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Bourbon Pork and Roasted Vegetables

November 11, 2009
Bourbon Pork & Roasted Veg with Polenta and Beet Greens

Bourbon Pork & Roasted Veg with Polenta and Beet Greens

Recipe: Bourbon Pork and Roasted Vegetables
Cooking Time: 35 minutes prep, 2 hours cooking

Every November a bottle of whiskey finds its way into my kitchen. It all started seven years ago and the kitchen wasn’t mine exactly, it was a kitchen in an apartment I was subletting in New York for three months. A friend of a friend had hooked me up with the sublet and I moved in never having met the guy I was subletting from. The large bedroom looked down on 5th Avenue and was furnished with mismatched antique furniture, black and white pictures, shelves filled with books and a painting that did and yet sometimes did not look like a sky filled with clouds. The kitchen was tiny, almost like a little closet with a fridge, an old stove and a small square of countertop stacked high with old issues of The New Yorker. In the pantry was a bottle of Maker’s Mark. That this stranger I was subletting from drank whiskey was a piece of the intriguing puzzle I was putting together in my mind, trying to figure out who he was while I lived in his apartment and he was away.

That November I learned that whiskey is a fine drink when winter starts nipping at your heels in New York, or anywhere for that matter. In moderation, it’s good for soothing whatever ails you: a sore throat, a full stomach at the end of a meal, a bad mood, a dull conversation, a general feeling of despair. In the seven years since I sublet that apartment, I’ve learned that I enjoy whiskey most next to a roaring fire, although I don’t have that opportunity often. Weather-wise, I prefer foggy nights for whiskey and music-wise, something slightly nostalgic and neither too depressing nor too uplifting, like – I know this is random – Simon and Garfunkel.

This November  I’m using the bottle of whiskey I just bought – bourbon, specifically – more for cooking than for drinking. On Sunday I made Bourbon Pork and Roasted Vegetables, a hearty dish that will fill your home with all sorts of goodness. It’s a perfect Sunday dish, especially since it tastes even better the

beet_greens

Beet Greens

polenta

Polenta Tube

next day for lunch. I served it with a side of beet greens and polenta cut from one of those handy little tubes found in most grocery stores now. For Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of trying one of the many bourbon recipes posted on various other blogs, like:

Pumpkin Cake with Whiskey Whipped Cream
Whiskey Glazed Carrots
Whiskey Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake
Roasted Bourbon Brown Sugar Pumpkin
Pumpkin Gingersnap Pie

And about that guy I was subletting from in New York…..seven years later, I’m still trying to figure exactly who he is and maybe I never fully will. But that’s probably why I fell in love with him. We’ve been married three years now and he is still intriguing, still endlessly interesting and entertaining and still my favorite person to have a little sip of whiskey with on a foggy November night.

bourbon

Bulleit Bourbon

Whiskey 101
In case you’re a hazy on the details like I was, here’s a little knowledge to guide you when you walk down the liquor aisle:

Whiskey is distilled from a fermented mash of grains such as corn, rye, barley and wheat. The four main types of whiskey you will encounter:
Bourbon – Made from at least 51% corn, usually in Kentucky. (Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey)
Tennessee – Made from at least 51% corn, only in Tennessee (Jack Daniels)
Scotch – Made primarily from barley, only in Scotland. The barley is usually dried over peat fires, which gives it a characteristically smoky and “peaty” flavor.
Irish – Made primarily from barley, but can also be made from corn, rye, or wheat. It is made, obviously, in Ireland.

Beyond these basic types, there is a lengthy and complicated hierarchy based on how long the whiskey is aged, the type of yeast that ferments it, the type of water used and how the whiskey is aged and distilled. If you’re just buying it for cooking, you don’t need to worry about any of this. Just look for something affordable, whatever that may be for you.

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