Cottage Ham

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Cottage Ham! I’ve made this dense cottage ham three different ways: slow-cooker, stove-top, and oven-bake. The best results came when I used the Le Creuset cast iron enameled Dutch oven.* It seemed to distribute the heat more evenly. The ham was fork-tender, moist, and juicy. Because the pan locks in the moisture, you can keep it warm in the oven until dinner time by reducing the oven temperature after the first three hours. Any leftover cooking water can be used as a soup base the following day.

COTTAGE HAM

Ingredients:

2 pound smoked shoulder butt

8-10 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon brown sugar

4 bay leaves

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse cottage ham to remove excess salt. Place cottage ham in a 3.5-quart Dutch oven. Add enough water to fill 2 inches above ham. Add black peppercorns, brown sugar, and bay leaves. Cover with lid. Bake cottage ham two hours. Check water level to keep the pan from going dry. If it does, add a little more water. The absorption allows the ham to be fork-tender, not chewy. Bake one hour longer, if necessary. The ham is done when the internal temperature is 160°. Serve with potatoes and vegetables of choice.

*I receive no recompense for mentioning this product.

Pan-Seared Pork Carnitas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Something to Savor: Pan-Seared Pork Carnitas! What if I told you this recipe will give you the crunch of bacon and the tenderness of a roast? And what if I also told you there’s no shame in eating a plate of tender, super-crispy meat without tortillas and refried beans on the side? (It’s true. I actually had these pork carnitas for breakfast one day.) If you’ve ever ordered this house special in a Mexican restaurant, I challenge you to give it a try. I simply threw all the ingredients together before I went to bed and let the slow cooker do its magic overnight. The next morning, the aromas will drive you crazy! Be creative. Have tacos, tostadas, nachos, or simply eat them as is. I did, without regrets. Mmmmm.

PAN-SEARED PORK CARNITAS

Ingredients:

7-pound pork shoulder, bone-in

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 tablespoon Hawaiian Rub*

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup pickled jalapeño peppers, sliced

3/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup vinegar

Fresh lime

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Rinse and dry pork shoulder. Pat dry. Cover with olive oil. Rub in oregano, cumin powder, Hawaiian Rub, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Place the pork shoulder, fatty side up, in a slow-cooker. Add chopped onion and jalapeño slices. Mix together orange juice and vinegar. Pour over all. Cover. Cook on Low for 10 hours. When done, the meat will be very tender. Remove the roast from the slow cooker. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Shred the meat using two forks, allowing some pieces to remain in bite-size chunks. Strain the juices into a medium size saucepan. Discard solids. Warm the drippings over medium heat to skim off the fat. Set aside. To serve, warm an iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Place shredded pork in the skillet and drizzle in a ladle of juices. Avoid overcrowding. Use a screen lid cover to eliminate splatters. Let the juices evaporate for 2-3 minutes so the bottom of the pork appears charred and crusty. Carefully turn over the pork pieces to cook golden brown. Overcooking will reduce tenderness and juiciness. Remove pork from skillet. Take a lime wedge and squeeze fresh lime juice over all. Garnish with cilantro. Leftovers may be divided into storage containers. Pour the juice equally over the pulled pork in each container. Freezing is also an option.

*Available through Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. I receive no recompense for promoting their product.