Musing with Max

Musing with Max

April 3, 2013

Soul Food

This late coming Winter seems to have no intention of leaving. Here it is April 3rd and the temperatures are in the high 30s with blustery winds. This past weekend we had a hint of Spring in the air, I think it was Saturday. I've forgotten about it and how it felt since it was just a blip in the radar. I'm itching to go outside and start working on the yard, cleaning up, trimming, cutting branches back, planning new plantings...all that fun stuff. But when the wind is blowing right through you it's kind of unpleasant. Not even Max wants to be out there

he'll settle for the sun spot, wherever he can find it. Me, I just spend all the time in the kitchen which frankly is not such a bad thing. I've always had this thought in my head "too many recipes, too little time". I have loads of cookbooks, I used to have a lot more but started to run out of room for them so several times I've purged them and donated those that I really don't use. I've also reached a point where I don't buy one unless it's something so special that I must have it, which thankfully isn't very often. Because in addition to my loads of cookbooks, I subscribe to two food magazines, rip out recipes from The New York Times and then of course there's the Internet, a bottomless pit of recipes for just about everything imaginable. So it always boggles my mind when I stand there struggling to decide what I'm going to cook with whatever ingredient I've chosen for a particular meal. I'll go through cookbooks, saved recipes, saved magazines, search online and then...nothing. Then I'll reach for what I've decided is my favorite cookbook: The New American Kitchen by Michael McLaughlin.

Truth is there's nothing new about it. It was published in 1990, which is probably when I bought it yet every time I pick it up I find something new and interesting in it, and timely. And in addition it has recipes that I love so much that I can make over and over and over again. All the chapters have full menus for each meal which makes it even more fun if you decide to make the whole meal, or just one dish as I decided to make this weekend with my big hunk of pork shoulder. I have all kinds of notes and this particular recipe says, this is amazing, and it is.

Pork Ragout with Sweet Peppers, Anchovies and Olives, adapted from
The New American Kitchen

Serves 8

5 lbs. of boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes
1/4 cup of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups of chopped yellow onion
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
2 tsp dried basil, crumbled
2 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
2 bay leaved
1/3 cup of lour
2 1/2 cups canned chicken broth or homemade stock
1/ 1/2 cups dry white wine
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
12 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced
3 large sweet peppers (1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow) cored and quartered
1 cup medium black olives
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

Preheat Oven to 350f.

Pat the pork dry. In a 5 quart, flameproof casserole over medium-high heat warm 2 tbsp of the oil. Add 1/4 of the pork and cook turning until well browned, season with salt & pepper. Using a slotted spoon transfer to a bowl. Continue with the remainder of the pork  until all is browned, adding more oil as needed.

Do not clean the pan. Add 3 tbsp of oil and set over medium heat. Stir in the onion, garlic, oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaves. Cover and cook, stirring until tender, about 15 min. Uncover, stir in the flour and cook about 5 min. Stir in the chicken broth, wine, orange juice, anchovies, and browned pork with accumulated juices. Bring the ragout to a boil, cover and bake 45 minutes, Stir the ragout, uncover and bake another 45 to 50 minutes or until the pork is tender.

In a medium sized skillet over high heat warm the remaining olive oil. Add the peppers and cook, tossing and stirring until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Adjust the seasoning. Stir the browned peppers, olives and the parsley into the ragout and simmer another one or 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

over rice.

and say "Wow, this is amazing!"


  1. I find it so hard to give away cookbooks even though I don't use most of them. Once I got rid of my Vegetarian Epicure and then I had to get another one because I missed it. Take a picture of your cookbooks and show us!

  2. You've got me salivating again! Best of all, I finally bought a slow cooker, thinking it'll be fun for winter, so far I've only done a brisket in it, but think your pork recipe looks like it'll work beautifully in a slow cooker as well? Going to give it a that peek of your kitchen :) x

    1. When we were married 30 years ago someone gave us a crockpot, is that the same as a slow cooker these days? All I know is I was terrified of it. I also blew up two pressure cookers, must be me.

  3. Wonderful dish! And I love black olives, not everybody likes them.


  4. This looks wonderful......I must try it soon.