Orange is the New Pork

orange-mustard glazed pork chops

citrus chops

I feel like a broken record, but:

Baby, it’s cold outside.

Feel free to remind me that it’s only 36 days until spring. With a snowstorm practically every week and temperatures barely out of the teens most days (that’s Fahrenheit, all my international friends), winter is not one of my favorite things right now.

But something that’s always one of my favorites is pork. That other white meat is just as tasty and versatile as the original white meat. And thanks to some unexpected citrus flavors, this dish offers a welcome reminder of the sunshine to come. In you know, just 35.5 days.

Orange-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops
½ cup of orange juice
2 tablespoons of orange marmalade
1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon of canola oil
4 bone-in pork loin chops
2 to 3 sprigs of rosemary
1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons of lime juice

Heat your oven to 425.º

In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice, marmalade and mustard. Heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until slightly syrupy.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Lightly season the pork chops with salt and pepper, and then cook for 5 minutes on one side until browned. Flip the pork chops and add the rosemary and onion to the skillet. Pour the juice mixture over the chops and then bake for 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 140.º

Remove the pork chops, onions and rosemary from the skillet. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, add the lime juice, and let cook for about 4 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the pork chops back to the skillet to coat with the sauce. Then plate, top with some cooked onions, drizzle with extra sauce, and eat.


Let’s Get the Meatball Rolling

shortcut sausage meatballs

hot and fresh out tha kitchen

Happy New Year, people! So far, it seems that 2014 is only about one thing: the cold.

Seriously, there’s something called a polar vortex screwing up all the weather across the US. The South is cold, the Northeast is freezing, the Midwest is like the Arctic. So, when it’s this cold out, I can think of only one thing to really warm me up: some hot – and fast – comfort food.

But first, let’s talk about meatballs.

I know. Everyone has their favorite meatball recipe. Grandma Whatever used to make them with so-and-so ingredient, and that means they’re the best meatballs on the planet. Sure, sure. We’re all entitled to our favorite meatball recipe. But sometimes you don’t have the time to let your meatballs slow-cook away all day in a pot of sauce. Sometimes you just want to stuff your face with meatballs before your nose falls off from frostbite. True story.

So when that happens to you, put Grandma Whatever’s recipe away, and whip up these bad boys instead. And in no time you’ll be enjoying heavenly little sausage meatballs, cooked (quickly) in a flavorful sauce.

Shortcut Sausage Meatballs
1 lb of Italian sausage (I used hot)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ bunch of scallions, diced
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Your favorite pasta (I used spaghetti)
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Start by removing the sausage from the casings. Place into a medium bowl and gently mix together. Roll cherry tomato-sized meatballs and place on piece of wax paper.

shortcut sausage meatballs

hey fellas

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook until they’re brown on all sides. Add the scallions and oregano, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Next add the crushed tomatoes, ½ can of water and the bay leaves, and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce slightly thickens and the meatballs are cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente. Then drain.

Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. (Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving.) Plate the pasta, top with a few meatballs and spoonfuls of sauce, garnish with some grated Parmesan, and eat.

Wine’d Up Beef

red wine braised beef

wine & dine

Some of you like your wine in a glass. But I think a lot of you will like your wine in your food.* Especially if you end up with tender, juicy pieces of beef swimming in a sea of vegetables.

Red Wine Braised Beef
– 1 ½ – 2 lbs of boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
– 2 onions, chopped
– 2 carrots, chopped
– 2 celery stalks, chopped
– ½ cup of red wine (or more as needed)
– ½ cup of beef (or chicken or veggie) stock
– Salt and pepper
– Olive oil

Heat your oven to 250º.

Put a few tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add the beef (just a little at a time to prevent overcrowding), season with salt and pepper and cook until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and continue until all the beef is browned.

Remove all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the Dutch oven and lower the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots and celery, season with a little salt and pepper, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the red wine and beef stock, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pot, and add the browned beef. The liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the beef; add more liquid until it does.

Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven. Cook, stirring every 45 minutes, until the beef begins to tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add more liquid if the beef isn’t halfway submerged. Let it cook at least another 30 minutes, until the beef is very tender and nearly falling apart. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, and then serve with brown rice, mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

*Non-meateaters excluded.

Serving Up Sausage

pork breakfast sausage

let’s play patty cakes

While I was getting the makings for Mexican home fries, I decided to forgo the usual stuffed-inside-a-box breakfast sausage and get ingredients to make my own. Because if you can’t be snowed in (or rather, rained in) without a good meal, what’s the point? Making your own sausage patties is surprisingly easy. Just mix your seasonings – the ones below are what I used, but by all means, adjust to your own tastes – and fry ‘em up. It’s best to cook a small piece up first to see if you like the flavor combo, since nobody wants imperfectly seasoned sausage patties for breakfast.

