Tuesday, July 24, 2007

20 Spice Pork Shoulder with Coffee Barbeque Sauce

I'm not a big fan of cooking traditional styles of American BBQ - don't get me wrong, I like to eat BBQ, but for some reason it doesn't turn me on from a culinary standpoint. Every now and then though, I feel like cooking something in the traditional BBQ style. This time around I couldn't resist trying to create something new (at least to me) .

In this case, the dish I created calls for 20 spices. Why 20? Because 19 is too few and 21 too many. I don't know....20 just seemed like a nice round number. And with so many spices I couldn't possibly be constrained by the ingredients of a single cuisine. In this case, I had no choice but to draw on spices from several different regions of the world.

The result? Let's just say my kids loved it (hard to please daughter included) and surprisingly my wife loved it too. And she can be very finicky. (Don't tell her I said so).

Anyway, here's the recipe for a dish that I developed this past Sunday afternoon inspired by some recipes I've seen incorporating tea (smoked ribs) and coffee (I can't remember what in the heck it was other than it called for brewed coffee).

Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients. It's worth going out and getting what you don't have as your pantry will be fully stocked to cook many different cuisines as a result.

This recipe may look complicated but it isn't very difficult to prepare and doesn't take a great deal of time to pull together. Simmering the BBQ sauce is the main time component.

6 pounds of boneless pork shoulder cut into 8-10 oz. filets or boneless pork spare ribs'

For the Meat Rub:
1 tablespoon of peanut oil
3 tablespoons of coriander seeds
3 tablespoons of fennel seeds
2 tablespoons of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of cardomon powder
1 tablespoon of Spanish smoked paprika
1 tablespoon of mustard powder
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 tablespoon of red anatto powder
1 tablespoon of fennegreek powder
2 tablespoons of good quality ground chilis
1 teaspoon of allspice
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of ground sumac
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of cayenne powder
i teaspoon of galangal powder
1 teaspoon of lemongrass powder
i teaspoon of dried chipoltle flakces
2 teaspoons of fine sea salt

For the BBQ Sauce:
5 gloves of garlic
1 small sweet onion
2-3 inch piece of peeled ginger
1 medium red bell pepper
3-6 dried chilis depending on level of 'hotness' desired
5 star anise
4-6 oz. (1/2 cup to 3/4 cup) of good quality honey
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup dark rum
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
8 oz. of brewed dark roast coffee (preferrably prepared using drip method)
2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder or on quarter-half cup of grated unsweetened dark chocolate


1. Place 1 tablespoon of oil in pyrex dish large enough to hold pork lined up. Coat pork with oil.
2. Grind cumin, fennel seed, and coriander seed in a coffee grinder.
3. Add it and rest of 20 spices into a large mixing bowl. Mix together with fingers or using fork.
4. Sprinkle some of mixture on each of the pork filets. Then using hands rub it in and flip over. Repeat again with other side. Rub in well to all of pork is coated. Put plastic wrap over dish and set aside in refrigerator until 1 hour before grilling.
5. Add onion, pepper, garlic and ginger into food processor and pulse until finely minced and somwhat like a paste.
6. Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in 12 inch fry pan at medium. Add paste and cook for 7 minutes at medium heat and then reduce to low for another 5-7 minutes or until carmelized but not burned.
7. Add vingears and cook for a few minutes.
8. Add star anise
9. Add sherry and cook off alcohol.
10. Add rum and cook off alchohol.
11. Have mixture at low simmer. Add tomato paste, stirring in well.
12. Add honey and stir in well. Cook for about five minutes.
13. Prepared coffee. Add to pan. Mix well. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.
14. Add cocoa powder or chocolate. Stir in.
15 . Simmer entire mixture for about 90 minutes. Consistency should be like a nice tomato paste but not too thick.
16. Set aside to cool.
17. Get barbecue grill up to about 425-450 degrees fahrenheit. Avoid a hotter temperature. Grill pork fillets about 6-8 minutes a side. Brush on BBQ sauce at end to both sides and cook each side for 2-3 minutes.
18. Take filets off grill and let rest on plate or cutting board with alum foil over them for 5-7 minutes.
19. Put rest of Coffee BBQ sauce in bowl and serve at table with the pork.

Serves 12 to 18 people as main course. Consume with a hearty red wine, something robust - not too subtle or sophisticated, which will stand up to the sweet, spicy and smoky flavor of the pork and BBQ sauce. Recommend a syrah or grenache from whatever country you fancy. Also could serve with a Primitivo from Italy.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Clam Pepper Spaghetti

This is one of my little food inventions. Somewhere along the line I tasted clams with peppers and really liked how the two flavors seemed to marry really well. I've been making this dish for a couple years now and vary the recipe each time. For instance, this particular recipe contains fresh spring peas that I purchased at a local farm. But below is the basic set of ingredients that are used and the procedure for cooking. You can use almost any type of spaghetti but I like fettucine, linguini or perchitelli best.


2 oz. olive oil
5 garlic cloves coarsely chopped
2 red bell peppers (orange, yellow can be used as well or a mix of colors) coarsely chopped
2 oz. of fennel coarsely chopped
1 medium size sweet onion coarsely chopped
10 oz. can of whole clams plus juice (I used Geisha brand wild caught whole baby clams)
3/4 cup of fruity white wine (Colombelle, a tart and fruity wine from Gascony is my preferred choice but any other fruity white will do)
3/4 cup of fresh spring peas or frozen petit pois
8 oz. of whole wheat linguini
1.2 tbsp. sea salt

1. Add garlic, pepper, onion and fennel to a food processor - pulse blend adding 1 oz. of olive oil to smooth slightly
2. Heat 12 inch pan to medium and add rest of olive oil
3. Add garlic, pepper, onion, fennel mix plus salt and saute at low to medium heat until slightly caramelized about 15-20 minutes
4. Turn up heat to medium and add wine - adjust to simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes
5. Add clams and clam juice and simmer for another 10-15 minutes
6. Add peas during last five minutes of cooking
6. Cook pasta to al dente (slightly undercooked) in large pot of boiling water - when cooked use tongs to remove pasta and add it to the pepper clam mixture. Mix it together and let it simmer at low heat for 5-10 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the liquid and flavors.
7. Serve in bowls with chopped fresh basil or mint for garnish.

I typically drink a fruity white wine with this - pinot grigio works well but any other fruity white (no oak) can be used. Rose also goes well with this dish.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or starter course and four as main course.

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