Everything Else

1 May

I keep telling myself that the little old lady didn’t mean to do it, but I’m not really sure I believe it.

Cherry Blossoms

It’s becoming very hard to control myself as I take my post-commute spin through the Greenmarket on Wednesday mornings. Things are really beginning to pop. Spinach, broccoli rabe and that allium the world loves to hate on, ramps are busting out all over, and I can’t stop myself from buying them.

I had all of them in my bag, plus some tomatoes, basil, a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread when I was stopped dead in my tracks last week. I was heading to Tamarack Hollow Farms for bacon, I wanted a BLT for dinner, when their sign made my stomach do a little two-step; “Suckling Pig! Today Only!” The birdies started tweeting a little more sweetly. The sun was casting rainbows in an aura around my head. And I only had $21 left in my wallet.

Stuyevesant Park

But Fate was on my side. The nice folk had a shoulder for exactly that amount.

Suckling pig is a very rare treat the farmer told me. Usually they’re raised to sell only to restaurants, but this one pig was deemed too big for fancy schmancy dining, and so he was there for us mere mortals to pay an arm and a leg for. I couldn’t have been happier, impulse purchasing pork has got to be one of the greatest feelings ever.

Stuyevesant Park

And so I set out, leaden like a mine pony, for the office. I was happy as a lark and kind of rushing when I turned the corner and was dropped like a stone by a little old lady from the Gold Coast.

Gramercy Park

Wait, what? How does one get felled by a granny?

Well, to start, one has to have fallen like a sack of potatoes in the middle of Fifth Avenue while wearing her sassy new spring shoes thus giving herself what can only be described as a shiner on her knee earlier in the week. And then one has to be perceived as walking too aggressively by an old lady with a cane who has the uncanny ability to thwack! you squarely on your already existing knee shiner while mumbling under her breath, “Ingrate!” Yeah, that’s how a full grown woman gets dropped by a granny.

Gramercy Park

Intense pain and intense embarrassment aside, I made it to the office, tucked my piglet into the community refrigerator and hoped no one would steal him. (No one did, and yes, I did go back for bacon which made the best BLTs I’ve eaten in April ever).

So, what does one do with a shoulder of suckling pig? My first thought was pulled pork, or a dark, sticky roast a la Nigel. But I eventually decided it was time to play with a concept I’ve been obsessing over since I saw it on America’s Test Kitchen; using Lapsang Suchong tea to impart a smoky, barbecued flavor to meat.

Bay Ridge Tree

Rather than using the tea to smoke the pork, this recipe assured me that you could use it to marinate the meat. Ah yes, a much better solution. No baby sitting the shoulder meant we could go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Bay Ridge Tree

We toyed with the idea of going to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens to stare at the cherry blossoms, but it turns out we didn’t need to! We’ve got one huge tree right in our front yard. As I type I can turn and stare at the ruffly, rococo, frilly pink blossoms through my window. This Brooklyn, she is a magical world!

Cherry Blossoms

But I digress. I rubbed my pork with the smoky marinade and allowed it to sit for 16 hours or so and then I sent him into a nice warm tea bath to braise for four hours in the oven. I wish I could share the smell with you.  I’m sure that the aromas wafting out of the oven could have fooled anyone, even our local barbecue fanatic, into believing we had a nice smoky Weber going in the backyard. The tea made it smell so authentic. Apartment dwellers rejoice!

Tea Braised Suckling Pig Pork Shoulder

While my piggy was braising away I decided, with the boy’s enthusiastic approval, to tackle Homesick Texan’s biscuits (wow, that came out sounding kinda dirty, sorry Lisa!) and slow cook some spinach with ramps.

Confit Of Spinach With Ramps And Bacocn

I was mixing the biscuit dough and kind of freaking out because it didn’t seem to be coming together all that well, when the boy came in and said, “Hey babe, relax, remember biscuits are all about Butter, Love and Everything Else.” It took me a minute, but then I turned around and saw that he was pointing to a postcard from Clinton St. Baking Co. that had made the move with us. I immediately relaxed and began to beat my biscuits (god, there’s another one).

