Cooking 101

May 19, 2014

JCCC student chef emphasizes local ingredients in braised pork dish

Mike Hursey’s recipe for Braised Pork Cheeks With Chocolate and Rosemary comes from his passion for using local foods. He buys as many ingredients — from pork to pecans — from small local producers.

Mike Hursey’s recipe for Braised Pork Cheeks With Chocolate and Rosemary comes from his passion for using local foods.

“During my first trip to Italy in 1995, I was introduced to Slow Food and its mission to support small producers,” he said. “We went every day to the market to buy the freshest ingredients and talk to the small producers. Over the years I have learned more and more of the importance of having chemical-free food. I have found many local producers and made friends of them.”

For instance, this recipe has:

Pork from Local Pig in the East Bottoms

Squash and sweet potatoes from the Overland Park farmers market

Peaches from Sunflower Orchards in Paola, Kan., stashed in his freezer

Pecans from Prothe’s Pecans, also in Paola

Cheese from Skyview Farm and Creamery in Pleasanton, Kan.

Cornmeal from Heartland Mills in Marienthal, Kan.

Milk and butter from Shatto Milk Co. in Osborne, Mo.

Wine from Middle Creek Winery in Louisburg, Kan.

Tomatoes from his own garden, when in season

About the column

Cooking 101 is a bimonthly column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.

The chef

Recipe and food styling by Mike Hursey, 67, named “Kansas City Culinarian of the Year in 2013” by the American Culinary Federation of KC. He has been a student at JCCC culinary program since 1995 and loves the program so much he takes a class every semester. He owns and operates Casa Somerset B&B with wife Christine.


Makes 6 servings

1 cup milk

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup polenta

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring milk, water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Turn heat to low and continue whisking for 5 minutes or until polenta is smooth and creamy.

Spread the polenta on a sheet pan and refrigerate. After it sets, cut polenta into desired shape.

Heat oil in pan and saute until golden just before serving.

Per serving: 143 calories (35 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 3 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 177 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potatoes With Peaches and Pecans

Makes 6 servings

1 cup butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 cup sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup sliced peaches

8 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

12 whole pecans

4 ounces Colby cheese, grated

In a baking pan, add squash and sweet potatoes and coat with oil. Roast until tender in 400-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. When tender, add peaches and cook 1 minute more. Add butter to the pan and melt. Add brown sugar and combine with butter. Add pecans and coat with sugar mixture. Sprinkle nut mixture with cheese.

Per serving: 309 calories (73 percent from fat), 26 grams total fat (11 grams saturated), 41 milligrams cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 190 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Braised Pork Cheeks With Chocolate and Rosemary

Makes 6 servings

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds pork cheeks

1/2 cup onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups red wine

2 cups tomatoes, medium diced

2 cups pork stock (beef stock may also be substituted)

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 tablespoon cherry balsamic vinegar (available at specialty stores)

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips

Season pork with salt and pepper. In an oven-proof skillet with a lid, heat olive oil until pan is very hot, then sear pork cheeks. Remove pork and set aside.

Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until softened. Add wine to deglaze pan, stirring up the browned bits sticking to the bottom. Add tomatoes, stock, rosemary and vinegar; simmer mixture until reduced by half.

Add pork back into pan and cover. Place in a 300-degree oven and cook until meat registers 135 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 1 hour or until cheeks are fork tender.

Pour 2 cups of pan sauce into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until reduce by half again. With saucepan off the burner, add cocoa and chocolate chips to sauce and allow chips to melt.

To serve, mound polenta on the center of the plate. Add braised pork cheeks and serve roasted squash and sweet potatoes on the side.

Per serving: 460 calories (65 percent from fat), 29 grams total fat (9 grams saturated), 123 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 1,684 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

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