Weekly Winner:  A few of my favorite things

In the spirit of the holidays and The Sound of Music, I present a few of my favorite things — all of which came together last night for dinner.  In the song, they talk about “Schnitzel with Noodles”, so stay with me here.

Schnitzel is usually made from pork, and you know pork is definitely an all-time favorite of mine.  And who doesn’t like egg noodles??  This time of year I also love putting the slow cooker to use.  I’ve found that pork shoulder is one of the best-suited cuts of meat for the slow cooker.  It comes out incredibly luscious with absolutely no work.  So it goes without saying that if I can take a pork shoulder, put it in the slow cooker with minimal prep and come up with an amazingly satisfying Sunday Supper, then I am totally sold.  That’s exactly what this recipe offers.  Even better?  Everything else that goes in the slow cooker is puréed first in a food processor.  You simply can’t get easier than that.

I’ve had the recipe for Slow Cooker Chipotle Pork for quite some time.  It was just one of those recipes that I would pause at as I was flipping through my recipes for inspiration and think “yep, I’ve got to make that sometime”.  Well Sunday was the day.  We were going to be busy with last-minute holiday preparations and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  But it was going to be the last time for a while that it would just be the two of us for dinner, so I wanted to make it special.  Man, was it!  This was a glorious winter dinner.  The egg noodles are just the right “bed” for all those luscious chunks of slow-cooked porky goodness.  And whatever you do, do not omit the orange wedges or the green onions as garnishes.  They brighten the dish right up!  Amazingly enough, the recipe comes from Good Housekeeping, and it goes something like this:

Slow-Cooked Chipotle Pork

Serves 8

In a food processor, purée 1 medium onion, quartered, 1/2 cup each chicken broth and ketchup; 1/4 cup each chipotles in adobo and creamy peanut butter; 5 cloves of garlic; and 2 Tbsp cocoa until smooth.

Sprinkle 1 tsp salt all over 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 3-4 lbs), quartered; place in slow-cooker.  Pour onion mixture over pork.  Cook 5 to 6 hours on High or 8 to 9 hours on Low until pork is tender but not falling apart.

Transfer pork to cutting board.  When pork is cool enough to handle, remove and discard all fat.  Pull pork into bite-size chunks.

Serve over curly egg noodles along with sauce.  Garnish with orange wedges and green onions.

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Weekly Winner:  Coming Home to a Cozy Chicken Casserole

My month of crazy travel is over and I am finally home.  I’ve eaten really well over the past month, but very little of it was made at home (hence the lack of blog posts here).  Now that we’re back and here for the duration, I certainly plan to rectify that.

Last night was all about comfort food.  Jet-lagged and just a bit crazed and cranky trying to catch up with laundry and holiday preparations, I needed something quick, easy and most of all comforting.  This Coconut Chicken and Rice Casserole was just the thing.  First and foremost, the picture does not do it justice.  Did I mention I was a bit crazed and cranky?  Yeah, well I didn’t really spend much time on the photo and I almost always take several.  Last night I just wanted to eat.  So trust me when I say it not only tasted great, it looked much better than this!  Also, it should be said that I hate coconut.  Seriously, I do.  However I have learned that I dearly love things made with coconut milk.  To me, they are two totally different entities and have completely different tastes.  That’s why this recipe almost never came to be in this house.  The name totally turned me off initially until I realized that it was referring to the coconut milk used in the rice.  Yes, the original recipe calls for toasted coconut chips as a garnish — but read on and you’ll see that I totally found a better alternative!

But anyway, I digress, back to the actual dish.  Super easy to make.  Totally a one-pot wonder but so flavorful and satisfying.  The brightness of the tomatoes along with the meatiness of the mushrooms elevated it beyond simple chicken and rice, and the coconut milk (as it always does) made it soul-satisfying and cozy.

I just wish I had a better picture.  But trust me … It was much more attractive than this (both on the plate and on the palate).  The recipe comes from Redbook Magazine.

Coconut Chicken and Rice Casserole

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

4 chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)

Kosher salt and pepper

1 large shallot, chopped

8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 14oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp honey

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp basmati rice

1 13.5oz can light coconut milk

1/3 cup basil leaves, torn, for serving

1/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut chips, for serving[TRUST ME ON THIS – 1/4 cup or more of French-Fried Onions is a far superior garnish]

Hot sauce, such as Sriracha, for serving

Procedure:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with 1 tsp each salt and pepper and add to the pot, skin-side down.  Cook until skin is golden and crisp, about 6-8 minutes.  Flip and cook 2 minutes more.  Transfer to a plate.
  2. Add the shallot to the pot and cook until translucent and tender – about 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook until browned and tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and honey and cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the rice, coconut mil, and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.  Bring mixture to a simmer and place the chicken skin-side up on top of the rice, taking care not to completely submerge.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until rice is tender and absorbs the liquid and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  3. Heat broiler to high with oven rack positioned 6 to 8 inches from heat.  Remove lid and place under the broiler.  Cook until skin is crisp again, about 3 minutes.  Serve topped with basil, coconut chips, french-fried onions, and hot sauce if desired.