Yesterday’s pear adventure did not just entail the soup I wrote about in my last post (the leftovers of which I am currently eating with some whole wheat cous cous thrown in when I reheated it – Yum!). My husband executed the second half of our pear extravaganza by making braised pork shoulder with pears and thyme. He also manages to slip some vanilla into the recipe which was really surprisingly good with the pork. This recipe, which resulted in succulent flavorful pork which almost tasted like beef, was taken from a cookbook we received as a wedding gift. The cookbook, entitled The Herbal Kitchen, Cooking With Fragrance and Flavor ( http://www.amazon.com/Herbal-Kitchen-Cooking-Fragrance-Flavor/dp/0060599766/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231804456&sr=8-1) was written by Jerry Traunfeld, who has a restaurant outside of Seattle. Judging by the cookbook alone, if I ever get to Seattle I am going straight from the airport to his restaurant.
The cookbook not only gives you many unique ideas on how to use fresh herbs, but also some information on the ideal conditions for planting the herbs, information on how to clean and keep herbs, etc. This is a man who truly loves fresh herbs – and who can blame him, right? It is an inspiring read (we like to grow herbs in the summer) and the recipes are EASY and DELICIOUS.
We used a boneless pork shoulder which braised for about 2 hours with some white wine, some chicken broth, thyme, and some bay leaves. Onions and garlic added an earthy flavor, but the pears (barlett) and 1/2 vanilla bean totally stole the show. The pears, which were diced, became meltly sweet mounds which paired perfectly with the slightly salty meat. The meat itself took on the vanilla flavor in a very subtle way (if I didn’t know it was in the recipe, I wouldn’t have guessed it was vanilla flavor) and was completely fork tender. As you can see from the picture above, the braising liquid made an excellent sauce to sop up with the crusty bread my husband made earlier in the day.
Definitely an excellent and unique meal, and if you are a fresh herb fanatic then check out the cookbook – it’s a great one.