Tag Archives: Pork

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

I think that in addition to having a lot going on this summer, one of my other lame excuses for not blogging much has been writer’s block. Like I said, lame. Every professional writer (of which I am certainly not) seems to give the same advice for curing writer’s block: just sit down and write. So, I shall finally take that long-overdue advice to make this post happen at long last!

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

The words aren’t coming to me in any entertaining or sophisticated fashion, but you really need these spareribs in your life. They’re so cute and little! Summers are for pool parties, and these would be perfect to set out at an adults-only one, particularly if said shindig involves copious amounts of bourbon and/or a quasi-legal inhalable substance. Strong Asian flavors and a touch of heat, and it’s really tough to stop eating them. Tender with just the right amount of chew. Utterly delicious. I’ll let the recipe speak for itself. Enjoy!

Vietnamese Spareribs with Chile and Lemongrass

Source: ever so slightly adapted from Pure Pork Awesomeness by Kevin Gillespie

Ingredients:
3 ½ lbs. Asian-style (flanken) pork spareribs*
2 tsp kosher salt
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
3 Thai bird chiles
¼ red onion, stem and roots trimmed, cut into chunks
2 tbs sugar
2-inch pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and rough-chopped
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 lime
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

*Basically flanken spareribs are cut horizontally into thirds; have your butcher do it

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Place a broiler pan or cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet (it must be rimmed). Grease the cooling rack with cooking spray. Season the ribs with 1 tsp salt and place on the cooling rack. Add a ¼-inch depth of boiling water to the baking pan, then wrap the ribs with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and cook until the ribs are pull-apart tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Basically, yes, you’re steaming the ribs.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, lemongrass, chiles, onions, and ginger, and process 30 seconds, until well chopped. Add the sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and the remaining 1 tsp salt. Continue to process until a coarse paste is formed, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times.

Adjust the rack in the oven to the highest setting and preheat the broiler to HIGH.
Remove the ribs temporarily and pour off the water in the baking sheet. If you don’t do this, the ribs won’t crisp up properly. Arrange the ribs, meat side up, on the rack and smear with some of the paste. Broil the ribs until nicely caramelized, 5 minutes. Flip them, smear the other side with some paste and broil on the bone side for 3 minutes. Flip them again, smear with the remaining paste, and broil a final time to get them nice and crispy on the meat side, about 2 more minutes.

Using tongs, transfer the ribs to a cutting board and cut into single-bone pieces. Squeeze the lime onto the ribs and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately.

Peppery Oven Spareribs

Peppery Oven Spareribs

Spring is supposedly on its way (or already here? Given the recent snow it’s hard to tell), but as much as I’m trying to will it otherwise, consistent grilling weather simply isn’t here yet. Not that that stops my barbecue cravings of late, mind you. I decided I’d just have to address that craving in the form of oven ribs, a notion that has always filled my Texan heart with skepticism in the past.

Peppery Oven Spareribs

No need for that with this recipe though, thank goodness. I suppose it makes sense that I would turn to another native Texan with a small NYC apartment when researching oven rib methods that actually, well, work. Blogger Lisa Fain’s second cookbook, highly recommended by the way, provides an excellent recipe for those of us stuck inside for the time being, whether that be because of weather or March Madness*.

Peppery Oven Spareribs

Matt and I loved these! I debated between several different spare rib recipes in my cookbook arsenal, but that peppery crust on these particular ribs convinced me. We are peppery, spicy people in this house, and that crust was really phenomenal. Sort of reminded me of the French au poivre topping usually reserved for steaks, but that thick pepper crust was accompanied by a well-lacquered tangy barbecue sauce layer. Overall, extremely delicious, and I will admit to being actually happy to have a great oven ribs recipe in my bag of tricks, much as I love the grill. Enjoy!

Peppery Oven Spareribs

*I am, at best, a listless observer of March Madness these days, seeing as Baylor lost out on the FIRST round. To … dear god don’t even say it … Yale. My husband, who is not a Baylor alum, is a much more enthusiastic viewer. So I do understand this aspect of being stuck inside for meals.

