Stephanie Stiavetti shares her love for cooking healthy and unique dishes on her blog, The Culinary Life. We have had the privilege to interview Stephanie about her thoughts on cooking pork and her favorite pork recipes.
Could you tell us a little about your culinary background?
I know it sounds cliche, but I began cooking at my grandma's knee when I was eight years old. To break away from the norm, though, it didn't take long before I'd surpassed my grandmother, taking on projects that she was afraid to touch. I remember making cinnamon rolls, fruit galettes, pâte à choux, and divinity, all of which made her recoil in terror. Being a kid, I was of course happiest baking and making candy.
As an adult, I didn't really branch out in my savory cooking until my 20s, when I learned that I might have a gluten allergy. I also spent four years following a vegan diet. Both of these adventures into a new way of cooking required me to rethink food and how I prepared it, and as you can imagine, the learning curve was steep. I had to spend hours in the kitchen, relearning everything I thought I knew about food. It was probably the most education period of my life, kitchen-related or otherwise.
What can readers find on theculinarylife.com?
The Culinary Life features a wide variety of recipes, ranging from quick-and-easy dishes to days-long projects that will put your culinary prowess to the test. There is one common thread that runs through every recipe on the site, and it's that I use the freshest possible ingredients, and approach everything I make from a standpoint of, "How will making this dish bring me and my readers maximum joy? How can it become an exciting adventure?"
I'm very adventurous in the kitchen, and if there's one thing I want to impart to my readership, it's the drive to experiment and play. It doesn't matter if it's a curried quinoa mango salad or a pork shoulder that's roasted for 19 hours.
Do you have any special childhood experiences of eating or cooking pork that inspire you?
I grew up eating pork chops and bacon, much like the other American kids I know. While my mom was a good cook, I always felt like pork needed to be treated like it was something special. Sure, a good cut can be prepared simply with salt and pepper, which is often ideal if you want to show off the flavor and quality of the meat; but once my Jamaican friend's grandma presented us with freshly-salughtered pork chops in a spicy jerk sauce, I realized that pork could be taken to the next level with only a a touch more effort.
What are your favorite pork dishes to cook/bake?
I still love pork chops and bacon, but my favorite things these days are stews. I make a green tomato stew with pork loin that always makes me curl my toes, and I must say that I've been LOVING ground pork in place of ground beef in meatballs. So, so good!
What pork cuts do you prefer to use in your recipes?
I'm a roast girl, so I prefer slow-roasting big cuts like Boston Butts or ham roasts (yes, I even cure my own ham!). But in a pinch, a good tenderloin is my go-to cut. It can be cubed, sauteed, and added to any number of dishes for a healthy protein boost without feeling weighed down afterwards. Lately I've been marinating the cubes in a combination of orange juice, soy sauce, and brown sugar, and them tossing them over rice for a quick meal.
If you could summarize your personal cooking style into one quote, what would it be?
If I may use a quote from Erma Bombeck, it would be this: "Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart."
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