Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Funday

I thought I was going to have to spend a lot more of my weekend working, planning for a shoot coming up next week. But surprisingly, I didn't have TOO much to do! So it didn't hurt all that bad when the pups woke me up at 7AM...why is it that they always find their way to me, pawing and whining, while BF is left peacefully sleeping? Such is the life of a dog mom....

After a nice 90 minute yoga session, I spent the majority of the day planning out and prepping a nice Sunday meal. I love taking advantage of a few extra hours on Sunday to make something a little more complicated and lengthy. I have about 8 million recipes with 5 hour TRTs, and who would ever get around to making that during the week? (Unless it's winter and you've broken out the fanatabulous, magical slow-cooker)

Here's what I had on the menu:

Braised pork shoulder with apple cider and ginger beer
Brussels sprouts with maple syrup 
Sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce

The braised pork shoulder was pretty easy to assemble. And I have to say, letting the pork sit at room temp for 2 hours soaking in the salt and pepper is something I would be tempted to skip over (because I'm impatient), but it made a really big difference in terms of the tenderness of the pork. Or at least I'm going to tell myself it made a big difference. Because I'm proud of myself for not skipping that step.

I lined the pork with shallots, apples, and garlic before adding the cider, beer, and broth. Bring the pot to boil, and then stick it in the oven for at least 4 hours at 300F.  (In this time, I was able to do a load of laundry, finish up some work, vacuum and straighten up the apartment. BOOM!)

At that point, the recipe tells you to do things like cool the pork, put it in the fridge, etc. But I wasn't pre-braising my pork, I was serving it night-of, so I skipped that step. For the last 20 minutes in the oven, I hiked up the temp to about 325F and let it finish off.

As I took the pork out of the pan, it was so soft and tender that it totally fell apart off the bone. Perfect. I'm glad I actually tied it up in twine (I'm prone to skipping things like that too. Don't skip.)

So I strained the braising liquid, tossed the apples, shallots, etc, and boiled about 4 cups of the liquid down to 2 cups to create a thin sauce/gravy. The rest of the braising liquid, I just tossed.

As the sauce boiled down, I started working on the brussels sprouts. And I was surprised that they came together in only the 10 minutes it took to reduce the sauce! Saute the brussels sprouts until they crisp on the outside, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan. Melt the butter, maple syrup, and herbs in the pan, and then toss with the brussels sprouts.

I served the meal with some left-over bread from earlier this week to round things out.

Both the pork and brussels sprouts came together surprisingly quickly, and I was just as surprised as how easy this complex-tasting dessert came together while the pork cooked. Definitely soak the dates in sounds weird, but it adds an interesting, earthy depth to the cake. Don't forget to top with EXTRA toffee sauce.

Delish. This meal was so easy, but tasted so complicated and high-end, it would be the perfect meal to serve when having some friends over.

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