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Pork Chops w/ Pineapple Salsa

6 Feb

I have an unabashed love of pork and make some mean bacon and tenderloin recipes. (Have a look around the site – you’re bound to find a few!) What I hadn’t attempted yet, however, was Homer Simpson’s favourite: pork chops. Love ’em, but never make ’em. So off to the interwebs I went and found some inspiration! You’re best to let these marinate for a couple of hours beforehand so that the flavours really soak into the meat, but no more than three hours. Any longer than that and the proteins will start to break down which means you’ll end up with mushy chops…and no one wants that.  As with all meat, let it come to room temperature before you cook it.

I also happened to have a pineapple kicking around that needed to be eaten, so I did up a quick pineapple salsa that I’ve also used with my go-to salmon dish and tossed in some tomatoes that we had in the fridge.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

2 pork chops, bone-in, centre cut
1  lime (juice & zest)
1/2 jalapeno, diced
1 tb honey
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 pineapple, diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt & black pepper
1 lime, juiced
1 handful cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 tb olive oil

Directions

1. Combine the  lime juice, zest, jalapeno, honey, garlic and 1/3 c olive oil in a resealable bag or container. Add in the pork chops and marinate in the fridge for roughly 3 hours, if possible.
2. When ready, heat a heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron is best, but use what you have) with a little bit of canola oil. Let the pan get nice and hot: you want a nice sear on the meat.
3. Remove the pork chops from the marinade and shake any excess off. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Carefully place the chops in the pan, cooking one minute per side. Lower heat and cover, cooking 5 more minutes per side.
5. Meanwhile, combine the pineapple, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, tomatoes and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Let the pork rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes to allow the juices to be re-absorbed back into the meat. Then plate and top with the salsa.

One Pot Meal: Couscous with Sausage & Green Beans

31 Jan

You’ve just come home, you’ve had a long day at work, you’re starving and you don’t feel like putting in a ton of effort for dinner. What do you need? A one pot meal. Ready in 20 minutes, this dish has your grain, meat and veg all in one and it’s even healthy! It would be great with any kind of sausage: sweet, spicy, mild…whatever ya like!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chile, diced
2 sausages, cut into rounds/bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 c canned tomatoes (keep the liquid)
2-3 c chicken stock
6 oz green beans
1 1/4 c couscous
1 c  cilantro, chopped
2 lemon wedges

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large pan at medium heat and add onion, garlic and sausage. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 2 – 3 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, 2 1/2 c stock and beans. Cover, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Add the couscous and cook for 10 minutes. (Add more stock if necessary.)
4. Garnish with cilantro and lemon wedges.

NYT Project: Stir-Fried Beef

9 Jan

Stir-fried dishes are a great way to use up lots of ingredients in your fridge and are incredibly adaptable. You can pretty much throw any conceivable ingredient into your pan and make something tasty. So while they are not new to me, I have a bad habit of not getting my pan really, really hot to cook the meat. There’s something intimidating about cranking the dial on the stove to the highest setting, letting the oil get literally smoking hot and then tossing in my chosen ingredients for the day.  I think my fear is founded: I don’t want to burn anything, including myself.  Having said that, I know the major difference between restaurant food and home-cooked is heat (and butter).

So nuts to this, I thought, I’m going to do it the way I am supposed to do it! I am going to crank the heat up on this sucker and get a good sear on my flank steak! And I am going to wear long sleeves just in case. In the end, it was initially nerve-wracking but when I saw the beautiful crust on the steak, I was emboldened. Yes, it spattered a bit but I lived to tell the tale and the meat came out perfectly: nice crunch on the outside, just past rare on the inside.

