Sara Foster is a renowned chef with five amazing cookbooks, fonder of Foster’s Market, and a frequent guest on The Today Show and Martha Stewart Living. She is known for her use of fresh ingredients in wonderful southern style comfort dishes. We sat down to ask about her new book, Foster’s Market Favorites, and how she prepares for hosting especially during the holiday season! 

The importance of fresh, local ingredients is obvious when reading through Sara’s book. Several recipes feature ‘seasonal variations’, which showcase ingredients that are in season and easy to get fresh and locally. You’re probably asking, does it make that much of a difference, starting with fresh products? Sara definitely would argue yes. “If you start with fresh products, it needs so little preparation. If its in season and at the peak of its flavor, there is so little you need to do with it.” This goes for all ingredients – for something as simple as a tomato or a piece of fresh fruit in season. The ingredients can make all the difference between a good meal and a delicious one. And the best part, Sara told me, is that local and seasonal ingredients are becoming easier to get. She encourages people to buy from farmers markets, and if there’s none around, stores like WholeFoods tend to buy locally rather than from abroad. “And,” she said, “if you have the space and the time, you can always grow your own food.”

With the holiday season coming up, Sara thinks everyone should try their hand at entertaining if they want. “Try to entertain no matter how large or small,” she told me, “even if it’s something as small as having a friend or two over for wine and cheese”. Not everyone has to be a master host, but she urges people not to go overboard. “Don’t feel like you have to go all out. It’s more about spending time with friends and family.” The problem, she told me, is that often people try to get to fancy by attempting a full dinner of recipes they’ve never tried before. “If you want to try something new, pick something simple and build off of it. Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself.” This is where you have to rely on friends and family – just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself! There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to local businesses for things that you’re not great at. Not the best baker? Pick up your dessert from your favorite bakery. There’s always great markets in your area to rely on, and this will help you plan ahead and avoid driving yourself crazy putting everything together.

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And Sara’s favorite recipe? She laughed when I asked. “It would depend on the season!” For entertaining during the upcoming months, however, she recommended the Chili Braised Pork Shoulder. Explaining that it was great for large groups of people, and that everyone will be sure to love it, even the pickiest eaters. “I set it up like a taco party. People can help themselves, make things how they like them.” By giving people the ability to pick and choose, she explained, it is less work for the hostess and gets everyone involved. By making it fun for the guests and taking the burden off of the host or hostess, it makes the holidays all the less stressful. Since Sara said it was her favorite, we’ve included the recipe to her Chili Braised Pork Shoulder for you to try at your next party or gathering! Take a look:

Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS

Pork

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (4- to 4 1/2-pound) bone-in pork shoulder or butt
  • 1 cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 grapefruit
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro sprigs

Fixings

  • 20 corn tortillas
  • 4 cups shredded mixed romaine and cabbage Summer Tomato Salsa (page 34) or your favorite salsa
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) grated Cheddar cheese 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled queso fresco 1/2 white onion, minced 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves 1 bunch radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced Avocado Crema, 4 limes, cut into wedges

DIRECTIONS

Pork

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  2. Combine the sugar, chili powder, paprika, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and stir to mix.
  3. Place the pork, fatty side up, in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Pour the apple cider and vinegar over the pork. Squeeze the juice from the grapefruit and orange over and add the cilantro sprigs. Rub the spice mixture into the pork to coat completely.
  4. Cover the pan tightly with the lid or foil and place in the oven to roast, undisturbed, 21/2 hours. Uncover, raise the oven temperature to 375°F and cook until the skin is crispy and the pork breaks apart easily when tested with a fork, about 30 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let rest about 15 minutes before pulling it into chunks.

Fixings

  1. While the pork is resting, heat the tortillas over an open flame or in a grill pan, about 30 seconds per side. Stack the heated tortillas and wrap in a clean dish towel or foil to keep warm. Put each of the topping ingredients in its own bowl and set the bowls out for guests to serve themselves.
  2. Pull the pork into chunks and pile on a platter. Scatter the limes around the pork roast and let guests dig in, adding a little of the pulled pork to a warm tortilla with their choice of toppings.

PORK TOSTADAS

Trade tacos for tostadas. When you remove the pork from the oven, increase the temperature to 400°F. Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet and brush both sides lightly with oil. Place in the oven to crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove and add your favorite toppings.

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If you’re interested in Foster’s Market Favorites, you can purchase it on Amazon. If you live in the Durham, NC area, be sure to stop by Foster’s Market.

For more delicious recipes check out our Food & Drink section.

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