What can I say about Sunday Suppers At Lucques that hasn’t already been said? It is beloved by professional and home chefs, praised by critics and loyal clientele, and honors both vegetarians and carnivores. The recipes are presented in terms of complete, four-course meals that pass the seasons with the turning of the pages. While that is a fairly unique approach in itself, the introduction of each season provides a brief visit to the mind of Chef Suzanne Goin; the spring’s first ripe strawberries, the summer invasion of tomatoes, a multitude of squash in the fall, and robust stews of braised meats and root vegetables in the winter. Her food is presented beautifully, but fairly rustically, and while the food is elegant and almost certainly delicious, it is also very approachable. Since I bought this book more than a year ago, I have spent time every month immersed in the book, deriving inspiration and technique. While this is the first recipe that I have (mostly) followed from this wonderful book, it has influenced me greatly in my approach in working with seasonal product and I have used many techniques as described in the pages. If you believe, at all, in anything relating to seasonality, locality, organic, or cohesive food, give yourself the gift of Sunday Suppers At Lucques.
I used the leftover turkey carcass from Thanksgiving this year to make a turkey stock. While I’m not the biggest fan of turkey meat, I think the stock actually came out with better flavor than chicken stock. I’ve been trying to get as much as I can out of every ingredients and stock is a very important piece in building flavor. Aside from that, I made a few small additions to the recipe, including fennel, chipotle peppers, and bay leaves, to add a little heat and build more flavorful base. In regards to the polenta, Chef Goin says that because there are so few ingredients in a creamy polenta, the cook makes all the difference: constant care and stirring, patience, and frequently tasting towards the end if essential to a luxurious polenta, butter makes that a little easier, as well. The cayenne pepper doesn’t make the polenta spicy, but it does make it more interesting and works in harmony with the pork stew. Roasted root vegetables are always a good thing, be sure to let them caramelize because that’s when the sweetness really comes through. The very best part of this dish is the polenta absorbing some of the braising liquid, it is a heavenly bite. Enjoy!
Pork Stew, Polenta, & Roasted Veggies
- 3 lb pork shoulder or fatty pork roast, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, plus 2 sprigs
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, plus 2 sprigs
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 large fennel bulb, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 chipotle peppers plus 1 tbsp juice, from can
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2-4 cups homemade turkey or chicken stock
- 8 sprigs cilantro
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
Toast cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds until fragrant, set aside to cool, then crush roughly with a mortar and pestle. In a large plastic bag, combine the pork shoulder, toasted seeds, garlic, oregano and thyme leaves, press the herbs and spices into the pork. Seal the bag and marinade in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.
Preheat oven to 300. Heat a medium or large Dutch oven on medium high heat. Add olive oil and when almost to the smoke point, sear the pork on most sides. Sear in batches, if necessary, to avoid overcrowding. Add onion, carrot, and fennel, and reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally, when vegetables are beginning to show color, add chipotle peppers and juices, and the herbs/spices from the marinade, cook about 1 minute. Add wine and deglaze the pan, then add 2 cups stock, bring to a boil. Nestle the pork in the pot and add the bay leaves, thyme and oregano sprigs, and cilantro. The liquid should be halfway up the pork, if necessary add more broth. Cover with a lid and place in oven. Turn the pork after 1 hour, then let braise an additional hour, add more time if meat is not easily pierced with a knife. Pork should be very tender, but not falling apart. Strain the vegetables, pick out the pork, and return the juices to a pot. Turn oven up to 400 and caramelize the meat for 10-15 minutes in a small amount of the braising liquid. Meanwhile, reduce the remaining braising liquid until thickened slightly, the liquid should have the consistency of a stew. Serve over creamy polenta w/plenty of the delicious braising sauce.
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
Bring the water to a boil, whisk in cornmeal slowly and add salt, pepper, and cayenne. Reduce heat so polenta is just barely simmering. Stir often, using a spatula to get every edge and prevent scorching the cornmeal. Add water as needed, 1/2 cup at a time. When cornmeal is cooked and has lost the grainy bite, stir in the butter, add more salt or pepper if needed.
- 1 large turnip or 3 small
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 medium parsnips
- balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Turn oven up to 400. Peel all the vegetables. Cut the turnip in wedges. Cut the parsnips and carrots in half lengthwise twice to have 4 quarters per vegetable. Toss the veggies in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Roast until slightly caramelized, tossing once or twice.