Category Archives: Meat

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

It feels like we have been gone for a long, long time.  The winter has overtaken us… beat us into submission and stolen our kitchen creativity.  Sometimes, I dream about vegetables (that aren’t roots) and days when we can pick blueberries and eat fresh tomatoes.  Plus, things have been mighty busy around the wicked whisk household.  Of course, all of these thoughts are really just excuses for not blogging lately.  There are still plenty of delicious winter cooking options out there.

Local pork chops

Local pork chops

Take this dish, a slow braise of local pork and in-season cabbage.  Braising is a wonderful winter cooking technique.   Since you are in the house for long periods of time, you don’t mind having the oven on and cooking something for hours.  Meats get so tender that they practically melt in your mouth.  Most of the cooking work is done at the beginning. And braising is very forgiving.  If something simmers for an extra 20 minutes, it’s only going to be more delicious.  It helps build in a little buffer for the spouse that leaves the office late or gets caught in traffic on the way home.

Cabbage and the flavor

Cabbage and the flavor

Pork chops and cabbage are a wonderful, soul warming pairing.  The chops are browned first to give them a nice depth of flavor.  The cabbage is cooked with wine, mustard seeds, and fennel seeds before the two components are simmered together to let their flavors mingle.  While the pork chops are resting, the cabbage is finished with some heavy cream. You will be disappointed when there are no leftovers.

Browned chops

Browned chops

Braised Pork Chops with Creamy Cabbage

Adapted from All About Braising

Ingredients:

2 thick cut pork chops, about 2 1/4 lbs total

all-purpose flour, for dredging

3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbls butter

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp yellow mustard seeds

2 medium shallots

1/2 small head green cabbage

1/2 cup dry white wine

2/3 cup water

1 tbls cider vinegar

1 small chicken bouillon cube, crushed

1/4 cup heavy cream

To Make:

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge each chop in flour, tapping to knock off the excess.  Add the extra-virgin olive oil to a large pot or Dutch oven(with a lid) that has been heated on the stove top over medium high heat.  Brown the pork chops for 4 minutes on each side.  Remove the pork chops to a plate.  Add in the butter and wait until melted.  Add in the caraway seeds and mustard seeds.  The mustard seeds will pop everywhere, be careful!  Stir frequently for about 1 minute while dodging the flying mustard seeds.  Add in the shallot and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add in the white wine and boil for a few minutes.  Add in the cabbage cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.  The cabbage should be wilted, but not completely limp.

Add the water, the bouillon cube, and the cider vinegar.  Stir until everything is combined.  Place the browned pork chops on top of the cabbage, pouring in any juices that have accumulated on the plate.  Put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat until the liquid gently simmers. Let it cook for 30 minutes, turning once, or until the pork chops are cooked through.

Remove the pork chops to either a cutting board or their final destination plates.  Cover with foil so they stay warm while they rest.  Stir in the cream and boil for about 5 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve immediately.  Serves about 4.

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Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

Split Pea soup is one of our favorites.  It is one of those soups that is completely underrated and rarely made often enough.  Sure, lots of people think split pea is kind of boring… but that is because they aren’t making it right.  The split peas may be the body of the soup but it is smoked ham hocks that are the heart and soul.  It’s the ham hock that really delivers the kind of depth of flavor that makes this soup something special.  It’s what you smell when you walk in the kitchen.  When it’s made right, it’s the chunks of smoked and slow cooked pork that are like little Christmas presents you sink your teeth into amongst the creamy split peas.

Vegetables

Vegetables

We usually make split pea soup after a meat smoking session when we have smoked up a big bone-in cut of pork.  We use the bone and left over meat to enrich the soup.  However, this time was a special occasion.  Over the summer, we had the pleasure of purchasing a whole hog.  In addition to turning 10+ pounds of pork belly into bacon, we had the opportunity to brine and smoke fresh ham hocks.  Those delicious hocks became the centerpiece of this soup.

The Hock

The Hock

Part of the appeal of split pea soup is the simplicity.  You just need a few ingredients – split peas, carrot, celery, onion – and a few hours.  As a matter of fact, most of that time is hands off while the soup is simmering.  What’s not to love?