Pork Breakfast Sausage
– 1 to 1 ½ lbs of ground pork
– ¾ tablespoon of dried sage
– 2 teaspoons of dried marjoram
– 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
– 2 teaspoons of cracked red pepper flakes
– ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
– 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
– ½ teaspoon of salt
– ½ teaspoon of pepper

In a large bowl, mix together the pork and seasonings. A pair of clean hands works better than a spoon – just wash your hands after mixing. Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook a small, spoon-sized amount of the sausage on both sides for a few minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Then form the sausage into patties – grab a small amount with your fingers, roll into a ball and then flatten – and fry for about 5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.

Rub On Your Shoulders

porcini pork shoulder

you gotta get, that, rub on your shoulders

What’s perfect for a slow Sunday afternoon? How about a slow-roasted pork shoulder? There are plenty of ways you can roast pork, but a rub made with pulverized dried porcini mushrooms and spices really adds some hearty, earthy flavor. The beauty of this is that you literally roast it and forget it. Well, you won’t forget it once your house is filled with the scent of pork and mushrooms, but you get the idea. Then you make your sides, slice up your pork, and you’re ready for an easy Sunday supper. (And after that — leftovers!)

Porcini-rubbed Pork Roast
– 1 5 lb bone-in pork shoulder
– ½ oz of dried porcini mushrooms
– 1 tablespoon of onion powder
– 1 tablespoon of black pepper
– 1 teaspoon of garlic salt
– Olive oil

Heat your oven to 300º.

In a food processor or spice mill, crush the dried mushrooms into a coarse powder. Add the onion powder, pepper and garlic salt and pulse to combine.

Place the pork shoulder into a roasting pan with a wire rack. Lightly brush with olive oil and then rub the mushroom mixture onto the pork. (If some of the rub falls into the pan, that’s okay. You’ll use that later.)

Roast in the oven for 3 ½ hours or until the pork has an internal temperature of 160º to 165º. About an hour in, add a cup of water to the roasting pan. Continue adding a little water for the rest of the roasting time if the pan dries out. Let the pork rest for about 20 minutes before slicing.

To make a pan gravy, pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a skillet. Add a ¼ cup of chicken or beef stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for about 10 minutes. Stir in a tablespoon of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Mi Pollo es Su Pollo (aka My Chicken is Your Chicken)

spanish chicken & rice

actually, this is all mine, not yours

Another week, another chicken recipe! But since this is one of those short weeks that I loathe, I needed a fast, flavor meal. This Spanish-inpsired chicken & rice dish is a bit outside my comfort zone based on 1 ingredient: green olives. I don’t like olives, green or black varieties, but after eating this, I’m starting to think maybe I do.

Spanish Chicken & Rice
– 3 chicken drumsticks
– 3 chicken thighs
– 1 onion, chopped
– 1 red bell pepper, chopped
– 4 cloves of garlic, minced
– 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
– 1 cup of rice
– ½ cup of dry white wine
– 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
– 1 cup of low-sodium chicken stock
– ½ teaspoon of saffron
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 cup of peas, fresh or frozen (thawed)
– 15 green olives, pitted and chopped
– 6 Peppadew peppers, chopped
– Salt and pepper
– Olive oil

Pat the chicken pieces dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of chicken fat from the skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook over medium-high heat until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika and rice, and stir to mix. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook over high heat for another 2 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes, chicken stock, saffron and bay leaf. Return chicken pieces (and any juices) back to the skillet, tucking them into the rice.

Cover and simmer over low heat until chicken is cooked through, rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the olives, Peppadew peppers and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Cover for 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf and eat.

Chicken Comes Home to Roast

chicken with herb-roasted tomatoes

the force is strong with this one

As soon as I saw this in the latest issue of Bon Appétit, I had to make it. Literally. I grabbed the magazine out of my mailbox, flipped thru and landed on this recipe and said: I MUST MAKE THIS. I would have that very instant too, but I didn’t have chicken breasts or cherry tomatoes, two key ingredients. So, does absence make taste buds grow fonder? Totally. I made a few adjustments, but the dish was hearty and flavorful, and made good use of fresh summer tomatoes. It’s already been filed in my “go-to chicken recipes” notebook.

Chicken with Herb-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
1 lb of cherry tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
– 2 tablespoons of chipotle-infused olive oil
– 4 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
– 1 to 1 ½ lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts
– 1 small shallot, finely diced
– 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
– 3 tablespoons of freshly chopped oregano
– Salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 450º.

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, chipotle-infused olive oil and Italian seasoning. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet until oil shimmers. Carefully add the tomatoes (the oil may splatter). Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast, stirring once, until tomatoes burst and give off some juices, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and drizzle with Worcestershire sauce.

Meanwhile, season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in another large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast chicken until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate or cutting board to rest for at least 5 minutes.

In the same skillet that was used to roast the chicken, add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook about 1 minute. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan, scraping any brown bits from the bottom. Add the tomatoes and any juices and simmer until sauce is just starting to thicken, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

Slice the chicken and plate. Spoon tomatoes and sauce over each piece and garnish with the freshly chopped oregano. Then eat.