January – Citrus Spiced Pulled Pork

January – Citrus Spiced Pulled Pork

Happy 2021 everyone. Things are looking up and there is an end to all this craziness in sight. We just have to hang on for a few more months.

Our Christmas was lovely, quiet with only the three of us. I missed our annual holiday dinner with friends, an often raucous crowd of lovely people who are my adopted family. But, they will be back on Christmas eve of 2021. I am grateful that we are all healthy. We will appreciate family and friends that much more, having been without them for the last 10 months (or more).

Kitchen inspiration has been lacking in the last month or longer, but this dish of slow roasted pork shoulder had me headed to the store for a pork shoulder roast…it’s perfect cold weather eating and will provide you with several days of delicious leftovers.

I recommend using any leftovers for holiday tacos. They were delicious cooked in the manner of carnitas with cranberry sauce, a bit of shredded cabbage added for texture. Simply reheat the pulled pork in a skillet until it begins to brown. There were delicious crispy bits formed.

Spiced Pulled Pork

Spiced Pulled Pork

I plan to use the rest to top roasted sweet potatoes…garnishes will include some spiced pecans and a bit of sour cream with a squeeze of lime. Yum!

Here’s the backstory, in the lull between Christmas and New Year’s I came across an idea for chicken thighs cooked with spices usually reserved for ham. I tried it and must say I was not particularly impressed. However, adopting some of those same spices rubbed onto a pork shoulder before roasting was an entirely different experience. The 6 hour low and slow cooking allowed the spice mixture to penetrate the pork and the aroma!!! Well, let’s just say my mouth was watering all afternoon. This is the perfect meal for cold, wet, grey days. It cooks slowly without any attention to you. Put it in the oven and leave, go take a long hike or sled ride. When you come home the house will smell like heaven.

It’s the best kind of cooking in my book, leftovers are already in mind. There was enough for at least two more meals.

Ingredients:

  • Pork shoulder roast, bone in or out
  • 2 whole oranges, zested
  • 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 T of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • Juice of one of the oranges
  • Second orange sliced thinly

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F
  2. In a small bowl combine the orange zest, sugar, mustard, olive oil, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, salt and pepper. Stir until it forms a paste.
  3. Rub the paste over the pork shoulder and place in a large casserole with a lid.
  4. Down the side of the casserole add the cider vinegar, the juice of one of the zested oranges and the star anise.
  5. Slice the second orange and place the slices over the pork roast.
  6. Cover and place in the oven, roast slowly (without peeking) for 6 hours.
  7. Remove from the oven, uncover and allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving. I pulled the meat into large chunks.
Holiday Pulled Pork

Holiday Pulled Pork – before

Spiced Pulled Pork

Spiced Pulled Pork – after

I understand this is similar to a Haitian dish called griot. It’s a classic dish of pork shoulder marinated in chile, citrus and vinegar. I didn’t use any hot chiles in this recipe but I will definitely include it next time.

I wish you all a happy new year. Be well, be safe and wear your mask. We have to hang in there for a few more months and this may be the most dangerous time. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

 

July – Spicy Grilled Pork Kabobs with Fennel, Cumin and Coriander

July – Spicy Grilled Pork Kabobs with Fennel, Cumin and Coriander

If you have been following this blog for any time at all you will have noticed that I adore the combination of fennel seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. This recipe for spicy grilled pork kabobs adds coriander leaves, lime juice, garlic and jalapeno to that magic combo.

See Turkish Lamb Chops for another example.

Turkish Lamb Chops

Turkish Lamb Chops

Those spices char in the high heat of the grill or under the broiler, turning them into an aromatic counter point to the cubes of juicy pork.

If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least an hour before you thread on the pork. I find an empty wine bottle (of which we have an abundance these days) is the perfect size.

If you have time, marinate the pork in the spices for 24 hours before cooking.

