Weekly Winner:  A Divisive Dinner Where Pork is the Only Winner

So last night was not a total success.  I liked everything about dinner, but hubby… not so much.  I really can’t complain as he is willing to try darn near anything and has a very short list of things he absolutely does not like.  Apparently we now need to add watercress to that list. Who knew? The pork however, received thumbs up all around.

Orange Pork With Watercress Rice comes from Martha Stewart Living magazine.  I really didn’t think this was going to be risky new recipe to try. Basically stir-fried pork and rice with an Asian orange sauce. However, what makes this dish unique is also what made it not-so-stellar for my husband.  I am pretty sure I’ve served watercress before, but not in such heavy concentration — usually mixed with other greens and generally raw.  This time it was only wilted into the rice.  Let’s just say it was not well-received  The rest of the recipe will be repeated and I’ll simply find another green to swap in for the watercress.  Live and learn and try again!

Orange Pork With Watercress Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup jasmine rice

Kosher salt and black pepper

3 cups coarsely chopped watercress, plus sprigs for serving

3 Tbsp safflower oil

1-1/4 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4-inch pieces and patted dry

1/2 cup finely julienned peeled ginger (from a 2-1/2 inch piece)

2 Tbsp minced garlic

2/3 cup orange marmalade

2 Tbsp fish sauce

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Procedure:

  1. Bring rice, 1-1/3 cups water, and 1/2 tsp salt to a boil in a saucepan.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, 16 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Toss watercress with 1 Tbsp oil; season with salt.  Add to pan; let stand, covered 10 minutes.  Stir
  2. Season pork with salt.  Heat remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high.  Add half of the ginger; cook until golden, 1 minute.  Let drain on paper towels.
  3. Add pork to skillet and brown, 3 to 4 minutes; then remove from pan.  Add remaining ginger and garlic to skillet; cook 30 seconds.  Add marmalade, fish sauce, and lime juice; bring to a boil, stirring, until syrupy, about 1 minute.  Return pork to pan; simmer 30 seconds.  Serve over rice, with watercress sprigs and crisp ginger.

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:  Turmeric Turns Pork Chops into Tantalizing Treat.

OK, seriously, when aren’t pork chops tantalizing??  They are, without hesitation, my favorite piece of meat.  When cooked properly nothing can beat it. For some reason, I just haven’t made them much lately and when the hankering took hold over the weekend, I went looking for a new twist on my old favorite.

Turmeric Pork Chops with Green Onion Rice was just what I was looking for.  The dry rub and glaze makes these chops tangy, sticky, and dang delicious.  And with all the touted health benefits of turmeric, and the fact that the recipe comes from Cooking Light, you could make the argument that this is one healthy, life-extending dish. You could make that argument, but you probably wouldn’t win it.  What you will win is an excellent quick, easy, tasty meal.

Turmeric Pork Chops with Green Onion Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 (6-oz.) bone-in pork chops

1 large garlic clove, halved

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 teaspoons oyster sauce

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 bunch green onions

2 (8.8-oz.) packages precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)

1 lime, cut into 4 wedges

Procedure:

1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high. Rub pork with cut sides of garlic; discard garlic. Sprinkle pork with turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and tomato paste. Brush both sides of pork with half of oil mixture. Add pork to pan; grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a plate; brush both sides of pork with remaining oil mixture. Keep warm.

2. Add onions to grill pan over medium-high; grill 2 minutes. Coarsely chop onions.

3. Heat rice according to package directions. Combine green onions, rice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve rice with pork. Serve with lime wedges.

Weekly Winner:  Terrificly Tasty Tagine

I’ve had this recipe laying on the kitchen counter literally for weeks.  I’ve had it “slated” for various Sunday suppers and even one or two weeknight dinners, but something has always come up to thwart me.  I had everything I needed on hand to make it, it just never happened.  That is until this past Sunday.

I had a feeling this was going to be good.  Little did I realize just how good Moroccan Pork Tagine would be.  This was amazing!  Every bite was a bit different depending on what combination of pork, chickpeas, raisins, couscous or olives you got.  It didn’t really matter because each bite was fantastic.

The recipe comes from Cuisine at Home and while it may not be a traditional tagine recipe, the flavors and spices come together to make it taste very Moroccan.  I’m glad I finally got to try this recipe — don’t be like me and keep put it off — make this very soon.

