Category Archives: Savory

Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork

Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkHappy 2019! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are refreshed and ready to get back to normal. I am dragging my feet about the whole thing, but keep reminding myself that this is only a three day work-week. Thank goodness.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the last couple of months have left me a little sick of sugary baked goods—not enough to quit making them or anything, but I need a little break. This is a yearly pattern so predictable that I’ve organized my blogging calendar around it. January on E2 Bakes means lots of savory dishes, including many weeknight meals. There may be a dessert or two as well, but that remains to be seen.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkThe first recipe of the year is one of my favorites: Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork. I started making it about four years ago and haven’t looked back.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkI realize that you probably already have a pulled pork recipe that you love. Slow cooker pulled pork became ridiculously popular in the 2000s—one quick google search of those four words will yield approximately a gazillion variations on putting a pork shoulder in a slow cooker and letting it cook for 8 hours or so before being shredded/pulled, combined with barbecue sauce, and served on hamburger buns.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkBut, um, unpopular opinion: I don’t like slow cooker pulled pork. I’m sure yours is great (!)—not trying to yuck your yum—it’s just not for me. You see, every slow cooker pulled pork I’ve ever had has been soft, mushy, stringy, too wet, too saucy, bland, or some combination thereof. I have eaten it when it’s been offered because when other people cook for me I eat what they make, but I just don’t like it. I can’t help it. Every time I eat slow cooker pulled pork, I wish it were more moist and less wet (if that makes sense) and had a simpler, pork-ier flavor. Oh, and crispy bits. You simply can’t get crispy bits with a cooking method that doesn’t allow air circulation…but you can in an oven.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkWhen I found Cara Nicoletti’s pulled pork recipe a few years ago, I felt the need to make it immediately and then many times since. It was pretty perfect already, but I’ve made some adjustments over time to suit my own preferences and now…well, I make the pulled pork I want to eat.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled PorkThis stuff is moist and meaty and not at all stringy or watery. It has an unabashedly porky, slightly salty flavor—perfect piled high on a roll with some crunchy vegetables and a drizzle of barbecue sauce (I go for a mustard-based sauce). It freezes like a dream. Oh, and it has plenty of crispy bits.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled PorkMaking pulled pork in your oven is not as easy as just throwing a pork shoulder in there and calling it a day. It takes time and lots of it—this is a weekend project for sure—but only about 60-90 minutes of it requires your immediate attention. Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork is coated in a mixture of Kosher salt, sugar and black pepper before chilling uncovered in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours. This is called a dry brine, and it’s magical: all the flavor of a traditional brine, but without the big vat of liquid taking up space in your fridge.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkAfter the brining time, the pork is rinsed and dried before being roasted at a low temperature for 6-7 hours. I like to throw some apple cider vinegar in the roasting dish—it adds moisture and flavor over the long cook time.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled PorkAfter the slow roast, the heat goes way up to crisp the skin. One short rest later, those cracklings are chopped and mixed with the finished pulled pork. Then it’s time for sandwiches. And picking at the leftovers every time you pass the fridge.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSeriously, good luck not eating it all.Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork

Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork
adapted from Cara Nicoletti
makes 12-16 servings

1 6-7 pound bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup apple cider vinegar

For serving:
sliced rolls
barbecue sauce (I use a mustard-based sauce)
pickles, onions, cabbage/slaw

Read recipe completely before beginning. This is a multi-day process, but requires minimal hands-on time.

A day or two before:

Remove pork shoulder from any packaging and place on a large cutting board. Dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

Use a large, very sharp (the sharper, the better) chef’s knife to slice a crosshatch pattern into the skin side of the shoulder. Do not slice into the meat.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together Kosher salt, granulated sugar, and black pepper. Use your clean hands to apply mixture to the entire surface of the meat. Place in a large pot or roasting dish (I use my dutch oven), skin-side-up.

Place pork shoulder, in its dish, into the refrigerator. Leave uncovered for at least 12 hours or up to 48.

The day you want to eat pulled pork:

Line a large cutting board with a clean kitchen towel or couple of layers of paper towels.

Remove pork shoulder, in its dish, from the refrigerator. Some liquid may have accumulated.

Lift pork out of its dish. Rinse well in cold water—there may still be some specks of black pepper, even after a few minutes. Place pork on prepared cutting board. Dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Let sit a room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 275F. Place pork skin-side-up in a clean, dry oven-safe pot or roasting dish (I wash and reuse my dutch oven). Pour apple cider vinegar into the dish. Roast pork for 6-7 hours, about an hour per pound. The internal temperature (not taken near the bone) should be 180F. Some liquid may have accumulated.

Turn oven heat up to 500F. Let pork cook, rotating every 5 minutes, until crosshatched skin is dark golden and crispy. Remove from oven.