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 cubes
  • kosher salt
  • 1 lime, plus extra wedges for serving if desired
  • 1/4 cup cilantro or basil or mint or a combination
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed an peeled
  • 1 jalapeno or other green chili, seeded if you want a milder flavor (I used only 1/2)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds

Method:

  1. Season the pork lightly with kosher salt (use less if using sea or regular salt) and put it into a bowl or resealable plastic bag.
  2. In a small dry skillet toast the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds until they become aromatic and golden brown.
  3. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor. Add the cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeno and honey. Blend until the jalapeno and garlic are pureed. Add the fennel, cumin and coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
  4. Pour the mixture over the pork, tossing to coat all sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack 4 inches from the heat source.
  6. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between each piece.
  7. Grill or broil over the highest heat possible (2-5minutes) then turn the skewers or pieces and continue cooking on all sides until browned and charred in spots. A little pink in the center is fine but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  8. Serve sprinkled with additional sprigs of herbs if desired.

 

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

We served this with grilled zucchini from the garden and sliced tomatoes.

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

Spicy Grilled Pork

It’s grilling season here in the Northern Hemisphere and this is a perfect dish to bring to Fiesta Friday hosted by the lovely Angie. It’s Fiesta Friday #336 and I am the lucky cohost this week. Click on the link to join the party, discover delicious recipes, fun crafts, decorating and gardening ideas. Please consider adding your own link as well, we would love to get to know you.

April – Pork Shoulder in Red Sauce and Slow Roasted Sweet Potatoes

April – Pork Shoulder in Red Sauce and Slow Roasted Sweet Potatoes

A couple of weeks ago I made ‘Forever Roasted Pork Shoulder’, it was a big success in our house and gave us wonderful leftovers. Then I saw Chef Mimi’s post for ‘Pork All’Arrabbiata’ and knew I needed to try it if I could score another pork shoulder at the store. I loved the idea of slow cooking the pork in a spicy red sauce. This was also the perfect opportunity to clean out the pantry and/or fridge.

I found a jar of “just outdated” (really those dates are very conservative and it was only a few months past expiration…it looked fine) red pepper marinara sauce in the pantry, the end of a jar of bourbon and bacon BBQ sauce (about 1/4 cup), and a small can of spicy V8 juice. There wasn’t any leftover red wine (we drank it all) to add, so I also cleaned out the jars with a little water.

I decided to cook it slowly at a low temperature, covered this time. As in ‘Forever Roasted Pork Shoulder’ that meant 5 hours at 275 degrees F. While the oven was on at the low temperature, I could also roast some sweet potatoes. I ran across this method on the blog Smitten Kitchen for slow-roasted sweet potatoes. 2 1/2 hours at a low temperature, then broiled until charred on top results in a creamy skinned potato quite unlike the usual stringy-ness (although I will eat a sweet potato no matter how it’s cooked).

Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Slow-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I think they will be delicious with the pork and hey, the oven is already on.

Here are a few pictures of the final result, we had lots of leftovers for pulled pork quesadillas (no pictures) and sandwiches.

Pulled Pork with Red Sauce

Pulled Pork with Red Sauce and Slow Roasted Sweet Potatoes

April – Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

April – Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

There must be a thousand recipes out there for meatballs. This recipe is a little different. I was intrigued and inspired by an article in the NY Times for Spicy Meatballs with Chickpeas by David Tanis. I have a couple of his cookbooks and admire his simplicity. There is no bread in his meatball mix, he uses raw (yes, raw) arborio or white rice as a binder, so it’s gluten free.

The original recipe calls for ground lamb, which was not in my freezer, and North African seasonings. This is when you call on kitchen creativity and courage. I did have a pound package of bulk country sausage and one of ground turkey. It was sounding like my meatballs would be more Italian than North African.

This recipe is endlessly adaptable to whatever ground meat and flavorings you have on hand. The meatballs were juicy and delicious, the rice absorbing the flavors of the sauce and the meat.