Moroccan Pork Tagine with Chickpeas and Raisins

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb. pork tenderloin

1 1/2 tsp each ground cumin, ground coriander, and sweet paprika

1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and kosher salt

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp each unsalted butter and olive oil

2 cups sliced onions

1 Tbsp each minced fresh ginger and garlic

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 14-oz can diced tomatoes in juice

3/4 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Procedure:

  1. Trim fat and sliverskin from tenderloin.  Cut tenderloin into 1-inch cubes; toss with cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, salt and pepper flakes.
  2. Melt butter with oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook until browned, 6-7 minutes.  Stir in tenderloin, garlic, ginger and tomato paste; cook until tenderloin is browned on all sides, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Deglaze skillet with wine and reduce until nearly evaporated.  Stir in tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, and raisins and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer stew until thickened, 7-8 minutes.
  4. Serve on Couscous (recipe follows) and garnish with almonds.

Couscous Pilaf with Olives and Lemon

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/4 cups pearl (Israeli) couscous

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives

1 Tbsp each minced lemon zest and lemon juice

Procedure:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add couscous and cook until toasted, 2 minutes.  Stir in garlic and salt; cook 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and cook until broth is absorbed and couscous is al dente, 8-10 minutes.
  3. Stir in olives, zest, and lemon juice

Weekly Winner:  Wrapping up August with Perfect Petite Pork Packages

I believe I’ve mentioned maybe once or twice, that it’s been hot here.  I mean really hot.  However, even with it being so hot, that does not mean I want to live on salads.  What I want is an easy, light dinner that has a certain amount of substance to it.  But I refuse to turn on the oven, stove, or even a slow-cooker to heat up the kitchen. What to do? What to do?

The answer lies in these adorable, crisp little lettuce wraps filled with mini pork patties all dressed up in a zippy dipping sauce.  Meat and veggie in one delicious bite.  Lemongrass Pork Patties with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce comes from Epicurious and is a total cinch to make — especially if you let someone else (aka Grill-master Hubby) grill up the patties that you whip up in your incredibly cool kitchen.

Lemongrass Pork Patties with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Pork Patties:

1 pound ground pork

3 large cloves of garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens (from 3 to 4 scallions)

1 stalk lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, lower 6 inches of tender bulb, finely chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce (such as nuoc mam or nam pla)

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Sauce and assembly:

1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar, plus more to taste

1 tablespoons sugar, plus more to taste

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce

Pinch of crushed red pepper

12 lettuce leaves, such as Boston lettuce or iceberg

Herb sprigs, such as mint, cilantro and Thai basil

Procedure:

For the patties:

In a large bowl, use your hands to mix together all of the ingredients, then form the mixture into twelve 2-inch patties (about 3/4 inch thick). Arrange the patties on a plate and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until firm.

Preheat the grill for at least 10 minutes and set it up to grill over moderately high heat. Oil the grates. Grill the patties until brown grill marks form on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip the patties, then grill for 3 to 4 minutes longer, until cooked through but still juicy.

For the sauce and assembly:

In a small mixing bowl, whisk the vinegar with the sugar and water. Add the fish sauce, then taste and season with more vinegar or sugar, depending on your taste.

Arrange the lettuce leaves and herb sprigs on a platter. To serve, wrap the pork patties and herb sprigs in lettuce and dip in the sauce.

Weekly Winner:  What’s better than a refreshing cool salad on a summer day? A salad with pork!

Seriously, is there anything in the culinary world that cannot be improved with the addition of some pork product?  If there is, I have not found it yet.  OK, wine. Maybe wine.  But other than that, when in doubt — add some pork! Which is just what happened for lunch this week.  Asian Pork and Cabbage Salad is a great change-up from one of my all-time favorite go-to summer salads Best-Ever Chinese Chicken Salad.

I believe I got this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens.  It is super easy but gives you the satisfaction of feeling like you actually cooked since you do have to sauté the pork and peppers. The only other change I made was to use pre-shredded coleslaw mix in place of the shredded napa cabbage.

Asian Pork and Cabbage Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/4 cup low-sugar orange marmalade

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

Nonstick cooking spray

12 ounces boneless pork loin chops, cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium red or yellow sweet pepper, cut into thin bite-size strips

6 cups napa cabbage, shredded

1 cup chopped cucumber

4 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Procedure:

  • For dressing, in a small bowl stir together orange marmalade, soy sauce, vinegar, toasted sesame oil, and garlic. Set aside.
  • Lightly coat an unheated wok or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add pork and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add sweet pepper to the pan and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until pork is no longer pink and sweet pepper is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add one-fourth of the dressing to pan; stir until well coated. Remove pan from heat.
  • In a large bowl coat cabbage with remaining dressing. On a serving platter layer cabbage, pork mixture, and cucumber. Sprinkle with green onions and almonds. Serve immediately

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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