Love, Butter & Everything Else

You know, I think the great biscuit making cultures of America are propagating the notion that biscuits are hard to make, that us Northerners should stick to the fool-proof Bisquick or canned biscuit methods. I don’t know why, but there has to be a conspiracy involved, because making biscuits from scratch is so easy! Who knew? And they smell divine and taste delicious. Or maybe Lisa’s recipe is just that good. The one thing I know for sure is that you must try it. You can thank us later…


And so pork braised, biscuits beaten, spinach confited, (and no ingredients forgotten) we sat down to what the boy admitted was, “A pretty good approximation of Southern fare. I bet you could fool a few people with this!” I think that was a compliment. But I didn’t need any from him. After my first bite I was contorting myself into spirals of happiness just so as to pat myself on the back.

This was possibly the best dinner ever.

Tea Braise Pork Shoulder With Confit Of Spinach With Ramps And Bacon

The pork fell apart at the touch of a fork. It was tender and succulent, faintly smoky, sweet, spicy and sour in exactly the right proportion, and went perfectly with my precious, tiny little bottle of the best Costa Rican salsa on the face of the planet (for those similarly obsessed a stand at the Essex St. Market recently began carrying the stuff).


But the apex of the meal came when I split open a still warm biscuit, piled a little mound of greens on one side, and topped it with a few shreds of pork.

The Whole Shebang

Pure, unadulterated, porcine bliss!

Head below the jump for the recipe for City Slicker Barbecued Pork Shoulder and Confit of Spinach, Ramps & Bacon.

City Slicker Barbecued Pork Shoulder

prep time: 10 minutes ~ marinating time: at least 8 hours ~ cooking time: about 4 hours

To Marinate:

  • 2-4 lbs bone-in Pork Shoulder
  • 4 Lapsang Suchong tea bags
  • 2 Guajillo Chiles
  • 8 cloves of Garlic
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tbsp Mexican Oregano
  • Tomato Powder or Tomato paste, about 1 tbsp (you could probably use ketchup here too)
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp Raw or Light Brown Sugar
  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar (Cider, Sherry, White, whatever, or a combination)
  • Water

Cut open four of the tea bags and empty into the bowl of a food processor. Add the chiles, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, the tomato product of choice, a good pinch of salt and the sugar. Add a healthy glug of olive oil and about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of vinegar. Process to form a thick paste.

Taste a very small amount (it’s pungent stuff).

Is it too sour? Add more sugar. Is it too sweet? Add more vinegar. Do you want it more barbecue sauce tasting? Add more tea or more tomato product. Use your instinct, you’ll know what you like.

Add enough water to the paste to form a sauce the consistency of loose oatmeal.

Pour the marinade into a large ziploc bag. Wash the pork shoulder and place into the bag. Moosh the pork around so that it’s completely coated in the marinade, close the bag and push out the air. Place into the fridge and allow to marinate at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

To Cook:

  • 1/2 cup Vermouth
  • 4 Lapsang Suchong tea bags brewed in 2 cups of Boiling Water

Preheat the oven to 275°F.

Place a large ovenproof dutch oven over a medium-high flame. Add a glug of olive oil. Take the meat out of the fridge and lightly rinse the meat, reserve the marinade. Place the meat carefully into the pot and brown on all sides. When very brown remove the meat to a plate.

Carefully (and I do mean carefully) pour in the vermouth and deglaze the pan. Allow to cook down by about half. Put the meat back into the dutch oven skin side up and pour the marinade on top of it. Pour the tea over the meat. Bring to a simmer. Place the cover on the dutch oven and carefully place the dutch oven into the preheated oven.

Allow to cook one hour then baste with the cooking liquid.

Re-cover and allow to cook another hour.

Check the internal temp. If it’s below 150°F keep the temp at 275°F, if it’s over that, turn the stove as low as it can go, about 200°F. Flip the meat over so that the skin side is in the braising liquid. Allow to cook, covered, in this way for one hour.

Pull the dutch oven out of the oven and raise the temp to about 325°F. Flip the shoulder so that the skin side is up again. Place back into the oven, uncovered and cook for one hour longer.

Pull the dutch oven out, remove the meat to a plate and allow to rest at least 15 minutes.

Now’s a great time to make biscuits!

To Serve:

Remove the skin and fat (unless you like it) place in the middle of the table and allow each person to pull a hunk off, or, remove the bones and pull apart with two forks. Either way, serve with a nice vinegary salsa or barbecue sauce. Enjoy!

