Welcome winter! As far as home cooking goes, winter gets a bad rap. The season is so often viewed as the least favorite for its more limited list of local ingredients, at least for those living in cooler climes. Going against the grain, I find winter cooking to be deeply satisfying. I look forward to the sweet taste of roasted root vegetables, the richness of winter braises and making batches of soups to tuck into my freezer for those cold winter days.
Braising is one of my favorite ways to cook when the temps drop. You get to leave the oven on for several hours, so the kitchen stays toasty while the house fills with good smells. This recipe for Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onions and Apple Cider comes from one of my favorite sites, Food 52. So many friends have asked me for the recipe I thought I would share it here.
As the recipe header indicates, this is not an elegant dish, but it’s a surefire crowd pleaser. To feed a larger group (or to have plenty of leftovers), I’ve had success doubling the amount of pork shoulder called for, but I do not double the remaining ingredients. (Doubling the liquid would make the recipe a little too soupy.)
The pork is fork tender and the slow-cooked onion and apple are perfect over creamy polenta, which this easy oven-cooked method makes a cinch to prepare. You could also serve the pork over mashed potatoes with celery root or keep it super simple with buttered egg noodles. A salad of arugula with shaved Parmesan curls and chopped scallion or two, dressed with fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, is all you need to round out the meal. Use the leftovers for warm pulled-pork sandwiches, in a burrito or shredded over pasta.
A little citrus always brightens up winter—and, in my book, so does dessert! This Blood Orange, Almond and Ricotta Cake from Smitten Kitchen is pretty to look at and yummy to eat. If you can’t find blood oranges in the market just use navel or Cara Cara oranges with their reddish fruit. Bob’s Red Mill makes almond flour that will result in a finer cake crumb, but in a pinch, you can process whole almonds in a food processor until fine, then measure as needed.
Winter cooking gets a lift with hot soup and spice to warm the body. This recipe, from one of my longtime columnists for Edible Rhody magazine, is an easy and satisfying ramen noodle “soup” she calls Make It Your Own Noodle Bowl. Take note of the tips and tricks to modify the ingredients and flavors in this infinitely adaptable recipe.
Another satisfying soup recipe is Winter Root Vegetable and Farro Soup that comes from the chef/owner of the Italian restaurant Bacaro in Providence, Rhode Island. He guides you through the base of the soup—a homemade vegetable stock made with his secret ingredient. Hint: It’s the perfect way to use up those leftover rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano that are hanging out in your cheese drawer. The stock requires a bunch of veggie chopping so it might be more of a Sunday afternoon project, but I promise it is well worth taking the time. Once the veggie stock is prepared, the soup itself comes together relatively easily (with a little more chopping). It’s deliciously hearty for a cold winter lunch. Or serve it for dinner by adding some crusty bread and a side salad. Substitute pearl barley for the farro if needed. It makes enough so you can stash some in your freezer as well.
Even in winter, life gets busy. So if you’re in a rush and want something quick, delicious and a little spicy to liven things up, this recipe for Sweet Potato Quesadillas relies on winter pantry staples, the filling for which can be prepared in advance. Add some fresh salsa and a few lime wedges and dinner is served.
And lastly, here’s a yummy treat for snowstorm baking. Made with oatmeal and raisins, these Giant Bourbon Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are practically health food—never mind the chocolate and the bourbon. Make sure your pantry is well stocked with these basic ingredients as we head into winter storm season—and call me when they’re ready!
Genie McPherson Trevor is the founding editor of Edible Rhody magazine, a quarterly food journal that celebrates the local, seasonal bounty of Rhode Island. Edible Rhody is a member of Edible Communities, a publishing group with over 80 local Edible magazines in print across the United States and Canada.
To subscribe to Edible Rhody, please visit www.ediblerhody.ediblecommunities.com