Weekly Winner: Chinese BBQ + Old Lady Fruit = One Delicious Pot Roast

This dish is nothing short of amazing.  Four ingredients and one slow cooker.  That is all you need for one seriously delectable piece of meat (I don’t count water or oil as ingredients).  There is some magic chemistry that happens with two of the four ingredients – hoisin sauce and prunes. Yes, I said it.  Old lady fruit.  Get over it… they’re delicious. They break down and become a bit jammy in the spicy hoisin sauce creating pure fabulousness. Combine that with a good slab of meat (I always use a blade roast for pot roast) and you’re guaranteed a good time.

There is nothing I love more than coming home after being out all day, knowing that dinner is just bubbling away, working its tasty magic all on its own. All I had to do is whip up some mashed potatoes and throw some veggies on a sheet pan to roast.  Personally I think the mashed potatoes are non-negotiable.  You need them to cuddling up with the additional sauce, but feel free to serve your favorite “sauce holding” side dish.

Sadly, I cannot give credit where credit is due because I cannot find where this little gem of a recipe came from.  But it’s here now, so you have no excuse not to make it.

Slow-Cooked Hoisin Pot Roast

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, cut into 1-in pieces.

1 4-lb beef blade roast (or chuck roast)

1 Tbsp canola oil

1 cup water

1 cup hoisin sauce

6 pitted prunes, halved

Procedure:

Place onion in a 5-quart slow cooker.  Cut roast in half.

In a heavy skilled, heat oil over medium high heat; and brown the roast on all sides.  Transfer meat to slow cooker.

Combine water and hoisin sauce; pour over meat.  Cook, covered, on low until meat is tender, 8-10 hours.

Weekly Winner:  This Little Piggy Went to Korea – and the possibilities became endless

Every once in a while a recipe really surprises me.  I’ll pull it because I think it sounds tasty (obviously, otherwise why bother?) and interesting in some way but when it all comes together at the dinner table, I’m pleasantly surprised.  That’s exactly what happened with Korean-Style Pork and Rice.

I’m a big fan of gochujang, and my love for pork knows no bounds, but somehow while I was reading through this gem of a dinner, I totally underestimated the results.  I thought it would taste good.  I knew it would be quick, easy and make a nice mid-week meal, but Wow!!  This blew me away!  It was spicy, tangy, savory, fresh and comforting all nestled in a big bowl of happiness.

Almost immediately, my husband and I started thinking of all the spins we could put on this pork preparation.  While it’s perfectly scrumptious as is… what about Korean Pork Sloppy Joes?  Korean Queso Fundido (swapping the chorizo for this)?  Korean Pork Tacos or Burritos?  The possibilities are truly endless.  But rest assured, you’ll read about it all here when it happens.

The original version comes from Cooking Light Magazine.  The only change I made (besides, obviously omitting the cilantro) was to use some leftover brown rice that I had made the day before for something else. Go ahead and use the precooked brown rice it calls for … I won’t judge.  I’ve definitely been known to reach for that in a pinch.

Korean-Style Pork and Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil

12 oz. lean ground pork

3/4 cup finely chopped white onion

3/4 cup finely chopped green onions, divided

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/3 cup water

2 Tbsp gochujang sauce

2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 (8.8 oz) pkg. precooked brown rice

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

4 lime wedges

Procedure:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add pork; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Add white onion, 1/4 cup green onions, and garlic; cook 4 minutes.  Add 1/3 cup water; cook 1 minute,scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
  2. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1/2 cup green onions, gochujang, soy sauce, and brown sugar.
  3. Heat rice according to directions
  4. Place 1/2 cup pork mixture and 3/4 cup rice in each of 4 bowls; top with vinegar, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Weekly Winner:  In a Pickle with a Perfect One-Pan Plan for Dinner

Chicken and Potatoes.  It doesn’t conjure up thoughts of an exotic feast. Yet last night those two humble ingredients (along with one not-so ordinary addition) came together to make a truly memorable Sunday Supper.  The secret ingredient is Lime Pickle.  I have never used this Indian condiment before but will definitely be looking for more recipes that calls for it.  It’s spicy, garlicky and tangy and penetrated through the entire chicken thigh making it really juicy and somewhat addictive.