Meatballs

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 1 ½ pounds ground meat (ground beef, pork, turkey, sausage or a combination)
  • ½ cup raw arborio rice or any white rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated or minced

FOR THE SAUCE:

  •  Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 quart of jarred Italian pasta sauce, whatever you have in your pantry or freezer
  • A couple of handfuls of chopped kale, chard or baby spinach, chopped (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan for serving
PREPARATION:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine ground meat, raw rice, salt, red pepper flakes, cumin, Italian seasoning, onion and garlic. Knead mixture well.
  2. Line with a sheet pan or roasting pan with foil for easier cleanup. Coat it lightly with olive oil. With wet hands, form mixture into 1-ounce meatballs and arrange in one layer on pan. Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, reheat your pasta sauce.
  4. Carefully add meatballs and adjust heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the kale, chard or spinach and cook until just wilted.
  6. Serve with pasta (gluten free) and sprinkle with parmesan.

Of course you could make your own tomato sauce, that would be even more delicious.

The greens are optional, I was looking for a way to add some vegetables but you could leave them out if it’s the end of the week and your produce drawer is down to the last wilted scallion.

I found an almost empty jar of Kalamata olives and tossed them in, capers would be good, anchovies anyone?

Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs

April – Aduki Beans with Bacon, Bourbon and Rice

April – Aduki Beans with Bacon, Bourbon and Rice

Shelf at my grocery store

Adzuki Beans

Does your grocery store look like this? There was not a single can of beans on the shelves except these aduki beans. It was a sight I never expected to see, I guess beans are a good pantry staple. But why wasn’t anyone hoarding aduki beans? They are delicious. I guess most folks are not familiar with them.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil:

“Adzuki beans are small, red beans that originated in China. These legumes (also called aduki or azuki beans) are most often enjoyed boiled with sugar and mashed into a sweet red bean paste that is used as a filling in many popular Asian desserts, including ice cream. The nutty flavor of adzukis is equally delicious in savory applications: Festival Rice from Japan combines adzuki with rice, which receives a pleasant pink tint from the beans.”

“Like many other beans, adzukis are a good source of magnesiumpotassium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and B vitamins. Also of note is the adzuki’s status as the “weight loss bean,” since they are so low in calories and fat, yet high in nutrition. Additionally, they are relatively easy to digest, so they should not give you gas as other beans do.”

This is a pantry dinner but still delicious. It could be either the entire meal or a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of aduki beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 strips thick, uncured, apple wood smoked bacon
  • 1 cup brown rice, rinsed (or white if that’s all you have)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups of water (depending on the type of rice)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (start with 1 tablespoon and add more to taste)
  • pinch of salt, to taste

A note on substitutions…

    • No thick sliced, uncured bacon? Use regular bacon with a few extra slices.
    • no bacon or are you vegetarian? Use any smoky vegetarian substitute.
    • no bourbon? Use brandy or a smoky scotch or sake or leave it out completely.
    • no honey? Use maple syrup or agave or a tablespoon of brown sugar.
    • and if you are missing all of those…use two or three tablespoons of BBQ sauce.

You are looking for a flavor profile, something sweet and smoky and a little sharp.

Method:

  1. Slice bacon in half, lengthwise, and then chop into small pieces. Add bacon to cold saucepan or Dutch oven and turn heat to medium. Cook bacon until fat is rendered and pieces are crisp and golden. Transfer cooked bacon to a small bowl and set aside. Drain off all but one tablespoon of grease.
  2. Add beans to pan, stir, and then add rice. Stir to coat in bacon drippings. Add bourbon, stir and cook, about a minute, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add water, bring mixture to a simmer, and cover pan, lowering heat. Cook until liquid is absorbed and beans and rice are tender, about 30-35 minutes.
  3. Fluff mixture with a fork.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of honey, reserved bacon pieces, and mix into beans and rice. Add additional honey if necessary.
  5. Add salt to taste. Serve hot or warm and enjoy!
aduki beans and rice

aduki beans and rice

 

 

  1. Aduki beans with bacon and bourbon

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