Confit Of Spinach, Ramps & Bacon

prep time: 10 minutes ~ cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 3 slices of thick cut Bacon, sliced into lardons
  • 2 bunches of Ramps, well cleaned, white parts roughly chopped, greens thickly sliced
  • 1 large bunch Spinach, well washed

Render the bacon in a heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the bacon is crispy remove the bacon and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Turn the heat down to low. Add the white parts of the ramps to the bacon fat and cook slowly until just beginning to relax. Add the spinach, cover and cook until limp. Mix the greens into the fat. Cook slowly for about 15 minutes.

Add the green leaves of the ramps, mix into the spinach and allow to cook until just wilted. Add the bacon back in, stir to incorporate. Turn off the heat.

To Serve: portion onto two plates with slow cooked pork shoulder and biscuits. Enjoy!


27 Responses to “Everything Else”

  1. Luisa May 1, 2007 at 9:21 am #

    Seriously? Oh my GOD, what a meal. And the idea of a biscuit-ramp-suckling pig sandwich is just more than I can handle.

  2. Stef May 1, 2007 at 10:15 am #

    That pork looks amazing… This is ABSOLUTELY getting bookmarked for future reference.

  3. WhiteTrash BBQ May 1, 2007 at 10:24 am #

    Tea? Sounds very interesting. I’m going to have to try it.

    Thanks for the shout out.

  4. sher May 1, 2007 at 12:07 pm #

    I can’t believe this post. Every single picture was just amazing. It’s so beautiful there! Flowers, ramps, suckling pig! What next? And you’re right about biscuits. They are meant to be whipped up at the drop of a hat. My grandmother did them almost every morning for her whole adult life. Once you know how to do it– they are very easy. Wonderful post–I’ll be coming back to look at it.

  5. Mary May 1, 2007 at 12:27 pm #

    I am in awe. I can’t believe how amazingly delicious this looks. There’s nothing better than pork in a biscuit now is there? (oops, now I’m sounding dirty, sorry, must be contagious)

  6. jenblossom May 1, 2007 at 12:43 pm #

    … my stars.

    I think I just passed out.

  7. deb May 1, 2007 at 1:56 pm #

    That biscuit sandwich makes me weep with envy. If I ever end up in the clink, will you cook my last meal for me?

  8. Lydia May 1, 2007 at 2:01 pm #

    OK, that meal looks tooooo good. And I hope the little old lady is reading and weeping, because she didn’t get any!

  9. Lisa (Homesick Texan) May 1, 2007 at 3:25 pm #

    Ann, can tackle my biscuits anytime! But seriously, I must, must, must try the Lapsang Suchong tea braise–absolutely brilliant. That’s one of the most succulent pieces of meat I’ve ever seen.

  10. Anne May 1, 2007 at 4:36 pm #

    That just plain kicks ass. What a meal!

  11. ann May 1, 2007 at 7:29 pm #

    Luisa — It was kinda more than I could handle too. At one point I guess I was just sitting there staring into space and the boy was like, “are you okay?” and I said, “I’m just so happy!”

    Stef — It’s a keeper, I’ll tell you that!

    WTB — my pleasure! I’m just angling for a BBQ invite dontcha know ;-)

    Sher — I’m so glad you like the pictures!! It was that one magical weekend in NYC when everything’s perfect. Next weekend it’ll probably by 90 with 99% humidity. What a nice memory of your gramma too. If she can do it, so can I (maybe?).

    Mary — my stars!! I don’t know if I can have that kind of language around these parts ;-) heh, just kidding. Pork in a biscuit. Now that’s comedy!

    jenblossom — I’ll be right over with the smelling salts!

    Deb — you got it! It’s my solemn vow. Especially if you end up there for taking out the old lady that took me out ;-)

    Lydia — Me too!!

    Lisa(ht) — I’m glad it passes muster with you! thanks so much for the biscuit recipe. I’ll treasure it always.

    Anne — You said it!

  12. Mary May 1, 2007 at 8:21 pm #

    Hey, did you see your pork porn is on tastespotting?

  13. mxara May 2, 2007 at 3:16 am #

    hells bells … and fabbo am going to give this a go with the veal bone in shoulder
    perhaps a little toned down for the softer meat

    i looked up ramp i don’t think we have them here

    will try garlic shoots and onion

    thank you for sharing your spring flowers as well


  14. Yvo May 2, 2007 at 10:16 am #

    Mmmmm, mmmmmm. That looks so good. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  15. Terry B May 2, 2007 at 11:37 am #

    The piglet sounds almost as delicious as your writing, Ann. The opening sentence was killer. And the biscuits—omigod. Lunch is still an hour away here. I think I just may die.