Note:  this recipe is not exactly as it shown in the NYT Cookbook. I adapted it to suit my tastes and to become a full meal by adding rice noodles and peppers. I also found their original recipe for the sauce too salty, so I added some sugar. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t want it.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lb flank or skirt steak, cubed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tb  sugar
1 ts salt
1/4 ts pepper
1 tb canola oil
4 tb corn or canola oil
3/4 c rice wine vinegar
3/4 c dry white wine
2 tb soy sauce
1 tb fish sauce
2 tb sugar
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 sweet pepper, thinly sliced
1 1/2 scallions, sliced lengthwise
1 tb butter
1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions

1. Toss the beef in a bowl with the salt, sugar, garlic and 1 tb canola oil. Marinate in the fridge for two hours.
2. Meanwhile, combine the rice wine vinegar, white wine, soy,  fish sauce and sugar. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.
3.  When you’re ready, divide the meat into two portions, and do the same with the peppers and onions. Pour 2tb oil into your wok and turn the heat to max. When your oil is smoking, add the meat in one even layer to the wok. Let it sit until a crust forms, then flip over to brown the other side.  (This whole process should take 5 minutes or less.)
4. Add half the onions and pepper. Stir and let cook for 1 minute.
5. Add half of your vinegar/wine mixture, shaking the pan if necessary to loosen the meat from the pan. Add half the butter and shake your wok until it has melted.
6. Remove everything from the pan and then repeat your process.
7. Serve with lime wedges over rice or rice noodles.

NYT Project: Broiled Lamb Chops

19 Dec

This particular recipe wasn’t on my original list; however, I was looking for something to make with the Brussels sprouts and this seemed like a pretty simple dish. I generally try to steer clear of making two new dishes at once, but with four simple steps this looked pretty foolproof, even for me. (Though I’ve been cooking for years now, sometimes my sense of timing is a little off.) Lamb has been on my list of food that I want to attempt to cook, so clearly it was meant to be!

Serves 2.

Ingredients

2-4 lamb chops per person
extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
salt and pepper
unsalted butter, optional
herbs (dill, mint), finely chopped, optional
lemon juice

Directions

1. Place the lamb chops in a dish and cover with olive oil. Add in the garlic and marinate for 30-60 minutes.
2. Turn on your broiler and position the oven rack so that it is 2 inches below the heat source.
3. Season the lamb with salt & pepper, then place on a foil-lined tray and cook for 4 minutes per side for rare. (recommended, but add extra time if you want them more on the medium-rare side.)
4.  Remove from the oven and plate. If you like, add a small pat of butter, some herbs and a squeeze of lemon juice to each chop.

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Holy Chuck, That Was a Tasty Burger

6 Oct

I happen to be lucky enough to work for a company that does a grocery order every week, negating my need to seek out or bring lunch with me 95% of the time. On those days when I just don’t want to make something with my own two hands,  I can venture out and have my choice of Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, deli, Italian, health food….it goes on. I tend to opt for the deli or Vietnamese; however, when invited out by a friend to try the brand-spankin’ new burger place in the work ‘hood, who am I to say no?

Holy Chuck Burger opened on Yonge St. just south of St. Clair and has been attracting a steadily growing number of customers. The owners are clearly aiming to make it a fun place to pop in and happily chat with customers as they chow down on messy, delicious, occasionally-gigantic burgers. On my maiden Holy Chuck burger voyage I opted for the cheeseburger (two patties) with caramelized onions, ketchup, mustard, lettuce & tomato. Adding in the fries was definitely a good idea but sharing them with my lunch companion was an even better idea. I’m sure I could’ve finished them, but I suspect it’s for the best I didn’t. They were hot, perfectly fried and nicely seasoned with salt and parsley. All in all, the cheeseburger was pretty much the perfect size for me: while filling, it’s not so gluttonous that you couldn’t eat more than one a month.

Photo courtesy of Eyeline Imagery.

The cheeseburger itself was a glorious mess and I mean that in the best way possible. The griddle-cooked beef was crispy on the outside but still juicy on the inside as evidenced by the trail it left running down my hands. You’re going to need napkins, people, and plenty of them. If the burger isn’t juicy, why would you want it anyway?

