The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 4, 2012

Try these tasty treats


WESTVILLE — These recipes were provided by Susan Biggs-Warner, historic interpreter with the Vermilion County Conservation District.

Biggs-Warner will demonstrate how early settlers cooked from 1-4 p.m. today at the Pioneer Homestead at Forest Glen Preserve east of Westville.

Cream and Lemon Braised Pork Shoulder

(makes 8 servings)

One 7-pound bone-in pork shoulder or pork butt

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise

2 sprigs of sage

2 cups heavy cream

5 cups water

1 lemon

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In an enameled cast-iron casserole, add the pork, garlic, sage, cream and water. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemon in strips. Add the zest to the casserole. Halve the lemon and squeeze in the juice. Season with salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover the casserole and braise the pork in the oven for three hours, until the meat is very tender.

Transfer the pork to a plate and pat dry. Strain the liquid into a heatproof bowl and skim off the fat. Return the liquid to the casserole and boil until reduced to 2 cups, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, if using the more fatty pork shoulder, heat oil in a large, deep skillet. Carefully add the pork, skin side down, and cook over moderately high heat, turning until the skin is crisp, about 15 minutes; use two pairs of tongs to steady the pork. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, skin side up, and slice it ¼-inch thick. Serve with the gravy.

If using the pork butt, there is no need to sear the fat — just serve with the cream reduction.

(Recipe adapted from “Food and Wine”)

Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Fennel and Thyme

(serves 4)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

¾ pounds of fingerling potatoes (7 or 8 medium), cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices

1 small bulb of fennel, trimmed and halved lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices

1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced

½ cup lower-salt chicken broth

3 sprigs of fresh thyme, plus 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme for garnish

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to brown, about 7 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a plate.

Add the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil and the fennel to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring often, until starting to soften and lightly brown, about 2 minutes more. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Gently nestle the potatoes into the fennel-onion mixture and add the thyme sprigs. Cover the pan and braise in the oven until the potatoes and fennel are tender, about 20 minutes.

Uncover the pan and continue to braise until most of the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are meltingly tender, another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, discard the thyme sprigs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the chopped thyme and serve.

(Recipe adapted from “Fine Cooking”)

Mushrooms with Herbs and White Wine


olive oil or butter

garlic and green onions

herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary)

chicken broth

white wine (dry)

Sauté mushrooms in oil or butter until brown. Add garlic, herbs and onions. Cook 1 or 2 minutes. Add broth and a good dash of wine and simmer to reduce. Serve with bread for dipping.

Fireplace Cranberries

Place in spider skillet the following:

1 bag of cranberries

water to cover

brown sugar or maple syrup to sweeten

Cook over coals until cranberries start to pop.


To roast chestnuts, pierce each nut just through the shell. Place nuts over fire in a metal basket, shake until they brown and pop open.

Cherry-Pecan Bread with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

(makes 8 servings)


1 cup whipping cream

1 cup golden brown sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons bourbon (preferably Wild Turkey)


2 tablespoons plus ½ cup sugar

1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ pound egg bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted

¾ cup whipping cream

¾ cup half and half

3 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup dried cherries, dried cranberries or raisins

½ cup pecan pieces, toasted

4 ounces imported white chocolate (such as Lindt) broken into ½-inch pieces

¼ cup powdered sugar

vanilla ice cream

For sauce: Bring whipping cream and sugar to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan, whisking constantly. Boil until mixture bubbles and thickens, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add butter and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Whisk in bourbon. Cool to lukewarm. (Sauce can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat before using.)

For pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix 2 tablespoons sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl. Butter eight 2/3-cup soufflé dishes. Coat each lightly with cinnamon sugar; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar. Place bread cubes on heavy, large baking sheet. Pour melted butter over; toss bread to coat. Bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Cool bread. Maintain oven temperature.

Whisk cream, half and half, whole eggs, yolks, vanilla, ½ cup caramel sauce, ½ cup sugar and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl to blend. Mix in cherries and pecans. Add bread; toss to coat. Let stand until bread has partially soaked up custard but is not mushy, pressing down gently on the bread, about 3 minutes. Divide bread among prepared soufflé dishes, mounding in the center. Tuck in chocolate pieces.

Place soufflé dishes on baking sheet. Pour any remaining custard over puddings. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over. Bake until brown on top and just set, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.

Mix powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl. Sift powdered sugar mixture around the edge of the plates. Run a small, sharp knife around the soufflé dishes to loosen puddings. Invert each pudding onto a small plate; turn right side up and place on a prepared plate. Spoon warm sauce around the puddings. Top with ice cream.

(Recipe adapted from “Bon Appétit”)