Pork and Walnut Stew
On these cold winter nights, nothing quite warms you up like a bit of slow cooked meat. I came up with this recipe a few years ago when my son was around nine months old. He was just starting to eat whatever his parents ate, and he loved soft stewed meat. In fact, if he approved of a dish, he could eat more of it than either Alia or I could manage. And this one he definitely approved of! Serve this with crusty country bread.
2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
3½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in 1½-inch cubes
Salt and pepper
¾ cup medium-diced onions
¾ cup medium-diced carrots
½ cup medium-diced celery
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups walnuts, shelled
2 cups white wine
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 herb bundle (8 thyme sprigs, 4 parsley sprigs, 3 bay leaves)
1 cup diced butternut squash
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Place the pork in a large bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper, tossing it well. Working in batches, add the pork to the hot oil, stirring often to brown the meat all over. Using a slotted spoon, return the meat to the bowl.
- Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to medium-low, stir the vegetables, and cover the pot. Sweat the vegetables, stirring them every few minutes, until soft and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, arrange the walnuts in a single layer on the baking tray. Roast in the oven until golden, about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan. Leave the oven on.
- When the vegetables are cooked, remove the lid and add the pork. Turn the heat back up to medium. Add the wine and simmer until it is reduced by half. Add the stock and herb bundle, bring to a simmer, and cover. Place the pot in the oven and braise for 1 hour. Add the squash, stirring gently, cover again, and return the stew to the oven until the meat is soft, 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the herb bundle.
- Set a large fine-mesh sieve over a clean pot. Strain the stew through the sieve to collect the braising liquid. Place the sieve full of pork and vegetables over a bowl and set aside.
- Place the pot of braising liquid over low heat and add three-quarters of the roasted walnuts. Using an immersion blender, purée the walnuts in the pot. (Or purée them with the braising liquid in batches in a blender. You want to thicken the braising liquid with the walnuts to create a smooth, emulsified sauce.)
- Add the pork, vegetables, and the remaining walnuts to the puréed walnuts in the pot. Bring to a gentle simmer and season to taste.
- To serve, ladle the pork stew into individual bowls.
Family Day Pot Roast
By: Peter Sanagan
If I had to choose one dish that reminded me of family meals of my childhood, it could very well be a pot roast. Think of it: a reasonably priced hunk of tough meat that is rendered tender and succulent after a few hours bathing in stock in a hot oven. The house smells lovely and is warm; a sharp contrast to the cracks of branches outside in the February grey sky.
Sometimes, in the dead of winter, nothing warms your bones like a slow-cooked piece of beef. A pot roast is a braise, and it works well with any tough cut of beef. The braising liquid in this recipe can double as a delicious sauce for pasta! In fact, I like to serve this dish with plain buttered noodles. This recipe is taken from Cooking Meat, my cookbook all about…well…you know.
4 lbs blade roast, trimmed of silverskin and excess fat, tied
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 slices bacon, diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 cup rutabaga, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red wine
4 rosemary sprigs
4 thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves
3 cups Beef (or Chicken) Stock
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Have your roasting pan ready. [I like to use a pan with an elevated roasting rack, which allows hot air to circulate around the meat and cook it more evenly.] Cut a length of kitchen twine.
- Season the beef well with salt and pepper, then rub it with the olive oil. Place the beef on a roasting rack, set the roasting pan in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes, until the beef is golden brown all over.
- While the beef is browning, place the onions and bacon in a large ovenproof pot over medium heat, stir well, then cover the pot for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and rutabaga, stir, and cover again, sweating all of the vegetables until fragrant and softened—about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir well, then deglaze the pot with the red wine.
- Tie the herbs together with the twine, then drop them in the pot. Season the contents of the pot with salt and pepper. Add the browned beef to the pot and turn down the oven to 300°F.
- Add the stock to the pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat, ladling off and discarding any scum as it rises to the surface of the stock. When it is simmering, cover the pot and place in the oven for 1 hour.
- Lift the lid, turn the beef over in the pot, and return to the oven for another 1½ hours, or until fork-tender. Carefully transfer the meat to cutting board and tent it loosely with aluminum foil to keep it warm. Discard the bundle of herbs.
- Bring the braising liquid back to a simmer over medium heat. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to purée the contents of the saucepan (if you don’t have an immersion blender, use a countertop blender, working in batches, strain the contents of the pot through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing the solids through with the back of a ladle). Return the sauce to medium heat and simmer until reduced to a sauce consistency.