And did my lunch partner and I stop at the burger and fries? Oh, hell no. We went in for the deep-fried Twinkie for dessert. As I exclaimed to Johnny, the joint’s co-owner, it’s like a deep-fried sugar bomb and that is just fine by me. My friend and I agreed that we felt like we should be at a fair eating this slightly insane dessert. Considering that the cold weather is on its way, this might be the perfect way to recreate some summertime memories! I understand that there is also a concoction involving bacon-wrapped cookie dough that is battered and deep-fried (notice a delicious, fatty theme here, folks?). I can hear your arteries hardening and your drool hitting the ground.

I am so happy that we have such a fun place in the neighbourhood to go. I understand there are some changes to come, but rest assured that the classics will remain on the menu and there are vegetarian options that look great! If you’re in the area – or even if you’re not – get yourself over to Holy Chuck Burgers. Don’t forget to grab a ton of napkins – you will make a mess.

Holy Chuck on Urbanspoon
 

Marinated & Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peanut Sauce

19 Jul

The pork tenderloin in the freezer had been calling to me: “You’ve made me the same way too many times. Try something new, foodNURD!” Who am I to argue? A friend sent this recipe along and it seemed it was high time to try it out. I marinated the pork in the creamy, smooth, sweet sauce for about eight hours which is about the maximum you’d want as you don’t want the lime juice breaking down the proteins and making the pork mushy. Anywhere from 20 minutes up to several hours will work well! I served this with basmati rice and a tangy salad of red pepper, carrot and snap peas with a white wine vinaigrette.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

1 pork tenderloin
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tb fresh lime juice
3 tb dark brown sugar
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 ts ground coriander
Vegetable oil for the grill
2 tb water

Directions

1. Combine and whisk til smooth the peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic & coriander in a large, plastic Tupperware dish or baking dish.
2. Cut the tenderloin lengthwise almost all the way through.  You want the two sides to remain attached. The pork should open like a butterfly (hence the name “butterfly cut”) or a book. If necessary, wrap it in plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet or a heavy pan, pound the pork down to 1/2″ thickness.
3. Place the pork in the marinade and refrigerate.
4. Clean the BBQ grill with some veg oil and then crank the temp up as high as it will go.
5. Drain off any excess marinade and place the pork on the grill. Cover and walk away. This should only need about 7 minutes to cook, turning once.
6. Meanwhile, place the marinade in a sauce pan with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for3 minutes. If it’s too thick, add a little more water.
7. When the pork is done, take it off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve, pouring the sauce over it.

Grilled Skirt Steak w/ Lentils, Cilantro & Grapes

4 May

Yes, with grapes. It might sound strange initially, but the texture and freshness of the fruit goes very well with the creaminess of the lentils. I promise. And if you still don’t think you’ll like it, blame Tyler Florence.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 head garlic, sliced horizontally
salt
extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb steak
black pepper

3 thyme sprigs
1 c lentils
1 garlic clove, smashed (NOT minced or chopped)
1 green chile, minced
zest & juice of 1 lemon

1 bunch cilantro
1 lb green grapes
6 oz feta
black pepper

Directions

1. Heat your oven to 400. Cut a 12″ foil piece and place the garlic on one half and sprinkle with salt, a little olive oil, 2 ts water and 2 sprigs of thyme. Fold to cover and seal. Roast for 30 minutes.
2. Heat a grill to  medium high heat. Wipe the grill quickly with olive oil to create a non-stick surface. Rub the steak with some olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and black pepper.
3. Pour the lentils into a sauce pan and add enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Add the smashed garlic, remaining thyme and 1 ts salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Discard garlic and thyme.
4. When the grill is hot, toss on the steak and cook to medium-rare, 5-7 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes and then cut into thin slices.
5. Place the lentils in a bowl and add the chile, lemon zest & juice, cilantro, grapes, feta and 1/3 c olive oil.  Toss and add salt to taste.
6. On four plates, make a bed of lentils and place the steak slices on top. Drizzle the steak with a little olive oil and black pepper. Serve the roasted garlic on the side.

Meatloaf Cupcake

11 Feb

The Hot Biscuit strikes again! She made individual, mini-meatloaves with mashed potatoes that she piped on to the tops of the loaves to look like icing! A couple of minutes under the broiler and this fabulous little “meatloaf cupcake” was ready to go. What a great idea!

