Category Archives: Pork

Schnitzelzeit (Schnitzel Time!)

Although I know I’m not German, my children don’t realize that.  They think since their grandparents lived there for so long, we are actually German.  Not to disappoint them, tonight is about the Schnitzel.

To start, slice pork tenderloin and pound it until it is very thin. Make sure to cover the pork in plastic wrap.  If you don’t, you may end up with pork splatters all over.  It’s not pretty!

pork

Next, get everything ready for the breading by combining the following in three separate containers.

Flour Mixture:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder (if you haven’t learned by now, I add it to almost everything)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Egg Mixture:

  • 3 eggs
  • a bit of salt and pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Breadcrumb Mixture:

  • 3 cups breadcrumbs
  • A bit of salt and black pepper

schnitzel mis en place

Place a piece of pork in the flour mixture and coat it thoroughly.  Shake off any excess flour and place it in the egg mixture, and then coat it in the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on a drying rack while repeating the process with the remaining pork.

Pan-fry the schnitzel in a bit of oil, until they are golden brown on both sides.

fry fry fry

After they were all cooked, Jason removed all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pan.  He added a bit of flour to create a roux, and then added some chicken stock and heavy cream to make a delicious sauce.

sauce

On the side, we had braised cabbage.  Kara taught me to make this, and it is beyond phenomenal.  She will have to tell you about it one day!

cabbage

Schnitzel zeit

Janessa

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Dressed to impress

Last Sunday, September 16th, was Mexican Independence Day. I’ll admit, the only reason I knew this is because a month or so ago, I found a recipe for something called “Chiles en Nogada” on Saveur online. Their description was enough to make my mouth water: “Traditionally made in Puebla to celebrate Mexican Independence Day on September 16, these chiles have a minced pork filling enhanced with chopped fruit, and a creamy walnut sauce.”  Essentially, it’s roasted poblano peppers, stuffed with a picadillo, covered in a creamy walnut sauce, and topped with cilantro or parsley and pomegranate seeds. I’m going to go ahead and just give Mexico the win on this “let’s-make-food-colored-like-our-flag-to-celebrate-our-independence” competition.

Chiles en Nogada has such an explosive combination of flavors that I’ve never experienced before. The sweet-savory filling of pork and fruits combined with the mildly spicy poblanos all tied together with a walnut-queso fresco-crema sauce is so, so good. Seriously, how do people come up with these things? I unsuccessfully trekked far and wide to find a pomegranate and was on the verge of not even bothering with the recipe when Braeden, the smart one that he is, said “Why can’t you just buy some pomegranate juice and make it a syrup to drizzle on top?”

Seriously, how do people come up with these things?

So, here we are. But please, please, please don’t wait until another September 16 rolls around to make this. This is a dish worthy of any celebration. (Or, as Braeden also said after eating: “You have to make this for my parents the next time we cook for them.”) So take note, ladies and gents – if you want to impress someone, this is what you make.

Chiles en Nogada
adapted from this and this

Notes: I was lucky and had some really good pork shoulder roast which I cooked in the pressure cooker for an hour until it was a juicy, tender perfection. You could use leftover roast pork if you happen to have any, or if you want to make this a bit faster, try a pound of ground pork. (Or, I suppose, another ground meat like turkey or chicken.) You will almost definitely have leftover filling – I had grand plans of using it to fill won-ton wrappers, but ended up completely satisfied eating the filling for lunch later in the week.
Also – if you do find a pomegranate, by all means use the seeds instead of making the pomegranate syrup. I think the tart, juicy pop of the seeds would’ve made this dish all that much better.
One more thing – This is a rather involved recipe, but if you make the walnut sauce the night before, and roast the peppers while you’re making the filling, it’s not too terrible. Starting with already cooked, leftover meat would help, too.

Walnut Sauce
makes enough sauce to cover 6 poblanos
Time: about 40 minutes – do this the night before if possible.