- To serve, slice the beef and arrange it on a serving platter. Drizzle with some of the sauce and pour the rest into a sauceboat to serve alongside.
Pig Out. The Rise and Fall of Hogtown.
Sanagan’s currently carries pork from three Southern Ontario family farms. Like all Sanagan’s suppliers, our pork farmers value small scale, humane animal husbandry. The pigs are processed at low volume facilities located near the farms. By contrast the abattoirs that inspired the name Hogtown were anything but small scale. So, while Sanagan’s embraces a different approach to the life and death of the pig, we’re proud to be selling great pork in Hogtown and thought you might be interested to know how the name came to be.
Sanagan’s heritage pork raised on Murray’s Farm
If the name Hogtown can be attributed to one person, it would be William Davies whose ascent from a single St. Lawrence Market stall in the 1850’s to the establishment of Canada Packers (now Maple Leaf Foods) firmly implanted the pig’s footprint on Toronto’s identity. Along the way the William Davies Corporation became the largest supplier of bacon to England, shipping out of North America’s second largest pork processing plant, located in the Don Valley at Front Street. Davies is credited with popularizing peameal bacon, making him the Godfather of Toronto’s signature sandwich. Eventually the animal world tired of Mr. Davies attentions. He died as a result of injuries suffered after being butted by a goat.
It’s not difficult to witness a herd mentality at Keele and St. Clair as shoppers descend upon Home Depot and Canadian Tire, but this area used to support actual herds of cattle, pork, and horses. The Stockyards, a 300-acre network of rail sidings, loading platforms, stock pens, and processors, including Maple Leaf and Swifts, was once North America’s largest livestock facility. The fortunes of the Stockyards rose and fell with the railroad. By the time trucking eclipsed rail as the most efficient form of livestock transport, and combined with the pressures of Toronto’s ravenous real estate market, the demise of the Stockyards was inevitable. The majority of processors moved from Toronto to Cookstown in 1994 but not after doing its share to consolidate our nickname as Hogtown.
Up until its closure in 2014, for many Torontonians the name Hogtown was embodied by Quality Meat Packers on Tecumseth Street near Fort York. Even if you never saw the abattoir there’s a good chance you saw the trucks, loaded with pigs, driving towards it. I remember working at Fort York in my early 20’s. You either got the industrial beer smell of the Molson’s brewery or the raunchy not quite bacon smell of Quality Meats. Grimly, it felt historically accurate. There had been a packing plant on the site since 1914 in the form of the Toronto Municipal Slaughterhouse. This facility was bought in 1960 by Quality Meats. At its height, Quality processed one third of Ontario’s pork. While it defied animal rights protests and condo-mania it was eventually brought down by the cruel variables of the free market. The last straw was the piglet-killing virus of 2014. Thankfully for Sanagan’s, and the pigs, our small-scale pork farmers were unaffected by the outbreak.
The original site of Quality Meat Packers
Things change. The hogs have left Hogtown. Toronto’s de-industrialization has been rapid. But high quality, locally raised, family-farmed pork will never leave Sanagan’s and Sanagan’s, finger’s crossed, will never leave The Six.
Photos: Graham Duncan and Toronto Archives
Smoking a brisket is both a simple endeavour and a stressful one. You don’t want to overcook the brisket, or cook it at too high a temperature, as it can easily become dry and tough. However, there are a couple of tricks you can use to ensure a moist and tender brisket, rich with the flavour of smoke and spices. One is to brine the brisket for at least a day before cooking. I just submerge the brisket in a brine, while others will go to the trouble of injecting the brisket, much like you would with a ham. I suppose it depends on how much energy you have, or if you had an injection pump. I don’t. The other “trick” is something called the “Texas Crutch”, which is basically wrapping the brisket in heavy duty foil (or sometimes butcher paper) to allow the brisket to steam while it finishes cooking. At the end of the day, if you utilize both of these methods, and cook the brisket at an even low temperature, you will be rewarded with a delicious, meltingly tender, smoky slab of meat.
Note: You need to start this recipe two days before cooking. For the BBQ Spice, you can use your favorite brand. We make our own all purpose one at the shop; see recipe below.
Serves 6 to 8
½ cup sugar
½ cup salt
3 tbsp pickling spice
2 L water
5-6 lbs brisket (I prefer the fatty end, or “point”, but the leaner side, or “flat” is nice too)
1 cup BBQ dry spice rub (see recipe below)
- TWO DAYS BEFORE COOKING: In a large stainless steel pot over a high heat, mix the sugar, salt, and pickling spices with the water. Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar, then take off the heat. Once the water is cool to the touch, submerge the brisket in the brine so it is totally covered. Place the pot in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, remove the brisket from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine. Place the brisket in a non-reactive (glass or stainless steel) pan, and season it liberally with the BBQ dry spice mix. Cover and place back in the fridge to marinate overnight.
- The next day, prepare your BBQ. Soak four to five cups of wood chips in water for 30 minutes. If using a propane or gas grill with a smoke box, light only one burner and preheat the grill to 250°F to 275°F. Place a handful of the soaked wood chips in the smoke box and put the box on top of the one lit burner until it starts smouldering. If using a charcoal grill, light the coals and pile them on one side of the grill. Close the lid and adjust the intake and exhaust damper to get the temperature to around 250°F to 275°F, then sprinkle a handful of soaked wood chips on the coal to begin the smouldering.
- Place the brisket on the indirect heat side of your BBQ, and close the lid. Maintain the temperature and smoke (adding woodchips and/or charcoal as needed) throughout the duration of the cooking process. After two hours, flip the brisket over. After another two hours, take the brisket out of the BBQ and wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil so it is completely wrapped. Place it back on the BBQ, close the lid, and continue cooking for another 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the brisket reaches around 190°F, and feels soft to the poke of a fork.
- Remove the brisket from the BBQ and let it rest in the foil for 45 minutes before unwrapping, slicing thinly across the grain, and serving. I like to serve brisket with seasonal boiled corn and potato salad.
BBQ Dry Spice Rub
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup sweet paprika
3 tbsp onion powder
3 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp rubbed dry thyme
4 tsp dry rosemary
1 tbsp ground black pepper
Mix all the ingredients well in a large mixing bowl. Store in an air-tight container for up to two months.
Our Chef at Home: Anne Hynes!
Poached Chicken with Celery and Rice
- Pour the bone broth into a sauce pot and add the star anise, peppercorns, bay leaves, and the chicken legs. Bring to a light simmer over a low heat. Add the celery, cover, and poach at a very low heat until the chicken legs are cooked through (about 40 minutes). To know when the chicken is cooked, use an internal thermometer plunged into the thickest part of the leg until it reads 165°F. Remove the chicken and celery and set aside.
- While the chicken is poaching, rinse the rice under cold water to remove the excess starch. Soak the rice in cold water until the chicken is cooked.
- After the chicken and celery are cooked and set aside, strain the broth, then measure and pour 2 cups back into the same pot. Quarter the celery lengthwise and place in a small bowl. Pour any excess broth over the celery and place the bowl on your stovetop (off the heat) to keep it warm until serving time.
- Strain the rice and add to the pot with the broth. Bring to boil over a medium heat, then lower the heat to a bare simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is fully cooked and has absorbed the broth. Take off the heat and let sit for an additional ten minutes.
- Preheat the broiler to high.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the chicken legs, skin side up, on the sheet. Place it under the broiler until the skin is golden brown (about one minute or two).
- To serve, place a scoop of rice into four shallow bowls or plates. Take the celery out of the broth and set on the rice, then place the browned leg next to the celery. Pour a tablespoon or two of the broth from the celery bowl over the chicken leg. Season with salt and pepper if desired, then sprinkle 1 tbsp of the blue cheese and green onions over each dish. Serve immediately.
Reverse Grilled Rib-Eye with Salsa Verde
- Season the steak liberally with salt and pepper, then lay it in a shallow dish with the smashed garlic and thyme. Marinate for 30 minutes while your grill is getting hot.
- Prepare your grill so that one half has a high-heat flame and the other half is unlit. If using a charcoal grill, combine your hot coals in either a small pile on one side of the grill, or better yet use a charcoal box that fits under the grill, and set it only on one side of the grill. If using a propane grill, only light one element and set it to high. Close the lid to preheat the whole grilling area.
- Set the marinated steak on the cool side of the grill and leave the lid open. The steak will slowly get warm – this process can take up to an hour or more, depending on a few variables (thickness of steak, type of grill, etc). Keep your eyes on the steak, flipping occasionally. Use an internal thermometer to check the internal temperature. When it’s five to ten degrees lower than the desired temperature, remove the steak from the grill.