Spice-Rubbed Pulled Pork

15 Nov

Tasked with making dinner for my father-in-law this weekend, the decision was made that it should be a southern feast: pulled pork, cornbread and coleslaw. But having made the the same pulled pork for a while now, I felt like I  needed a new recipe. After some searching, I came across a great spice rub which I altered slightly to make my own.  Last night, we sat down to a dinner that was undeniably a huge success: both in-laws, J and I ate far too much. The pork came out beautifully: sweet, a little bit spicy, very well-rounded. And the kicker? Just a touch of smoke. So. Good. Everyone go make pulled pork RIGHT NOW.

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients

Rub

2 tb black pepper
1.5 tb cayenne
2 tb chili powder
2 tb cumin
2 tb brown sugar
1 tb dried oregano
3tb paprika
2 tb salt
1 ts white sugar

1 3-4lb pork butt
1/4 c water
1/2 ts liquid smoke* – optional, but very tasty
1.5 c barbecue sauce
1 lime

Directions

1. Mix the spices for the rub in a small bowl.
2. Thoroughly coat the pork in the spice rub. (You  may have some left over: it’ll be great on any protein.) Wrap up the pork as tightly as possible in plastic wrap and put in the fridge anywhere from three hours to a full day. The longer you leave it, the more the spices will infuse into the meat.
3. When you’re ready to cook, get out the slow cooker and set it to low.
4. Add in 1/4c water, the liquid smoke and the pork. Set the timer for 8 hours and walk away.
5. Remove the pork from the cooker into a large bowl, pulling it apart with two forks. Discard fat.
6. Put the pork into a pot big enough to handle it.  Add the bbq sauce about 1/3 of a cup at a time and incorporating some of the liquid left over from the slow cooker until you get it as saucy as you like. (Stop making jokes….)
7. Serve with a wedge of lime – or, if you’re making sandwiches, squeeze some lime juice into the pork before you serve it.
8. Get out of the way of the stampede to the table!

Pork Tenderloin in Coconut-Chile Sauce

18 Oct

Adapted from Tyler Florence’s recipe, this dish is warming, comforting, brightly-flavoured and is destined for heavy rotation in our kitchen! It does have a few steps, but they’re not difficult. Timing is key, as always, but I think I’ve got it worked out! I’ve included pictures of the individual components of this three-parter. Click to see them enlarged.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

Pork
1 1lb pork tenderloin
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lime, juice
salt & pepper

Coconut-Chile Sauce
2 tb extra virgin olive oil
1″ ginger, grated
2 garlic, minced
1 chile (Bird, jalapeno, whatever ya like), diced
1/4 c cilantro stems
14 oz coconut milk
1 ts sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 tb fish sauce
1 dash hot sauce, optional
salt & pepper

Tomato & Coconut Salad

1 c shredded coconut
2 c tomatoes, chopped
1/2 sweet pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/4 c cilantro (leaves)
1/4 c mint leaves
dash of olive oil
1/2 lime, juiced
salt & pepper


Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Place the pork on a platter and pour over the olive oil, lime juice & sprinkle with salt & pepper on all sides. Marinate for 10-15 minutes.
3. Toss the pork in the oven for roughly 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165-170, depending on how well you like your pork cooked. Rest for 10 minutes.
4. In the meantime, heat up the olive oil at medium in a medium sauce pan.  Add garlic, ginger, chile and cilantro stems. Cook 3 minutes.
5. Add the coconut milk and sugar, simmering for another 5 minutes.
6. Squeeze in the lime juice and add the fish sauce, hot sauce, and a dash of salt & pepper. Adjust to taste. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the pork is done.
7. In a medium bowl, add tomatoes, shredded coconut,  sweet pepper, red onion, chile, cilantro leaves, mint, olive oil, salt & pepper and lime juice. Adjust according to taste.
8.  Slice pork into medallions and serve over rice. Pour the sauce over the pork and top with coconut & tomato salad.

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