Pork and Cabbage (Farfalle with Braised Pork Neck & Xiao Bai Tsai)

Pork, pork, pork, pork. That is a pig at the top of the blog…

Another borrowed recipe (this time from Minimally Invasive). Nice comfort food for the fall, and a cheap dish to boot. I’ve used pork necks for years, since being introduced to them at a hotel buffet in Thailand. For the squeamish – don’t be. There’s no funky internal stuff included. Pork necks look, cook and eat no differently than any other cut of pork. They actually cook up in a very similar way to beef short ribs or oxtails.

I’m not going to repeat her recipe here, because I pretty much just followed it, with a few tweaks for what I had on hand (no carrots, the only wine I had around was Madeira, etc.). The one big change I made was the addition of xiao bai tsai (baby bok choy). I had some starting to wilt in the refrigerator so I refreshed it a bit** (see tip below) and picked out the most tender leaves. Just as the pasta was getting close to al dente, I tossed the wet xiao bai tsai into a large frying pan over moderate heat. The pasta was added on top, with a bit of the cooking water, and tossed with the greens. Next, the pork sauce was added, tossed and heated through. Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish.

Refreshing leafy vegetables: Simple really – as long as they haven’t gone too far. Just trim the ends of the stems and toss into a bowl or sink of cold water. After a 5-10 minutes, they should be brighter and crisper.

Storing leafy vegtables: Don’t story leafy vegetables, like xiao bai tsai in plastic bags! They will quickly get mush and moldy (and somewhere I read that brassicas were prone to a particularly nasty bacteria that flourishes in the plastic bag). Simply wrap them in a paper towel and put them in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer – you’ll be surprised at how much longer they last…

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