Monday, September 14, 2009

Braised Pork & Black Beans on a budget

I have been recording Melissa d'Arabian's show (Food Network) because I watched this season's "...Next Food Network Star", and she was declared the winner. We definitely enjoyed her simple perfect crispy chicken a l'orange and cripsy potatoes. This time, I decided to try her Succulent Braised Pork with Black Beans. Melissa's Show is called "$10.00 Dinners", which many viewers (including me) thinks is a very risky title.  I do think that the $10.00 price tag takes into acccount that many of Melissa's choices of ingredients should be items that would be in any kind of well-stocked pantry.

I confess-- I'm one of those OCD folks who doesn't like to run out of my pantry and refrigerator staples.  I do shop once a week, and I always carry a list.  The only thing I needed to buy for this menu was the pork butt roast...
...that happened to be on sale for $1.69 a pound. The smallest one I could find weighted 4 pounds.

Have you ever bought tomato paste in a tube? I always keep a box (or two) on hand. It's perfect when a recipe wants 2-3 Tablespoons of tomato paste. I no longer have to open a can of tomato paste and then try to figure out what to do with the rest--though, I've read that you can freeze it. The problem with that, is I forget they're in the freezer!

 The rest of the ingredients were, indeed, in my pantry and fridge-- a mire poix (carrots, onion and celery), fresh garlic, salt and pepper, beef broth (you could use chicken) and red wine. Whenever I shop at Trader Joe's, I buy red wine (for cooking) for under $5.00 a bottle.  I never buy cooking wine-- it's yucy and salty.  Surprisingly, some of TJ's inexpensive wines are quite good to drink with dinner. (Then again, I'm not exactly a wine somelier.)  Not pictured is flour, because I was too lazy to measure it. Ha!



Melissa's recipe calls for 2 pounds of pork butt roast. Fine, I'll freeze the other half for either a BBQ pulled pork recipe or even a Mexican themed pulled pork.  So that means, I had about $3.50 invested in a meal for four. Not bad!

I cut one half into six large pieces... and chop the vegetables.   It's time to sear the pork in olive oil. I adore my cast-iron Dutch Oven. It's heavy, but I love the way it sears and braises.

Back in the day, when I first started cooking on my own, I could never get that beautiful golden crust when I tried to sear meat. I finally learned that you MUST have the meat dry...no moisture on it, please. I also learned to get the oil HOT... I look for a rippling in the oil and just as it's starting to smoke, throw those puppies in the oil jacuzzi. Don't crowd them, either. Fortunately, all six pieces fit in the Dutch Oven just fine.

The next thing I finally figured out, is- DON'T PLAY AROUND WITH THE MEAT for at least 3-5 minutes. Oh, look!  C'mon, isn't that pretty? Can't you hear it sizzling? Sear these on each side from 3-5 minutes and remove from the pan...

... and set these aside. I had to stand back and admire my Dutch Oven's work...

It's those beautiful brown bits (fond) that is going to give the veggies a wonderful flavor and color..


...like this. I cook these for about 5-7 minutes, until softened. Ready to build up more flavor? Garlic is always a great way to start.  I used to burn garlic, until I learned to add fresh garlic at the end. Burnt garlic is bitter.

Using my Zyliss garlic mincer, I add fresh garlic... then the tomatoe paste and cook that for about 3 minutes.
Next, the flour is added and cooked for a couple of minutes-- to get rid of the raw flavor.

I moved the veggies aside and added 1 cup of red wine... which sounded like s-h-h-h-h.  This thickened up really fast!

This really smells fabulous!  Next, the beef broth is added...

...then the seared pork is placed into the sauce, along with the juices. My oven is preheated to 325F.
NOTE: You could, very well, use a slower cooker (or a pressure cooker) at this point.  I happened to be home all day, so I didn't mind using my oven.  I added a little more water, per Melissa's instructions-- just until the liquid reached the top.

Last, but not least, I cut some of my scroungy looking Italian Parsley and added some Bay Leaves. Into the oven for about 3 hours...

Now, here's where I deviated from Melissa's entire menu.  Melissa made black beans (kicked up with vinegar) and drop biscuits with green onion to go with this. I found this to be an "odd" combination.  I admit, that I'm not a huge bisquit fan-- but I'm also not from the South.  I nixed the biscuits, and opted to make rice, flavored with fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice.

 
I read the reviews on her black beans, and they were so-so.  So, I went back to my fool-proof recipe for black beans that are a little spicy.  I was guessing that Melissa was trying to do some sort of Cuban/Latin menu-- so I figured that cilantro and lime would tie in well.

For the beans you can soak them and cook them according to package directions. Or, you can used canned black beans (and these are always in my pantry)...

...because I think they are just as good, much easier and I pay about $1.00 a can.


Drain them, reserving about 1/4 of the liquid. Rinse them well and put into a pot.