Let pork sit a room temperature for 20-30 minutes before slicing off the skin/cracklings. Give it a rough chop and aside.

Remove meat from the bone, discarding any excess fat. Place meat in a large heatproof mixing bowl and toss with cracklings.

Serve on rolls with barbecue sauce and other toppings, if desired.

Leftover pork may be frozen in freezer bags for up to 3 months. Bone may also be frozen for use in stock or soup.Slow-Roasted Pulled PorkSlow-Roasted Pulled Pork

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Polenta Breakfast Bake

I rarely post on days that aren’t Wednesday or Friday, but I really wanted to get this recipe on here in time for Christmas. Consider this extra post a little gift from me to you.Polenta Breakfast BakeWe may not have done any holiday baking when I was a kid, but we still had plenty of Christmas food traditions. When I was growing up, my mom used to make a breakfast casserole every Christmas morning. While I was (and, honestly, continue to be) wary of any dish with “casserole” in the name, I made an exception for that one. Paired with Mom’s traditional all-citrus fruit salad,* it was impossible for even the pickiest of us to resist. It was so good that we didn’t complain when we were told we had to eat breakfast before opening our gifts. It was magic, I tell you.

*This is not a recipe—it’s literally just bite-sized pieces of navel orange and ruby red grapefruit with their membranes removed. Mix ‘em together in a bowl and chill overnight. Polenta Breakfast BakeNow, you may have noticed that I am speaking about my mom’s breakfast casserole in the past tense. That’s because she stopped making it about ten years ago, right about the time that my sisters and I started wanting more input in our holiday menu.

Another reason? Mom’s casserole was made with Bisquick. I have nothing personal against that mix—it’s responsible for every homemade pancake I ate as a child and I am forever grateful for its convenience—but I don’t use mixes these days.Polenta Breakfast BakeLong story short: today’s Polenta Breakfast Bake is an homage to the Christmas Morning Casserole of my childhood, minus the Bisquick, plus a creamy polenta base and some extra greens. It’s not my mom’s recipe, but it’s damn good.Polenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast BakeAlso, it’s naturally gluten-free (thanks, coarse ground cornmeal!). And people think you’re fancy when you say you made polenta anything, so there’s that.Polenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast BakeMy favorite thing about this recipe is that, like my mom’s, it doesn’t require any specific timetable. Flexibility is important when it comes to any holiday meal planning, but I am particularly opposed to any recipe that might require me to get up and start puttering around the kitchen when it’s still dark outside. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sleep > baking (and, um, cooking too).Polenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast BakeThis Polenta Breakfast Bake can be prepared morning-of, if you are an early bird, but I love that I can assemble it a day or two ahead and then just bake it for 25 minutes before serving. I have a hard time doing anything in the morning without the aid of coffee, but I can absolutely turn on the oven and bake a breakfast casserole for 25 minutes.Polenta Breakfast BakeHot from the oven, this Polenta Breakfast Bake will be a little hard to slice cleanly, so feel free to scoop it instead. I was able to slice the casserole pictured after letting it cool for about half an hour, but I’d be happy to eat this stuff in any shape (or lack thereof). Leftovers keep very well in the refrigerator and will slice & reheat like a freaking dream.Polenta Breakfast BakeOne last thing before I get to the recipe. Like all recipes on this site, I’ve made this Polenta Breakfast Bake to suit my own flavor preferences. I used breakfast sausage and cheddar cheese because those were prominent flavors in my mom’s recipe, but you can swap them for any meat and/or cheese you like in weights equal to those in the recipe. My only word of advice here is that if you choose to use bacon, remove it from the pan while you sauté the onion, garlic, and greens so that it doesn’t burn. Oh, and speaking of greens, feel free to leave ‘em out if you have picky eaters (or if breakfast vegetables just aren’t your thing).

That’s all a very long way of saying that you should take my favorite and make it yours ❤ Polenta Breakfast Bake
Looking for more holiday breakfasts? Check out these overnight Cinnamon Rolls, this Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}, and this whole round-up of breakfast time favorites!

Polenta Breakfast Bake
makes 8-12 servings

2 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk (preferably whole)
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
1 1/2 cups polenta or coarse ground cornmeal
8 ounces freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups), divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces raw breakfast sausage, removed from casings
1 medium white onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
10-12 ounces fresh greens, roughly chopped (I used a mix of baby spinach and baby kale)
4 large eggs
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (based on preference)

Grease a 9×13-inch pan or other large casserole dish (a broiler-safe one, if possible).

