Pork and tomato ragù

In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, break apart with a large spoon 

1 pound (16 oz.) ground pork.

Let the mince saute for four or five minutes, then add

1 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

1 small onion, small dice

2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced 

6 to 8 oz. mushrooms, medium dice

1/2 tsp. salt.

Stir to combine, then saute until the onions and mushrooms have sweated and begun to turn golden.

Pour in 

1/3 cup Madeira wine

and scrape up the browned bits stuck to the pan. When the wine has reduced by half, add

1 large can (28. oz) tomato puree or crushed tomatoes

2 tsp. to 1 tbsp. dried oregano (depending on its potency)

1 tsp. salt.

Stir to combine, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes. When the sauce is the proper consistency to coat pasta, turn off the heat and stir in

(1 tbsp. olive oil or butter)

2 to 4 tsp. chopped fresh herbs (thyme, basil, tarragon, or parsley).

Taste and do a final seasoning, then serve atop your favorite pasta (maybe farfalle or campanelle) with a liberal dusting of grated parmesan.

Pork and tomato ragù

Thai citrus vinaigrette

I made this dressing for a romaine and grilled steak salad with cucumber slices, slivers of red onion, and sweet cherry tomatoes. Basically it’s a hybrid French vinaigrette and Thai dipping sauce. The finished salad was bold, refreshing, and delicious!

Depending on the salinity of your fish sauce, you may not need to add salt. I suggest starting out with no salt, and after tasting, adding 1/4 teaspoon and going from there. The taste should be a tart, savory, herbal, and spicy explosion in your mouth. If you feel it’s too intense, extra chopped herbs and a little more vegetable oil (and even a tiny pinch of sugar) will help take the the edge off. This dressing can be made a few hours ahead, but it does not keep well: the herbs go limp by the next day.

Remove the zest and juice from

1 medium lemon (yielding 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp. juice)

1 medium lime (about 1 to 1 1/2  tbsp. juice)

and put into a small screw-top jar (or small mixing bowl), then add (or stir in)

1 tbsp. fish sauce

3 tbsp. (small handful) cilantro, minced

1/2 tbsp. (6 to 8 leaves) mint, sliced

1 small shallot, minced

1 to 2 small red chiles, sliced finely

(1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt)

1/3 cup neutral tasting vegetable oil.

Secure the lid and shake vigorously (or whisk thoroughly). Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. 

Thai citrus vinaigrette