PORK MEDALLIONS WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE

Sounds pretty fancy, doesn’t it? But this was our dinner on a humble Wednesday night, which would make it appropriate for a “Celebrate Wednesday” post. It’s been a long while,  I confess I totally forgot about my own blog feature. The pork was prepared sous-vide, but of course you can use any method you prefer. I love the sous-vide path because it results in perfect texture and gives me a lot of flexibility in timing.  In the case of medallions, after cooking them whole in the water bath I slice and sear them briefly on a screaming hot non-stick pan with ridges, but you can also use a grill. On weeknights I am all for convenience and prefer not to wait for the grill to heat up.  Your call.

pork-tenderloin

PORK MEDALLIONS WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
(sous-vide or regular cooking)

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed, silver skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon butter
lemon juice
for the compote:
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups blackberries
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
pinch of cardamon
pinch of salt

Season the pork with salt, rub the ginger all over, squirt a little lemon juice. Place it in a vacuum sealable bag, add the butter on top and seal the bag. Cook sous-vide at 140 to 145 F for 3 to 6 hours. When it’s time to serve, cut the pork in medallions and sear each slice on a screaming hot pan, preferably non-stick with ridges.  You can also sear it on a grill.  If you don’t have a sous-vide gadget, sear the pork after seasoning on a skillet with a mixture of butter and olive oil, then place in a 400 F oven until done to your liking.  Cut in slices and proceed with the recipe.

Make the compote. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. In a medium bowl, toss the berries with the arrowroot powder, then add the berries, lemon juice, cardamon, and salt to the pan. Cook over low heat until the berries soften and the liquid seems a bit thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while.

Spoon the compote, either warm or room temperature over the seared pork slices, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Pairing pork with fruit works very well for my taste.  Phil goes along for the ride, but I suppose he is not as into it as I am. I debated whether to process the fruit to make more of a sauce, but for the sake of speed and simplicity, I served it with blackberries still intact, although ready to melt in the mouth. The compote was still warm when I spooned over the meat, next day for my lunch I barely killed the cold from the fridge with a quick microwave step. Even at room temperature it does its job well.   Mashed cauliflower and green beans with almonds tied up our dinner. Interestingly,  this meal took me back to a dinner in Germany a looong time ago with my first husband and his family. That evening I had venison with blackberry sauce, and it stayed in my memory as one amazing meal.  I could not participate of their lively conversation in German, so maybe that made it for an even more intense gastronomic experience, all my senses converged to taste and smell…  Gotta dance to the music. Always.

😉

pork-medallions-with-blackberry-compote

 

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach

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NEW MEXICO PORK CHILE, CROCKPOT VERSION

Ah, the best laid plans! After being away from home for two weeks, resuming the routine can be a bit tricky. I chose simple recipes for our dinners, as we did not have much of a chance to catch our breath. We landed around noon on a Sunday, and went back to work early next day. One simple dinner would be a pork chili made in the slow-cooker. It is so convenient to arrive back from work to a dinner waiting for you. So, I set the ingredients at lunch time, and worked the whole afternoon with that feeling of accomplishment and anticipation on the back of my mind. But fate had other plans for us. It turns out that the electricity company stopped by to install a new meter in our backyard, and shut the power off for a little while. We saw them arriving just as we drove away, but did not think much about it. When I arrived home for dinner, the crock pot was off. The meat had stayed inside for 6 long hours, at room temperature. It all went to the trash, even if part of me wanted to cook the heck out of it in a pressure cooker.  I decided safe is better than sorry. We ordered pizza instead. But, undeterred, I bought another piece of meat that same evening, and made this chili next day. It was totally worth it!  I advise you to make it, and if you don’t have a slow-cooker, just use your oven low and slow.

new-mexico-pork-chili

NEW MEXICO PORK CHILE
(inspired by America’s Test Kitchen)

3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoons New Mexico chili powder
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup strong brewed coffee
2 teaspoons instant tapioca
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 to 3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
Salt and pepper to taste
fresh cilantro leaves, minced
zest and juice of half a lime

Lightly spray inside of slow cooker with vegetable oil spray. In a small saucepan, heat the tomato paste, New Mexico chili, oil, and garlic powder until fragrant. Add chicken stock, coffee, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Warm it all together for a minute or so, transfer to slow-cooker. Sprinkle the tapioca, mix to combine.

