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Bacon Jam “Mexican Pizza”

23 Oct

As promised, bacon jam is good in everything.  But it is especially good in this.  This spin off of Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza takes the concept to a whole new level.  The sweet and savory bacon-y goodness of the bacon jam works well with the smokey heat of the chipotle, the oozing, creamy cheddar and mozzarella cheese, the brine-y olives, and the bright and fresh tomatoes.  The hardest part of this whole recipe was flipping tortillas, but the flavors are bold, bright, and beyond delicious.

If you are going to reheat this dish, do so in the oven or a toaster over, because it remains delicious in a goop-y mess but part of the appeal here is the crispy tortilla shells book ending the soft but textured jam and cheesy topping.

Bacon Jam “Mexican Pizza”

1/2  cup bacon jam

2 tortillas

1 tbs. canola oil

1 chipotle in adobo, minced, plus 2-3 tbs. adobo sauce

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup sliced black olives

1 small tomato, diced

Preheat oven to 400º.

On a large griddle or in a cast iron pan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add tortillas and cook, flipping frequently, until crispy and golden brown.

Place tortilla on a tinfoil lined baking sheet.  Place bacon jam on the tortilla and, using the back of a spoon, spread into an even layer, leaving about 1/2″ on the edges uncovered.  Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the cheese over the bacon jam.

Add the second tortilla on top.  Spoon the chipotle with adobo sauce in a smooth layer, leaving about 1/2″ on the edge uncovered.  Top with remaining cheese and olives.

Transfer to oven.  Bake about 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly and center is heated through.  Top with tomato.  Cut into quarters and serve immediately.

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Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Bacon Jam

21 Oct

Yup.  Bacon jam.  A combination of sweet and savory porky deliciousness.  The combination of ingredients works together very well.  Smoky, porky bacon, sweet caramelized onions highlighted by brown sugar and maple syrup, slightly bitter coffee, and tangy-sweet apple cider vinegar play together to create something special.

The uses for this are endless.  On a fried egg sandwich, an English muffin, a crumpet, a piece of toast … you name it.  It’s also really easy – basically a set it and forget it recipe.  Don’t worry if the onions begin to look burnt to a crisp.  It’s just the coffee darkening things up (and making things extra super tasty).  You can make this any consistency you want.  I didn’t use an immersion blender at the end, and I like the relatively large pieces of bacon, but it’s a personal choice.

Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Bacon Jam

Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 lb. hickory smoked bacon, roughly chopped

2 medium red onions, thickly sliced

Freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup brewed coffee

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Add bacon into the slow cooker.  Cook on high for one hour.  Drain off all the fat.  Add onions and cook another hour on high.  Add remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat to low and cook another 6-8 hours, stirring every couple of hours.

If desired, use an immersion blender or food processor  to chop to desired consistency.  If necessary, drain off most of remaining fat first.

Store in refrigerator.  Use within a week.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

8 Oct

I was reading a thread on Serious Eats about how the poster was feeling uninspired in the kitchen since going vegetarian.  In many ways, I sympathize.  All the more so because I’m not vegetarian (or pescatarian, as the case is in our household) but economics and convenience tend to force my hand into cooking that way most of the time.  And most of the time, I truly don’t mind.  I eat meat when we eat out (it might contribute to my beef tartar obsession at The Greenhouse Tavern when my dad generously treats me to lunch there every couple of weeks¹), or cook a small serving for myself while Zak fends for himself (duck wings are popular for that).

But sometimes, I just can’t think of anything interesting.  What we end up with might be good, but it’s a good variation on what we’ve made a thousand times, or not-quite-good-enough to share.  That lethargy is compounded once I head back to school and don’t get out of class until late, so dinner either has to be quick or pre-made (or made by my awesome husband, who does his fair share of the cooking).

