Wednesday, June 30, 2010

First Homemade Dinner in Seattle: Braised Pork Shoulder and Sautéed Morels in a Red Sauce

The gift Seattle bequeathed to me was a bounty of sensory perceptions. When I bit into my first Northwestern peach, I thought I had stumbled upon the land of milk and honey. This was all I wanted to eat…until I had the cherries, no this must be it! I listened intently to soulful musical performances and had meaningful conversations with unnamed persons. Everything was throbbing with life. I don’t know if it was this city, this summer, this attitude I was taking, but “best” simply could not be pinned to one thing.
The city continually presented me pieces of its beauty: from the hand-made trinkets and hand-picked strawberries, lively hoola-hoop performances or fortune telling in the local park; I connected with all these trade masters in some way. Seattle was an experience for all my senses. My eyes glided to the tops and window ledges of buildings where I found leafy greenery erupting. My nose directed me to the mouth-watering, inviting scents of warm bread or Asian-inspired cooking. The people I met greeted me with familiarity, making available all the privileges of a long-awaited guest. It was odd staying in a hotel when so much of me thought I was home.
However, the hotel felt nothing like home. The tiny joke-of-a-kitchen was equipped with an easy-bake sized oven, a cheap stovetop with only two working burners and two pans, one mixing spoon, no knife. When I requested one, I got the awkward love child of a serrated and butter knife.

The better news was that the food I purchased from Pike Place Market was quite the spread. In my grocery bag was a French baguette, a tin of olive oil, a can of pureed tomatoes, two cuts of pork shoulder, three delightful little cipollini onions, a handful of brown, foam-like Washington morel mushrooms, purple garlic, fresh basil and a pasta artisan’s Rosemary Garlic linguine. Everything fresh or local; I could not be more pleased. Granted, I was handicapped by this awful excuse for a kitchen, but I would not let Seattle rain on my dinner parade [actually it didn’t rain until the day I left]. I brought the same sunshine and flavor to the table, even 3000 miles away from home.
Working with the bare minimum – we are talking salt and pepper packets – I created a phenomenal meal. The pork shoulder was bought from the last butcher in Pike Place; he was closing up shop that very day. The price was dirt cheap but the tenderness and taste were worth much more. The sweet cipollini onions and garlic complimented the braised pork and tomato, while the morels and Rosemary Garlic pasta acted as wonderful accents to the savory red sauce. With a dash of salt and pepper and some thinly sliced leaves of basil it was complete. Even out of my element, I still was able to create yummy delicacies. The following recipe is to be followed roughly, as I was not able to record everything at the time. But there is always room for experimentation!
Braised Pork Shoulder and Sautéed Morels in a Red Sauce
Olive oil
1 28 oz can pureed tomatoes, with juice
2 pork shoulders, bone-in
3 cipollini onions, chopped
2 cloves purple garlic, minced
5-6 morel mushrooms, sliced
Fresh basil, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
Rosemary Garlic Linguine
1. In frying pan over high heat, heat olive oil for about 2 min.
2 Add pork shoulders; fry until well-browned on both sides – about 5-7 min.
3. Add can of tomatoes, onions, garlic, reduce heat to medium low and cover; cook until desired tenderness, about 15-20 min.
4. Meanwhile, heat water and cook pasta al dente.
5. In another pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add morels and cook until tender, but still retaining most of their shape and firmness. Add to red sauce. Heat for about 5 min.
6. Place pasta on plate, add pork, cover with red sauce, top with basil, salt and pepper.


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