There’s something really comforting about hearty foods in the Winter. Last time I was at the farmer’s market I came across a really good deal on a whole pork loin from a regional farm. I decided to go all out and marinate the loin in Anchor Steam Christmas Ale that I had left over and some Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. I divided the loin in two and placed everything in a zip lock bag and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.
The farmer’s market I go to in Dupont Circle has a slew of great artisan cheese makers from regional farms in the PA, MD, and VA area. I found a vendor that had huge blocks of sharp cheddar cheese at about half the cost of what you would find in the supermarket. My grandfather used to make homemade macaroni and cheese, the recipe called for 1lb of shells to 2lbs of cheese, a stick of butter, butter milk and some sour cream. My grandfather died of a heart attack at 58. Not really looking to head down that path, I decided to go 1/1 on the mac and cheese. I bought a 1/2 pound of sharp cheddar and a 1/2 pound of Colby. Not so many people use Colby, which is a milder and softer yellow cheese – which adds to the creaminess of the recipe.
I live in the city on the top floor of an apartment building. I don’t own a grill and if I did, I probably wouldn’t be using it in the Winter. I’ve found the next best way to cook meat without a grill is to pan sear it prior to putting it in the oven or broiler. This really locks in the flavors and thickens up the beer/bbq mixture.
A lot of people think you need to cook the shit out of pork and that you can’t do it on the medium side – that’s just wrong. The last thing you want to end up with a dry piece of meat that pulls apart like leftover turkey. Pork needs to be cooked to 145 degrees and will do so quickly in an oven preheated to 325. I give it about 15 minutes per pound.
It’s really convenient that the mac & cheese once assembled cooks at 325 until everything is melted and a little crisp on top.
Peep the end product. I’ve never had a piece of pork so moist and tender.