Season the meat all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the slow cooker, the liquid does not need to cover the meat, just make sure to spoon some of it over the top. Cover and cook for 5 to 6  hours on low. Half an hour before serving, use a fork to cut the very tender meat in chunks, and mix with the sauce. Leave it for 30 minutes, then add cilantro, lime zest and juice right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

crockpot11

Comments: Most recipes for this type of chili recommend using pork shoulder or butt, cuts with a lot of fat in them. You can definitely use either, but the drawback is that cutting the meat into chunks is a bit of a pain. I never think it’s going to be a big deal once I grab the huge bag and place in my grocery cart, but then, the moment I open it and realize the task ahead, a sort of sadness invades me. Followed by the Keep Calm and Carry On stance. America’s Test Kitchen hit gold when they changed the game by using boneless, country-style pork ribs. They are equally marbled with fat, and all the work involved is ripping the plastic cover of the grocery tray. I was a bit skeptical because my experience with this type of meat was less than stellar. More often than not, I ended up with meat a bit dried up and with an odd texture. Not the case. These were melt-in-your-mouth tender, very moist and flavorful. Just the right amount of heat for our taste. The quick cooking tapioca thickens the sauce ever so slightly, but I used a lot less than called for in most recipes. You could omit it, if you don’t mind a bit of a watery sauce.

served

Phil enjoyed the chili over white rice and some Ranch style beans, I opted for cauli-rice and half an avocado, with the mandatory drizzle of lime juice.  The package I bought had three pieces of country-style ribs, a little over 3 pounds total. Leftovers were enough for another full dinner for both of us.

new-mexico-pork-chili-from-bewitching-kitchen

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SEVEN YEARS AGO Fettuccine with Shrimp, Swiss Chard, and Tomatoes

SLOW COOKER PORK RAGU WITH FENNEL

Another one for the OMG files. My vegetarian friends will have to avert their eyes, because this one is the omnivore’s dream come true. Pork shoulder, another example of a cut of meat that performs very well when prepared in the slow cooker, without any compromise in texture. Fennel is the magical ingredient that takes the dish from simple to spectacular. The recipe comes from Serious Eats, a site that never disappointed me. Kenji’s recipes are trustworthy by default.

pork-shoulder-fennel
SLOW COOKER PORK RAGÚ WITH FENNEL
(slightly modified from Serious Eats)

1 (6-pound) bone-in pork shoulder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut on the bias
2 large shallots, sliced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 Parmesan rind

Season pork all over with salt and pepper and place in the bowl of a large slow cooker. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add fennel and carrot and cook, stirring often, until vegetables start to brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add shallots and continue cooking until softened, about 4 minutes longer.  Add wine and bring to a boil. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, crushed red pepper, oregano, rosemary, sage, and Parmesan rind. Stir to combine and transfer to the slow cooker, pouring tomato mixture on top of the pork shoulder.

Cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours, basting with tomato sauce occasionally. When pork is fall-apart tender, transfer meat to a bowl and discard thyme, bay leaves and Parmesan rind. Skim fat from the top of the sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed.   When meat is cool enough to handle, shred using two forks, and discard the bone and any undesirable fat. Mound meat on top of your favorite side dish, spoon sauce on top and garnish with shredded Parmigiano.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositepoekragu
If we have to say goodbye to summer, let’s at least indulge into a bit of comfort food, shall we? Pork shoulder has that melt in your mouth quality that makes it perfect to create a ragú such as this one. Plus, using the slow cooker makes life so easy, you arrive home to the delicious smell of a dinner basically ready and waiting. If you don’t have a crock pot, use your regular oven low and slow or a pressure cooker fast and furious. How about that for flexibility?

oskypork

The classic side dish for this ragú would be pappardelle, but for the sake of our waistline I normally opt for a root veggie pure, in this case a cauliflower and  rutabaga mix. A bit of Parmigiano shaved on top just for good measure. Leftovers get better and better, and if you don’t mind stretching the boundaries of fusion cuisine, they work surprisingly well as a filling for tacos. Remember… flexibility rules, at least in the Bewitching Kitchen it does!

