is wondrous. It’s my first test from this inspiring book. More to come!
You’ll learn a nice technique here about creating infused oil you can use in other dishes.
Pork Fillet Mignon with Cabbage
- 5 large pods black cardamom
- ½ cup (10 cl.) peanut oil 2 pork
- 2 filets mignons, % pound (400 g.) each
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 20 leaves green cabbage, blanched chopped in half, and large central ribs removed
- 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Open the cardamom pods, remove the seeds, and crush them. (You can crush them by putting them on a clean dish towel, folding a layer of towel over them, and running over them with a rolling pin.) Put the crushed seeds in a small saucepan and heat over very low heat for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring with a spatula. Add the peanut oil and cook for 2 minutes, still over low heat. Remove the pot from the heat and set it aside for 30 minutes to infuse.
Remove the meat from the refrigerator 15 minutes before you plan to cook it.
Season both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven pretty enough to bring to the table, heat 3 tablespoons infused oil over low heat (include a few cardamom seeds, too). Add the butter, and when it melts, lay the filets mignons in the pot. Cook for 10 minutes on one side, rotating the fillets in the pan and basting them with cooking juices. Turn them over and cook 15 minutes on the second side rotating and basting as before. Remove them to a plate and tent with aluminum foil.
Spoon the fat from the surface of the pot and discard. Put the pot back over low heat and add the cabbage leaves. Stir. Add a few bits of cardamom seed from the infused oil and ½ cup water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring once. In the meantime, in a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons infused oil with the vinegar.
When the cabbage has simmered for 10 minutes, remove the cover and lay the pork on top of the cabbage. Pour the oil-vinegar mixture over the meat. Cover the pot again and leave for 5 minutes over low heat. Serve in the pot.
Source: The Complete Robuchon by Joel Robuchon