Make polenta. Bring water and milk to a simmer. Keep an eye on it, as milk can boil over dramatically without much notice. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Whisking constantly, add polenta in a thin stream. Reduce heat to medium-low, whisking very frequently for 25-30 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat. Whisk in 6 ounces (~1 1/2 cups) cheese, cayenne and dijon, followed by butter. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and let sit 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add breakfast sausage and cook, breaking it up with the edge of a spatula, until browned (about 8-10 minutes). Add diced onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add about half the greens and let wilt. Add remaining greens and cook until wilted. Remove from heat. Stir mixture into polenta.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together eggs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Stir eggs into polenta mixture. Transfer everything to prepared pan. It may be covered and refrigerated at this point for up to 48 hours.

Preheat oven to 425F. Scatter remaining 2 ounces (~1/2 cup) of cheese over the top. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes, or until golden at the edges, and slightly puffed and a little jiggly in the center. For an extra golden top, broil for 1-2 minutes. If your dish is not broiler-safe, you can heat the oven to 475F with the casserole on the top rack. Watching it closely, let it cook 5-10 minutes, turning as needed, until cheese has browned in places.

Let casserole cool for a few minutes. Scoop or slice and serve. Casserole will slice like a dream once cooled.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Cold slices reheat well in the microwave.

Leftovers may be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Polenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast BakePolenta Breakfast Bake

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceMy mother makes the best cranberry sauce in the world, but that’s not the recipe I’m sharing today.* Sorry to disappoint.

*Just kidding! I wrote her original recipe in the notes at the end. It’s a Thanksgiving two-fer 🙂 Apple Cider Cranberry SauceI have a good reason for holding out on you. My mom’s cranberry sauce is made with a large amount of brandy, which gets cooked off over the course of an hour in the oven. As I have mentioned previously though, I cannot safely consume alcohol, and therefore do not keep it around, even for cooking.

Since I quit drinking five and a half years ago, cranberry sauce is one of the only dishes that I have really missed. I’ve found work-arounds or substitutes for all sorts of other recipes, but I just couldn’t find one that hit all the same buttons as my mom’s.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceIn case you’re wondering, those buttons include:

  • It’s gotta be whole berry. No weird can-shaped cranberry jello here.
  • It can’t have more than three ingredients. I’ve had cranberry sauces with nuts and spices and other fruits and all sorts of other silliness, and all of it was completely unnecessary.
  • It shouldn’t have any citrus. Orange and cranberry are complementary flavors, but I can’t stand them together in cranberry sauce. This is more of a personal preference than anything, but I mean, this is my personal food blog.
  • It can’t be too sweet. I hate when cranberries are so over-sweetened that their natural tartness is completely masked.
  • It has to be easy. Like ridiculously easy. So low-maintenance, it’s silly. And if it can be made more than a day ahead, that’s ideal.
  • If nothing else, it must be so delicious that I want to eat it every time I spot the jar in the fridge.

Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceIt’s taken a few years and many sauces with unrecognizable berries, too much sugar, flavors I didn’t care for, and a lot of feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve finally made a cranberry sauce that hits all those buttons. And the missing ingredient was looking at me the whole time in the form of a seasonal fridge staple: apple cider. It has flavor, but not enough to overwhelm the cranberries, and it’s sweet without being saccharine. Perfection.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceThis sauce comes together over the course of an hour in the oven. It gets stirred twice, but needs no help otherwise.Apple Cider Cranberry SauceThe result is soft, bursting berries that slump into a sweet, sticky sauce. It’s just divine. As is the fact that it can be made today and nuked in the microwave just before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, it’s probably even better that way. Love that.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Want more cranberries? See here and here. For more apple cider, see here and here.

Apple Cider Cranberry Sauce*
makes about 3 cups

2 12-ounce bags whole cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine all ingredients in a 9×13-inch casserole dish and stir together. Bake 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.

Remove sauce from oven. Cool for a few minutes before transferring to a serving dish. Serve.

Cranberry sauce may be made up to two days in advance; it reheats well in the microwave.

Note:

If you want to try my mom’s cranberry sauce, swap the cider for brandy and double the sugar. Everything else is the same.
Apple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry SauceApple Cider Cranberry Sauce

Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions

Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsIf you go back and look at the order of recipes on this blog, you can clearly see my train of culinary thought. Last week, I posted three pies back-to-back. Last month, I posted a cake per week. Earlier in the year, I was making doughnuts right and left. I can’t help that my inspiration is so obviously linear.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsThis week, I’m caramelizing everything. On Wednesday, it was Brussels sprouts. Today, it’s onions. But they’re not just any old caramelized onions. Nope. These are nestled with a wheel of brie, wrapped in buttery pastry, and baked into a puffy, golden appetizer worthy of any Thanksgiving spread!Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked brie is always a holiday hit—what’s not to love about the combination of melty cheese and flaky pastry?!—but I am all about the sweet addition of caramelized onions here. They’re cooked low and slow until they’re soft, sweet, and deeply browned. I like to add some minced garlic and fresh rosemary (it’s another thing I’m into right now) at the end of cooking, just for a little dimension.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsAfter the onions cool, it’s time to assemble the baked brie. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry (I use rough puff, but the frozen all-butter stuff works too) and pile the onions on top.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsSmear a little dijon on one side of a wheel of brie and place it on top of the onions. The mustard flavor isn’t too pronounced here, but it’s sharpness helps offset the richness of the cheese and pastry.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsWrap everything up tight, give it an egg wash glaze, and decorate with some little pastry leaves, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBake the brie until the pastry puffs and turns golden. Wait a few minutes before serving it with seasonal fruit and the crackers you made your roommate go get from the overpriced cell-phone-dead-zone grocery store behind your building (and you didn’t even complain when he came back with some weird flavor instead of plain because you’re an adult and someone did you a favor)…Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions…um, what was that? Oops. Back to baked brie.Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsYou’re going to love this brie, y’all! It’s rich and buttery, and oozes in the best possible way. One bite of this melty, cheesy, salty-sweet treat is worth every second it takes to cook those onions, I promise. I know all your holiday guests will agree.Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions
Baked Brie with Caramelized Onions
makes one 5-inch (13.4 ounce) baked brie

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

Caramelized Onions:
2 medium sweet onions, sliced into thin half-moons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary

For Assembly:
1 5-inch (13.4 ounce) wheel of brie
1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

For Serving:
seasonal fruit
bread or crackers

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Caramelize the onions. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they reduce in volume and are deeply browned (but not burnt!). Add garlic and minced rosemary and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Do not rush this process. Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Assemble the baked brie. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 9×12-inch rectangle. Slice off a 2×9-inch strip and refrigerate it for later. Place onions in a 6-inch circle in the center of the remaining dough.

Spread mustard on one side of the brie. Place the brie, mustard-side-down, on top of onions. Fold pastry over the top, leaving no exposed cheese. Place wrapped brie, smoother-side-up, on prepared pan. Refrigerate.

Make an egg wash. In a small bowl, combine egg and water. Whisk with a fork until smooth.

Remove reserved strip of dough from the refrigerator. Use a knife or decorative cookie cutters to cut decorative pieces, if desired.

Remove brie from the refrigerator. Paint with egg wash. Top with decorative pieces and paint with more egg wash. Bake brie for 25-30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

Let cool for at least 15 minutes before removing to a serving platter. Serve with fruit, bread, or crackers, if desired.

Baked brie is best on the day it’s made, but may be wrapped tightly in the refrigerator for a few days.
Baked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized OnionsBaked Brie with Caramelized Onions

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Brussels SproutsI don’t spend much time writing about vegetables, seeing as this is a baking blog and all.Caramelized Brussels SproutsBut the truth is that I eat a lot of vegetables. A lot. Gotta balance out all the baked goods somehow, you know?

Let’s not discuss how many times I’ve had pie and salad for lunch over the last three weeks. #bakerproblemsCaramelized Brussels SproutsThese Caramelized Brussels Sprouts are one of my fall/winter favorites. They’re basically your standard roasted brussels sprouts with the volume turned up. Plus, they’re super easy to make and have this sweet-salty-herby-spicy thing going on that makes them totally irresistible. Like, good luck getting them from the pan to the table without eating half the batch. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Caramelized Brussels SproutsI make Caramelized Brussels Sprouts for regular weeknights all the time, but they’re also great for dinner parties and holidays. I made them for Christmas dinner last year and they were a huge hit with my whole family! I can’t help but think they’d make a great Thanksgiving side dish, too.Caramelized Brussels SproutsCaramelized Brussels Sprouts are very simple to make. Start by trimming the brussels sprouts and removing any banged-up outer leaves. There’s no need to slice them in half—minimal prep is the name of the game!Caramelized Brussels SproutsPut the sprouts on a baking sheet and toss ‘em with fresh rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, a little sugar, and olive oil.Caramelized Brussels SproutsRoast the brussels sprouts for 40 minutes, giving the pan a good shake every 15 minutes. The resulting sprouts will have deeply browned (but not burnt!), crispy exteriors and buttery-soft centers.Caramelized Brussels SproutsRemember that “sweet-salty-herby-spicy” thing? Well, add “crispy-buttery.”Caramelized Brussels SproutsAnd maybe “-things-dreams-are-made-of.”
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
makes 6-8 servings

2 pounds whole raw Brussels sprouts, trimmed & kept whole
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, based on your preference
1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, based on your preference

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine all ingredients on a dry rimmed baking sheet and toss together with clean hands. Spread coated brussels sprouts into one layer.

Roast 40 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes. Brussels Sprouts are ready when the exteriors are deeply browned (but not burnt) and the centers are tender. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts are best the day they are made, but may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.Caramelized Brussels SproutsCaramelized Brussels SproutsCaramelized Brussels Sprouts