slow-cooker-pork-ragu-with-fennel-from-bewitching-kitchen

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Pimp your Veg, a Guest Post

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THREE YEARS AGO: Pomegranate Chicken Thighs and Carrot Mash

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Many Faces of Kale

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SIX YEARS AGO: Ciabatta, a Classic Italian Bread

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Magical Lamb Stew

 

 

PORK RIBS: STICKY, SPICY, AND AWESOME

Have I already mentioned how much we love ribs? I am sure I did, and more than once. My default recipe is the first one I blogged about back in 2011, a favorite with Phil and the kids. But I am always trying new versions, although the basic method, cooking low and slow, then blasting them in high heat stays unchanged. This recipe was recommended a while ago by my friend Kathy, and once I read the magical words Gochujang, I knew I was going to love it. Plus, when you marry Gochujang with apricot jam, well… you see where this is going. Explosion of flavors.  Get your napkins. You’ll be digging into these babies with enthusiasm.

ribs3
STICKY AND SPICY GOCHUJANG PORK RIBS

(adapted from The Splendid Table)

to cook the ribs:
1 large rack of pork spare ribs
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger root (yes, half a cup)
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup soy sauce

for the sauce:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup gochujang (Korean red chile paste)
1/4 cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon white rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

Put the ribs in a large saucepan or stockpot with the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let cook gently for 1½ hours, until the ribs are tender and cooked through.

Meanwhile, combine all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and mix together well. Line a roasting pan with foil  and heat the oven to 400°F.

Arrange the cooked ribs on the prepared pan and brush with the sauce to coat evenly. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, turning and basting the ribs with more sauce halfway through cooking. I do that step with the ribs loosely covered with aluminum foil.

Remove the pan from the oven and put the broiler on high. Brush the ribs once again with the remaining sauce, then broil until the sauce is sticky and just beginning to char at the edges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Don’t be put off by the look of the meat once it’s out of the cooking liquid. Yes, it looks like hospital food, but  a smear with the killer gochujang sauce and the perfect environment of a hot oven (or you could use the grill too if you prefer) will turn this ugly duckling into a gorgeous swan…

gochujangribs2

I like my ribs to be falling off the bone, and that’s the reason why I baked them covered after they were out of the pre-cooking bath. It helps to take them to that stage. They are quite spicy, but the ginger and sweetness of the apricot jam balance the heat quite well.  I served them with thick spiralized cucumber, very simply dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and a sprinkle of Tajin, a Mexican spice mix I’m very fond of.  Of course, you can go the more authentic route of rice and beans, maybe some cole-slaw, but ribs are heavy by definition, so I opt for a light side dish to compensate.

gochujangribs-from-bewitching-kitchen

 

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SIX YEARS AGO:
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SEVEN YEARS AGO: Summer’s Finale

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SLOW COOKER CARNITAS LETTUCE WRAPS AND PALEO PLANET REVIEW


They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I cannot think of a better phrase to start this post. Several months ago – a few too many – I learned that the hostess of one of my favorite food blogs (A Calculated Whisk) was publishing her first cookbook. After I was done with my extended version of the happy dance, I pre-ordered the book, Kindle version. The book was downloaded to my computer in August last year, but within a couple of days I asked for a refund, and immediately switched to a paper copy of it. I guess that tells you how much I loved it…  I then contacted Becky and asked if it would be ok to publish one of the recipes and do a little review of her cookbook. She was adorable, sent me right away a list of recipes that the publisher agreed could be shared by food bloggers, and I made her Bacon and Spinach Souffle.  My intention was to blog about it on the first week of December, but the pictures turned out really bad, doing no justice whatsoever to the great taste of the dish. I was disappointed and decided to make it again later.  Just as I was getting ready to do it, Becky herself blogged on that very recipe, with drool-worthy images… So yes, I re-made the souffle’ because we enjoyed it so much the first time, but skipped blogging about it. Instead, I jumped right away on another goodie, Lamb Meatballs with Saffron Sauce… One word: WOW. Ok, another, OMG. That makes four words? Sorry. I need them all. But here’s three more for you: Slap To Forehead.  That particular recipe was not in the list approved for sharing by her publisher. Can you feel my pain? Undeterred, although a bit embarrassed by my comedy of boo-boos, I attacked yet another recipe: Slow Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Wraps with Pineapple Salsa.  Five words for you: Third Time’s the Charm. Let me blog about it quickly before someone else beats me to it…
 CarnitasWithSalsa
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SLOW COOKER CARNITAS LETTUCE WRAPS WITH PINEAPPLE SALSA

