Phaidon Editorial Director Emilia Terragni was recently described as “Queen of Cookbooks” on the strength of the publishing house’s marvelous-looking books from such luminaries as Ferran Adrià and René Redzepi. Terragni first became known through the English language publication of The Silver Spoon, an Italian cookbook first published by the design and architecture magazine Domus. Gourmandistan owns this admittedly gorgeously-designed cookbook. It serves as a stand for Steve’s computer monitor.
Phaidon’s beautiful books have often seduced us. But, while pretty, several painfully useless purchases have prevented our acquiring many. Stéphane Reynaud’s Pork and Sons (much like its successor, French Feasts) was the attractive source of several lessons in style over substance, betraying us over and over until we learned to see it more as a source of inspiration than as an actual cookbook. (Steve admits to enjoying stroking the puffy cover almost as much as he likes petting his cats.)
Considering our skeptical approach to any Pork and Sons recipe, we were relatively faithful to this blanquette. The major changes we made were: reduce the cream, omit the favas and double up on seasonally-appropriate peas, leave out the called-for cloves and put in thyme and bay leaves. (We also added zucchini slices, which some designer put in the cookbook’s photograph of the dish, but were not on the recipe’s ingredient list or mentioned in the instructions.) And, it was delicious.
Good design can be very enjoyable. But, on the whole, we’d rather have a reliable cookbook.
BLANQUETTE OF PORK
(adapted from Stéphane Reynaud’s Pork and Sons)
- 4 TB olive oil
- 2-1/2 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into cubes
- Salt and pepper
- 1 TB all-purpose flour
- Chicken stock
- 1 onion, peeled but left whole
- 1 TB fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 new potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered
- 3 carrots, sliced into 2-3″ sticks
- 1 or 2 small zucchini, sliced into 2-3″ sticks
- 2 c. English peas
- 3/4 c. heavy cream
- Juice of 1 lemon
Heat olive oil in a pan. Add pork and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Lower heat, stir in flour and cook for about 5 minutes more, stirring frequently.
Pour in enough chicken stock to cover meat by about an inch. Add onion, thyme and bay leaves. Simmer for about an hour, adding more stock if necessary.
While meat is simmering, cook vegetables separately (they all have different cooking times) in boiling, salted water. Drain and aside.
When meat is done, remove it to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Discard onion and bay leaves.
Add cream to broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until smooth and slightly thickened. Return meat to pan along with vegetables. Add more stock if needed. When stew is heated, stir in lemon juice.
Garnish with additional thyme leaves.