Weekly Winner: Petite, Party-Perfect Pork Packages

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/095/22266412/files/2014/12/img_0648.jpgYou know I cannot control myself around alliteration — or around pork, for that matter! This week’s winner are adorably cute, incredibly tasty, impossibly simple and fabulous party fare. They are a riff on the Cuban Sandwich only in miniature. Which makes them that much better!

The recipe comes from the December issue of Southern Living Magazine and since clipping it just this month, I’ve already made these three times! I’ve been tempted to mess around with the meats, cheeses etc.. but so far they’ve just been perfect the way they are. I’m sure I’ll play around with them eventually, but just not sure what would be better than two types of pig in one little sandwich, unless of course … we add some bacon!

Cuban Sliders


1/4 cup olive oil
1 (12-oz.) package Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls
4 ounces thinly sliced deli ham
4 ounces thinly sliced deli-roasted pork
6 (1-oz.) Swiss cheese slices
1/2 cup chopped dill pickle chips
3 tablespoons yellow mustard


1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spread olive oil in a jelly-roll pan; place pan in oven to heat.

2. Remove rolls from package. (Do not separate rolls.) Cut rolls in half horizontally, creating 1 top and 1 bottom. Layer ham, pork, and Swiss cheese on bottom half. Spread chopped pickles over cheese. Spread mustard on cut side of top half of rolls, and place, cut side down, on bottom half to make a large sandwich.

3. Remove jelly-roll pan from oven, and carefully transfer sandwich to hot pan. Place a cast-iron skillet or griddle directly on rolls.

4. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts and bread is crisp. Remove from oven; cool 5 minutes. Cut into 12 sliders, and serve immediately.


Weekly Winner – A Big Vat of Baked, Naked Goodness

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/095/22266412/files/2014/12/img_1497.jpg What’s not to like about a bit dish of baked pasta, right?? I mean, first and foremost, its pasta. Then usually it is baked to ooey-gooey perfection. Lots of sauce bound together by loads of melty cheese. It’s heaven. But every once in a while …. less is more. And when that “less” equals luscious pork shoulder slow cooked in a fabulous aromatic broth and then shredded into pasta and baked? Yes please! More please!

This week’s winner was Baked Orecchietti with Pork Sugo. It is not a quick recipe, but it is very easy. I got the recipe ages ago from Food and Wine (I think) and have made it a couple of times. But this week it really hit the spot. And I think because we hadn’t made it for so long – absence really did make the heart grow fonder.

The thing about this pasta dish is that there is no real “gooey” factor. It’s just the pasta and the pork and a smattering of parmesan. That’s it. And really, that’s all it needs. Well, that and a nice glass of red wine.

Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo
Serves 8

3-1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 carrots cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
4 thyme sprigs
5 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp chopped oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1-1/2 pounds orecchiette
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 7 ounces)


Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Add the red wine and thyme sprigs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs. Pulse just until the pork is shredded. Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole. Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well. Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce. Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Weekly Winner: My Continuing Courtship with Curry — and Cauliflower!

IMG_0645.JPGI have made no secret about my relatively new-found love of Indian food — and curry in particular. I still can’t handle the mind-numbing, sweat-inducing, super-hot curries that are out there –  but the more subtle, complex curries have definitely become an addiction. The topic of this week’s post, Indian-Spiced Chicken and Cauliflower, is an amazingly easy meal that basically cooks itself (thanks to the slow-cooker). What’s great is that while you are not doing anything, your house will begin to smell amazing and that, in turn, builds the anticipation of dinner. What can be better than that??

I got this recipe from Woman’s Day magazine and am sure it is going to go into regular rotation in this house.  And yes, the recipe calls for garnishing with a boatload of cilantro, but I think you know me better than that by now.  It’s not happening in this house.  What y’all do in yours is between you and your conscience.

Indian-Spiced Chicken and Cauliflower
Serves 4

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp curry powder
Kosher salt and pepper
1-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
1 small head cauliflower (about 1-1/4 lb) cored and cut into small florets
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 cup long grain white rice
Greek yogurt and lemon wedges, for serving

In a 5- to 6-qt slow cooker, whisk together the tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, curry powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper

Add the chicken, cauliflower, onion and raisins to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 5 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low.

Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to package directions. Spoon the chicken mixture over the rice. Serve with yogurt and lemon wedges.


Weekly Winner – The Only Time Soggy Bread is a Good Thing

IMG_1480.JPGLet’s be clear: In general, I am not a fan of soggy, sodden bread. I’m much more of a chewy-crusty-bread kind of gal. There is one exception however, and that is with this soup. Its name is a bit of a misnomer I think. Garlic Bread Soup to me, evokes the cheesy, crispy garlic bread that adorns a big plate of spaghetti. This is not that. What it is, however is comforting beyond belief. It is basically a garlicky, eggy broth with big chunks of sodden, gooey bread. I mean that in a good way, really! And it certainly is not an attractive dish. Looking at the picture now it looks like a bowl of flaccid chicken. Oh, forget it! There is no describing this soup in a way that will do it justice. Just make it and see for yourself!

One note on the recipe, which by the way comes from Martha Stewart Living, is that it says it makes 5 cups which serves 4. Uh, no. It does indeed make 5 cups but that only manages to serve me and my husband once for lunch. Double it — you’ll be glad you did.

Garlic Bread Soup
Makes 5 cups

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 large garlic cloves, mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 cups bite-size pieces stale crusty bread
6 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs, beaten
Flat leaf parsley, for garnish

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic paste; cook, stirring occasionally until very fragrant but not browned, about 10 minutes.

Add bread, and stir to coat. Stir in stock and bay leaf; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes.

Discard bay leaf. Stir in eggs. Cook, stirring occasionally to break up eggs, about 10 minutes. Serve soup garnished with parsley leaves.