Peppery Oven Spareribs

Source: The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain

Ingredients:

RIBS:
2 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs black pepper
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp chipotle chile powder
2 slabs St. Louis-cut spareribs, about 2 lbs. each
Coarsely cracked black pepper, for garnish

BARBECUE SAUCE:
1 cup canned tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tbs molasses
1 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp black pepper
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
Pinch of ground cloves
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt, to taste
Liquid smoke, to taste (optional)

Directions:
First make the rub for the ribs: mix together the salt, pepper, brown sugar, smoked paprika, and chipotle chile powder. Sprinkle each slab of ribs evenly with the rub, then double wrap in aluminum foil, making a note of which is the meat side. Refrigerate the ribs for 2 to 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 275 F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Place the foil-wrapped ribs, meat side up, on the baking sheets, and bake for 1 ½ hours to 2 hours.
While the ribs are baking, make the BARBECUE SAUCE. In a medium pot, stir together the tomato sauce, ketchup, garlic, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire, molasses, brown sugar, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, and cloves. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low, and gently simmer for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring. After 30 minutes, stir in the smoked paprika, plus salt and liquid smoke to taste (if using).
After 1 ½ hours, lift the foil to check on the ribs. If the meat hasn’t really pulled back from the bones, cook another 30 minutes under the foil. If they are looking mostly done, proceed with the recipe.
Brush the meat side of the ribs with some of the barbecue sauce, then bake another 30 minutes. Brush with the sauce again, and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, keeping a careful eye on how much the meat has pulled back from the bone. You don’t want to overcook them.
Once the ribs are done, turn on the broiler and place a rack 6 inches away from the heating element. Remove the rib slabs from the foil and discard. Drain any residual fat from the baking sheets and brush the ribs with more sauce. Broil 1 to 3 minutes, until dark spots start to appear. Remove the ribs, garnish with the coarse black pepper and let stand for 10 minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut the slab into individual ribs. Serve with the extra barbecue sauce on the side.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

“Is it legal for meatballs to taste this good?” – Matt

Let’s hope, because these meatballs may just be the meatballs that will ruin all the other meatballs for you. I don’t know how the crack culinary geniuses at Fine Cooking Magazine came up with this one, I’m seriously living in complete awe of their recipe development prowess, but I’m forever grateful that they did.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

And I’m forever thrilled to share it with you. This one is definitely going in my repertoire with the “Best Ever…” label firmly attached, something I’ll be pulling out to impress company. The slow cooker does most of the work, and you don’t even have to broil or brown the meatballs first (I told you they were geniuses!!).

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Dried herbs, usually a foodier-than-thou no-no, are much of what takes the flavor of both the meatballs and the sauce just soaring. This is one instance where I’m thinking fresh actually isn’t better. The dried herbs really stand out in the long cooking time. Also, porcini mushrooms – ‘nuff said there! Soaking the breadcrumbs in sweet vermouth really makes a difference too – don’t skip that step. Genius.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

I really can’t overstate how much we enjoyed these. I made them twice in one week – the first time because I hadn’t planned on blogging them, then a second time a few days later because I realized what a grave and unpardonable sin it would have been not to. I hope you all enjoy them as much as we did!

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2015

Ingredients:

MEATBALLS:
1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup sweet vermouth
1 ¼ lb. ground pork
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large egg
6 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

SAUCE:
1 (15 oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juices
¼ cup tomato paste
½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Make the MEATBALLS: mix the breadcrumbs and vermouth in a large bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.
Add the pork and sausage to the mixture, breaking the sausage up with your fingers as you go. Add the egg, cheese, sage, oregano, salt, and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. Form into 12 meatballs.
To make the SAUCE, mix the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried porcini, oregano, thyme, fennel, pepper flakes, and salt in a 5-6 quart slow cooker until the tomato paste dissolves.
Nestle the meatballs into the sauce. It’s fine if they don’t all fit in a single layer. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. Once done, the meatballs can stay on the keep-warm setting for up to 2 hours. When you’re ready to serve, gently break the meatballs apart if necessary, and gently turn them all in the sauce. Serve in bowls with plenty of sauce, and with extra Parmesan for garnish, if desired.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

Pork and Whiskey Chili

I’ve done quite a bit of cooking since 2016 began, with well, mixed results. I’ve learned valuable lessons though, like if you’re going to put baby back ribs in the slow cooker, the membrane MUST stay attached; otherwise they completely fall apart on you. I’ve also learned that kumquats have a very mild flavor when slow roasted, and probably weren’t worth the trouble as they only lent a slight citrusy background note that likely could have been achieved with some basic orange zest. (I might try that pork dish again with that change, because it was otherwise quite tasty.) Anyways.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

This chili was, thankfully, superb. Despite my pickiness about chili texture, I do enjoy shaking up the flavors from time to time. Sure, I’ll always be loyal to a Texas bowl o’ red, but I don’t feel guilty for occasionally stepping out on it. Pork in chili is delicious. It just is.

Pork and Whiskey Chili

This chili features pork in three ways, with bacon, Italian sausage, and ground pork shoulder. Despite the Italian sausage, this chili’s flavor profile is definitely Tex-Mex. The Italian-ness of the sausage doesn’t distract, it just provides an interesting note to wake up your tastes buds a little. Seeing as we just sat through a blizzard, I’m wishing the leftovers weren’t already gone… Enjoy!

Pork and Whiskey Chili

Source: adapted a little bit from The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh

Ingredients:
1 tbs unsalted butter
3 thick-cut strips bacon, chopped
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, removed from its casings
1 lb. ground pork
1 large white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 cups water
1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
¼ cup whiskey or bourbon
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs paprika
1-2 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbs masa harina
Garnishes of your choice (sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, scallions, pickled jalapenos, chopped onion…)

Directions:
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisped and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the sausage to the bacon drippings by pinching off little free-form meatballs. This will give your chili some texture later. Stir the sausage chunks until browned all over, then move all the sausage to one side of the pot. Add the pork and cook, breaking it up with a spoon or potato masher, until no traces of pink remain. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Now add the water, tomatoes, whiskey, brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir well to mix and increase the heat to a simmer. Cook the chili at least 1 hour or more, stirring occasionally to prevent the bottom from scorching. Adjust the heat up or down as necessary to keep a simmer going.
Add the masa harina and stir to thicken. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Once the chili is to your desired thickness, serve with the garnishes of your choice.

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

Whenever Matt and I travel to another city, one of our top priorities is always Find The Chinatown. Every success has richly rewarded us with a delicious meal, and occasionally we’ll conclude that the Chinatown meal was one of the best of the trip. All this hunting may seem silly seeing as we live in a city that boasts not one but two huge Chinatowns (and I somehow managed to live in New York for about five years before I found out about the second one. It’s okay to judge me; I judge me), but I suppose the heart (or in this case the stomach) wants what it wants.

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

While I do love the bustling, crazy enormity of New York’s Chinatowns, particularly the Manhattan locale, I’ve found that the smaller ones grab me more. My hands down favorite is London. The neighborhood restaurants specialize in duck, and that meal was one of the best I’ve had in my life. (They took a Peking duck, chunked up the meat, then coated it in egg whites and deep fried it, then coated it in some kind of sauce I’d never tasted before. No words for it.)

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

I also had quite a memorable trip to Boston’s Chinatown, where I ended up attending the University of Humiliating Hard Knocks, majoring in White Girl Doesn’t Know How to Properly Use Chopsticks when I ordered a whole duck leg in broth. Delicious, don’t get me wrong. Also, an embarrassing mess.

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

I think next time I should stick to ordering these classic Chinese lacquered ribs, which don’t require chopsticks, thus saving my dignity, and my lap! Or, I can practice my chopsticks skills more; or I could just make these at home. The code has been cracked (thank you Steven Raichlen!) – these are authentic and easy and just all around incredible. A wonderful trip down our Chinatown memory lanes. Enjoy!

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

Source: just slightly adapted from Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs by Steven Raichlen

Ingredients:
½ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
¼ cup soy sauce
2 ½ tbs Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 ½ tbs Asian dark sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and gently crushed
3 slices fresh ginger, peeled and gently crushed
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided
1 rack pork baby back ribs, trimmed

Directions:
Place the hoisin, sugar, and five-spice powder in a nonreactive mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Add the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, and sesame oil and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and scallion whites. Set one-third of the marinade aside to make the sauce.
Place the ribs in a nonreactive roasting pan or baking dish just large enough to hold them. Pour the remaining marinade over the ribs and spread it all over the rack with a spatula. Turn to coat both sides. Let the ribs marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and as long as overnight, turning them 3 or 4 times. Alternately, you can marinate your ribs in a large resealable plastic food storage bag.
Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. Place a drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate.
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Drain the ribs well and place them in the center of the grate bone side down over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the ribs until dark brown and very crisp on the outside but tender inside, 1 ½ to 2 hours. When the ribs are done, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about ¼ inch.
Meanwhile, transfer the reserved marinade to a nonreactive saucepan, let come to a gentle simmer over medium heat, and cook until thick and flavorful, about 3-5 minutes. Let the sauce cool to room temperature, then strain it into a bowl. In the last 15 minutes of cooking the ribs, baste the meat side with some of the sauce to let it laquer up while they finish cooking.
When the ribs are done, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest a few minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut the rack into individual ribs. Brush with a little more of the sauce, then sprinkle the scallion greens on top for garnish. Serve immediately with the reserved sauce.

Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops

Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops

This was the last meal I made and photographed for the blog in our old place (moment of silence please. Ha! Just kidding!). This meal came at that in-between stage you hit during a move: where you’re well into the throes of preparing for the movers to come, but you aren’t yet on the days on end of take-out diet because the kitchen is inaccessible. In other words, the meal you cook has to be quick and simple. And hopefully it can use up a fridge or pantry staple that you don’t want to throw out, but there’s not enough of it in the can/bag/jar/bottle to justify moving it to the new place.

pistachio crusted pork chops

I found an open bag of roasted pistachios in the refrigerator, then found this pork chop recipe, and as they say, dinner was served. I can honestly say that I would have made this meal anyway, and would happily make it again (unlike some of the slop I threw together in the last days of having a working kitchen, ahem).

Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops

The pork chops were tender inside and crunchy outside, tangy from the pistachios and mild from the pork flavor. Easy to prep and easy to clean up. I adore a good nut-crusted protein anyway, but for whatever reason I don’t think I’d had anything crusted with pistachios, and I’ve concluded that I have missed out a great deal. The flavor really pops. I hope you enjoy this one, moving or not!

pistachio crusted pork chops

Recipe notes: you could really use whatever pork chop you prefer for this. It would work on thin-cut, thick-cut, bone-in or boneless. I used a thick-cut bone-in chop, simply because that’s my favorite one that I find is most flavorful and easiest to cook. If you’re going for thin-cut, you’ll need to cut back on the cooking time. Use a meat thermometer to be sure.

Pistachio Crusted Pork Chops

Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray, November 2008

Ingredients:
½ cup shelled unsalted pistachios
1 clove garlic
1 tsp lemon zest
Kosher salt
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
Fresh cracked black pepper
4 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork chops
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup olive oil

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Using a food processor, finely grind the nuts, garlic, lemon zest, and ½ tsp kosher salt. Be careful you don’t overdo it and make nut butter here. Transfer the ground nut mixture to a shallow bowl or pie plate, then whisk in the breadcrumbs.
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper to taste. Dip each chop into the egg, let the excess drip off, then coat both sides well with the nut mixture. Transfer to a plastic plate or baking sheet as you go.
In a large, oven-safe skillet, such as a cast iron, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pork chops and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 F, about 15-20 minutes.
Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

Happy, happy MLK Day! Why does this particular MLK Day get an extra happy wish? Because it coincides with Secret Recipe Club reveal day, that’s why! This month I was assigned Rainstorms and Love Notes.

Ashley, like me, lives with her husband and three cats. (Seriously, I have three cats too!). Unlike me, Ashley is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Sorry, Ashley – can’t join you there; go Cowboys!! Anyways… 🙂

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

Rainstorms and Love Notes is a wonderful blog of scrumptious recipes, lovely pictures, and I loved how Ashley wrote out the story of how she and her husband met. Read it here, it’s awesome.

Since it’s still January and I’m still trying to detox from all the excess cookies and alcohol that was the month of December, I went hunting for a healthy, wholesome recipe, which I happily found in these orange rosemary pork chops. Pork chops marinate for about four hours in a combination of delicious ingredients like orange zest and juice, dried rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, molasses, and black pepper.

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

The orange flavor really shines through in the end. All the flavors cooperate beautifully and the final product is a tender, yummy, healthy pork chop that could be a very easy weeknight dinner. It would be very easy to scale the recipe up to four servings too. I hope y’all enjoy this one, and do check out Rainstorms and Love Notes!