This, though … this is interesting.  This started with the idea of a simple sweet potato taco, evolved into a sweet potato and black bean taco or burrito, and then in a stroke of madness (genius) morphed into this dish – a cheesy, spicy, sweet, and creamy sweet potato and black bean enchilada.  The enchilada sauce is made from charred green peppers and jalapeños which in one fell swoop uses up my copious green peppers and adds a hint of bitterness and an big punch of spice that tempers the sweetness of the honey-glazed sweet potatoes.  The flavors work really well together, with the sweetness of the potatoes balanced out perfectly with the heat of the pepper sauce, jalapeños, and creamy cheddar and beans.

This was really good both with and without the bacon.  It added a salty, meaty bite but was totally not necessary to the overall effect of the enchilada – in fact, I added it as an afterthought.  I mean, let’s face it, bacon makes almost anything better and this was no exception.  At the same time, it was truly amazing how complex and interesting the flavors were without it.  This really reminded me how fun, interesting, and inspirational vegetarian cooking really can be.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas:

4 medium flour tortillas

3-4 slices bacon, optional

3 medium sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2″ cubes (no need to peel unless you don’t like peels) (yield: 2 cups)

2 tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbs. water

1/4 cup honey

1/2 tsp. Arizona Gunslinger jalapeño pepper sauce (or other hot sauce of choice)

1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350°.

If using, cook bacon for 5-7 minutes in a microwave on paper towels until crispy.  Cool, and roughly chop. Set aside.

Toss sweet potato cubes with olive oil and season with ancho chile powder, salt, and pepper.  Spread on a tinfoil lined baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes until easily pierced with a fork but not falling apart.  Remove from oven and set aside.

In a medium sauté pan, add water and heat over medium-low heat until steam begins to rise.  Drizzle in honey, whisking continuously.  Once smooth and incorporated, add pepper sauce.  Add sweet potatoes and toss to coat.

Cook, raising heat to medium-high and stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until a sticky glaze forms on the sweet potatoes.  Add beans and 1/2 cup of cheese and stir to combine.  If using, add bacon.

[Note:  I added bacon to 2 of the enchiladas, so I could have some porky goodness but the rest remained vegetarian.]

Spray a 9″ x 13″ casserole with nonstick cooking spray.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of green pepper enchilada sauce (see below) on the bottom of the pan.

Take a flour tortilla and, using a pair of tongs, dip it in the green pepper enchilada sauce on both sides to lightly coat.  Place in the casserole dish.  Add about 1/2 cup filling to the center.  Carefully roll into a tube shape, careful not to burn yourself.  Position so the seam side is down.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.  Pour any remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Cover with tinfoil.

Transfer to oven.  Bake 25-30 minutes, removing tinfoil for last ten minutes, until cheese is bubbling and golden brown.  Serve immediately.

Green Pepper Enchilada Sauce:

2 green bell peppers

2 jalapeños

2 tbs. olive oil

2 tbs. canola oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup water

1 tsp. ancho chile powder

Preheat broiler.

Coat peppers in olive oil and place under the broiler and broil 3-4 minutes per side, turning frequently, until outside is blistered and flesh is tender, for a total of about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a ziplock bag.  Let cool.  When cool, remove charred outer skins from the peppers and discard.  Remove stems, seeds, and inner membranes.  Dice flesh.

Heat canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until translucent, 5-7 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Add diced pepper flesh and stir to combine.

Add water, ancho chile powder, salt, and pepper.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes to incorporate flavors.

Using an immersion blender or transferring to a blender, puree until smooth.  Set aside.

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Miso-Sriracha BBQ Pulled Pork and Kimchi Sandwich

17 Mar

I have a whole mess of leftover ingredients from making soondubu jjigae a bit back that inspired the “barbecue sauce” for this pulled pork sandwich.  The pork is tender and juicy.  The miso-sriracha bbq sauce is salty and savory from the miso paste and soy, sweet from the brown sugar, and spicy from the sriracha.  Paired with the spicy and pungent fermented kimchi, this made for a sandwich that was an absolute explosion of flavor.

