Red Cooked Pork Belly

Red Cooked Pork Belly

One of the things that I really like about Chinese food is that it baffles me just a little bit. Oh, if you put me in front of a steamer full of dumplings or a bowl of dan dan noodles, I could probably tell you — for the most part — what’s in them. But Chinese food is out of my cooking idiom: it isn’t something that I had at home growing up, I’m not quite comfortable with its methods, and I would almost say that I have a block about producing most of my favorite dishes myself.

For the most part, I am content with this fact. It turns out that Philadelphia is pretty great for Chinese restaurants, and I’ve developed a deep stable of favorites in and around the city: Sang Kee, Han Dynasty, Joy Tsin Lau, and the like. And it is a pleasure, I find, to choose a handful of elaborately prepared, intricately spiced dishes from their menus, and enjoy them without giving too much consideration to the prospect of reproducing them at home.

Beer Braised Pork Shoulder

Beer Braised Pork for the Super Bowl

I had thought, this year, that I might post a recipe that would be appropriate for the big game, the pigskin classic, the Super Bowl. It is, after all, one of the great calendar customs of the United States, in which folks come together to mark the passing of the winter with symbolically complex entertainment, the company of friends and family, and the life-affirming (if somewhat unhealthy) consumption of many of our native foods. It’s one of the great folk festivals, like the Palio in Siena, where the community as a whole bands temporarily into factions that compete against one another, but where that competition is ultimately about reaffirming our unity.

I explained all this to Sarah, and this is what she said: Clearly — you know nothing about football, or the Super Bowl. Not at all. So if you’re going to do this, you had better ask the advice of the Internet.

Madeira Braised Chicken

Madeira Braised Chicken

This is a recipe that I’ve been meaning to share for months. I had planned, in fact, to include it in my post about Madeira wine and the sea back in November. But then that post got too long with all its history and its drinking recommendations. And then the research involved in it tired me out on delicious nautical wines for a while. And then one thing led to another and — oh, look at that! — it’s almost February.

But please don’t take my tardiness on the Madeira braised chicken front to mean that I don’t absolutely adore it. That would be the exact opposite of the truth. And if you were to pass over this recipe just because it was a long time coming, it would make me — personally — very sad for you. Because this is, I think, the single best chicken recipe I’ve posted here at Twice Cooked.