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Jan 1, 2007 03:18 AM

Zuni Cafe Cookbook: Beef, Lamb, Pork and Rabbit/ Sausage and Charcuterie

January 2007 Cookbook of the Month: the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers and Gerald Asher. Please post your full-length reviews of recipes from the sections on beef, lamb, pork and rabbit and on sausage and charcuterie here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

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  1. Mock Porchetta (pg. 408)

    This was part of my New Year's Eve dinner. I served this with cauliflower mash and an aspargus and dill salad.

    I loved this pork. This was my first time making this particular recipe. I used a 3 lbs. pork butt and followed the recipe pretty close to form. Within the slits, I stuffed all the herbs and tied it up. It marinated for about 2 1/2 days before I roasted it. It took about 2 1/2 hours to cook and I left it rest for a few minutes while I prepared the sauce.

    For the veggies, I used an assortment of carrots, turnips and parnips. It was slightly over 2 lbs. (which was the maximum in the recipe), but next time, I would up the veggies a bit more. I had plenty of room in the skillet and more pig leftovers then veggies. I like the leftovers to be a bit more balanced.

    The meat was extremely tender and the fat was soft and chewy. I can't say enough, how delicious this was. Plus, the house smelled great which is always a bonus.

    Also, for a zuni recipe, it's pretty low maintenance. The main thing is to plan ahead on prepping the pork.

    Picture of food plate:

    3 Replies
    1. re: beetlebug

      I finally made the mock porchetta last eve (well, started to make it 4 days ago to marinate). Wow. Such porcine goodness!
      I used the seasonings called for, made the slits in my lovely local pastured 2# pork shoulder, and the refrigerator smelled heavenly for days as it marinated (covered w/ a plate, loosely as prescribed)
      I had my doubts about putting in vegetables at same time as pork since I find vegetables take only 1 hour to roast, even at a low temp. But I put in potatoes, onions and carrots a few minutes after roast went into the oven. I roasted for what seemed an interminable time -- certainly more than 2-1/2 hrs, pork did not go up to 185 degrees (though I don't trust my thermometer) and removed because meat was brown on outside and looked well done when I slit into it to peek. Vegetables were pretty much mush and overcooked. There was little fat in the pan, so I just poured in some chicken stock and pronounced it done.
      My guests were saying: Mmmm, lovely, and such. It was scrumptious and soul satisfying.
      Served w/ oven cooked polenta and sauteed swiss chard, preceded by a variation of Carb Lover's awesome spring salad, and followed by apple bundt cake w/ homemade vanilla and cinnamon ice creams (see Sunday Suppers post on ice cream)

      Next time I will add vegetables later so they don't overcook.
      This is a fabulous technique to cook pork (I'm not a fan of pork loin because it's too dry for my taste) This shows that fat = flavor, and the herbs and spices, including fennel made the dish sing. Mmm mmm.

      1. re: NYchowcook

        I also agree with you about the vegetables. For me, they turned black and charred. I guess my pieces were too small.

        1. re: NYchowcook

          I made the mock porchetta again, for mother's day
          I was distracted and so very sloppy with the periodic turning of the roast and the addition of liquid to the pan, and I ended up overcooking it a little . . . still good, but SO much better when done right.

          Don't do what I did. Follow the instructions for roasting to the letter!
          If you cut the veg large, I find the whole roasting time is fine. If you cut them small, adding a little later is a good idea. I also found that the longcooked root veg sucked up a lot of the pan juices, making delicious taters but not leaving much for anything else, so it's esp important to add liquid as you roast.

      2. I second everything Beetlbug says above :)

        I made the mock porchetta already too - the day after Christmas. I had my wonderful butcher (for locals - D&R in the North End) bone a pork shoulder, then seasoned it with the herbs (no capers because I was out), and marinated it for three days. As Beetlebug mentions, it smelled so good roasting in the oven. For vegetables, I used what I had on hand - carrots, one onion cut in wedges, and a handful of garlic cloves. I roasted everything in a cast iron skillet.





        5 Replies
        1. re: Rubee

          Did you cook it to the 185 degrees she calls for in the recipe? Seemed high...

          1. re: mirage

            Yes, I did. I read somewhere that the high temperature is not to ensure it's cooked to well-done, but that it's necessary for the roast to cook long and slow to 185 in order to become very tender.

            1. re: mirage

              I did cook it to the 185, despite my misgivings. I may have pulled it out at 183 or so. I have two different thermometers and they gave different readings. I figured it was close enough and we wouldn't get sick because of the 2 degree difference. The meat was incredibly tender. For whatever reason, I was surprised by that. But, upon reflection, the dry salt brine tenderized the meat and the marinade made it extremely flavorful.

              I think my fennel is old so the herby, lemony flavor was more prominent.

            2. re: Rubee

              Yay for your pictures. That looks beautiful. I have made this and had to do the boning myself. Much better idea to get the butcher to do it for you. This is one of those dishes you serve and it goes completely silent at the table because it's so good.

              1. re: Rubee

                Thanks for the photos. I bought everything before reading all these posts and now am so excited to try it. It sounds as good as the recipe made it sound. I need to get that brine on the meat!

              2. I have made this twice now and I love it. The only thing is I think the fennel seed is a little too overpowering for my taste. The second time I made it I used half the amount of fennel but still seemed a little much. I preseasoned both times for 3 days.

                1. me too on the Mock Porchetta (pg. 408)
                  I used a shoulder roast, and let it sit in the fridge for 3 days
                  totally bowled over by the lemon zest/fennel/sage/rosemary spice rub

                  The prep was actually pretty easy (you have to open the roast up along the muscle fibers to make pockets to stuff the spice mix into) so all it really requires is time. The 2-4 days in advance to prep it and let it sit, then hours of roasting time.

                  I did it with roasted veg - potato, brussel sprouts, fennel, sweet potato

                  It's a good sunday dinner party dish since you don't have to fuss with it last minute, but can hang around drinking wine or whatever while it cooks and smells gorgeous.

                  1. pot-au-feu. I made it exactly as called for but I halved the recipe because it was not something the little ones would go for. I enjoyed it. My husband thought it was amazing. It wasn't difficult but like the delicious roast chicken, it did require the typical 1-2 days in the fridge. I served it with cornichons and sea salt.