(slightly adapted from Paleo Planet)
reprinted with permission from Becky Winkler)
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for the carnitas:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 bone-in pork shoulder (about 2.5 pounds in weight)
1 onion, thickly sliced
Juice of 2 oranges (reserve the shells)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
for the salsa:
3/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks (I used diced mango)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 avocados, diced
1 head of Boston lettuce for serving
Cashew cream or Mexican crema for garnish (optional)
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Make the carnitas: mix the olive oil, cumin, salt, black pepper, oregano and cayenne in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the pork. Place it in the crock pot and top with the onion and citrus juices. Add the orange shells to she slow cooker as well. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.  The meat should be fall-apart tender.
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When you are ready to serve the meat, turn the broiler on and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, preferably the heavy-duty kind. Remove the pork from the slow cooker, discarding orange halves and onion slices. Shred the meat using two forks into bite-size pieces. Place the meat on the baking sheet, spoon some of the liquid left in the crock pot over the meat, and broil until browned on top and crispy around the edges, about 5 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
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Make the salsa: combine all he ingredients in a small bowl except the avocado pieces and mix well to combine. Gently toss the avocado, taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lemon juice if so desired.
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To serve, spoon the meat over leaves of lettuce, top with the salsa, and drizzle with crema or cashew cream.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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carnitascomposite
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 Comments: This was superb. Absolutely superb. I am a pulled pork cheerleader, so I could be slightly biased, but still. It was one delicious meal. The salsa, so simple to prepare was a perfect topping for the meat. I was lucky to have blood oranges available when I made this recipe, they gave a gorgeous color to the cooking liquid. I highly recommend you make this dish when they are in season. As for the salsa, I used mango instead of pineapple simply because I tend to develop canker sores when I eat pineapple, which is pretty sad, since I love the fruit. Oh, well, there are worse problems to have in life.  I used this recipe for cashew cream, which I blogged not too long ago.
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holidays
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And now, it’s time to share my views on Becky’s first cookbook,
Paleo Planet: Primal Foods from the Global Kitchen…
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As expected from a cookbook published by a reputable food blogger, the photos are amazing, so if you are a very visual person when it comes to picking a recipe to try for the first time, this cookbook will be a huge hit with you. But not only the photos are great, the book was designed with a wonderful sense of aesthetics. Details like the edge of the pages in each chapter marked with a different color, so browsing through is easier… also, each color matches the font in the list of the ingredients. The book is a pleasure to hold, open, and read. I smiled my whole way through it. Another thing I love about it? Becky did not go through 126 pages to explain what is Paleo diet, why you would benefit from it, and listing every single ingredient and gadget you will need to make a Paleo meal, including 3 sizes of wooden spoons, that… come to think of it, cavemen lacked, I am sure. I joke. but some Paleo cookbooks take you for such a looong detour before giving you what you want (recipes!) that it becomes tiring, at least for me. Becky devotes austere 9 pages of text to cover not only her own experience with Paleo, but everything you’d need to know in case you are new to the subject. That is it. I loved it!
book

