I adapted this recipe for Stewed Pork with Creamed Hominy and Salsa Verde from Prune a cookbook by Gabrielle Hamilton featuring recipes from her now-classic NYC restaurant. I’m glad I did too, but I’ll admit there were quite a few obstacles along the way. Before I say anything else let me start with the fact that this is a great book. However, as inspiring and delicious as the book may be, it’s also quite ambitious with a no-nonsense vibe. Gluten-free, vegan, Paleo – well any picky eaters – should look elsewhere. There’s no pandering or alternative suggestions in this book.
But that’s not where my problem lies.
I’ve had the book for some time now, but I have to admit that at first, it intimidated me somewhat. Not because the recipes seem particularly difficult. Braising. Pan Frying. Roasting. These are the kind of comforting “real food” recipes that typically interest me the most. Nope. It’s not the techniques in this book that scared me off – it’s the way they’re described. The book is practically written in code. There are suggestions for how many days to carry over my mise (I know what a mise is, but I’ve never carried one over). The book goes into great detail about how many steaks I can expect to carve out of a #109. Hamilton is particularly strict about her preferences for brands and vendors that I don’t have access to. It’s chock-full of other insider references that seem to scream “if you don’t know what I’m talking about stay out of the kitchen you idiot!”
I’m exaggerating (sorta) but there are references in this book that had me scratching my head and running to the internet for translations.
Stewed Pork with Creamed Hominy and Salsa Verde
When I first opened this book the recipe for Stewed Pork with Creamed Hominy and Salsa Verde begged for my attention. Spicy, rich, and featuring hominy, an under-appreciated ingredient that I’m always eyeing in my local Latin market. However, the recipe called for a “10 can” of hominy (no, not a tin can). I just assumed I was looking at a typo. She must mean a 10-ounce can. So I looked closer at the recipe. Could she really mean 10 ounces of hominy and 1 quart of heavy cream (with 1/2 pound of butter too)? What was I missing?
Well, I was missing the arcane fact that a “10 can” is 6 pounds of hominy! A “10 can” is the size of an old-fashioned coffee can. There’s no glossary in this book and there’s no index. I had to figure this all out from sources outside the book.
Still, Stewed Pork with Creamed Hominy and Salsa Verde. I just had to make it. So I pushed past terms like “robot coup” (which I found out is a food processor) and I ignored the fact that even in Los Angeles it’s hard to find sweetbreads and “10 cans” and just started reading everything I could from this book. The more I read the more I learned about cooking. Sure there is an awful lot of annoyingly unfamiliar terminology. But just like Chemistry 101 or the sonnets of Shakespeare, once I learned just what the hell she’s talking about I began to see that this book went into a lot of wonky detail. The kind of detail that really interests me (once I know how to read it). My guess is you’ll be seeing more recipes I’ve adapted from this book. And I do mean adapted. I wouldn’t want to confuse you and your morning prep crew too much. GREG