Tag Archives: pork

Tuscan Sausage With White Beans and Sage

Seasoned to Taste: Tuscan White Beans and Sausage

The more I look into pantry cooking and “peasant fare,” I find that the combination of beans and pork fat are a comforting mainstay across many cultures. From the purple-hull peas and ham hocks we make in The South to this simplified version of an Italian staple – pork sausage with white beans and tomatoes.

I altered the original recipe significantly, based solely on what I had on-hand. Canned beans instead of dried cannellini soaked overnight; one large, over-ripe fresh tomato instead of canned.

The one-pot dish creates a thick gravy as the beans cook and the starches swirl with white wine, hot garlic and melting bits of tomato. Simple and easy enough for a weeknight meal. I used pork sausage, but next time I will try chicken or turkey sausage, as we found the pork a bit rich.

Tuscan Sausage with White Beans and Sage

Ingredients:

  • 2 T EVOO
  • 5-6 sweet Italian sausages (1 package)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c. crisp white wine (or to taste, depending on liquid level)
  • 1 can cannellini beans, with liquid
  • 1 large ripe tomato, or 1 can diced (drain a bit of the liquid if using canned)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, sliced
  • S&P to taste

Heat oil in large skillet over medium. Brown sausages on all sides, 3-4 min. Add garlic and pepper flakes, continue to cook 1 min. Add wine and stir until bubbling. Add beans, tomato and sage, stirring to combine. Simmer 5 min, adding liquid as necessary so sausages are submerged 1/3 way, until sausages are cooked through. Uncover, simmer to thicken the sauce, if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Seasoned to Taste - Tuscan Sausage and White Beans

I recommend serving with a crusty bread and simple green salad. And a glass of that white wine.

Seasoned to Taste - Tuscan Sausage and White Beans

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

 

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Crock Pot Spicy Thai Peanut Pork

It just occurred to me that all of my Crock Pot dishes look the same. Especially the Asian ones – braised meat, thick sauces and topped with my favorite type of onion: green onions! This dish adds another layer of flavor with peanut butter, a rich and creamy finish to a deeply flavored meat.

Unlike many pork Crock Pot meals, this one uses the lean pork tenderloin, resulting in a much less greasy dish.

Warm and comforting on chilly nights like these, this meal is easy to put on in the morning while you do you last-minute holiday shopping (and other merriment).

I love how bits turn dark and extra caramelized in the slow cooker. Deeply satisfying and comforting to every one of your senses.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Crock Pot Spicy Thai Peanut Pork

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • 2 lb. boneless pork tenderloin, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 c. teriyaki sauce (I didn’t have this, so just mixed up some oyster sauce, ground ginger, soy sauce and brown sugar)
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
  • Cooked rice
  • Sliced green onions, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Place pork in slow cooker. Stir teriyaki, vinegar, pepper flakes and garlic cloves in small bowl and pour over pork. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. (Note: if you want more juice, I would add some chicken stock to the mix – next time I will add at least 1-2 cups of stock along with the spices).

When cooked, remove pork and coarsely chop. Whisk peanut butter into slow cooker to combine. Stir in pork.

Serve over cooked rice, with green onions on top. Squeeze lime over to serve – the lime juice is a nice balance to the richness of the dish, so I highly recommend it.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

The latest edition of Bon Appetit is all about The South, declaring this region as the next big food trend. Well, duh, everyone says. Whether it means black-eye peas, fish fried with cornmeal or country ham, it appears the masses are turning their heads to low-country cuisine.

One ingredient I surely never saw at the Safeways of the Pacific Northwest is country ham. The super-salty cured pork steak that is so sodium-soaked that it almost burns. In fact, the packages aren’t even refrigerated!

I typically enjoy country ham added to cooking beans or something that allows the salt and strong porkiness to distribute. But this Bon Appetit recipe uses it as a little crouton (my title) on top of a salad made from thick kale, tart apple, sweet squash and a simple vinaigrette. Oh, and buttermilk drizzled over the top. Just for effect … and more.

I must admit that I am trying so hard to like squash, and I simply don’t. Still, you can see why roasted butternut squash is great in this medley – the acid of the lemon vinaigrette, the heartiness of the kale, the saltiness of the ham, the crunch of the apple and the creamy tang of the buttermilk. It all works and is full of good vitamins and minerals.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, which used mustard greens and a few other details I changed.