  16. lobstersquad May 2, 2007 at 12:12 pm #

    genius. I kiss your hands and feet. I am a big fan of smoke, and this goes up inmediately on my number one things I must try.

  17. Nikchick May 2, 2007 at 1:18 pm #

    Today is the first farmer’s market of the season in south Seattle and can’t possibly live up to the glorious swoon-worthiness of this post.

  18. ann May 2, 2007 at 7:42 pm #

    mxmara — oh that’s too bad about the ramps, but I bet there’s something equally wonderful down there in the land of Oz! Do let me know if you try it with the veal shoulder. God I love veal!

    Yvo — ;-)

    TerryB — thanks man! That’s quiet the compliment!

    Lobstersquad — I wish I could take total credit for it, but its’ the geniuses up in Vermont that deserve all the credit. I guess those endless winters are good for something!

    Nikchick — I bet it can! I can’t wait to see what you pick up. Thanks for stopping by!

  19. Julie May 2, 2007 at 8:48 pm #

    This Brooklyn, she is a magical world, indeed. Beautiful place, that.

    Your meal looks delicious.

    The little old lady and her cane? Sounds pretty darned dangerous.

  20. Christina May 2, 2007 at 11:37 pm #

    I think I have to use a foul word to describe my awe: holy shit, that meal looks good. I had seen that tea “smoked” recipe for the pork shoulder before and contemplated it, but now I’ll have to try it with the biscuits AND the greens. This sounds like the best kind of modern update of a classic meal. Thanks for sharing it!

  21. Kat May 3, 2007 at 8:48 am #

    The image of you being taken down by some tough old broad because you were walking too fast brought tears to my eyes! I hope your knee recovers, and I hope you chewed her out big time for being such a mean old granny! The pork looks amazing…

  22. izzy's mama May 4, 2007 at 8:22 am #

    I always walk past the Tamarack Hollow stand and look longingly in the direction. I can never quite bring myself to buy the pricey hunk o’ pork but your post inspires me..What a rib stickin’ meal.

  23. s'kat May 4, 2007 at 12:03 pm #

    That is one serious sandwich! I’d say it was even worth getting taken down by an old, and possibly evil, “lady”.

  24. ann May 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm #

    Hi guys! I just wanted to say sorry for not posting anything new today. This week has been crazy busy, so there just wasn’t much to share beyond this amazing dinner! I’ll be back with more next week, I promise :-)

    Julie — Never mess with the Ladies Who Lunch. They’ll squish you like a fly. They have the most amazing senses of entitlement!

    Christina — You can swear on my blog anytime! It’s funny that I don’t because in real life I swear like a sailor, but I’ve been taught by my years in journalism that swearing in print is always a bad move ;-) I’m glad you like the recipes. Thanks for stopping by!

    Kat — In retrospect, every time I think about that scenario I so wish it had happened to someone else and that I had been the one watching, because I probably would have peed my pants laughing!

    Izzy’s Mama — I know, their prices are steep, but now that I’ve sampled both their suckling pig and bacon, I’m a convert! Next to try, their sausages!

    s’kat — While the word “evil” did bop around in my head for awhile after the incident, I’ve now come to realise that I kind of hope I’m like her when I’m in my 70s or however old she was. Sassy and not afraid of us whippersnappers. I think it’s a fine goal!

  25. Glenna May 6, 2007 at 3:37 am #

    Sigh…the pork, the ramps, the biscuits…all those glorious spring park pictures…I’m in heaven!

  26. Brooklynguy May 31, 2007 at 2:03 pm #

    I’m taking a shot at those biscuits asap. And by the way, as a Brooklyn gal, what’s wrong with the farmer’s market at the entrance to Prospect Park, not that I need the competition for the blackfish fillets or the lamb ribs…

  27. noriamorales April 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    wow, just found your blog via tastespotting.com. Spectacular pictures, love your writing and now I’m starving for pulled pork, thanks. I live in BK as well, don’t cook quite as much as I forage… but i might be inclined to try this recipe. Maybe serve it with some mint juleps this weekend. Anyway, I write a blog too, atfirstbite.wordpress.com. I’m definitely adding you to my blogroll! Well done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: