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Kane’s cuisine: Going hog wild over this pork dinner perfect for summer

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – I would never cast aspersions on barbecued pulled pork, no matter whether it’s prepared in the North Carolinian, South Carolinian, Texan, Tennessean, Missourian, Kentuckian, or Alabaman, or Korean fashion.

Over the years, human beings have devised so many ways to infuse deliciousness into fatty cuts of braised meat, and I say we should celebrate them all. 

Speaking as a North Carolinian, if I may make a clumsy analogy, the prospect of my swearing allegiance to the state’s vinegar-based style of barbecue was about as likely as my becoming a devoted Carolina Panthers or Duke basketball fan (which is to say not likely at all.) Folks, it’s simply too hot to get all worked up over some silly football game or argue over which regional variation of barbecue is best. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Anyway, pork shoulder, however delightful when bathed in a tangy sauce or smoked and massaged with a dry spice rub, is more than capable of shining bright all on its own. In the spirit of open mindedness, I present for your humble consideration a pulled pork dish that is an alternative to barbecue (in all of its forms and iterations). 

Apart from the simple fact that it’s delicious, making this dish will help you better understand and appreciate the pork shoulder’s flavor – an essential step toward becoming a master barbecue chef. 

  1. Season a three to four-pound pork shoulder with three to four teaspoons of salt and a generous amount of black pepper, ideally but not mandatorily 24-hours ahead of time
  2. In a large, lidded pot, brown the meat on high heat with a tablespoon vegetable oil, cooking on both sides for eight to 10 minutes starting with the fat side down. Remove and set aside the meat and then drain all but one tablespoon of fat 
  3. Halve an orange and cut two heads of garlic crosswise. Place them cut side down in the pan along with a handful of sprigs of thyme, a few bay leaves, a teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and two tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  4. Cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic and oranges are lightly browned. Then, add two cups water and one cup fresh orange juice (I bought mine from Whole Foods because I didn’t feel like juicing five oranges)
  5. Deglaze the pot with a wooden spoon, scraping up any fond from the bottom, and transfer to an oven preheated to 325°. Cook for three to four hours 
  6. Transfer meat to a cutting board and either slice or shred it. Add the juice and zest of two limes to the pot, along with the thick stems from a bunch of cilantro (reserving the tenderer stems and leaves for garnish)
  7. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients in the pot, and then pour the mixture over the meat using a strainer to catch the solid bits. Garnish with cilantro and serve with the oranges to squeeze over the pork if desired.
Photo by Dan Balinovic
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Kane’s cuisine: Molecular gastronomy, three ways

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – I get it: molecular gastronomy is a bit passé. Gimmicky, even. At first it was fun when chefs in fancy restaurants started serving potatoes that had been transformed into puffy clouds of foam, artful accompaniments to a beautifully marbled six-ounce wagyu beef filet.

Photo by Dan Balinovic

But eventually, the novelty wore off. Or, perhaps, diners started boycotting expensive restaurants because their portions were small enough before it became trendy for their chefs to start puffing air into the food. A restaurant whose guests are still hungry after spending hundreds of dollars is a restaurant willfully jeopardizing its own longevity. 

Here’s the thing, though. Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party, serving your guests a side salad dressed with a balsamic-olive oil mixture that’s been transformed into burgundy-colored pearls that might be mistaken for caviar or salmon roe. Well, I don’t know how to do that, but I can tell you how to make a blue cheese foam that will have them gagging. It’s a flex. It’s a serve. It’s a vibe. 

I have become an evangelist for the use of molecular gastronomy in home cooking, and it’s easier than you might expect. The only equipment you really need is a whipping siphon, which you can purchase online for less than $100. 

I wanted to show you how versatile this instrument is, so this week I used it for a salad, a main course, and a dessert. And because molecular gastronomy is considered a trend that crested around the mid-2010s, I decided to use elements of the cooking style to put a spin on classic steakhouse staples: A wedge salad with (you guessed it) blue cheese foam dressing; a bone-in ribeye with truffle potato foam; and chocolate foam mousse. 

