Mac & cheese is honestly one of my top 5 favorite things of all time. My favorite version involves pancetta and lots of extra sharp cheddar cheese. But come summer, that version is a bit heavy for my tastes. So to brighten it up in the spirit of the tremendous heat wave we’re having up here in Ithaca, I’ve made a few changes. It’s still creamy and rich, but my summer version has fresh picked peas to add color and sweetness, a squeeze of lemon for extra zing, and goat cheese for its exceptionally smooth tanginess. These flavors are all complemented by pork that has been spiced with toasted fennel, cumin, and coriander. As an added bonus, this summery mac & cheese is a “one-pot” meal!
Char siu is quite possibly the most famous Cantonese dish of all. Literally meaning “fork roasted,” char siu is pork (usually shoulder) that is marinated in a sweet and thick blend of sauces and then roasted until it becomes crisp and almost candy-liek on the outside. Traditionally, char siu is made over a charcoal fire with large cuts from the shoulder (usually a 1/4 shoulder). For my recipe, I cut much smaller strips of pork and did the entire thing in the oven (although I may try the grill in the future). The smaller pieces actually worked out well, as they led to more of the crispy end pieces that are the most delicious. To be honest, I was pretty impressed with myself for making char siu – it was my first try and it came out delicious (and good to look at too)! For those that have only had char siu prepared at a Chinese deli, I think you’ll be impressed by how tasty and relatively simple it is when made at home.
Pork tenderloin is a nice meat to work with because it cooks relatively quickly (due to its low fat content, it doesn’t need a long braise or roast), and if treated properly it is moist and delicious. It is also amenable to a variety of marinades and sauces. I decided to try and be fairly creative with my most recent preparation. Although unexpected by many, cocoa is known to compliment pork very well. I decided to make a cocoa-based dry rub for this recipe. For the “mocha” aspect, I paired the cocoa-rubbed pork with an espresso-based glaze. This was a fun recipe that ended up turning out really well. Give it a try!