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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

christmas party 09 - heavy hors d'oeuvres

Kaytie’s boss thought it was hysterical that the invitation to our Christmas cocktail party asserted that we would be serving “heavy” hors d’oeuvres. I’m not exactly sure why; it seems that best way to describe what we do. We like to cook, and people like to eat our food. That’s why we have the party – to show off and bask in praise. (And it’s nice to see all of our friends…)

Anyway, the first couple of years, we did not advertise that the hors d’oeuvres were heavy, so people ate dinner before arriving at the party, and then they ate our food, and then they were uncomfortably full. By printing “heavy hors d’oeuvres” on the invitation, we avoid all of that. People show up hungry and leave happy.

This year, we had several old favorites on the menu. Pumped up jalapeno poppers, venison tenderloin medallions on gorgonzola-horseradish crustini (always a favorite), and truffled devilled eggs (Kaytie’s regular devilled eggs, plus a couple drops of truffle oil).

Kaytie also made a pate mold (see above). This is a secret family recipe that I will not post because the main ingredient is bologna. Bologna, mayonnaise, and pickle relish. I was not a fan of this – it tastes like bologna. Kaytie and Tott both liked it, so we served it.

Kaytie made shrimp toast cups (post coming soon), and I made little pork bites. These were braised pork on Mexican cornbread muffins with a cranberry-balsamic reduction. They tasted good, but the cornbread was a little too dry. We should have spread some butter on the mini muffins.

Braised Pork

6-8 lb pork shoulder, bone-in
12 oz beer
10-12 oz molasses
1 ½ cups kosher salt
2 cups orange juice
6 cups water
2-3 bay leaves
4-5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbs ground chipotle peppers (or chili powder)
1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs paprika

The night before you want to cook the pork, prepare the brine. Combine the molasses, salt, OJ, water, bay leaves, and Worcestershire sauce, and stir. Trim off any really large pieces of fat from the pork. Immerse the pork shoulder in the brine. (I put it in a large pot and put a stack of dinner plates on top to weight down the meat and keep it under the surface of the brine.) Let it soak in the brine for 8-12 hours, in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 325.

Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Mix together the spices for the rub. While wearing latex gloves (this will make the rub stick on the meat, and not on your hands), rub the spices all over the pork shoulder, especially in the crevices.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the pork on all sides, about 3 minutes each side.

Dump the beer into the dutch oven, and cover tightly.

Put it in the oven for 3 ½ to 4 hours, until the meat pulls away from the bone. I use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. The man recommends we cook pork to 160 degrees; I stop cooking around 150. You decide.

Use tongs or forks to pull the meat away from the bone and separate it from the fat. Serve with a balsamic reduction or BBQ sauce.

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