Spice rubbed pork shoulder with posole

Ennui. No, it’s not a type of sausage or that tingling pain you get in your legs if you sit for too long. It’s a feeling of listlessness, lethargy and lassitude. A cloud of dissatisfaction that hangs over life. It’s marked by a tendency to gaze out the window and sigh for no reason at all.

Sure, winter doesn’t help. Winter doesn’t help anything unless you’re a hibernating bear or sell ski equipment. We’re fed up, longing for the lazy-crazy-hazy days of summer when we spent our days barbecuing meat, veg, the dog’s chew toy and our boots (the last two, just because we could).

That was life. This is like being forced to watch an Ingmar Bergman movie on repeat.

The solution? There isn’t one. There’s not a pill you can take or mantra you can chant. It just is. The good news? One day it will be gone. Poof! And suddenly you’ll make a tentative foray out of your reclining chair with the chip and dip tray and actually take the garbage out. Respect!

Rub the pork with the spice mix the day before cooking.

But in the meantime, cook large pots of comfort food to see you through your existential crisis. It won’t cure anything but it might – just might – lift your spirits a bit.

Serves 4-6

3 ½ lb boneless pork shoulder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sugar

¼ tsp Ancho chile powder

½ tsp Chipotle powder

½ tsp Chimayo blend chile powder

1-12 oz package of White corn posole

2 Chile pods such as Ancho and New Mexico red

1 large garlic clove

Garnishes: chopped avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, chopped green onions

Mix together the spices, salt, sugar and chile powders and rub on all sides of the pork shoulder. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in a container with a lid. Pop in the refrigerator and let it do its thing overnight. Next, place the posole in a non-reactive bowl, cover with water and soak overnight.

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 425ºF. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Remove the plastic wrap (if using) and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish and put in the pre-heated oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 225ºF, cover with a lid and continue to cook for another 4-5 hours or until the meat is tender and flakes away easily.

Spear the garlic with a toothpick so you can find it easily in the cooked posole.

While the pork is cooking, make the posole. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the posole, then simmer for around 2-3 hours. After an hour or so, add the 2 chile pods and the peeled garlic clove. Stick a toothpick through the garlic clove to make it easy to retrieve once cooking is done.

Shred the cooked meat, discarding most of the fat (come on – it’s the best part). Mix with the pan cooking juices and return the oven to high heat and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain the posole. Serve a generous ladleful of posole with some of the pulled pork and your choice of garnishes.

 

Baked Sweet Potato with all the fillings

Dinner for two sounds awfully romantic doesn’t it? I know what you’re thinking – candlelight, some soft jazz and a glass/two/bottle of Merlot. It’s a night to remember as you gaze at that someone special/mildly memorable and wonder if it would blow the mood to suggest binge watching Game of Thrones.

But folks, dinner for two can be something a lot more down to earth. Ditch the candles and bin the George Benson cd – dinner for two can be survival on a week night. If you’ve got children (I feel your pain) then it’s homework and tantrums and trying to prise a phone out of their sharp, beady talons. It’s laundry and work emails that don’t care what time it is.

Then suddenly 9:00 p.m. and you realize – hey, guess what? – you haven’t eaten anything since that highly suspect tuna fish sandwich at noon. It’s at times like this – and we’ve all had them – that you need something you can get on the table ASAP. Before you can press speed dial for pizza delivery, you can have a baked sweet potato done and on the table. (That is if you use our very good friend the microwave.)

And if you’re really tired, feel free to eat dinner in bed. We won’t tell. Honest.

Serves 2

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes (about 1 lb total weight)

1 oz goat’s cheese or feta cheese, a nice size chunk

3-4 radishes, sliced thinly

1 or 2 spring onions, sliced

pumpkin seeds, to garnish

 

Green chile butter

1 stick/4 oz. butter, softened

1 tbsp cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish

1 tsp green jalapeño powder

zest of 1 lime

Salt

Wash and dry the sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a sharp knife. Microwave at high heat for 5 minutes, check and microwave in 2 minute intervals until tender all the way through.

To make the green chile butter, mix the softened butter with the chopped cilantro, green jalapeño powder and lime zest. Taste and add salt as needed and place in a ramekin.

When the sweet potatoes are done, slice down the middle, add a healthy spoonful of the butter. Divide the cheese between the servings, add the sliced radishes and spring onions and garnish with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and the extra cilantro. Eat it up while it’s hot and then in bed – it’s a school night.