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Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category

We like to get our fajita on regularly in this household.  Many times that means cleaning out the leftover meat in the fridge and combining it with a homemade fajita spice mix.  Fajita spices can save almost any bland or tough meat when you let the flavors marry in a skillet for a bit and you’re left with tasty, tasty fare whether you liked the original meat or not.

Sometimes fajitas have nothing to do with salvaging leftovers and everything to do with the fact that we just love almost anything rolled up in a tortilla.  These fajitas are no exception because not only did we love them, but they prove my point that almost anything rolled in a tortilla is delicious.  Sweet potatoes for example.  Sweet potatoes that I normally eat dutifully because they are good for me but not because I like that oddly sweet starch.  But these fajitas can make me look forward to sweet potatoes.  And poblanos and chorizo because everything in this roll-up is delicious.

Chorizo, Poblano, and Yam Fajitas with Lime-Marinated Red Onions
Adapted from epicurious.com
Yield: 4 servings

1.5 cups paper-thin slices red onions
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups 1/2-inch-thick sticks peeled yam (red-skinned sweet potato)
12 to 14 ounces hard chorizo or andouille sausage
2 fresh poblano chiles,* halved, seeded, cut into thin strips
8 7- to 8-inch-diameter flour tortillas
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Toss onions and generous sprinkle of salt in medium bowl. Mix in lime juice. Set aside to marinate, tossing occasionally.

Meanwhile, place yam in microwave-safe bowl. Add splash of water. Cover; cook on high until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Sauté chorizo in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Transfer chorizo to bowl or plate.  Add chiles to skillet along with a splash of evoo if chorizo has not created much oil. Cover and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Drain yam; transfer to skillet. Add chorizo and toss 1 minute to rewarm filling.

Cook 1 tortilla at a time directly over gas flame or in skillet until heated, 10 to 15 seconds per side.

Arrange tortillas on work surface. Spoon filling in strip down center of each. Top with cheese, onions, and sprinkle of lime marinade. Fold in sides of tortillas.

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Three days. Just Canaan and I. Nate in Montana. Of course this meant meals were whatever I felt like. I find when I’m on my own I can easily survive with a piece of crusty bread, a little chunk of some good cheese, and a tasty, tasty salad – oh and a movie for night time. Luckily this lovely nectarine that had been sitting in my windowsill a number of days turned ripe just in time to be included in the goodness.

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And goodness it was. Just another reason to wish peaches and nectarines weren’t so touch and go in terms of quality and didn’t have such a short season. Possibly incentive enough to move to Georgia or South Carolina where all summer long we used to stop on long road trips to buy peaches from roadside stands. Peaches and Dairy Queen were frequent lunches, a perfect fix for the summer heat and a way to avoid fast-food burgers. Of course, back then all I cared about was the cookie dough blizzard but now I’d die for a roadside peach stand!

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Peaches and Prosciutto with Greens

Salad greens
Peach or nectarine, sliced
A few ounces of prosciutto, torn into pieces
Brie cheese, sliced
Walnuts, toasted

Dressing:
Apple cider vinegar (about 3 Tbs. for a salad for two)
Honey and dijon mustard(about 1 tsp. each)
Olive oil (about 1 T.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk dressing together in bottom of serving bowl. Add greens and toss to coat. Arrange remaining ingredients over top and serve. Die happy.

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You’re skeptical of this combination, right?  Well, I sure was.  I’ve never been one to pair my meat with fruit.  Orange chicken?  No thanks.  Cranberry sauce on my turkey?  I’ll skip it every time.  But part of developing as a cook is trying things you might be tempted to pass up and finding ways to surprise yourself.  So I decided a recipe that can be done from start to finish in 25 minutes was worth giving it a whirl.

Fortunately, given that 25 minutes is the better part of a baby’s nap these days, I found the effort worth it.  The chops themselves were juicy and tender, taken out of the oven at 155 degrees.  And the sauce brought out an interesting side to the pork.  It’s more red wine than blueberries, so the fruit doesn’t overpower.  The sauce starts with a delightfully, velvety touch from the butter swirled in at the end.  Then it continues on to the stronger notes of lemon and berry as you finish the bite.  A pretty good bite, I’d say!

Pork Chops with Savory Blueberry Sauce
Originally from thekitchn
Serves 4 , Total time 25 minutes

4 boneless pork chops (I used bone-in and they were very juicy)
1 shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
2 tablespoons butter
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Salt and pepper both sides of each pork chop. Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof skillet big enough to hold all four pork chops.
3. Brown the pork chops, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from heat and pop it into the oven. Remove when the pork is just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.
4. While the pork chops are in the oven, prepare the sauce. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
5. Sauté the shallots until soft and golden. Add the wine and water and let boil down for 1-2 minutes.
6. Add the blueberries. When the skins begin to burst, add the lemon zest and juice. Let the sauce continue to boil and thicken until the pork chops are ready.
7. Once the pork chops are ready, remove the pan from the oven and place the pork chops on a cutting board and let them rest while finishing the sauce.
8. Turn the heat off under the saucepan and stir in the butter until it is completely melted. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.
9. Serve the pork chops either whole or sliced, topped with the blueberry sauce and fresh parsley. Since the pork chops were finished in the oven, they should still be nice and juicy.