  • 4 oz. (about a cup) walnuts
  • ½ cup milk
  • 6 oz. queso fresco
  • 1 cup crema or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Place walnuts in a 2-qt. saucepan, and cover with water; bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. The original recipe says to take the skins off the walnuts, because they can be bitter, but after feebly attempting to rub off the skins, I gave up. (And it still tasted grrrreat. I include this step because I think it helped soften the walnuts.) Bring milk to just under a boil in same 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, and add walnuts; let sit, covered, to soften nuts, 30 minutes or longer. Transfer walnuts and milk to a blender along with queso fresco, crema and agave. Purée until smooth and thick, at least 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl, and cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Important: I took the walnut sauce out of the refrigerator when I started making the filling, so that it could come to room temperature. I didn’t think I would want a too-cold sauce, but at room temperature the heat from the stuffed peppers warmed it perfectly.

Pomegranate drizzle
If you can’t find a pomegranate, make this to drizzle over top. Start this when you start roasting the peppers – it takes at least 40 minutes to reduce.

  • 8 ounces pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in a tablespoon of water

In small saucepan, simmer/lightly boil pomegranate juice over medium heat until reduced by at least half, about 30 – 40 minutes. You can keep reducing until it gets syrupy, or if you’re impatient like me, stir in the cornstarch mixture to quickly thicken the drizzle. Set aside until ready to use.

Poblanos
Time – at least 45 minutes

  • 6 poblano peppers

Heat broiler to high. Place poblanos on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil, turning, until blackened all over, about 20 minutes. Transfer chiles to a bowl, cover tightly (you can use the foil that was lining the baking sheet) and let sit for at least 20 minutes, until skins slip off easily. Peel peppers; cut a slit down the length of each chile and carefully remove the seeds, leaving the stem and pepper intact. Set aside until ready.

Filling
Time – about 2 hours, including time spent cooking pork. About 1 hour if pork is already cooked, or if using ground pork. I cooked the pork first, then started making the filling once the poblanos were blackened and steaming, pre-peeling.

  • 1 pound pork loin, roast, etc. (I had a 2.5 pound pork roast and just cooked it all, saving the rest for another recipe)
  • 1 large onion (white or yellow), halved – roughly chop one half, finely chop the other
  • 2 tablespoons neutral flavored (aka not olive) oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley or cilantro
  • 3 plum (or 1 large heirloom) tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tart apple (such as Bramley, Haralson, Earligold, or Granny Smith), peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1 peach, peeled, pitted, chopped
  • 1 medium ripe (starting to brown, but not all the way black) plantain, peeled and chopped
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook pork. If starting with pork loin, roast, etc.:  Chop the pork into 2-inch chunks, then in a large saucepan bring pork, the roughly chopped onion half, and 3 cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Season with salt, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook about an hour, until pieces are tender and cooked through. (If you have a pressure cooker, simply cook at whole roast with 2 cups water, onion, and a little oil for an hour at high pressure, natural release, then once cool enough to handle, chop pork into chunks).  Once pork is done, reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid and discard the rest.

2. In same saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the other half of finely chopped onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and parsley/cilantro and cook until tomatoes start to break down, another 5 minutes. Add pork, cooking liquid, and fruits to the pan, stir occasionally, and cook until the fruits are cooked through and everything thickens, about 10 – 15 minutes. Taste and season as you like with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Set filling aside until ready to use.

And now what you’ve been waiting for,
Assembly

1. Take a pepper, and stuff with the filling. I probably used a 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of filling per pepper. (They were quite stuffed).

2. Cover stuffed pepper with walnut sauce.

3. Drizzle or dot with pomegranate syrup; sprinkle on a little cilantro or parsley.

4. Repeat with other peppers.

5. Devour.

This would be lovely served with rice or some good, hot flour tortillas, but we just ate two peppers each and called it a (very stuffed) night.  And by the way, leftovers warm up nicely in the microwave.

I know this recipe is a lot to handle, but it’s completely worth it. I hadn’t even planned on writing a post (hence the lack of pictures), but you needed to know that this exists. And you need to make it.

Ready?

Kara

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When You Have a Poblano Sighting…

I love the gastronomic adventure of living in Germany, but as I may have mentioned, there are a few tastes of home that I really miss.  I can generally find jalapeños and serranos, but poblano chiles are something of a rarity.  Fortunately, there are several of us who look out for each other: whenever one of us spots poblanos, that triggers the alert.  One day a while back, I went with Deana and Gariann on a Saturday outing and the topic of poblanos came up.  That very week, Deana saw some and bought enough for all three of us.  Last time, I saw them first and called Gariann from the produce aisle.  Deana was on vacation, but Gariann passed the message on to Pat, who was tied up and wouldn’t make it to the store for at least four hours.  Knowing the poblanos are a hot commodity around here, Gariann went and bought her own plus a dozen for Pat.  Did I mention poblanos run around $6-7 a pound here?  So yeah, we pay a couple of dollars each for them….the first time I kind of winced as I bought $20 worth, but I decided since I don’t think twice about an occasional 0.2 liter glass of soda that costs three euro (yep, $4.00+ for less than seven ounces), two dollars a pop for poblanos is all relative and ultimately reasonable for treat.

Well, it’s poblano feast time around here.  Some of my chiles were roasted and frozen for future use, and I have three recipes to share – two are super-easy and the other one is well worth the effort.

The first step is to char the skin and then quickly steam the chiles by wrapping tightly so the blistered skin will peel right off.  I generally cut a slit in the poblano and cut away the seed clump before charring, but it is also fine to do it when you are peeling.  I have the best luck charring over a hot (450 F.) gas grill – turn every couple of minutes to char evenly and they’ll be done in no time.  Then put them on a plate, cover tightly with foil, and let them sit for about 15 minutes before pulling the skin off with your fingers.  I also know people who hold individual poblanos with long tongs over a gas stove burner.  If neither of those options is possible, you can char the peppers by turning frequently in a hot frying pan or put them a few inches from a hot broiler and keep a close eye on them.

To freeze the poblanos, you can put them on a plastic-lined tray in the freezer and then transfer to a freezer bag after they are frozen, or you can first cut the chiles into strips, which are called rajas (rrah’-hahss) in Spanish.  To use in recipes, thaw the chiles at room temperature for an hour or so.

The first recipe doesn’t really have a name.  I guess we’ll call it…

Poblano Potato Cakes

  • 2 medium baked potatoes, cooled and peeled
  • 2 poblanos, stems, seeds, and skins removed (char and steam as described above), cut into narrow strips
  • Salt, pepper, and Mexican seasoning to taste (I use Don Enrico brand Pico de Gallo seasoning mix)
  • 2 tablespoons potato flour (or substitute all-purpose flour)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • Corn oil or other vegetable oil for frying

Use a coarse grater to grate the potatoes onto a plate.  Stir in the poblano strips and season to taste.  Sprinkle on the potato flour and mix lightly with a fork to combine (I believe potato flour is the same as potato starch – in German grocery stores it is labeled Kartoffel Mehl and it is used for potato dumplings).

 

Spread half the bread crumbs out on another plate or cutting board; heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan (use a pan that is at least as big as the plate full of potatoes).  Pour the beaten egg over the potatoes and mix with a fork to combine.  Divide the mixture into four portions and press together into patties.  Lift the patties with a pancake turner onto the crumbs, then sprinkle the rest of the crumbs on top and press them in.

 

Fry the potato cakes until golden brown, turning once.  Serve plain or with your favorite topping (I like crème fraiche mixed with Tapatio hot sauce).  The quantity given will make four side servings, or you could eat two of the potato cakes with a salad and call it a meal.

Next up, we have a nice easy and satisfying pasta dish.  It’s great when you want to take something for a potluck that is OK microwaved to reheat, and it also hits the spot whenever some cozy comfort food is in order.  This pasta dish could best be described as “rajas con crema meets mac and cheese.”  I’ve made it with a couple of different kinds of sturdy pastas: fregola sarda, which is solid little nuggets of pasta, is really good, and this time I used casarecce – I liked how it held the sauce, and the shape seemed to go well with the chile strips.  Macaroni or rigatoni would be fine but leave it a bit chewy so it has some substance.

 

Poblano Pasta

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • Good melty cheese, quantity to taste (I used three thick sandwich-size slices of gouda – munster or gruyere would also be good)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (maybe more, depending on the cheese)
  • 2 poblanos, seeded, peeled, and sliced (see instructions above, before the recipes)
  • 8 ounces pasta cooked al dente
  • ¼ cup crème fraiche, if desired

Cook the flour for a few minutes in the butter, then stir in the milk and whisk over medium heat until it starts to thicken.  Add the cheese and salt and whisk until melted and smooth.   Stir in the chile strips and pasta and crème fraiche if you are using it.  You can serve the pasta straight from the pan or turn it into a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 (it might need a little more milk if you do that).

The last recipe needs a little background.  Not long ago, Gariann had a milestone birthday, and she and her husband had a Thai cooking party to celebrate the occasion.  Well, two of the guests were the afore-mentioned Pat and her partner Sue, Thai cooks extraordinaire.  And guess what Pat, Sue, and Gariann taught us how to make?  Thai scotch eggs – yes, really!  I’d never heard of them before, but I guess they are really a thing.  And let me tell you, they were delicious!  You start with boiled eggs and wrap them with a red curry-spiked ground pork mixture, then roll them in panko crumbs and chopped peanuts, and they are deep fried and served with a coconut milk-peanut sauce.  Well, I’ve gotten into traditional Scottish fare since our Christmas trip to Edinburgh, and after the Thai party, I got to thinking about other possible variations, and not surprisingly my thoughts turned to a Mexican influence.  And that, my friends, is how I came up with….

Poblano Scotch Eggs

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 poblano chiles, seeds, stems, and skins removed; cut each chile in half lengthwise
  • 1 pound ground pork (use unseasoned meat, not sausage)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Tapatio bottled hot sauce (or your favorite brand)
  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • a generous bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¼ – ½ cup finely chopped peanuts or pistachios, if desired

Cook the eggs to the desired degree of doneness – for hard-cooked eggs, put them in a pan of cold salted water and bring to a boil; as soon as the water starts to boil, take the pan off the heat and cover.  After 9 minutes, drain the hot water and fill the pan with cold water.  Peel by gently cracking all over; it is easier if you can find the little hollow spot on the big end of the egg and work your finger under the thin membrane that surrounds the egg.  Soft-cooked eggs are harder to handle, so use extra care if you like them that way.

Once the eggs are peeled, wrap each one in a long strip of poblano and secure with a toothpick.  Combine all the seasonings with the pork, then mix in about half of the beaten egg.  I started out with a tablespoon of Tapatio and a half teaspoon of cayenne, and then I took about a teaspoonful of the mixture and cooked it in a pan so I could taste the spice level.  We like our spicy food to have a kick, so I bumped up the heat with more Tapatio and cayenne – if you like a milder spice, start out with less seasoning and cook a little bit so you can taste test and adjust accordingly.  My poblanos were very mild, but if you have hotter ones you might want to cut down a little in what you add to the meat.

To cover the poblano-wrapped eggs with the pork mixture, divide the pork into four portions and pat each one out on a square of wax paper or parchment paper.  Think of an interrupted Mollweide map projection as you are patting the meat out, but you don’t need to worry about exact precision.  Place an egg on the meat and use the parchment to bring the meat all around the egg and press it together, then repeat with the other eggs and you will end up with four softball-sized meatballs.  If you are making one of these Mexican scotch eggs for someone who doesn’t like poblanos, simply skip the chile-wrapped-around-the-egg step (as I did in the photo below).

 

Put the bread crumbs on a plate and drizzle with melted butter, mixing to blend evenly.  Beat the tablespoon of milk into the remaining half of the beaten egg – you’ll coat the meatballs with the egg, and it is easiest to do if you have a small round deep bowl (like the one in the photo, an ice cream dish from Ikea).  After you dip the meatballs in the egg mixture, roll them in the crumbs and then, if desired, in the chopped nuts, pressing the crumbs and nuts into the meat.

 

Now here’s the easy part – instead of deep-frying, I baked the meat-covered eggs on a rack at 375 F for about 45 minutes.  The little bit of butter in the crumbs gave me a nice crunchy crust without the mess of frying, and it also is more economical since it takes quite a bit of oil to have it deep enough to do the job.

I didn’t try the microwave for leftovers, but reheating in the oven (uncovered) gave very good results.  One of these eggs makes a very generous serving, so depending on the rest of the menu you might go with half an egg per person.  These are really good with a spicy tomato or tomatillo salsa, rice, a simple roasted winter squash, and a crisp green salad.  Mexican scotch eggs are fun to make with people, so get a few friends together and try something new and delicious.

Tami

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Janessa and Kara’s Semi-Annual Asian(ish) Feast

No one really knows how it started, but when Janessa and I are in the same place for at least a day at a time and have a kitchen available, there will be a feast, and that feast will almost always be Asian inspired. It probably began back in the day, when the family would make “Chinese” food for Christmas Eve dinner. (“Chinese” because it was probably only slightly authentic. Oh well.) Eventually, the two sisters parted ways as Janessa moved to Colorado and I moved to Germany with Mom and Dad. But, like all good stories, we got together at least once a year and then, suddenly, began planning Asian(ish) feasts of epic proportions.

There was always Chow Mein, and some sort of vegetable stir fry. Sometimes there was Chinese BBQ Pork. Then, we started making egg rolls. I even found a recipe for Egg Drop Soup. As the sisters grew up, so did the meals. They might not have become more authentic, but they definitely became more delicious – which is where we are today!

I recently visited Janessa and company for a bit, and she and I made a hugegigantic Asian(ish) feast.

This time there happened to be a lot of meat: scallion turkey meatballs, Chinese barbecue pork, and beef and broccoli. (We can’t help it, we grew up on a farm.)

Everyone agreed: this was the best feast yet.

We made Smitten Kitchen’s scallion meatballs, egg rolls with a mango-y dipping sauce, Chinese barbecue pork, a variation of this ginger fried rice (we kinda love Smitten Kitchen), and beef and broccoli with oyster sauce.

The kids even liked the food! There was a little dancing, and a lot of Britney Spears.

 

Here is our recipe for the Chinese barbecue pork. The pork is really, really good dipped in hot Chinese mustard and toasted sesame seeds.

Chinese Barbecue Pork
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated 

Note: the pork will be nicely moist and very delicious if you marinate it overnight plus throughout the day you plan on cooking it (about 20 hours), so plan accordingly.

  •  2 pork tenderloins, about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each
    Marinade:
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or you could use honey or agave syrup)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup Sake or sherry (we used Fu-ki Sake)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (or if you’re feeling lazy, you could use about 1 or 2 teaspoons of ground ginger. We did!)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or if you’re still feeling lazy, you could use a teaspoonish of garlic powder. We, well, did.)
  • red food coloring, if you want it to look more pretty (we didn’t, but we should have, maybe)

Combine marinade ingredients in a 9×13 baking dish (or a plastic bag placed in a baking dish in case of spills). Place tenderloins in marinade and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Turn pork over the next morning, and continue marinating until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Cook to an internal temperature of 155 degrees, which will probably be about 30 minutes. (It’s very easy if you have one of those thermometers that lets you put the probe in and then has a reader that’s outside of the oven.)

Let sit at least 10 minutes, and then slice into 1/4 inch or so slices. This would also be good chopped up and mixed into fried rice, or even just piled in thin slices on top of fried rice or a noodle dish.

Enjoy!

Janessa and Kara

p.s. Chinese New Year is January 23. Wouldn’t you like some nice scallion meatballs or Chinese barbecue pork to celebrate? We thought so.


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