Weekly Winner:  Pasta + Pork + Peanuts = Pure Perfection

Here I go again – declaring my ardent and undying love for a good peanut sauce.  Heck, in most cases I’ll settle for an average peanut sauce!  It’s one of those things that I simply cannot ignore –If I see a recipe for it, I’ll tear it out. If I see it on a menu, chances are good I’ll order it – regardless of what it is on or comes with.  But, you combine a good peanut sauce with pasta and a pork product of any variety and I am in…. all in!

I have featured a bunch of variations on this peanut theme here — Dan Dan Noodles, Peanut Soba with Stir-Fried Beef & Broccoli, Grilled Asian Chicken with Peanut Noodles, Hoisin Peanut SauceThai Peanut Curry Noodles with Edamame and Kohlrabi.   This week’s however, just might be the best.  At least its my new current favorite.  Its Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce.  It packs a punch heat wise, but the lime is a nice counterbalance to the heat and well, then you have pork and pasta!  A word of warning; however … this is one of those dishes that you just keep eating, and eating, and eating.  The recipe comes from Fine Cooking and as usual, the only change I made was deleting the cilantro.  Including that would disqualify it immediately from the title of perfection.  Besides, the recipe clearly stated that the cilantro was optional!

Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

12 oz. rotini

1-1/2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil

5 medium scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated

2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. ground pork

3 Tbs. soy sauce

2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar

1 Tbs. sambal oelek or other Asian chile paste; more to taste

1 Tbs. granulated sugar

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter, preferably natural

2/3 cup lower-salt chicken broth

1 medium lime, cut into 4 wedges

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Procedure:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rotini and cook according to package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the scallion whites. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
Crumble in the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its pink color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sambal oelek, and sugar and cook until bubbling. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated. Pour in the broth, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Stir in the pork mixture and scallion greens. Thin the sauce with the pasta water, if necessary. Divide among plates or bowls, squeeze a lime wedge over each serving, and top with cilantro, if using.

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