Certain catalogs arrive in our mailbox and get deposited directly in the recycling bin (I'm talking about you, daily Victoria's Secret catalogs), and others get displayed on the coffee table, flipped through, ear-marked, re-flipped through, and ogled. The Williams-Sonoma catalog falls into this latter category.
I'm not sure if you've noticed -- maybe you're not obsessed like me? -- but the Williams-Sonoma catalog doesn't just try to sell you something, it aims to show you how you can use whatever you buy, and for that reason, it's chock-full of recipes.
One such recipe is these five-spice pork wraps (featured to promote Williams-Sonoma's Chinese Five Spice, a member of the new spice collection; Littledeer maple tools; and Staub cookware). I wanted to make them the moment I saw them in the catalog.
I was a little nervous about whether Jeff would like them because I don't use five-spice powder often in savory meals, but as luck would have it, one evening while waiting for a table at Legal C Bar at Legacy Place in Dedham, we wandered across the way into Williams-Sonoma, and they were sampling the pork wraps! Jeff loved them, and since it was the end of the night, the store associate even made him an extra one. They definitely helped tide us over until dinner.
Because I knew they'd be a hit, last Sunday we picked up all the necessary ingredients at Whole Foods, I prepped the pork and got it in the oven, and then we spent a lazy afternoon on the couch, catching whiffs of the pork, cooking slowly in the oven. I definitely recommend making this on a Sunday afternoon so you can have wraps for dinner that night as well as a whole lot of leftovers for the week. We even froze some.
Chinese five spice is a mixture of star anise, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and fennel seeds. As I mentioned above, I really haven't used it in savory dishes. I've made cakes with it, and when I worked at Flour, I made the five-spice marshmallows for Myers + Chang. I've loved it in these sweet treats but wasn't exactly sure how it would translate to a pork dish before trying it at Williams-Sonoma. Turns out pork and five spice were made for each other. The pork is salty and sweet but doesn't sway too far in either direction. The cinnamon is subtle but comes through enough to give the pork that warm, homey flavor cinnamon is known for. The next day, all of the spices were even more pungent. I definitely suggest trying this dish.
Five-Spice Pork Wraps (adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen)
4 teaspoons Chinese five spice
1 tablespoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
6 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 10 large pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup hoisin sauce, plus more for serving
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Flour tortillas, steamed white rice, and sliced scallions for serving
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl, combine the Chinese five spice, salt, and pepper.
Rub the mixture evenly on the pork.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Working in batches, brown the pork on all sides.
Transfer to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium, and warm the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add the ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
Add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and the broth, and bring to a simmer.
Return the pork to the pot.
Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until pork is fork-tender, about 2 3/4 hours.
Skim the fat off the sauce, and then shred the pork using two forks.
Serve with tortillas, steamed rice, and scallions.
These had such great flavor, and we both really enjoyed them. The pork was so tender! I'm definitely going to seek out more savory recipes with Chinese five spice in the ingredient list.
And even though I froze half of the pork, we still had tons. After eating it in wrap-form two nights in a row, we needed something different. So I reheated the pork in a little chicken broth to keep it moist and give it a little sauce and served it with buttered egg noodles one night. Then for even more variety, I made five-spice pork grilled cheese sandwiches (inspired by Beehive's short rib grilled cheese). I used fresh rye bread, Muenster cheese, and sauteed onions, along with the pork.
Williams-Sonoma is without a doubt my favorite store of its type. The catalog is beautiful, informative, and helpful. And I always feel welcomed, attended to, and well taken care of when I visit the stores. I do wonder though if Williams-Sonoma has a full-time social media person (or actually several people would be even better). I would love to see a much stronger Twitter presence from it. Like Crate & Barrel and Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma should have accounts for different stores -- or at least regions. It has more than 10,000 followers and only follows about 200 people. That's really unbalanced. When I tweet about buying or using something from Williams-Sonoma or making a recipe from the site or catalog, someone should be taking notice and responding. I would love to do social media for Williams-Sonoma. I'd end up tweeting with and messaging everyone about recipes and products all day long. I would love congratulating people on their kitchen triumphs and helping them through their kitchen setbacks. There's so much room for interaction.
Are you on Twitter? If so, do you have expectations of the companies on there?