Kale Salad with Squash, Apples and Country Ham Croutons

Ingredients:

  • 10 c. fresh kale, stems and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 cups 1″ cubes peeled butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced country ham, chopped
  • 1 apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk
Method:
  • Gently rub greens with 2 Tbsp. salt in a large bowl. Let stand, checking often, until the greens begin to release water and soften, about 15 minutes. Rinse in two changes of cold water. Squeeze greens dry and pat with a kitchen towel; transfer to a clean bowl.
  • Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. olive oil on prepared sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and tender, 20–25 minutes. Let cool.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ham and cook until crisp, 1–2 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Add squash, apple, shallot, lemon juice, and remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil to greens.
  • Toss to combine; season to taste with salt. Divide evenly among plates. Drizzle with buttermilk. Arrange fried ham over. Season with cracked pepper.

Bon Appetit tells me that one whole salad contains less than 300 calories and less than 3 grams of saturated fat. Nevermind the sodium. 🙂

I’ve never had kale like this before and I think I had trouble getting used to its tough texture. But a bite that consisted of ham, the apple, the kale and the squash had a really sophisticated balance to it.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Pork Loin Stuffed with Prosciutto and Lemon

I wish I could remember what made me think this recipe would be a good idea. Butterflying or filleting things is not my strong suit. But the beautiful Bon Appetit pictures of pork loin perfectly rolled around lemon, prosciutto and bread crumbs made me think I should try it. I mean, how hard could it be?

It’s not that it was hard so much as I just did a bad job. I sliced the meat open with a sharp knife, rolling and slicing, rolling and slicing, until I had not a loin but an uneven slab of meat. Then I placed the thin slices of prosciutto and lemon on and sprinkled the panko. We didn’t have fresh chives, but for some reason Grant had dried chives in his cupboard, so I used that instead.

I also forgot the kitchen twine, so the loin didn’t cook as beautifully as I would hope (I had to use the one piece of twine that came with the meat).

Note – I found that the recipe’s measurements for salt were way too much, so please use tender care if you dare to make…

Pork Loin Stuffed with Prosciutto and Lemon (from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

  • 1 4-pound boneless pork loin roast, trimmed (check the discount meat bin!)
  • 12 thin prosciutto slices (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 large lemon, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh chives (or dried…)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 450.
Place pork, fat side down, on work surface with 1 short end facing you. Using long thin sharp knife and starting 1/2 inch above underside of roast, cut 1/2 inch in along right side. Continue cutting 1/2 inch above underside, unrolling roast like carpet. Arrange prosciutto evenly over pork, overlapping if necessary. Arrange lemon slices over prosciutto. Sprinkle with panko, then chives. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (I would just use a pinch!) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Turn pork so 1 short end faces you. Beginning at 1 short end, roll up pork; arrange seam side down on work surface (fat side will be facing up). Using kitchen string, tie at 1- to 1 1/2-inch intervals. Transfer pork, fat side up, to roasting pan. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon coarse salt (yikes, again, just use pinches) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Here is my mess:
Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven. Place pork on lower rack; roast 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F; roast pork until instant-read thermometer registers 145°F when inserted into center of pork, 45 to 60 minutes longer, depending on thickness of roast. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil.
Place roasting pan over 2 burners on medium-high heat. Add broth and wine; bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 8 minutes. Stir in butter. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Using kitchen scissors, cut string along top of roast; discard. Cut pork into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

To serve, spoon sauce over the pork. The sauce is WONDERFUL. Rich and dark, salty and smooth. The pork actually had an awesome flavor, although I pulled out the lemon bits, which flavored the entire loin. The prosciutto gave it that ham-on-ham goodness and the panko brought everything together.

I also made cheesy broccoli as a side, but any green would be a good accompaniment.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

The Pork King

The smell alone was enough to drive me away. The pigs and slaughterhouse were located in an adjacent building at the Nahunta Pork Center, somewhere in southeastern North Carolina. After laughing at the billboards for about 50 miles, we decided to find out what exactly “America’s largest pork display” looked like.

Inside was literally the largest selection of pork products that I’ve seen in one place. I mean, the whole store was pork!

You walk in and encounter a fresh pig head looking at you, next to the pig tongues and pig’s feet. Behind the counters, employees sawed off various other parts of the swine to make country ham, sausage, bacon, etc.

Gah!

You knew there would be chitterlings. That’s right – pig intestines! Not only did they have a large selection, but they were conveniently molded into bricks (I imagine lard held them together). I just love the sign: “Chitterling Loaf (Heat & Serve!)”

Just when you thought you didn’t have enough lard…

More lard!

We were bummed that they were out of T-shirts, but they did have gift cards! Grant got an awesomely bad trucker hat. I was holding my breath at this point to avoid becoming nauseous.