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

{One Year Ago: Shrimp and Chorizo Tapas}
{Two Years Ago: Cotija Rice}

Source: slightly adapted from Rainstorms and Love Notes

Ingredients:
2 bone-in pork chops
2 tsp orange zest
Juice from 1 large orange
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the skillet
1 tbsp molasses
Pinch of kosher salt
A few, or many grinds of black pepper

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine the orange zest, orange juice, rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, molasses, salt, and pepper. Add the pork chops to a large, resealable plastic food storage bag. Pour the marinade into the bag, seal it, and squish it around to thoroughly coat the pork chops. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Remove the bag from the refrigerator and allow the pork chops to come up to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 F. Preheat a small (10-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in a little bit of olive oil, and when it shimmers, carefully transfer the pork chops to the hot skillet.
Cook about 2 minutes per side, until nicely browned on both sides. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of one of the chops. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook the chops until the meat thermometer reads 160-165 F, about 6-8 minutes. Let the chops rest for about 5 minutes, then serve.


Eataly’s Porchetta

Eataly's Porchetta

I am so thrilled to share today’s post with you! This is a special, fancy-pants recipe befitting your holiday tables come Thursday. I had a blast cooking and serving it, and it is such a pleasure to eat, too. I think it would be amazing for a main event at your Christmas dinner table!

Eataly's Porchetta

If you’re unfamiliar, Eataly is an enormous Italian foods emporium that was founded back in Italy, but thanks to the likes of Mario Batali and Lydia Bastianich, I have access to one about twenty minutes away from my apartment. Eataly is a sight. Part grocery store, part take-out restaurant, part sit-down restaurant, part wine bar, part bookstore, and part cooking supply store, this monstrosity is usually quite crowded but always worth fighting your way through. The food is delicious and you can spend hours shopping. The next time you visit New York, put this at the top of your to-see list!

Eataly's Porchetta

Eataly is famous for their porchetta, a traditional Italian pork dish that was originally made by hacking off the part of the pig that is the loin with the pork belly attached. It served dozens. Eataly realized the inherent impracticalities for us home cooks, and simplified the process. You simply ask your butcher for a boneless pork loin, plus a slab of butterflied pork belly, each cut the same length. You wrap the pork loin with the belly, securing with kitchen twine, and the end effect is the same. Just much more doable, both on the shopping and the cooking end.

Eataly's Porchetta

And it’s so delicious, I can’t even tell you. You can leave the rub a little rustic and chunky, as I did, or you can grind it down fine in a spice grinder. If you’re not a pepper person, I’d recommend going to the fine grind.

Eataly's Porchetta

This is one of those memorable meals everyone will still be talking about months, possibly even years later. It’s an impressive sight when served, and the taste and texture measure up to its stellar looks. It’s one of those special meals we don’t have every day, or even every month. It’s one to savor, and linger over with a glass of wine. It’s one to share with those you love most dearly, or to celebrate those you don’t see often enough. I hope you all enjoy this one!

Eataly's Porchetta

{Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Muffins, Almond Pancakes, Chocolate Anise Biscotti}

Source: slightly adapted from Meat: Everything You Need to Know by Pat LaFrieda

Ingredients:
¼ cup fennel seeds
¼ cup black peppercorns
¼ cup kosher salt
1 (8-inch long) center cut boneless pork loin (about 3 ½ lbs.)
1 (8-inch) pork belly, butterflied in half horizontally (have your butcher do this)
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste

Directions:
Working in batches, grind the fennel seeds and black peppercorns in a spice grinder until as coarse or as fine as you like. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the salt.
Lay the pork belly flat on a cutting board, skin side down. Generously spread the fennel rub all over the side facing up. Place the pork loin on the belly so that the long side of the loin is lined up with one of the 8-inch sides of the belly. Roll the belly and loin together so the belly meets up again and covers the pork loin. Tie it tightly at one end with kitchen twine, then tie it again at the opposite end. Now make ties at 1-inch intervals between the two ends. Rub the tied porchetta all over with olive oil, and sprinkle all over with kosher salt. Wrap the porchetta tightly in plastic wrap, then put it in a resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours, or at least overnight.
When ready to roast the porchetta, preheat your oven to 400 F.
Place the porchetta on a rack in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet and roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 135 F, about 2 to 2 ½ hours. Remove the porchetta from the oven and adjust the oven temperature to the HIGH Broiler setting. Return the porchetta to the oven and broil until the skin is golden and crispy, about 8 minutes. Use tongs to turn the porchetta every 2 minutes. Let the porchetta rest about 15 minutes before slicing.
To serve, slice the porchetta however thick or thin you want. I’d recommend leaving the kitchen twine on, even as you slice it as this will help hold the porchetta together.
Leftovers reheat beautifully in a 350 F oven, about 10-15 minutes for slices, either on their own or used in sandwiches!