The funny thing about last night’s dinner was that my husband caught a brief glimpse of the recipe on the kitchen counter long before I began making it and was a bit worried.  He thought I was pickling a chicken for dinner!  Maybe next week.

Lime Pickle-Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Watercress comes from Bon Appetit magazine and is my favorite type of meal to make — put everything on either a sheetpan or, in this case, a roasting pan and forget about it.  Expect for whizzing the marinade up in a food processor prior to cooking, you’ll have nothing to do but sit around and smell the glorious aroma of this dinner roasting away in the oven. If you line the roasting pan in foil as I did — cleanup will take approximately 2-1/2 minutes!  Somehow I think my chicken pickling experiment will make much more of a mess.

Lime Pickle-Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Watercress

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons prepared lime pickle

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced, divided

½ cup mayonnaise

Freshly ground black pepper

4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 1½ pounds total)

Kosher salt

1½ pounds fingerling potatoes, scrubbed, halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch watercress, tough stems trimmed (about 4 cups)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Procedure:

Pulse garlic, ginger, lime pickle, paprika, cayenne, and one-quarter of onions in a food processor until smooth. Add mayonnaise, season with black pepper, and pulse to combine. Scrape marinade into a large resealable plastic bag.

Pat chicken dry; season lightly with salt (the lime pickle is already pretty salty, so use a light hand). Add to bag with marinade, seal bag, and toss chicken to coat. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour or chill up to 12 hours. (The longer the chicken marinates, the more the lime flavor will come through.) Wrap up remaining onion; chill until ready to use.

If chilling chicken, let sit at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.

Preheat oven to 450°. Toss potatoes and remaining sliced onions with oil in a large roasting pan. Add ¼ cup water; season with salt and toss again. Place chicken, skin side up, on top (make sure the pieces have some space between them). Roast until chicken thighs are lightly charred in spots and cooked through, 45–55 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes.

Toss watercress with lemon juice in a small bowl; season with salt.

Serve roasted chicken and potatoes and onions with watercress.

Weekly Winner:  Super Cozy, Super Tasty, Super Healthy -But What Is It?

I crave structure.  I adore lists and make them with wild abandon.  I organize, strategize and categorize literally everything in my life (yeah, I know…I’m working on it!) But I truly do love everything to have a place and to have a place for everything.

So then this recipe happens. Chickpeas and Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce.  It’s fabulous. It’s easy. It’s healthy. I’m just not exactly sure what it is! Is it a soup? Is it a stew? Perhaps a side dish?  No, far to hearty and complete for a side dish.  Whatever its supposed to be, it was my lunch recently and I seriously enjoyed the heck out of it. I think the only thing I would possibly add to this is a piece of crusty bread along side it. Although honestly, I didn’t miss it.  This is a bowl you want to curl up in. It is incredibly satisfying and complex-tasting and I would make it again in a heartbeat if I could only find under what category I filed the recipe!  Seriously, I had to look up the recipe online as I could not locate mine. I’ve checked soups, side dishes, lunches, vegetables…nada.  Luckily I remembered pulling it from Food & Wine magazine. See, I told you I need to work on it.

Enough of my problems and hangups.  Make this dish.  Whatever it is.  Because all that matters is it is one big bowl of tastiness.

Chickpeas and Kale in Spicy Pomodoro Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

One 28-ounce can whole peeled Italian tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Kosher salt

One 8-ounce bunch of Tuscan kale, stemmed and chopped

Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Torn basil and marjoram leaves, 
for garnish

Finely grated Pecorino Romano, 
for serving

Procedure:

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant 
but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and 
the sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes.

Stir the kale into the sauce and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Season with salt. Spoon into bowls and garnish with torn basil 
and marjoram leaves. Top with finely grated pecorino and serve hot.