I had another sandwich for lunch sans-kimchi and served instead with some thinly sliced cucumbers and plain Greek yogurt and that was also really good.  Ditto to the pork reheated and used to top some polenta (one day I used creamy and cheesy polenta the next day, pan-friend, crispy polenta).  This is the perfect slow cooker meal, because you can make it one evening for dinner (in my case, on a Monday) and you’re set for lunch for the rest of the week.  The recipe below makes enough of everything for about half a dozen sandwiches, depending on how overstuffed you like things.

Miso-Sriracha BBQ Pulled Pork and Kimchi Sandwich

Miso-Sriracha BBQ Pork:

1 lb. pork shoulder or butt

1/2 recipe miso-sriracha bbq sauce (see below)

3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

3 1″ pieces of ginger, peeled and smashed

1 cup water

Add pork to slow cooker.  Pour miso-sriracha bbq sauce (see below) and water over pork.  Add garlic and ginger.  Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours.  If possible, occasionally (every 3 hours or so) remove cover and shred meat with fork.  Most of the miso-sriracha cooking liquid should be evaporated and/or absorbed by the pork.  Shred pork with forks completely and follow “Sandwich” instructions (see below).

Miso-Sriracha BBQ Sauce:

5 tbs. brown sugar

4 tbs. sriracha

3 tbs. white miso paste

1 tbs. soy sauce

2 tbs. sesame oil

2 tbs. rice wine vinegar

Whisk together all ingredients.

Sandwich:

4-6 buns

Miso-sriracha BBQ pork (see above)

1/2 miso-sriracha bbq sauce (see above)

1 1/2 cups kimchi, roughly chopped

2 tbs. sesame seeds

Mix together miso-sriracha bbq pork with remaining mio-sriracha bbq sauce.  Add sesame seeds and stir to combine.  If desired, toast hamburger buns in a broiler for 1-2 minutes or in a preheated cast iron pan.  Add desired amount of pork to the bottom bun.  Top with a few tbs. of kimchi.  Add top bun and serve immediately.

Apple Butter Glazed Meatloaf

9 Oct

Even though the weather warmed up significantly this weekend, the cold, dreary rain of the past week had me in the mode of craving comfort food.  Meatloaf is the epitome of simple, easy, down-home comfort food, so I put it on my list immediately.  The version below puts an oh-so-slight twist on a classic by using apple butter as the glaze rather than ketchup.  Mixed with a bit of balsamic, it has a perfect balance of sweetness and tang.  It also creates a gorgeous caramelized crust on the top that creates and nice variation in texture from the moist meatloaf.  I added some very finely chopped mushrooms to add to the umami, but otherwise stuck very closely to a classic recipe.

This is also great for a busy weeknight meal because it is mostly make ahead.  I formed the meatloaf in advance, popped in the fridge, and then simply brought up back to room temperature while the oven preheated and baked it off.

Apple Butter Glazed Meatloaf

1.36 lbs. meatloaf mix (ground beef, veal, and pork)

1 tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, very finely chopped

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce

3 tbs. ketchup

1/4 cup homemade beef stock

1 cup challah bread, crusts removed and cubed

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup slow cooker apple butter

1 tbs. balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 325º.

In a small bowl, combine cubed bread and milk.  Set aside.

In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and season with salt and pepper.  Stirring occasionally, cook 8-10 minutes, until tender and translucent.  Add mushrooms, season with dried thyme, and cook another 8-10 minutes until lightly browned and juices have released.  Remove from heat.

Add Worcestershire, ketchup, and beef stock.  Allow to cool slightly.

While cooling, take bread cubes and squeeze out excess moisture.  Tear into small pieces.  Discard milk.

In a large bowl, combine meatloaf mix, onion and mushroom mixture, soaked bread, and eggs.  Gently combine with your hands, being sure not to over mix.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper.  On the parchment lined baking sheet, form meat mixture into a rectangular loaf shape.

Whisk together apple butter and balsamic vinegar.  Spread evenly over the top of the meatloaf.

Fill a small casserole dish with water and place on the bottom rack of your oven.  Transfer the meatloaf to a middle rack of the oven.

Bake for about an hour, or until internal temperature is 160º.

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