Slow-Roasted Pork and Chicken with Green Sauce and Arepas

We had a great weekend food-wise at our house, and it’s all thanks to Adam Richman.  We each ate a meter-long bratwurst and a kitchen sink ice cream sundae.  Just kidding!

The latest issue of Food & Wine arrived in our mailbox last week, and in an article about favorite dishes of TV food personalities, Adam Richman declared Brasa, home of slow-roasted meats and fantastic side dishes, to be his favorite restaurant in the US.  Brasa is one of my favorite restaurants, too, and their green sauce (kind of a cilantro and lime aioli) is easily one of my top five favorite foods in the Twin Cities.  The fact that it usually shows up on our table alongside a plate of fried yuca certainly boosts its appeal, but the sauce itself is so good that I could drink it.  You want to slather it on anything and everything (I am not alone in this), but they ration it out so carefully that you only have exactly what you need and not a drop more.   After every visit I say that I’m going to try to recreate it at home, but I inevitably get distracted by all of the other things that I want to make and forget about my quest until we end up at Brasa again.

The quest is finally over!  Thanks to Food & Wine I can now make green sauce any day of the week, and I can eat (or drink) as much as I please.  It took a couple of days for an opportunity to present itself, but everything, green sauce included, came together on Saturday night when we had a couple of (newly engaged!) friends over for a Brasa-like feast.

We started with chips, guacamole, and cocktails before moving on to the good stuff.

I attempted to make Brasa’s romaine and mozzarella salad (this picture is before I added the tortilla strips), and it was alright, but the dressing that I concocted was a huge flop.  I had considered just ordering a salad to go from Brasa, and next time I’ll probably take that route, but when all else fails, add green sauce.

The pork was fantastic – tender on the inside, crispy on the outside, and full of flavor.  It was marinated overnight in a citrusy mojo sauce and then coated with a dry rub and cooked low and slow in the oven.  There was reserved mojo sauce to add to the cooked pork, but I think we were all too excited about the green sauce to pay much attention to it (at least I was).

{click HERE for the recipes}

I wanted to make yuca fries as another vehicle for consuming green sauce, but after going to three grocery stores and coming up empty-handed, I settled on a batch of sweet potato fries.  While they weren’t quite as delicious as fried yuca would have been, they tasted great with the sauce, and they saved me the hassle of dealing with a pot of hot oil.

We somehow polished off all but a couple bites of the pork on Saturday night, but there was more green sauce to be used, so I did the only reasonable thing and roasted a chicken on Sunday.  I used Thomas Keller’s roasted chicken recipe from Ad Hoc at Home, changing a few ingredients but using his basic technique, and it was the best roasted chicken that I’ve ever made. I skipped all of the root vegetables except for the onion (I’d already gone to the store when I started flipping through cookbooks for chicken recipes, and we didn’t have most of the vegetables, nor did we need more things to eat on the side), I didn’t use any thyme, and I added half of a lemon to the cavity before trussing the bird. I also used about two tablespoons of cold butter instead of four tablespoons of room temperature butter, and I used olive oil instead of canola oil, thanks to my tendency to just glaze over the recipe that’s sitting right in front of me.  Even with all of my modifications, the meat was juicy, flavorful and slid right off the bone.  It would have been just fine eaten on its own, but as those who are in the know are aware, everything is better with green sauce.

Boom! Roasted.

A last minute addition to our meal was a batch of corn and cheese arepas.  I had briefly considered making cornbread, but I’m not that into it and quickly decided against it.  I am, however, into pancakes and pancake-like things, and I found a simple recipe for arepas in How to Cook Everything, so I opted for those instead. Cornmeal pancakes with corn and sharp cheddar cheese?  Yes, yes, and yes.  They took about fifteen minutes to make from start to finish, and while the green sauce was still the highlight of the meal, these were a very close second.  Plus, as you might have guessed, arepas can be enhanced with a drizzle of green sauce – magic!

To make the arepas:

  • 3/4 cup finely ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups corn (fresh/frozen then thawed/canned/whatever)
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)
  • Salt & pepper
In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal and flour with a little salt (1/2 tsp or so) and pepper.  In a separate bowl, whisk the milk and egg. Add the milk/egg and the cheese to the bowl of flour; stir to combine.  Add the corn, and mix well.  Heat a griddle or pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Brush it with a little oil, ladle on some of the batter, and cook it like you would cook a pancake, browning it on both sides and adjusting the heat as necessary.  Yield: about 8 4-inch arepas.

Roasted chicken with green sauce, arepa with guacamole and sour cream, romaine salad, and corn relish.  I’m not sure how next weekend can possibly live up to this.  Maybe Oasis falafel, Motley Cow brunch and birthday cake for a one-year-old?

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