Monday, September 13, 2004

Recipe: Rubbed pork with parsley potatoes & Brussels Sprouts

Hey! Remember the 11 secret herbs & spices? Well, it happened again . . .

Go ahead. Count ‘em . . . Yup. 11. And I didn’t even try this time. Just pulled ‘em out of the pantry and the spice rack, and there they were. 11. Turned out pretty good again, too.

Yup.  11

Here’s how it went . . . Wandering about the kitchen, as usual, “what have we got, what do we need to use up, what would taste good, what do I feel like playing with, . . .? Hmmmm, there’s that fresh parsley that Kim brought, what can I put parsley on? Haven’t done any potatoes in a while, how about boiled parsley potatoes and . . .

So we had a slab of pork sirloin, and Cathy had just bought a pile of Brussels sprouts and it wasn’t raining too hard too hard for grilling. Dinner is under way . . .

The rub: (and as always, quantities were by eye)

1 tsp. Ground cumin
1 tsp. Ground dry mustard
½ tsp. Ground cinnamon
½ tsp. Onion powder
½ tsp. Granulated garlic
½ tsp. Coarse (kosher) salt
½ tsp. Coarsely ground fresh Tellicherry pepper
¼ tsp. Paprika
¼ tsp. Ground cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. Dried cilantro
1 – 2 Tbsp. Sesame oil

Yes. The brown stuff in the Sriracha bottle is sesame oil. I buy it by the quart and use the old Sriracha squirt bottles to ‘serve’ it. No drips, no mess, no extra cost for fancy cruets or cans that always dribble and splash.

And even though the garlic bottle says ‘powder,’ it’s really granulated – still dried, but a nice coarse texture, not that cornstarch consistency stuff that you get when you buy ‘powder.’ Once again, I buy a big tub of granulated and refill the smaller bottle for daily use.

Put all the dry stuff in a little bowl (that you can shake from with one hand!) and mix it all up. Pour a little oil on each side of the pork slab and rub it in a bit with one hand. Sprinkle a little (no more than 1/3rd) of the dry mixture onto the meat and rub it in, all over. Try to pick up any extra oil that puddled in the bottom of the plate and get a nice even ‘smear’ of coating all over the meat.

Then go back and sprinkle the rest of the dry mixture, a little at a time, patting it down and around to coat as evenly as you can. You do not want to rub this second coat in; you want it to sit as a dry seasoning on the outside of the meat. This way, the first batch that you did rub in will flavor the meat all the way through, and the second coat will give you a nice crusty outside.

Put the coated meat in the fridge and go do something useful for at least two hours. Then take it out and let it come up to room temperature for another hour (or less if you live in the tropics!). Warm up the grill, toss the meat way up on a warming rack, turn the flame as low as it will go, close the cover, and go fix the rest of the meal . . .

Rubbed pork ready to grill

Depending on your grill, figure a minimum of about 40 – 45 minutes, even for a piece that’s only a little over a pound. It takes a while to get started cooking, even if you do preheat the grill. For slabs bigger than 2 lbs., plan on around 20 – 30 minutes per pound for boneless pork, depending, of course, on the heat of your grill.

When it’s done, slice it into nice thick medallions, and serve it with . . .

Parsley potatoes. Peel ‘em. Cut ‘em into thirds (unevenly! More surface area, more evenly cooked.) Cover with cold water (1/2 tsp. salt, if you like). Put the covered pot over high heat until the water just begins to boil, then turn the heat to low and let them sit for at least 45 minutes. If lots of steam is still escaping from under the cover after 15 minutes, turn the heat down! Or off! You want to threaten your potatoes into submission, not turn them to gruel.

In the meantime, chop some fresh parsley.

potatoes ready to drain

When the spuds are done (about the same time that you bring the meat in to ‘rest’ for 5 minutes before cutting it!), drain the potatoes in a colander, put the pot back on the stove over medium heat, toss in a slab or three of butter and about half your chopped parsley. Stir it around while the butter melts, turn down the heat, grind a little Tellicherry into the pot, let it bubble for about 2 minutes, turn off the heat. Now dump the potatoes back in and coat with the butter.

And by now, your Brussels sprouts should be just about cooked. What Brussels sprouts, you ask? Well the ones you got started just after you chopped your parsley, of course . . .

Whack off the root end. Make a shallow cross cut and toss them in a pot of water. When you’ve got them all trimmed and cut, rinse them 4 or 5 times in cold water. And get your hands in there – roll ‘em around, give ‘em a squeeze. That way all the loose outer leaves will fall off. Throw the loose leaves away, dump out all but an inch or so of water (about ½ way up the tallest sprout), and add a little salt if you wish.

whack off the end
cut . . .
. . . a cross

About 20 minutes before serve time, turn a stove burner on high, wait for it to get hot (if your using an electric stove, as I am), and put the covered pot of sprouts on the heat. Check the time! In 5 minutes (or less!), you should have a good head of steam going in that pot, so turn the heat way down. All you need to do is keep the steam. You want to steam the sprouts (in a gentle bubble), not boil them.

ready to cook

So hey. Dump the potatoes in a bowl, add some more butter (or butter substitute) and sprinkle the rest of your parsley over the top. Drain the sprouts and serve them in separate little bowls (so the cognoscenti amongst the diners can use vinegar without getting it all over the meat and potatoes). Slice up your grilled rubbed pork, and pig out!

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