Simmering Soup

Simmering Soup

Split Pea Soup

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 smoked ham hock (if you don’t have your own on hand, you can often purchase them in the meat section of your supermarket)

4 cups of water

1/2 pound split peas (about 1 cup)

1 carrot, diced

2 small stalks of celery, diced

small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

In a large soup pot, combine the water, ham hock, and split peas. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for about an hour.  Stir in the rest of the vegetables and the bay leaf.  Simmer, covered, until the ham hock and peas are tender, about another hour (if your liquid doesn’t cover the ham hock, turn it occasionally).

Once the hock is tender, remove it from the pot, remove the skin and bone and discard.  Coarsely chop the meat and return it to the pot.  Continue to simmer the soup until the desired consistency is reached.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

To Serve:

Remove and discard the bay leaf before serving.  Serve hot with hot sauce and a side of crusty bread, as desired.  Serves 4-6 as a hearty soup course.

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Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Corn Pesto

Can I share a fear with you?  I am afraid that corn and tomato season is almost over.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fall with its cool weather, pretty displays of nature, and pumpkins.  But corn and tomato season sends my heart aflutter and makes me do things like eat tomatoes at every meal and make enough corn and black bean salsa to fill a 5-gallon bucket.

Corn off the cob

Corn off the cob

So while there is still corn left, please make this pesto.  It is a revelation, and I don’t use that word lightly.  Gently cooked corn is pureed and mixed with pine nuts, parmesan, and topped with chopped bacon and basil.  It is so thick and creamy that I contemplated eating it with a spoon like pudding (okay, maybe I actually did that).  The corn is super sweet, the bacon and cheese are salty, and tomatoes add just enough acid to balance the whole dish.

Bacon and tomatoes

Bacon and tomatoes

While we served this over pasta as the recipe suggested, it would also be excellent spread on crusty bread, or eaten with a spoon for breakfast.  Seriously, it is that good.

Smooth and creamy

Smooth and creamy

Corn Pesto

Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped

4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)

1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces spaghetti

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or quarters if very large)

To Make:

Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, stirring often. Transfer to paper towels to drain and roughly chop.  Pour off all but 1 tbls bacon drippings from skillet.  Add corn, garlic, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Sauté over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups corn kernels in small bowl and put the remaining corn mixture into a food processor or blender.  Add grated Parmesan and pine nuts and pulse to combine.  Add olive oil through feed tube in a thin stream with machine running and blend until pesto is almost smooth, set aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.  Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and the basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency.  This definitely made a very thick pesto that needed some thinning.  Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the bacon.  Divide the cherry tomatoes among each serving.

To Serve:

Serve hot, with additional grated Parmesan as desired.  Serves 6 as a main course.

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Carnitas (a.k.a Mexican Pulled Pork)

Carnitas (a.k.a. Mexican Pulled Pork)

Carnitas (a.k.a. Mexican Pulled Pork)

It has been a great summer for vegetables.  Our farm share has produced a tremendous amount of delicious fruit and vegetables that we have been eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day (okay, maybe for breakfast only 2-3 days a week).  That is why so many of our summer recipes have been veggie-focused.  We want to make sure everyone knows what to do with all the great produce.  Once in a while though, you just want some meat.  Sure, you can have a side of veggies, or maybe use them as a garnish… but sometimes, even in the summer, meat has to take center stage.

Working on the pork butt

Working on the pork butt

This is definitely that kind of dish.  Ever since my friend Chrissy passed me this recipe more than a year ago, it has been hovering at the back of my mind whispering things like “Kelly, make me” and “I am both crispy and meltingly delicious, you won’t be able to resist.”  We recently had the chance to purchase a whole pig from this great farmer and with a beautiful pork shoulder in our possession, I knew those whispers couldn’t be ignored any longer.

How the sauce should look once it is reduced

The sauce is ready

Of course, as soon as I had my first bite, I wondered why the heck I had waited so long.  The pork, which is braised and then broiled, is fall-apart tender with crisp edges.  The braising liquid is reduced to make a flavorful glaze that gives the pork a rich taste with overtones of orange and cumin.  This is not a complicated recipe, but it does take some time.  Now that the weather is cooling off a bit in the Northeast, it is the perfect time to take on a recipe like this.  Make it for Sunday dinner and enjoy with the lovely late summer tomatoes and corn.

