February 26, 2024

I tend to view recipes found in catalogs with a jaundiced eye. Essentially they exist only to sell you something from the catalog. Something frivolous and decidedly non-essential like a tagine, for example. Or a spice blend you’ll dutifully use once before relegating to the back of the cupboard – hidden behind that tagine no doubt.  The pictures are always pretty, yet the recipes themselves never seem all that trustworthy. So perhaps it was the absence of a glamorous photo in the current Williams-Sonoma catalog that piqued my interest in the Five-spice Pork Wraps.  I needed something for a party that I could make in advance then quickly reheat and leave on a buffet for guests to serve themselves and this seemed ideal. Braising the pork shoulder a day in advance was key. I allowed it to cool before shredding the meat, skimming any excess fat, and covering it in the fridge.  Like a good stew, the day-after effect only intensified the complexity of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty that makes five-spice such a sensory explosion. Served D-I-Y-style with butter lettuce leaves for wrapping, steamed jasmine rice, scallions, bean sprouts, papaya relish, chopped peanuts, cilantro, hoison sauce, and sriracha it was addictive as well, pairing perfectly over the course of an afternoon with the whiskey which flowed and flowed.

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