Monday, February 13, 2006

Pork with Parsnips

Mark Bittman gives a recipe for pork braised with turnips in the Minimalist Cooks at Home. I made it once, substituting Hungarian fekete rétek (black radishes), which happen to taste exactly like turnips. It was good; I wanted to make it again, but my roommate Joel had discovered that he didn't like turnips, or at least black radishes in the guise of turnips. We stood in front of school pondering what to make for dinner. Suddenly, we thought of parsnips. (Which one of us actually came up with this? I'm not sure, but it was probably Joel.) We were joyful, and we spent our walk to Kaiser's trying to come up with other alliterative dishes.

And so, here is our adapted version of the recipe:

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of boneless pork shoulder (tárja in Hungarian)
  • 1 tbs. canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 tbs. goose fat or oil
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds of parsnips (or however much you want)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups white wine
  • parsley, salt, and pepper

Cut up the meat and trim the fat and connective tissue. This takes me more than twenty minutes, but is worth it. You should be able to do it faster if you're better at it, and if you have a sharper knife.

Brown the meat in the oil and goose fat, giving the meat five minutes at very high heat, plus some more time with a bit less heat. Grind some pepper over it. Cook it until it's well browned, maybe ten minutes in all. While you're doing that, cut the parsnips up into big chunks; there's no need whatsoever to peel them. Throw them on and cook them for a few minutes when the pork is browned.

Add the wine, salt, and half of the parsley. Cover and turn down the heat to maintain a light simmer. Stir every ten minutes, and cook for at least thirty minutes.

When you can easily pierce the parsnips with a fork, it's done. If you have too much sauce (unlikely), uncover and let it reduce. Add pepper and more salt if necessary, and the parsley.

The goose fat is completely unnecessary, but good. I don't like using butter in this, though. (Hungarian pork already tastes like butter.) The parsley is actually very important. I think thyme would be good too. I also might try putting in some cabbage next time.

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