Spread with sauce and ready for the broiler

Spread with sauce and ready for the broiler

Carnitas

Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients:

1 3.5 – 4 lb boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/8″ thick, cut into 2″ chunks

1 tsp ground cumin

1 small onion, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbls freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 lime)

2 cups water

1 medium orange, halved

To Make:

Position oven racks to lower middle slot and preheat to 300F.  In a large Dutch Oven (make sure it is stove top and oven safe), combine pork, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, salt and pepper to taste, and water.  The liquid should just barely cover the meat.  Juice the orange into a bowl, discarding the seeds, add to the Dutch Oven along with the orange halves.

Bring the Dutch Oven to a simmer on the stove top over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Once the whole thing is simmering, cover the pot and toss it into the oven.  Cook until the meat is tender enough to fall apart when pierced by a fork (about 2 hours).

When the meat is ready, remove the pot from the oven and set your oven to broil.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat to a bowl, discard the orange halves, bay leaves and onions.  Put the pot over high heat (remember, it was in the oven for two hours so use pot holders).  Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and reduce until it becomes thick and syrupy, stirring frequently.  A wooden spoon or heat proof spatula should leave a trail when it is dragged through the simmering liquid.  It should take 8-12 minutes and leave you with about 1 cup of goodness.

Meanwhile, shred the pork by sticking the middle with two forks and pulling each piece apart.  Fold the reduced liquid into the pulled pork.  Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet.  Place the pork on the wire rack in one layer.  Keeping the oven rack in the same lower middle position, slide in the pork into the oven.  Broil until the tops are well browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Take it out, turn the pork pieces over (think big pancake spatula), put it back in for another 5 to 8 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve warm, in burritos, as tacos, on a plate, etc. with garnishes such as salsa, lime wedges, sour cream, guacamole, fresh cilantro, corn and black bean salad.  Use your imagination.  Serves 4-6 as a main course.

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Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

 

Breakfast pizza recipes can be found all over the internet.  They have a sort of siren song.  There is something about taking one of our favorite foods, pizza, and making it a breakfast food that feels fun and just a little rebellious.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they are completely delicious.  Cheese, bacon or sausage, and a chewy crust, all topped with an egg that is baked until it is just set… sounds like breakfast nirvana to me. 

Mmm, butter

 

You can imagine how intrigued we were when we came across a breakfast pizza recipe with a bit of a twist.  Instead of using a traditional pizza dough as the base, this recipe called for a biscuit dough to serve as the crust.  I have to admit, I was a little skeptical.  I was afraid that the biscuit would be too heavy or that the top of the pizza would be cooked before the biscuit crust was properly browned and crisp. 

Waiting crusts

 

Thankfully, Marc was not afraid and convinced me to try it.  Not only were my fears about the biscuit crust unfounded, it was actually one of the most delicious breakfast pizzas I have ever had.  The crust was superb.  Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside.  The flavor of the biscuit complemented the cheese, sausage, and of course, the egg.  I encourage you to put aside your skepticism and make these pizzas for breakfast this weekend.  You will be very glad you did. 

Who's hungry?

 

Breakfast Pizza 

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook 

Ingredients: 

For the crust 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

2 tsp baking powder 

1 tsp salt 

1 stick (8 tbls) cold butter, cut into small pieces 

1/2 cup plus 2 tbls milk 

For the toppings 

1 tbls butter 

1 medium onion, sliced into half moons 

1/2 pound bulk sausage, bacon, or ham 

1 to 1 1/2 cups finely grated cheese (a blend of cheddar and monterey or colby jack works nicely but feel free to use whatever you have on hand) 

4 large eggs 

To Make: 

Put your oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Preheat to 450 degrees.  Butter two baking sheets. 

Cook your sausage or bacon until cooked through.  If using bacon, coarsely chop into small pieces.  Set aside. 

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Blend in the butter with your fingers or with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the milk and stir just until the mixture forms a dough.  Gather the dough into a ball and gently knead it six times on a lightly floured baking sheet.  Divide the dough into 4 equal portions.  Pat each portion into a round that is between 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Using your fingers, create a rim around the edge of each crust.  

Top each crust with onion, meat, and cheese.  Make a little well in the cheese and carefully crack an egg into the middle of each pizza. 

Bake pizzas, switching positions of the sheets half way through, until the yolks are almost set, about 12-15 minutes.  If you want firmer yolks, feel free to add another minute or two to the cooking time. 

To Serve: 

Sprinkle the egg with salt and pepper and serve immediately.  Your family will thank you.  Serves 4.

