With the crush of the holiday season, I can't find enough hours to get through each day. Between shopping, parties and work projects, I'm sprinting just to keep up between Monday and Saturday. Then, just in the nick of time, there is Sunday.
I diligently set aside Sunday as a time for rest and relaxation. I keep my email closed and my phone on silent, buried under couch pillows so it doesn't see the light of day. Sunday is the perfect day to dream up a kitchen project, one where I can wander in and out at my leisure, dirtying every dish.
Take this ragu for example. At a favorite Italian joint, I recently enjoyed a mind-blowing dish of braised oxtails heaped over semolina gnocchi. I thought I'd enjoyed every type of gnocchi known to man, but these little blobs of heaven struck a chord. Paired with the warm, fatty oxtails, it was rich and hearty enough to keep the frost at bay.
Always being fascinated with the similarities between Italian and Southern cuisine, I wanted to make a similar dish using flavors more familiar to me, while still keeping it true to its roots. I decided to make my ragu using pork shoulder and bacon (two of my favorite ingredients), as well as cider vinegar.
For the gnocchi, I wanted to create a similar dumpling using grits. You could just dump this ragu over creamy stone-ground grits and (literally) be in hog heaven.
The beauty of this recipe is that while it takes a bit of time (two days, mostly unsupervised), it will provide you the ultimate in nourishment for a week. Make it on a Sunday and you will have a Monday night dinner to remember. Or a Tuesday and Wednesday dinner for that matter. Heck, I was still excited about it on Friday. Oh, and those dumplings? They'll find their way to my table again, in as many ways as I can dream up.
Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a national blog on food and home cooking. Send comments or questions to kitchnapartmenttherapy.com.
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