Photo by Dan Balinovic
Photo by Dan Balinovic
  1. For the salad and foamed dressing, quarter a head of iceberg lettuce. Scatter chopped tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, flaky sea salt, and black pepper between the leaves. Then, blend a half cup sour cream with a half cup buttermilk, a fourth cup blue cheese, a clove of garlic, and a tablespoon red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Then, strain the blended mixture into the whipping siphon, charge it with one charger, and shake vigorously to distribute the gas before dispensing (either on top of the salad or next to it for a deconstructed look, as pictured.) Top with chopped chives
  2. For the potato foam, peel and boil about two pounds russet potatoes until they’re cooked through, about 40 minutes. Drain and combine them in a blender or food processor with one stick melted butter, a cup heavy cream, a cup chicken broth, and a teaspoon truffle salt, blending until completely smooth. Transfer to the whipping siphon, charge it twice, shake vigorously, and dispense. Serve with a nice cut of meat and garnish with parsley or more chives. 
Photo by Dan Balinovic

For the chocolate foam mousse, in a single-layer metal bowl, combine eight ounces chocolate (dark or milk, whatever you like to eat) with a half cup room temperature coffee, a half cup water, and three tablespoons granulated sugar. Fill a large metal bowl with ice and transfer to the freezer or refrigerator. Fill a straight-sided cooking vessel with an inch of water and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Put the bowl with your chocolate mixture in the simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally, until combined and smooth, about five minutes. Remove the bowl and place it inside your larger bowl with the ice, stirring continuously for about three minutes. Transfer to the whipping siphon, charge it once, shake vigorously and dispense into a champagne flute. Garnish with a mint leaf.

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Kane’s cuisine: Honk if you’re horny. I mean proud!

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – What is it about Pride that makes me crave a big piece of meat? Just me? 

Anyway, fellow size queens, here’s the tea: if you like your beef nice and thick, you’re not going to find it in a grocery store. There are a lot of things you can pick up in a Trader Joe’s – a bottle of wine, a muscle daddy – but a package of meaty short ribs is not among them. 

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You’re going to a butcher. While you’re there, pick up some pork shoulder, too, because that is also hard to find in a grocery store. 

Generously season the meat (remember, one teaspoon of salt per pound.) Brown it on three sides (cooking on medium-high in vegetable oil for about two minutes per side), and then remove and set aside.

Without cleaning the pan, add one onion, diced, and three to six cloves of garlic, smashed, cooking for two minutes on medium and seasoning with salt and pepper. Toss in two stalks of celery and two carrots, chopped, along with a few sprigs of thyme and a couple of bay leaves, cooking for five minutes. 

Cook two tablespoons tomato paste until it turns a deep brick-red color, about three minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Add two cups dry red wine and two cups low sodium beef broth, seasoning again with salt and pepper. Emulsify with an immersion blender and strain. I forgot to strain the sauce, which is why it looks lumpy in the pictures. I would have fixed it, but I’m already late. Meeting friends at Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse tonight. (Yes, Brody, I know. Judge me if you must.) 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

Pour your sauce, along with your short ribs, into a pressure cooker and cook until they’re done. Serve with mashed potatoes and leeks that have been charred with a blowtorch and cooked in the microwave (6 minutes on high). 

Photo by Dan Balinovic

A note on the presentation: Edible flowers make anything look gourmet AF. I don’t know why they’re not used more often. I really don’t. And while you do not have to plate it like I did, you could. Yes, you. Really.

Photo by Dan Balinovic
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Kane’s Cuisine: Indian butter chicken and sides (no cap!)

LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane shares his love and passion of cooking writing in his weekly Sunday column

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

Editor’s Note: What happens when you have a pandemic and a bored stay-at-home political reporter with extra time on his hands? LA Blade staff writer Christopher Kane decided that he would pursue his second love and passion of cooking and now he’s sharing the results in his weekly Sunday column.

WASHINGTON – Endeavoring to cling to whatever youth I have left, all week I have been clumsily working the phrase “no cap” into texts with my friends, none of whom knew what it meant because they, like me, are all aging Millennials. Let’s just say I was kicked out of a few group chats and had to grovel to be allowed back in. 

My attempt to cook a traditional Indian meal this week was less ham-handed, shall we say, than my effort to co-opt lingo used by the Gen Z crowd. Before we get into it, however, please allow me to preface this week’s column with a warning: I am not Indian, nor do I pretend to understand Indian cuisine beyond the extent possible for a white boy raised in the continental United States. So, the techniques and ingredients used to create the dishes described and pictured in this article came from an Indian cookbook and an Indian-owned spice market near my apartment in Washington, DC. 