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Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk (Kuku Wa Nazi)

Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk

Things have been pretty busy over here at chez Wicked (awesome) Whisk.  Consequently we have been falling back on our standard repertoire of grilled or roasted meats served alongside rice / quinoa and a vegetable.  This does not exactly make for exciting blog fare.  Lately, the monotony has been getting us down and we are working on reinvigorating our meals, starting with this dish.

Chicken, spices, and coconut milk

According to Saveur, this recipe comes from a home cook in Mombasa and includes an ingredient that I feel is widely underutilized in American cooking, coconut milk.  Coconut milk is one of those inexpensive ingredients that when used, makes you feel like you are suddenly cooking in any number of exotic locales.  It is wonderfully fragrant and has a light taste that pairs beautifully with chiles and any number of fun spices like turmeric, curry, etc.  It adds the richness of cream to a dish but without the cooking challenges associated with cream.  We always keep a can in our pantry and often use it when we make curries.  When I came across this recipe, I knew it was one that I had to try.

The flavor base

You can adjust the heat of this dish by cooking the chiles whole (very little heat), or throwing in the seeds and membranes with the rest of the chile (lots of heat).  The turmeric is a must, it gives the dish an earthy flavor and a crazy-awesome bright yellow color.  The total time to make this dish is about 45 minutes but the active time is pretty short.  Once you pop the chicken in, go ahead and play with the kids.  It only needs occasional attention until it is done.

Crazy-awesome yellow color

Chicken Stewed in Coconut Milk (Kuku Wa Nazi)

Adapted from Saveur

Ingredients:

2 tbls cooking oil

3/4 tsp group turmeric

2 cloves garlic minced

2 green or red Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced (or left whole if you want very mild spice)

1 medium ripe tomato, cored and minced

1 small red onion, minced

2 chicken leg quarters (2 leg and thigh sections), skinned

2 tbls fresh lime juice

1 14 oz can coconut milk

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cilantro and chopped peanuts for garnish

To Make:

Heat oil in a large, deep pan (a cast iron skillet works nicely) or pot over medium-high heat.  Add turmeric, garlic, chiles, tomato, and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Add chicken, lime juice, and coconut milk to the pan.  Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer, turning chicken occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 30 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve chicken and sauce over rice.  Garnish with lots of chopped cilantro and peanuts.  Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.  Recipe can easily be doubled.

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Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Do you know what you are making for dinner tonight?  Is your menu written out on your big wall calendar so you know what you are making for every night of the week?  Perhaps you aren’t as nutty as we are about menu planning, but that’s okay.  You can still have an amazingly delicious dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes if you make this pork recipe.

Gathering the ingredients

This recipe is great for many reasons.  1) most people have the ingredients on hand, 2) it uses pork cutlets which are super thin, thaw quickly (if you forgot to take them out of the freezer the day before), and cook quickly, 3) the pan sauce takes less than 5 minutes to make but tastes so good that you will want to pour it on everything in sight.  The sauce is tart and tangy with the citrus juices, the honey adds a hint of sweetness to round it out, and the garlic and olive oil keep the whole thing from being too syrupy-tasting.

Cooking the pork

If you find yourself with boneless pork chops instead of cutlets, you can still make this work.  Simply cut the chops in half cross-wise and pound them to 1/4 inch thick between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap.  This is an excellent way to let out the day’s frustrations.  Serve with rice and black beans and some greens and you have yourself a meal in no time flat.

Scrumptious pan sauce

Cumin-Dusted Pork Cutlets with Citrus Pan Sauce

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Ingredients:

2 tbls all-purpose flour

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

3-4 pork cutlets (about 12 ounces total)

3 tbls olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

3 tbls fresh lemon juice

1 tbls honey

To Make:

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Combine flour, cumin, salt and pepper on a plate and mix well.  Coat each pork cutlet in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.  Add the pork to the skillet and cook through, turning once, about six minutes.  Transfer the pork to serving plates and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the last 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the skillet.  Add the garlic and cook until just golden (about 30 seconds), stirring often.  Add the orange juice and the lemon juice.  Bring the juices to a boil, whisking often until reduced and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in honey.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the sauce over the pork.

To Serve:

Serve warm with whatever sides strike your fancy.  If you put rice on before starting the pork, everything can be done at the same time.  I recommend doubling the sauce recipe.  The amount outlined above makes just enough to lightly cover the pork.  The sauce is so darn good that we find ourselves licking our plates to get every last drop… well, maybe that’s just me.  In any case, consider making extra to drizzle over rice or vegetables.  Serves 2-3.

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