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Chapter One:
  Spice Blends, Pantry Staples and Sauces…
 In this chapter you will find gems like homemade date syrup (after paying for a bottle and getting addicted to it, I am sure it will be fun to make my own in the future), Cashew Cream (another one of my recent addictions), Slow-cooker caramelized onions, a few chutneys like onion, tamarind, and mint, and many other things to spice up your food.
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Chapter Two: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, and Snacks… How do you feel about Tahini Glazed Chicken Wings? Yes, they are there. Malaysian Beef Satay with Quick-picked cucumbers?  Also waiting for you… Some super enticing soups like Butternut Squash with Fried Garlic and Chile Oil (the photo made me swoon…), or Cauliflower and Mushroom Soup with Gomasio (a fun, simple item ready in seconds that would go well on many dishes). For some reason, I associate Gomasio with a handsome butler…  “Gomasio, please bring me a glass of carbonated water with a dash of Angostura bitters, will you?”  Nah, trust me, nothing to do with it.
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Chapter Three: Poultry... I pretty much wanted to make every single dish of the 21 included in this chapter, but what can I say? I love poultry. Roast Chicken with Za’tar and Yogurt Sauce maybe gets the number one spot with me, but some serious contenders would be Coconut Tamarind Curry, Drumsticks with Mole Poblano, and Chicken Tagine with Potatoes and Quick-Preserved Lemons. WOW!
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Chapter Four: Beef, Pork, and Lamb… Mat lovers, get ready to dig in! Another chapter I could cook from first to last. Includes my featured recipe (Slow Cooker Carnitas), and the one I could not blog about, Lamb Meatballs in Saffron Sauce, but also gems like Date Glazed Pork Tenderloin, and Honey Chipotle Short Ribs.
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Chapter Five: Seafood…. Great recipes in here too, starting with her Lemongrass Shrimp with Cucumber Vermicelli, for which you will need a spiral cutter to make your life easier. You know you need one, almost as badly as you need Becky’s book, so order them both at amazon.com and help keep our great economy moving. Once you get the spiralizer, you can make the second recipe of this chapter, Cilantro-Lime Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles. See? It all falls in a nice place in the Paleo Planet.  I also want to make her Broiled Salmon with Ginger-Orange Sauce, although I would probably opt to grill the fish instead.
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Chapter Six: Vegetables... Cauliflower Rice is there, in case you are wondering. How could it not be? It is probably the staple of choice for Paleo diet lovers.  Her take on it is simple, straightforward and works great. But how about some Smoky Sweet Potato Latkes?  I want to make them soon, hoping that mine would look half as gorgeous as hers. Another great choice would be the Ginger-Lime Parsnip Puree, as I see parsnips as a great ingredient, often ignored. Love this chapter, it even includes a recipe for okra, which tempted me, but I resisted, I suspect my beloved husband is grateful for it.
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Chapter Seven: Breakfast and Brunch…
I thought it was interesting that she added that more to the end of the book instead of the beginning, unexpected pleasure to stumble upon the chapter. Surprisingly, one of my favorite recipes of this chapter is already in my blog!  Mini-Quiches with Mushroom Duxelles and Baby Broccoli, was my choice of recipe to make from her blog in The Secret Recipe Club back in January 2015. Check it out here. By the way, very few of the recipes from her book were previously on her site. No worries about ordering your copy. Spinach and Bacon Souffle, the first recipe I made but with disappointing photos is also from this chapter.I have a single photo that is not too bad to share, take a look at how creamy it was…
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freezer-2
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Chapter Eight: Desserts…
Becky managed to assemble a collection of 17 recipes that don’t make you go “I don’t know about this one…”  You know what I mean, Paleo recipes sometimes bring blueberry muffins made with stuff as tasty as sawdust and sprinkled with honeyed seaweed.  No, not the case. You will find options that are naturally Paleo friendly such as Vanilla-Cardamon Berries, Chocolate-Ginger Truffles, Mocha Panna Cotta, Mexican Brownies, Lemon Olive Oil Cake, and the last recipe closing the book is Coconut Whipped Cream, something lots of bloggers rave about, but I haven’t tried yet.
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So that is my take on a great cookbook that I’m glad to own in its real format, I’ll take the opportunity to save some trees later.  The book was clearly made with love and attention to every detail. Becky follows a Paleo nutrition but doesn’t act like a member of the Paleo Police, quite the contrary. I appreciate that very much, and highly recommend her cookbook, no matter the type of nutrition you enjoy or follow. Of course, vegetarians might find the options slightly limited, but if they don’t mind skipping three of the chapters, there’s plenty to cook from Paleo Planet.
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Becky, I am sorry it took me so long to get this post published, but as I said in the beginning, I had very good intentions…
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If you’d like to order Paleo Planet, follow this link.  I am not associated with amazon.com, and will not profit from your purchase. My reviews of cookbooks and products arise exclusively from my desire to do so.
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PULLED PORK, SLOW-COOKER VERSION

