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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Filed under Dairy-free, Gluten-Free, Meat, Recipes, Soup, Vegetables

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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Filed under Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

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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Filed under Dairy-free, Dinner, Gluten-Free, Meat, Recipes