To make the trip complete, we stopped by one last porky store before we left:

Can't find these in the PNW!

Sometimes I really think The South has a “special” relationship with pork.

xoxo

Pomegranate-ginger glazed pork chops

Pomegranate seeds are like little rubies that burst with sour juice when you bite into them. When I was little, I loved popping them between my fingers, the purple spray going everywhere.

While fun to play with, pomegranate seeds are a bit high-maintenance. Especially after I watched my mother make pomegranate rum as a child – the process of extracting the juice took forever.

Nowadays, a savvy cook just buys the juice and uses the seeds as a garnish. Which is exactly how this dish works. Adapted from We Are Not Martha, the sweet glaze pairs perfectly with thick-cut pork chops. With the addition of fresh ginger, garlic and soy sauce, it has an Asian twist that is lovely.

This is perfect with a fruity red wine. We served it along side mashed Yukon gold potatoes and garlicy steamed broccoli.

Pomegranate-Ginger Pork Chops

Ingredients:

• 1/2 c. pomegranate juice
• 1/2 c. sugar
• 1 T cornstarch
• 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
• 3 T soy sauce
• 3 tsp ginger, minced
• 3 tsp garlic (3 cloves), minced
• 3 thick-cut boneless pork chops
• 1 whole fresh pomegranate, opened with seeds removed (cut into quarters, place under water and gently pull out seeds. The water keeps it from squirting you. Drain seeds.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine pom juice, sugar, cornstarch and red pepper flakes. Stir until bubbling and thick, then remove and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium-high. Pat chops dry and place in hot skillet, then spoon half the garlic-ginger mixture over the meat. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn and spoon the remaining mixture over. Cook another 5 minutes, or until cooked through and barely pink. Remove chops from pan and keep warm. (Note: I had to pop mine in the oven at 350 for a few minutes to finish cooking – you don’t want the sauce to burn).

In the chop pan, pour a little pomegranate juice in to de-glaze, scraping up the stuck-on bits. Off the heat, add the pomegranate syrup you reserved and stir to combine. The sauce will be thick and very dark with a deep, rich flavor. Just splendid.

To serve, pour sauce over the chops and top with seeds.

This was a fun meal to make that filled the house with wonderful smells. The sauce is good enough to eat with a spoon! I literally licked the plate and spoon and fork.

I encourage you all to get your antioxidants in and drink more pomegranate juice! xoxo

BBQ Road Trip

One of the beauties of the journalism industry is even when you leave it, you’re never far from a friend. I recently had the pleasure of meeting two friends – one old, one new – from the Chicago Tribune, who were on their way through a BBQ Roadtrip. Be sure to read up about there travels here: http://bbqroadtrip.tumblr.com/.

The guys are on a mission to find great, regional barbecue, and when I heard they were coming my way, I made sure our paths intersected. Kevin invited me to join them in Lexington, where they would be eating at two different restaurants (two, really?). Like true food critics, they had small portions at each place – admitting that they’ve sampled as many as four different eateries in one day.

We first went to the Bar-B-Q Center, where we started with the barbecue soup, which was basically a vegetable soup with chopped pork up top:

It was great and tasted exactly how it’s described. For our entrees, we had the simple chopped pork “platter,” which means slow-smoked pork pulled off the shoulder, chopped and served in a flimsy paper bowl. With a side of red slaw and hushpuppies, of course. It was tasty and authentic.

My favorite thing, however, was the fried pork sandwich. It had mustard on it and I thought Kevin was going to die of happiness.

Next, we went to Lexington BBQ, which is supposed to be THE place for barbecue in Lexington. We were disappointed to learn that the fried pork-skin sandwiches were off the menu, so we ordered the “outside brown” chopped pork platter. That outside brown is genius. Right under the pork skin, it’s slightly crispy on the outside, but tender and delicious on the inside. This was my favorite thing we ate.

The slaw was “white,” as you can see. With a side of hushpuppies, of course.

For dessert, we got the Karo Nut Pie (pecan pie), with an awesome square of vanilla ice cream up top that melted all over it.

Thanks again to Kevin and Keith for inviting me – and for bringing all the Chi-Tribune swag and Chicago-style relish. I hope you guys enjoy all the barbecue sauce you picked up on your Southern travels. Until we meet again!

Curried pork chops

This dish is so easy, you can make it after coming home from the bars late one night. Not that I would know….

It is basically a curry marinade that would work awesome with all meats, including chicken, shrimp, tofu, whatever. You marinate the meat and then bake it and serve it over rice. Easy! Just be sure to adjust the cooking time so you don’t overcook your meats. The taste is really yummy.

I got this recipe from my Thai cookbook.

Curried Pork Chops

Ingredients:

  • 2 T canola oil
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T red curry paste (I used Taste of Thailand)
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 pounds pork chops
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Cooked brown rice, for serving.

Whisk oil, soy sauce, curry, honey and salt in large bowl. Add pork and toss to get the curry all over. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Or not…

Preheat oven to 350. Place chops in baking dish, pouring sauce over the top. Bake for 20-30 min., until tender but cooked. Serve over rice, spooning over more sauce and garnish with lime wedges (squeeze over the meat, if you wish).

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Farmers markets, pork tenderloin and fried green tomatoes

Soon to be fried (heirloom) green tomatoes

Soon to be fried (heirloom) green tomatoes

There is no excuse for Southern cuisine to be so heavy on the deep-fried or processed (pimento cheese ball, anyone?). With such rich soil and a growing season that won’t quit, local farmers markets are bursting with plump tomatoes, crisp green okra (or purple), tender peaches and heavy watermelons. We finally traveled to the state-run farmers market, down in the Triad. It was like a state fair farmers market – four big buildings bustling with vendors. I’ve seen nothing like it in the Northwest (it puts Seattle to shame).

Needless to say, we went a little tomato-crazy. I’ve never seen so many tomatoes in my life! The heirloom variety, from deep purple to striped yellow to rainbow, cost only $1 per pound at the Winston-Salem farmers market (our first stop). And green tomatoes – those that I never, ever find in the NW – were five for $1. We didn’t resist.

I did, however, resist the temptation to buy some beautiful potted plants at the Triad farmers market. The gardenias smelled like heaven and the fig trees would have looked perfect on my patio – and they even had tiny figs growing on them! $15 for a fig tree? That’s like a grocery expense! But alas…

We now have this fruit bowl to work with while we look for more tomato recipes (Jesse already made his salsa)…

IMG_4094

I did buy the remaining ingredients for tonight’s dinner: chili-rubbed pork tenderloin with mango relish. It’s from – you guessed it – Cook’s Illustrated “Cooking for Two.” I love the idea of rubbing the inexpensive pork tenderloin with chili powder and natural cocoa powder, searing it and then roasting it in the oven. The sear/roast method is my favorite way to cook pork. The recipe turned out a pretty perfect tenderloin, and the mango relish was spicy and the perfect accompaniment to the pork (pork loves sweet things).

Jesse said this is the best pork dish he’s had in a long time. I’ll post the recipe and then get on to the fried green tomatoes…

Ingredients:

1 pork tenderloin, about 12 oz.

2 tps. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cocoa powder

table salt

1 tsp. vegetable oil

1 mango, peeled, pitted and chopped into small chunks

2 T chopped cilantro

1 T lime juice

1 shallot, minced

1 tsp. minced jalapeno, seeded, about 1/2 a jalapeno

Preheat oven to 425. Pat pork dry. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cocoa and 1/4 tsp. salt, then rub it all over the pork.

Heat oil in ovensafe skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Brown tenderloin on all sides, reducing heat if the spices start to burn. This will take about 6 min. total and the pork will look almost black. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the internal temp. is 140 degrees, about 15 min.

Once done, tent the pork with foil for another 10 min and it will be perfect.

Meanwhile, make the relish: combine the mango, cilantro, lime, shallot, jalapeno and 1/8 tsp. salt in a bowl. Once you’ve sliced the pork, spoon over the relish. The juices will mingle with the pork for a wonderfully complex flavor. The pork will be so tender, you can cut it with your fork!

IMG_4106

Now, for the reason you’re all here: fried green tomatoes. I used the recipe form Simply Recipes.

All you do is slice the tomatoes thick (but not too thick, or they won’t be softened enough when you cook them – no more than 1/2 an inch). Season them with S&P and let them sit 15 min. Then, heat 1/4 c. EVOO in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Get 4 bowls ready: 1/2 c. milk, 1 c. flour, 2 eggs lightly beaten, 1 c. bread crumbs (or corn meal). Dip each slice sequentially: milk, flour, egg, and finally crumbs. Then, put them in the oil and brown on both sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain. When all are done, sprinkle them with a little more salt, to taste.

IMG_4102

Now, I was going to make a chipotle aioli to go with these, because that’s how I’ve seen it in the restaurants. But it really didn’t need it. The tomatoes were juicy enough on their own, and who needs the extra fat? These were really delicious, even if I did slice mine a little too thick. What a wonderful Southern invention. Perhaps serve yours with some hot sauce on the side.

Enjoy, friends!