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Most marinades start or end with the addition of soy sauce or lemon juice.  This marinade rests on some pretty different flavors, namely coffee and molasses.  While both flavors are known for having some powerful flavor behind them, the act of using them as a marinade on a sturdy cut of meat results in a pleasing subtlety of flavors.  There is coffee present, but just a hint.  And there is molasses present, but just a smidge.  Mostly there is good flavor.

Oh and the color, the gorgeous color that these chops turn thanks to the caramelization of the molasses against grill.

Coffee-Molasses Marinated Pork Chops
Originally from April/May 2010 Taste of Home
Yield: 4 servings

1 c. strong brewed coffee
1/4 c. molasses
2 T. cider vinegar
1 T. dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 t. ground ginger
4 bone-in pork loin chops (1 in. thick)  (I had boneless and they worked just fine too)

In a large bowl combine the first nine ingredients.  Pour 1/2 c. marinade into a resealable plastic bag; add the pork chops.  Seak bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade until ready to cook.

For glaze, place remaining marinade in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup.

If grilling the chops, coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting grill.  Drain and discard marinade.  Grill chops, covered, over medium heat or broil 4-6 inches from heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.  Spoon glaze over chops.

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About a month ago I made the WORST RISOTTO EVER.  I did something I rarely do and believed someone when they said a recipe was just as good as the original when done in the slow-cooker.  I was skeptical, but thought this could be a great time-saver.  So one Sunday morning I pulled the crockpot out and left it to work its risotto magic while I went off to church.  The result was that I served up saffron and white wine GLUE to a friend.

I was left both with a sense of disappointment and a taste for good risotto.  Fortunately I had this little gem of a recipe flagged and all of the ingredients on hand.  It’s perfect comfort food, hitting your stomach all warm and creamy.  It’s also perfectly decadent without leaving greatnutritional value behind.  It’s rich in butter and lycopene, iron, calcium, and vitamin C.  And flavor.  Yes, it’s definitely rich in flavor.

Tomato and Sausage Risotto
Found at smittenkitchen.com, adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Serves 4

1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (10 to 14 ounces), stems removed, chopped (about 7 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
2 tablespoons butter

In a small saucepan, combine tomatoes (with their juice) and 3 cups water. Bring just to a simmer; keep warm over low heat.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add sausage and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up sausage with a spoon, until sausage is opaque and onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add rice; cook, stirring until well coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add about 2 cups hot tomato mixture to rice; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until absorbed, 4 to 5 minutes. Continue adding tomato mixture, 1 cup at a time, waiting for one cup to be absorbed before adding the next, stirring occasionally, until rice is creamy and just tender, about 25 minutes total (you may not have to use all the liquid).

Remove pan from heat. Stir in spinach, Parmesan, and butter; season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately (risotto will thicken as it cools), and sprinkle with additional Parmesan, if desired.

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Carnitas Croissant Sandwich

Of course the minute I posted about our Sandwich Friday tradition and the tasty meat and bread combinations that came out of that venture, Nate was begging to reinstate it. Sadly for him, it hasn’t been officially reinstated, but he did get a new sandwich out of the deal.

There was no recipe for this one as it was made up mostly of leftover ingredients that we had on hand. But sandwiches aren’t really meant to be measured and quantified anyway. They are a perfect mate for anyone who likes to “eyeball” it or mess around with proportions as they see fit. This is a great one to do just that with and still come out with a tasty treat.

Carnitas Croissant Sandwich

Croissants, sliced
Mayonnaise
Lemon Pepper
Leftover pork carnitas, shredded and warmed slightly
Avocado slices
Fontina, havarti or any other cheese you find delicious, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the open croissants on a baking sheet.  Combine lemon pepper and mayonnaise and spread on both sides of the croissant.  Layer the carnitas on the bottom side of the bread and top with the avocado.  Layer the cheese on to the top side of the bread.  Place in the oven about 8 minutes, or until sandwich is hot and cheese is melted.  Fold the croissant together and serve.

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I have not prepared many “meat & potatoes” meals of late.  (I have a constant fear of spelling potatoes wrong after the whole Dan Quayle incident … perhaps one of the few moments of political history that has stayed captured in my mind … but I think I got it right this time.) They aren’t my favorite on a good day and add in a warm, summer day and you won’t see this fare coming out of my kitchen.  But this recipe recently caught my eye, perhaps because of the goat cheese and perhaps because I had half of a bar of cream cheese nearing the end of its time. 

It ended up being a really nice flavor combination for this girl who rarely is impressed by chops.  I find that many times meat stuffing ends up either overpowering the meal completely or becoming totally bland.  This does neither, infusing the chops with the flavors of thyme, tomato and that delicious, tangy goat cheese.

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Spinach

Prep Time:  15 min.   Cook Time: 20 min.    Yields: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced 
1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out 
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning 
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 
1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese 
1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese 
4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops 
1 1/2 cups chicken broth 
1/2 lemon, zested 
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.

Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon some sauce over the pork before serving.

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