You know you’ve been blogging for too long when you’ve got not one, not two, but three recipes for pulled pork… This one inaugurates our latest acquisition, a crock pot… I know, as if I needed another cooking gadget. But, I used to have one and when we moved four years ago I gave it away. Ever since that day, for reasons that I cannot quite comprehend, the most enticing recipes using slow-cookers kept reaching me. I finally could not take it anymore, this baby was on sale at our grocery store and that was the end of my resolve.  This version of pulled pork was recommended by our post doc, who makes it regularly. She is one impressive, hard-working scientist, awesome runner (two marathons and countless half-marathons under her belt), and great cook. Yeah, she’s got it all…  I confess that her praise of the crock pot was the final push for me to get it. This is one of her and her husband’s favorite recipes, and I can see why: the meat turned out melt in your mouth delicious, moist, with the right amount of spice and soooo easy to put together! As a bonus, clean up is a breeze: the surface basically cleans itself with no need for elbow grease. I am sold. Stay tuned for more adventures in the slow-cooking world…

Crockpot Pulled Pork2

 

PULLED PORK IN A CROCK POT
(from B.N.)

3 tablespoons paprika
1 to 2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup honey (I used 1/4 cup)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
3 ½ pounds pork shoulder, cut in half

In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (all of the spices) with a fork. Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir to form a paste. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top it with the 2 pieces of pork and then pour the honey paste over all sides of the pork pieces. It’s okay if some of it (or a lot of it) just drips down to the bottom.

Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork. Serve warm with fixings like homemade cole slaw and cornbread, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

pulledporkcomposite

There is really something to be said for adding ingredients to a crock pot and coming back hours later to a delicious and effortless dinner. Some cuts of meat will work better than others, though. I think the key to mastering the slow cooker is not pushing its limits. If you add boneless chicken breasts to it and cook them on high for five hours, you’ll have dry, tasteless meat on your plate.  Pork butt (or shoulder) is a nice match for the slow cooker because it has so much fat all through the meat, it will never get dry.   I’ve been trying to perfect my favorite recipe for chicken thighs using the crock pot, but haven’t found the holy grail yet. I am getting close, though.  You just wait!

served

As to this pulled pork, it was perfect!  I like to enjoy mine in a pretty low-carb way, with guacamole and queso fresco crumbled on top, maybe a leaf of lettuce to wrap it up. Messy but tasty.  Phil prefers to have his with some rice or corn tortillas. Do as you please.  Of course the recipe makes a lot of pulled pork, so it is a great option for dinner parties, but I like to get a couple of dinners out of it, then freeze what’s left.

One more thing: there will be a lot of liquid inside the crock pot at the end of cooking.  I strain it, de-grease it, and  pour most of it over the shredded meat. You can save some of the sauce and freeze for later.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Pie of the Century

TWO YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken

THREE YEARS AGO: Leaving on a Jet Plane

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Pearfect Drink

FIVE YEARS AGO: Ming Tsai Under Pressure

SIX YEARS AGO: Paris, je t’aime!

PULLING UNDER PRESSURE

Are you afraid of the pressure cooker? Are you so terrified that you don’t even own one and the thought of that thing in your kitchen gives you nightmares? I am here to help you out. As 99.99% of Brazilians, I grew up used to its noise a couple of times per week, making sure we never ran out of black beans, a staple in any Brazilian kitchen. Looking back, I am forced to admit that my Mom’s pressure cooker was scary. That thing had zero safety features and relied on the experience (and perhaps a little luck) of the user not to blow up. A wimpy-looking closing mechanism, a gasket that would definitely be worn out in a few months, and a tiny valve that danced the dance of the steam on top, but seemed ready to fly off any second. Basically, Mom’s pressure cooker was like a bomb in waiting. But, apart from one incident in which black beans tainted the kitchen’s ceiling, nothing serious ever happened.  Having said all that, today’s pressure cookers have absolutely nothing to do with the ones from my past. They have safety mechanisms in place that prevent building excessive pressure, and the lid simply will not open unless the pressure in versus out is equalized.  I don’t even hesitate to grab mine whenever I want to make black beans, but truth is, they are incredibly useful to cook many types of food, from soups to sauces, from meat to grains, veggies, and even desserts! But, let’s start with a favorite recipe of mine, Pulled Pork. An American classic made in a classic Brazilian cooking vessel, the one and only pressure cooker!

Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork22

PRESSURE COOKER PULLED PORK
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

5 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into large chunks
water
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup apple cider

Place the chunks of meat in the pressure cooker, add water to just barely cover them, then add the bay leaves, and all other ingredients. Mix gently to dissolve the salt and incorporate the apple cider.

Close the pressure cooker and turn the heat on high until it builds pressure, then lower the heat and cook it for 45 minutes.  When the time is up, turn the heat off and allow the pressure cooker to come down naturally, it should take about 15 minutes, maybe a little less.

Open the pan once the pressure is equalized, and transfer the meat carefully to a baking dish. It will be very tender. You can save the cooking liquid, put it in the fridge to make it easier to remove the layer of fat that will form, using it as a base for sauce.

Shred the meat with two forks, discarding any fatty pieces or gristle. You can use the meat right away or save it for several days in the fridge.  When ready to use, you can saute it in olive or coconut oil to crisp up the edges, or warm it up gently in a pan and then spread the pulled meat on a layer and run it under the broiler (my favorite method).   Serve with tortillas, or over steamed rice and black beans, incorporate in sauces, improvise a Tex-Mex lasagna with it…  and…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositepulled

A word about pressure levels:  these days you can find regular pressure cookers and also electric ones. Many models will have two levels of pressure, the lowest around 6 psi (pounds per square inch), the highest from 13 to 15 psi. My pressure cooker delivers a single, powerful level of pressure of 15 psi. If yours doesn’t reach this level simply cook the meat 5 minutes longer. I have no experience with electric pressure cookers, but from what I see around they require longer times in general, perhaps 30% or even longer cooking times.  Use the specifications provided in the instruction booklet you have somewhere, or let google do the research for you…

Pulled pork is definitely one of our favorite meals, I’ve made it many, many times, as Phil’s kids also used to love it. My default recipe is in the blog and it is fantastic. However, I must say this one pleased me even more!  Something about the moisture retained by the meat cooked under pressure, and the way the seasoning is more uniformly present instead of concentrated on the charred surface made this dish a complete winner in my book…  The meat won’t look gorgeous as it comes out of the pressure cooker, so don’t be discouraged when you open the pan. Trust me on this. Get the meat out very gently, pull it and try a little piece… even without browning on a pan or under a broiler you will be amazed by how wonderful it is.

I like to serve mine over Romaine lettuce leaves, a bit of guacamole, shredded Queso fresco…

servedSally


But, of course, you can opt for a more authentic presentation that will include corn tortillas, and a serving of refried beans on the side…  It’s all good!

servedPEK


And you know what I love the most? Leftovers for lunch, so easy to put together… a quick saute of the meat, some tomatillo salsa, half an avocado, Queso fresco for good measure, and a nice sprinkle of the world’s best hot sauce, Sriracha!  Tell me, isn’t this a great lunch?

leftovers

I hope I convinced you to lose your fear of pressure cooking.  Pork shoulder is very forgiving and probably one of the best types of meat to inaugurate your pressure cooking adventures.  Second best type? My vote goes for chicken thighs.  Stay tuned, I’ve got a nice curry coming up sometime soon. Well, you know… soon enough.

😉

before I leave you, a little picture of me and Mom, who doesn’t cook anymore, but I am sure remembers fondly the days in which she prepared the best black beans in the known universe for her family! As this post is published, I’ll be almost leaving Brazil to fly back home…

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ONE YEAR AGO: Cooking Sous-vide: Two takes on Chicken Thighs

TWO YEARS AGO: Miso Soup: A Japanese Classic

THREE YEARS AGO: On my desk

FOUR YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

FIVE YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

SIX YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo