Happy Porker

Yet more on ‘Eating Well on a Fixed Income’.  When bone-in pork shoulder went on sale for .99 cents in my area, I had a golden opportunity to see what I could make out of it.  
After picking up a pair of 10lb pork shoulders, I broke it down with my meat carving knife to get the following items. (You can see this in the picture, from twelve o’ clock and moving roughly clockwise.)
2 Pulled Pork Sections (shoulder bones and attached meat)
2 Pork Belly-style Sections
1 Pork Roast
3 Sets of pork steaks
2 portions set aside to make pork sausage
4 portions of pork shoulder chunks

That’s plenty of material to work with if you know what pieces to use!  For example, the fattiest segments are cut like a slab of bacon and can be worked with just like pork belly.  The next-fattiest can be ground up and mixed with fresh and dried fennel to make amazing sausage.  Then the leaner pieces can be turned into pulled pork, stir fry, or chunks for Vietnamese Caramelized Pork.  While I wouldn’t want to eat pork every day for 2 weeks, there’s enough recipes around to do different things with the meat that you wouldn’t get bored!
Finally, I was able to answer a question that’s always been in the back of my mind as a frugal shopper: How much are you paying for the bone when you buy by weight?  Here in Austin, bone-in pork runs 20 to 40 cents a pound less than the boneless equivalent.  So which is the better deal?
Option 1: Bone-in Pork Shoulder @ .99 cents/pound
Option 2: Boneless Pork Shoulder @ $1.29 / pound
Now I can actually answer this, as I weighed the pork shoulder bones (which slid out cleanly from the pulled pork sandwich meat I made yesterday).  The bones from the two shoulders weighed .78 pounds, or .39 pounds each.
So out of a 10-pound pork roast, you’re paying for .39 pounds of bone and 9.61 pounds of meat.  That raises the price from .99 cents a pound to…(drum roll please)
…1.04 cents per pound!
Well, if you know how to use a carving knife + how to make amazing pulled pork, pork pernil, or any other roasted version that allows you to remove the bone without leaving any meat behind, the Option 1 wins, hands down!

Tablescapes & Plating

In one of my first posts I talked about how we start the dining process with our eyes. I have talked about the tools of the kitchen. What I want to say here is more along the lines of showing rather than telling.

I believe that all meals should be a ‘dining experience’, no matter if you are eating a hot dog at a food truck or a filet mignon in a posh restaurant. And remember that at home, we control how the food we cook looks on the plate!

Over the years, I have collected many different types of table-wear, so I can use different place settings. However, a bit of imagination goes a long way when creating a piece of food art. That is what I want to stress here: that the plating of food is like composing a picture. You want a balance of color and objects.

A splash of color provided by a sprig of celery leaf, dill, lettuce and other vegetables and fruits. Loaves of bread and gourds like pumpkins, make marvelous bowls. Seashells, and food safe trays made from wood all add to the tablescape as they add interest to the food that you spend time and effort into making. Oh, and make sure that the drips on edges of the plate are cleaned up before serving.

Look at every plate as if you were preparing it for a photo shoot and your mouth will start salivating before the first taste.