We'll come right out and say it: there are a lot of words in the titles of these recipes that make them sound fussy. But we promise, you can do it. The payoff! Oh, the payoff. A creamy carrot soup, golden and comforting. A hearty treat of a sandwich, rich but lightened by the brillant addition of a crunchy kale slaw. Yes, this one takes a bit longer than the usual hour we aim for at Dinner Tonight HQ, but you'll have leftovers galore, and ones that you'll actually want to eat!
Chinese Pulled Pork
2 tablespoons olive oil
2.5 pounds boneless pork shoulder/butt, cut into large cubes
1 small onion, peeled and sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 slices of peeled ginger, roughly 2 inches long
1 piece star anise
1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (pre-sliced)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup water or chicken stock
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
4 sturdy, good-quality hamburger buns or your favorite rolls
Kale and Apple Slaw
3 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 bunch kale stemmed and cut into thin strips (about 4 cups)
1 small Fuji apple, cored and grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1. For the pulled pork, heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven and brown the pork on two sides over medium heat, working in batches as necessary to avoid crowding the pan. As the pork is browned, remove it to a plate.
2. Once all the pork is browned, add the onions, garlic, and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally to pull up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until they begin to soften, about 5-8 minutes. Add in the star anise and mushrooms and stir for another minute more.
3. Nestle the pieces of pork back into the pan. Add the soy sauce, wine, vinegar, water/stock, and sesame oil, and stir to distribute. Add in additional water or chicken stock as necessary to bring the liquid level to about halfway up the pieces of pork (it's fine if there's a bit more than that). Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle-to-moderate simmer and cover the pot. Braise the pork until very tender, about 2 hours.
4. While the pork is braising, make the kale slaw. In a large bowl, combine the miso, lemon juice, vinegar, olive and sesame oils, and pepper to make a thick dressing. Toss in the kale, apple, and carrots, and mix continuously for a couple of minutes to coat the kale very well. Make it at least an hour or two before serving. Store in the refrigerator.
5. When the pork is fork-tender and falling apart, remove it from the pan and onto a large plate. Remove any unwanted hunks of fat still remaining, and shred the meat with two forks (or your fingers if the meat is cool enough). Skim the fat from the pan and discard. Also discard the star anise pod. Reduce the sauce over medium-low heat to about 1/2 cup (if there is more than that).
6. To assemble sandwiches, place a heaping mound of shredded pork on the bottom half of each bun. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of reduced sauce onto the meat. Top with a generous mound of the kale slaw. Top with the other half of the bun, and serve.
Serves 4 generously
2 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs (or boneless pork shoulder/butt, cut into large cubes)
Dried shiitake mushrooms (pre-sliced)
White or yellow miso paste
1 bunch Tuscan/dinosaur/lacinato kale
8 to 10 carrots
4 sturdy, good-quality hamburger buns, Kaiser or potato rolls, or ciabatta rolls
We assume you have soy sauce, white wine or mirin, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, onions, garlic, apple, salt, black pepper, white pepper, stock, and thyme in your super well-stocked kitchen. If not, you'll be needing those, too.
1. This menu plans itself, really. The pulled pork needs a good two-hour braise, there's just no way around it, and we suggest giving the kale slaw at least an hour to sit in its dressing. Long story short, begin with the pork.
2. As soon as the pork is braising, whip up the kale salad. Set aside to become delicious.
3. Focus your attentions on the soup. You'll be using all of your wintriest cooking techniques tonight -- braise the pork! Broil the carrots!
4. After 15 to 20 minutes, pull the carrots and finish the soup. Set aside to be warmed up when the sandwiches are closer to being done. Now you get to rest! Or have a cocktail, or catch up on your beauty sleep.
5. When the pulled pork is done, layer it with the kale slaw into sandwiches, and serve alongside a bowl of that lovely carrot soup. Dig in!
First photo by Linda Xiao; second photo by Sarah Shatz