- While the steak is cooking, make the salsa verde. Place all of the ingredients except the shallot in a food processor and puree until emulsified. Stir in the shallot and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- Make sure the grill’s “hot side” is screaming hot before searing the steak right on top of the fire. Grill for one to two minutes per side to caramelize the exterior, then remove the steak and rest the meat for five minutes.
- When the steak has rested, slice it and place on a serving platter with the salsa verde in a small bowl on the side.
Sanagan's Picnic Basket
David Haman's Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie with Apricot and Pistachio
- Using the “High” “Sauté” function on the Instant Pot heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season the chicken legs with salt and sear in the oil until lightly golden all over. 5-6 minutes. Remove the chicken legs to a plate.
- Reduce the “Sauté” to “Low” and add the butter, onions, garlic, bay leaf and ginger with a pinch of salt. Sauté lightly until the onions are translucent and everything is aromatic. 5-7 minutes. Add the ras el hanout, cinnamon, cumin, pepper and sauté 1 more minute. Turn the “Sauté” function off.
- Add the saffron and its soaking water. Return the chicken to the pot and pour in the ½ cup of water. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot in place and set it to cook 25 minutes under low pressure. Once the cooking timer has gone off, allow everything to cool and the pressure to release itself by just leaving it alone for a further 30 minutes. This process will take about an hour start to finish; just let the instant Pot do all the work.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt and blanch your kale for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Remove from the water and let cool. Squeeze all the excess liquid from the kale, really squeeze it, forming a tight ball. Finely chop the kale and save it for later.
- Once you’ve let the pressure release naturally from the Instant Pot (at least 20 minutes after the cooking is done) remove the lid and lift the chicken legs out of the pot. Allow them to cool enough to handle. Just leave everything else in the pot.
- While they are cooling, peel and grate your potato. Don’t do this in advance as the potato will oxidize quickly. I just grate the potato on a classic cheese grater…. nothing fancy.
- Add the grated potato, tomato, apricot and pistachios to the spiced onion-y liquid in the instant pot. Turn the ”Sauté” function back on “Low” and bring everything to a simmer. Check the seasoning and add a little salt if required. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. The potatoes will dissolve and thicken everything up. Stir from time to time to prevent the bottom from burning.
- Pick the chicken off the bone, discard the bones and skins (or save for bone broth)
- Once the sauce has thickened up nicely, turn the heat off and fold in the honey, followed by the chicken and kale. Adjust the seasoning if required and balance it with a little bit of lime juice to taste. Transfer to a container and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavours to develop.
- The next day, remove the phyllo pastry from the fridge and reserve between two damp towels while you’re working with it. You can make small individual pies if you like and have small ring moulds or pie plates (disposable plates work). I made 1 large pie in a 9” spring-form pan. The spring form makes it easier to remove after but isn’t necessary. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush your pie plate or mould with olive oil. Brush 1 sheet of phyllo with oil and lay it so that the oiled side is down and covers the entire bottom and then drape it over one side (see photos below). Brush the side facing up with oil too. Lay another sheet over the bottom and offset the remainder of the sheet draping over the side next to the first. Brush the top side of this sheet with oil too.
- Continue to lay sheets in this manner going around the mould until you have created a star pattern with the phyllo and all the sides are covered with lots of phyllo draped to cover over the top too. The base should be layered about 6 sheets.
- Fill the pie with the chilled filling. Now start to drape the overhang from each sheet over the top of the pie, brush each with olive oil after you lay it over the top. You should have enough overhang to easily enclose all the filling and make a top layer about 6 layers deep as well, if you need to you can add another sheet or two on top to cover……. This is difficult to explain in words, but not actually difficult. See the attached photos or YouTube “Making a Pastilla” for clarity if required.
- Once the pie is fully enclosed, transfer to the preheated oven and bake until the pie is crisp and golden. Approx. 35 - 40 minutes.
- Let the pie cool about 5-10 minutes then transfer from the mould by flipping it out onto a plate or opening the springform. Garnish with chopped pistachios and loomi. Let cool at least 30 more minutes before serving. It will stay crisp for 3-4 hours. If you want you can pop it back into a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes before serving and it will crisp right back up.