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Produce Profile by Mark "Guido The Gardner" ® Ferro
Leg Of Pork
Last week I asked you to remind me about "Guido's Thanksgiving 2003 Meal Planning". Here's the story. And depending on how long winded I get, it will be today's only story.

This Thanksgiving my wife and I are having some relatives from her side of the family over. Now I get along with them all, that is not the deal here.

What IS the deal is that some of them have a narrower frame of reference when it comes to food. (I discussed some of this last week.) As an example, one time I made a squash soup and they didn't quite know what to make of it.

The tricky part for me is that I need to remember that I'm not cooking for me, and my culinary ego. I'm cooking for the guests. This is what I figure I'm going to put together.

First off, I've discovered the joy of leg of pork. Basically, this cut is a bone-in ham, but without all of the added water and chemicals. I was in the mood for "the other white meat" but was tired of the chop, pork loin route. It was an eight pound hunk o' ham complete with a thick slab of fat covering one side.

In a big mixing bowl I mixed together generous amounts of paprika, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, sage, crushed juniper berries (a MUST), dry mustard and ground clove. Don't fret over measurements. By the time I was done concocting this dry rub, I probably had half a cup a flavorings.

To prep the meat for dry-rubbing, I cut away the slab of fat from the meat but left it hinged on one side. I then put the leg of pork in the mixing bowl of dry seasonings and covered the meat (not the fat) with the rub. At that point, I placed some chopped onions and celery on top of the meat and pulled the slab of fat on top of the dry rub, onion and celery mix. Fresh garlic also would've worked here. Then I let it sit in my refer overnight.

Come cook time, I plopped the whole thing onto a rack in a roasting pan. To be honest, I don't have a rack. I used two opened steamer baskets overlapping each other. In any event, the fat basted the pork from above, while the whole thing cooked elevated out of the drippings. I covered the pan and put it in the oven at 350 degrees.

The butcher told me to cook this for about 20 minutes per pound. And at eight pounds that was two hours and forty minutes. I did put some mixed veggies around the leg of pork on top off my steamer baskets/roasting rack when it had about an hour still to cook. By temperature gauge it should read 150 degrees at the fattest point. Mine read 145 degrees and it was still a bit red around the bone. But it was done. As it turns out, the more rare pieces I just cooked a bit longer on the stove top.

You may not believe this, but here's what I ended up with.

One, LOTS of juicy, sliced "ham", but more flavorful than canned ham.

Two, the oddball chunks I mixed up with red bell peppers, sliced homegrown squash (yes, there are still some out there!), green onions, homegrown tomatoes (yes on the 'maters too ...) soy sauce, caraway seeds and some mayo for a side salad.

Three. When I cut all the meat off of the bones, I browned them (I really burned them) in molasses and onions. I then added all of the other fat and trimmings along with oddball veggies pieces and made a thick broth.

Four. I strained the broth, put in in a crockpot with more pork chunks and beans (I soaked the beans overnight) and made pork and beans. Five. I saved some of the pork broth and made the rice that went into the above mentioned cut veggie salad.

Come to think of it, I did used everything but the squeal!

Next week .. side dishes for not-so-middle-of-the-roaders.......