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Posts Tagged ‘pork’

Obviously I have been on an Asian adventure what with egg rolls and dumplings and dipping sauces.  There’s been a lot of stir-frying, also, but since I mostly just throw whatever is on hand into the wok, I can’t really share those recipes.  You can make these dumplings with chicken, turkey, beef, or vegetables, alone.  Finely chopped kale and/or other greens make terrific dumplings.  You will need a bamboo steamer or a saucepan with a steamer basket to make these.

½ pound minced lean pork
½ cup finely diced water chestnuts
3 tablespoons finely diced bell pepper, either red, orange, or yellow or a mix of
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 large egg whites, separated
1 teaspoon sherry wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 package wonton wrappers
A few large iceberg or romaine lettuce leaves

Ginger Dipping Sauce:  Combine 1 cup rice wine vinegar with 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 1 teaspoon lime juice, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.  Add ¼ cup finely diced hot house cucumber, 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves, 1 teaspoon grated ginger root and however much finely diced hot chile you like.

Combine the pork, water chestnuts, bell pepper, cilantro, and shallots in a medium mixing bowl, stirring to blend completely.
Heat the canola oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.  Add the pork mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or just until the pork is almost cooked.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Combine the 1 of the egg whites with the sherry, sesame oil, and soy sauce.  When blended, add to the cooled chicken mixture, stirring to combine completely.
Using a biscuit cutter, cut the wonton wrappers into 3-inch circles.  As cut, stack and cover with a damp kitchen towel to keep them from drying out.
Place the remaining egg white in a small bowl.  Add 1 tablespoon of cold water and, using a whisk, beat until slightly frothy.  Set aside.
Working with one wrapper at a time, place it on a clean, dry work surface.  Place a teaspoon or so of the pork mixture in the center.  Using your fingertip, rub a bit of the egg white wash around the edges of the wrapper.  Then, fold one half over the filling and, using your fingertips, pleat the edge of the dumpling around the filling.  Set aside as you continue to make dumplings.  Don’t let the finished dumplings sit around too long or they will get too wet and won’t hold together.  I make a few and cook them up quickly so we can nosh as I continue to make more dumplings.
Fill a saucepan large enough to hold a bamboo steamer or a steamer basket with about 2-inches of water.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
Line the bamboo steamer or steamer basket with lettuce leaves and add dumplings, as many as can fit into the basket without touching.  Place over the simmering water, cover, and steam for about 6 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through.
Lift the dumplings from the steamer and continue making dumplings.  The lettuce will have to be replaced after a couple of steams.
Serve hot with dipping sauce.

 

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©stephen kolyer_pork

 

My only real bargain buying is a whole pork loin.  Whenever I can, I will purchase the whole piece on sale and then break it down for many, many future meals.  Steve loves to photograph me as I twist and turn and pull and slice removing all of the fat and trimming it down to manageable pieces.  I usually end up with a couple of small roasts for company dinners (which, after spending all this time removing the outer layer of fat, I always recover in some kind of fatty meat like bacon), a good number of skinless, boneless, fatless cutlets (just so you know I’m promoting a healthy life style), and lots of trimmings which make a great addition to fried rice, light-on-the-protein stir-fries, or ground for sausage making.  I never pay more than about $13- so you see this really becomes a big bargain in the protein world.

 

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Thai tofu Curry_9926

 

The good thing about making stew-like dishes is once you have the flavor-profile in your head, you can proceed without a recipe in hand.  Or at least I think you can.  The other day I was making lunch for my best buddies at Loupe Digital – Michael wanted tofu, but the rest of the crew was in no mood for it and wanted something a little meatier.  Everyone wanted spicy, though.  I decided to make a stew-like base that I could add the different proteins to so I could satisfy all of my friend’s appetites.
The base was vegetable stock, Thai yellow curry paste, tomato puree, lots of coconut milk, tamarind paste, onion, garlic, chiles, cilantro, shredded coconut…..I think that was it but I might have forgotten an ingredient or two as I was tasting and adding as I went.  Once the base was simmering I threw in some diced red bell pepper and eggplant.  When it had all cooked together to a nice stewy mix, I stir-fried some cubes of tofu for Michael and thin slices of pork tenderloin for the rest of the crew.  Divided the base and mixed some with the tofu and the rest with the pork.  Made a big batch of orange-flavored rice to soak up the gravy for everyone.  It seemed to do the trick as gratitude filled my email box.  It’s such fun to cook for friends!