I use about 1/4 tsp of Chipotle Chile Powder (this stuff rocks, because it has a nice smoky flavor and it packs heat)....add more, if you don't mind having your tongue on fire.  I use about 1 teaspoon of cumin and some kosher salt.  That's it! Heat slowly and set aside... (before serving, squeeze a little fresh lime juice, if desired).

For the rice, I cook white (or brown rice) according to package directions. When it's cooked, about the juice of 1-2 fresh lime juice and about one cup of fresh chopped cilantro.

...2 1/2 hours later, the house smelled like something really good was happening.


OMG!  This is comfort food! It's time to eat, and we're hungry.
You can see the rice peeking out from underneath this tender plate of braised pork.
The beans deserve a little Lite Sour Cream...
The sauce is amazing and non-greasy. My husband is anxiously awaiting...
Mmmmmmmmm.  This reminds me of Osso Bucco...  only it's a lot less expensive. In fact, I do think this entire meal stayed within $10.00-- excluding my pantry items I already had on hand.

I think that the braised pork dish would pair perfectly with polenta.  It would soak up the sauce (and I would double it, it's that good) and that is exactly what I will do the next time I make this-- and I shall. Craig, who is stingy with rating recipes as "five stars" gave this one two eager thumbs up!

The black beans are delicious, but I don't think I'd pair them with this with this dish, next time. I think they are polar opposites-- the pork has a  Parisian Bistro theme and the beans are more Latin inspired. But, that's me... maybe you'd like to try Melissa's version of black beans and drop biscuits. You can view her entire menu here.
What really made this dinner special is that-- after my whining that I didn't want summer to end-- we got a little unexpected rain.   I have to say, that the sweet sound of rain made this wonderful meal really feel like a comfort food dinner.   I hope that you try this dinner and that you enjoy it as much as we did-- and we shall, again and again.










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17 comments:

Kate said...

This looks pretty tasty! Nice detailed preparation photos! I love pork. I am going to have to give the program a try.

Danielle said...

I think I agree that the black beans would've been better with another dish. the pork looks great! I wish my youngest would eat pork so I could make it more often (I only make it when i know for sure she's not eating dinner at home). I need to try this for sure!

Kim said...

You did a great job of explaining and highlight all the components of this dish. What a thorough post! I love that you cut your pork roast in half. I never think to do that with roast. I always cook the whole thing, even if the recipe calls for less. Great ideas! I'm glad you are trying her recipes, it's great to see what someone thinks of them : )

Phoo-D said...

This looks to die for! We love slow cooked pork butt (if you need a Mexican pulled pork recipe I have a great one!) Your beans and rice also look delicious!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Good advice about not playing around with the meat when you are browning it and avoid cooking wine (an awful product). I enjoy the tomato paste in a tube so you don't waste a can of paste for one tablespoon, which is what's often called for in recipes.

Love black beans so this should be a winner.
Sam

Velva said...

Now, that looks pretty good! I have to put this recipe on my list to try.
Thanks for the tip about tomato paste. I am going to stop buying the small cans and use the tube-much more practical!

Cheryl said...

Wow, my husband would flip over this meal! Thanks to you I finally remembered to set this up to tape!

Sophie said...

I'm always on the look-out for savory pork recipes! I think the black beans were a nice addition, but then again, I eat black beans with almost anything. Very hearty, nutritious and definitely affordable :)!

Debinhawaii said...

I taped the show and wondered if this was good. Thanks for the review, the tips and the gorgeous step-by-step pictures!

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

That pork sounds delicious! Very similar to beouf bourguignonne, only with pork (which I like better and it's cheaper). Can't wait for pork to be on sale at my local grocery store to try this recipe!

Monica H said...

That pork looks so very comforting. I don't think I would serve this with black beans either, though they do look very delicious. Mr. H doens'tlike them, so more for me :-)

I will definitely gove this pork a try though. I've been recording her shows but I have yet to watch any. No time!

Now I gotta go make frosting a chocolate mousse for my cake that cooling.

Monica H said...

I forgot to tell you how lovely your collage of cilantro, spices and lime was!

Kerstin said...

What a yummy dinner, the pork looks super flavorful! I've tivo'ed her show but haven't had the chance to watch it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. I enjoy wine from TJs too!

Donna-FFW said...

You are making me a fan of this lady.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I'd be a complete fail for staying in Melissa's budget. I seem to never have the so-called "staples" in my pantry. I'm always shopping for everything!

I love your beans. Chipotle powder is my obsession. I love tomato paste in a tube too. Talk about staples! I remember whenever I needed just a tablespoon, I'd have to buy a whole can and waste it.

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Fantastic! I love using my Dutch Oven too, and just bought a new oval model on sale. Just seeing the photos in your recipe makes me want to start braising tonight to welcome autumn!

Mini Baker said...

just found your blog and I love it! I'll be checking back often :) So many yummy recipes!
-Mini Baker
ps. you've got great photographs too! you're a very talented lady!