You may be surprised to learn these columns are not sponsored. (But seriously, call me. Especially you, Le Creuset.) So, I am not in the habit of adding affiliate links, but am choosing to make an exception in this case to share the resources that allowed me to make something that’s…perhaps not quite authentic, but I assure you, delicious nevertheless. 

Reached for comment, my go-to source for Indian cooking was at a wedding in Kerala, understandably much more concerned with her beautifully ornate sangeet outfit than my culinary adventures. “Looks yum!” she exclaimed. “No cap?” (I couldn’t help myself.) (She still doesn’t know what that means.)

Photo by Dan Balinovic

BUTTER CHICKEN: recipe adapted from “Mother Butter Chicken” in Nisha Katona’s “Mowgli Cookbook(p. 112), with pantry ingredients from Rani Soudagar’s Spicez in Georgetown, Washington DC 

  1. Take one-pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (I prefer thighs) and chop it into cubes each measuring about one to two inches across. Rub in about a teaspoon of kosher salt and two tablespoons tandoori masala seasoning (curry powder, while not quite as good, will do in a pinch.) 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine two teaspoons ground cumin, two teaspoons ground coriander, one teaspoon granulated sugar, a half teaspoon ground cardamom, a half teaspoon ground cinnamon, a half teaspoon ground turmeric, a fourth teaspoon ground fenugreek, a fourth teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, two tablespoons tomato paste, one can (~14 ounces) diced or whole peeled tomatoes, and five tablespoons Greek yogurt
  3. To a hot oiled pan, add two thinly sliced white onions with six to eight grated cloves of garlic and a two-to-four-inch piece of fresh ginger, diced or grated. Cook on medium-high for about 10 minutes, seasoning with salt and black pepper, until the onions are soft/translucent/golden-brown. 
  4. Turning the heat to low, add the spice/tomato/yogurt mixture and cook – stirring and seasoning again with salt and pepper – for another five minutes. 
  5. Use an immersion blender to emulsify the mixture until smooth. In the event that you, too, can’t seem to find your brand-new cordless Cuisinart Smart Stick® immersion blender, you can also transfer the mixture into a regular blender or food processor using a spatula and blend until smooth. 
  6. With a separate nonstick frying pan (or a stainless-steel pan coated with the teensiest bit of cooking spray), brown the chicken for six to eight minutes. This is one of the few times in which I will urge you to use as little oil as possible. 
  7. Combine the browned chicken with the emulsified sauce and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes, adding about a half-cup of water every five minutes or so (up to two cups) until you reach the desired consistency (this part is a personal journey!) Taste for seasoning to add more salt if necessary. 
  8. Remove pan from the heat and add a full stick of butter, stirring it through until the sauce is thick and creamy. Garnish with cilantro
Photo by Dan Balinovic

LEMONY HUMMUS & SPICED CHICKPEAS: with pantry ingredients from Rani Soudagar’s Spicez in Georgetown, Washington DC 

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine one and a half cans (~14 ounces each) chickpeas, half a preserved lemon, juice from half of a fresh lemon, two to four cloves garlic, and a teaspoon ground cumin. 
  2. Blend while slowly adding up to three-fourths cup ice water until the mixture turns into a smooth paste. Season generously with kosher salt. 
  3. Preheat your oven to 350° F and grease a baking sheet with butter or cooking spray, or line it with parchment paper. 
  4. Distribute a layer of chickpeas, about one and a half cans (~14 ounces each). Cover them liberally with olive oil and season generously with salt, along with about a tablespoon cumin seeds and a tablespoon of sumac. (If you only have ground cumin, use maybe one and a half teaspoons.) 
  5. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes and then serve with a good extra-virgin olive oil, a dusting of red chili flakes/paprika/turmeric, and roti/naan/pita/other flatbread
Photo by Dan Balinovic

RICE:

The important thing, here, is to remember to add one teaspoon of kosher salt per cup of uncooked rice. Garnish with cilantro and flaky sea salt. (Again, this column is not sponsored. But Diamond Crystal, Maldon, I am – and I can’t stress this enough – available. DM to collab.) 

NAAN:

Safeway Signature SELECT, $4.99. 

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