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porkchops_7666

 

The other night we were feeling in the mood for a steak house dinner – something we don’t have very often – but when I visited the butcher shop I just didn’t see a steak that fit my bill of fare.  Everything was either too big or way too expensive.  But, the thick, center-cut pork chops looked great and would work just as well on the stove top grill.   And if I honored them well, they would be just as satisfying as a juicy steak.
What exactly does it mean to honor a pork chop?  Well, if you just pop pork chops on the grill they will usually be dry and stringy – unless you’re cooking heritage pork which is generally well-marbled and extremely flavorful – and just not very good.  But, if you brine them (check out my roast chicken for brining hints) you can usually reverse this.  So, I when I got home I immediately placed the chops in a brine for about an hour.  Once nicely brined, I patted them dry and seasoned them well with salt and pepper.  Placed them in a very hot stove top grill pan (mine is so well-worn that I’m thinking I have to get a new one – if you don’t own one, get one, it will become your most-used pan) and seared one side for about 3 minutes and then turned the chops to mark and sear the other for about the same amount of time.  Then, on somewhat lower heat and I continued to grill, turning a couple of times, for about another 12 minutes or until the meat was just barely cooked through.  I took them off the stove and let them rest for about 5 minutes.  I often serve pork chops with a fresh, lively chimmchurri (you’ll find a recipe in my post of September 15, 2010) or my mom’s pepper relish (you’ll find it in posts also but it can’t be made quite as quickly as the chimmchurri).  On this night we had a great pan of hash browns and some sautéed chard.  Not exactly steak house, but still mighty tasty.
About brining pork:  You can use a simple brine as I do for chicken OR you can make up a mix of beer, or cider, or cider vinegar and brown sugar with some chile flakes, citrus zest, and any herbs that suit you.  The latter brine infuses the pork with additional flavor which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since today’s pork is so lean and mild in flavor.

 

porchops

porkchop_7692

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brussel sprouts_3146

 

Here I go again – When I was little you only saw Brussels sprouts for a very short period in the fall – just through Thanksgiving.  I loved them then and I love them now.  The difference being that then they were cooked to near sogginess and now we eat them raw, roasted, grilled, steamed, pulled apart, sliced, halved, or whole.  It’s a whole new Brussels sprouts ball game!
Here is one of my favorite methods for cooking them.  A little tedious to prepare, but quick to finish.  First, pull the leaves from a couple of good handfuls of Brussels sprouts.  This will take a little time, but you can do it while having an aperitif.    Then fry up about 1/3 of a pound of diced slab bacon, pancetta, guanciale, or any other smoky pork product.  When crispy, toss in the leaves and, using tongs, toss and turn until just slightly wilted.  Add a good dose of cracked black pepper and the zest of 1 orange.  Sprinkle with a bit of moscato vinegar and serve as a side dish with grilled chops or toss the whole mess with some pasta.  If you didn’t like Brussels sprouts before, you will now.

brussel sprouts_2543

 

brussels sprouts_5723

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We’re big fans of pork, but commercially available pork – that is pork found om  supermarkets and most butchershops – is so lean that its flavor is almost nonexistant and it can be very tough when grilled or roasted.  So, we brine it before we cook it – whether on the grill, in braises, or in the oven – to add a subtle hint of herby saltiness and to tenderize.  I generally do about ½ cup each of salt and sugar along with whatever herbs compliment the finished dish – or if I am just roasting or grilling, whatever herbs I have on hand in addition to a bay leaf or two.  Here are some photos of a bone-in pork roast that you see being brined and then ready to be roasted coated with olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper, herbs tucked in between the bones, and wrapped in the last garlic scapes of the season.  By the time the roast was ready the scapes had disintegrated but left a definite sweet garlic flavor to the meat.

(If you aren’t familiar with garlic scapes they are simply “flower stalks” of hardneck garlic plants.  Scapes are generally cut off of the growing plant early in the season as they pull energy from the developing bulb.   Until recently, the scapes went into the garbage heap or the compost, even though they are delicious and quite edible.  Both farmer and consumer awareness has brought them to the market – although usually only to farmers markets or roadside stands).

 

 

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We’ve all had those moments when we look in the fridge and just know that something’s gotta give – things in plastic containers, plastic baggies, plastic film, and even some things just as they’ve come from the market.  Saturday night was one of those moments for me.  What to do with a bit of chicken stock, a piece of ginger, couple of carrots, half an onion, 2 stalks of broccoli, a couple of pieces of pork filet – not to mention the various jars of “stuff” lining the shelves.  Among those jars I found black bean sauce, hoisin sauce, mushroom soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce (there were others that said Italian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern, too) and together they said “take out Chinese food.”  Checked to make sure I had some long grain rice – there was just a cup, so I was ready to wok it.  I’ll try to give you the gist of what I did and then you, too, can make a clean out your fridge Chinese dinner – not a feast exactly, but a pretty decent meal.

First I cut the veggies, added a couple of cloves of garlic, and grated the ginger.  Measured out some of the black bean sauce and chili garlic sauce.  Then, cut the pork into little pieces and tossed it in cornstarch.  Combined the black bean and chili-garlic sauces and added a good dose of mushroom soy sauce to the bowl.

I put the rice on to cook – it only takes about 20 minutes at most.

Then, I put a tablespoon of corn oil in a large frying pan – I did forget that my wok is in the country – and put it over high heat.  When it was very hot, I added the pork in batches and fried it until golden and crisp.  Took just a couple of minutes.  Drained it on some paper towel.

Poured off most of the oil and added the veggies, garlic, and ginger to the pan, tossing and turning to get them heated through.  Added about ½ cup of chicken stock along with the black bean sauce mixture and when everything was mixed and a little juicy, I tossed the pork back into the pan and gave the whole mess a couple of whirls.

Presto – dinner was ready just as the rice was perfection.  It made so much that we had leftovers for Sunday lunch.

 

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