I was strolling around the food-blog-o-sphere over the past few days trying to find good ideas for New Years Day and was rewarded with some excellent reading and viewing. My monitor is too old to have been equipped with the smell-o-vision I hear folks jabberin' about on the TV food-type shows. Alas.
What I settled on first was that I was making black-eyed peas. I make them very well, they are traditional New Years Day food, and I am not willing to tempt the gods so much that I throw all tradition out the window.
I'm also making cornbread because I can, and because I'm going to throw and open invite to the peeps to come over and cure hangovers. I'll probably get two out of the oven by 3 (when I texted folks to appear tomorrow).
But there was something missing, something hearty that was not sitting in the middle of the mental table of my vision of New Years Day.
Click. And then there wasn't anything missing at all. I could see the pork shoulder, I could smell peeled whole garlic perfuming the mise en place kitchen, and could imagine (and thoroughly enjoyed) the scent of thyme and bay and white wine perfuming my entire apartment through the last afternoon of 2007.Something bothers me about that recipe. Can you guess what it it? Read it a couple times.
No browning of the meat. None at all. And that's more than passing strange to me. I struggled a bit in my prep. Eventually, I decided that browning was not required and just reciped through. I listened to Ruhlman and came to the conclusion that I could see the recipe without the browning. Plus, there was the skillet hashing of it to get some crispy action going. And, since I served it over creamy grits, a crunchy texture was not what I wanted in the final product. Soft, rendered, braised, garlicky pork was my mental image.
And really, what did I have to worry about? Since I didn't 'over liquid' (as I usually do, loving the sauce so much), there was crusty, crispy, porky goodness on top. This was taken after four hours in the oven, and I decided to give it another 30-45 minutes since I could still make out the tiniest little bit of connective tissue. It was clearly in a 'mostly gelatinous' state, so I was on schedule still.
That also may have occured because I mis-read the recipe on the last glance before preheating and the shoulder spent its first hour in the oven at 375 instead of 325.
It turned out just fine, with the recipe right on track. I had to take the shoulder out of the pan in several loads because it really just fell apart. I grabbed a knife to chop a bit, but I should have simply taken two dinner forks and gone to town Memphis-style on the shredding. The meat was still moist, and there was a small amount of connective tissue to scrap, but maybe a 1/4-cup worth from a 4-pound shoulder.
Straining and saucing was a quick job, and the sauce was absolutely delicious. If you have leftover sauce, dear lord save it. Sammy dressing, on top of a batch of mashed potatoes, over eggs. Oh joy, gravy
I'm sorry you don't have pictures of the finished product on the cheese grits I made yesterday. There was just too much cooking to really take pictures. The cheese grits were last. But before them came the black-eyed peas, the roasted carrot and potato fritata, and the bacon-cheddar-jalapeno corn bread. Chez, J, H, DT, T, and DB stopped by and we grazed all day. J was kind enough bring bubbly, and DT ran to get some OJ, so mimosas were enjoyed with the all-day new year's brunch. PG got a plate too, and I imagine he devoured it around 2 am today.