Fig Glazed Pork and Okra Kabobs

Fig Glazed pork and okra kabobs 4918

Part of my motivation for food blogging in the first place is to document my love of trying new (to me) foods. Sometimes it’s a new ingredient, other times, a new technique. And then other times, it’s not a new ingredient, nor a new technique, but a technique I’ve never before applied to a certain ingredient.

fresh okra 4933

Fig Glazed Pork and Okra Kabobs 4907

Like this recipe I’m sharing today. I am no stranger to either okra or grilling, but never before last weekend had I ever put okra on a skewer and grilled it. But when I saw such a recipe in the latest issue of Taste of the South, I knew I had to add this notch to my culinary belt.

fig glazed pork and okra kabobs 4924

Clearly, I have been missing out. Not only do these pork and okra skewers look really cool, they also taste pretty darn good. The fig glaze is subtle, just a hint of sweet-and-spicy lacquered glaze. The okra gets charred and crispy at the edges, with the center still pleasantly mushy, and properly cooked okra should be. The pork was melt-in-your-mouth moist and so delicious.

Fig Glazed Pork and okra kabobs 4934

Try it, before the dumb weather won’t let us grill anymore!

Fig Glazed Pork and Okra kabobs 4940

{One Year Ago: Rosemary Skewered Chipotle Shrimp, Fried Green Tomato and Pimento Cheese Tart, Custard Tart with Wine-Poached Grapes}
{Two Years Ago: Roast Chicken with Honey Mustard Black Pepper Sauce and Hatch Chile Spoonbread, Hot and Sour Soup}

Source: adapted from Taste of the South Magazine, July/August 2014

Ingredients:
5-6 figs, stemmed and chopped
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 heaping tsp whole grain mustard
1 scant tsp honey
Dash of hot sauce
2 lbs. pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
18 small to medium fresh okra, halved lengthwise
Wooden skewers, soaked in water for a few minutes

Directions:
Preheat your grill to high heat.
Add the figs to a small saucepan, along with the balsamic vinegar and about ½ cup water. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it go until the mixture is thickened and the figs are soft to the point of mushy. Use a potato masher to mash the figs and let the mixture thicken a little more. This whole process takes maybe 10 minutes. Shut off the heat and strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a small to medium mixing bowl. Use a large spoon to press on the solids to extract as much fig flavor as possible. Discard the solids. Add to the mixing bowl salt and pepper to taste, mustard, honey and hot sauce. Whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Set aside.
Cut the pork tenderloin into nice chunks appropriate for the skewers. Thread the pork chunks and the halved okra pieces onto the skewers in whatever fashion suits your fancy – alternating, or by twosies, or randomized, or what have you. Season both sides of each skewer generously with salt and black pepper.
Wipe down your grill grate with a paper towel soaked in canola oil. Lay the skewers on the grill, trying to get them not too close together. Work in batches if you need to. Grill about 3-4 minutes per side. Brush one side with the fig glaze. Turn and grill for 1 minute. Brush the remaining side with fig glaze, turn and grill 1 minute more. Transfer the kabobs to a platter and serve immediately.

Margarita Glazed Baby Back Ribs

margarita glazed baby back ribs 184

I grew up in Texas (duh), and this past Memorial Day weekend served as a learning experience about growing up in Texas, which was the realization that I have *never* had pork ribs that weren’t smoked. Where I’m from, pork ribs equals barbecue, which equals smoked. Ribs on the grill use wood chips, and even oven baked barbecue ribs have liquid smoke in the ingredient list.

Margarita Glazed Baby Back Ribs 180

These ribs are not smoked in any way. Grilled, yes. Smoked, no. So upon taking my first bite, I was so accustomed to that smoky flavor I automatically associate with pork ribs, that my knee jerk reaction was along the lines of “Oh god, what’s wrong with them?! Oh no, I screwed them up!” And then I took a second bite and realized that, no, they are actually quite tasty, and smoking ribs with a more delicate flavor profile such as this might be a bit weird.

Margarita Glazed baby back ribs 197

Margarita glazed baby back ribs 190

And then when I realized that these non-smoked ribs were quite the new phenomenon for me, I actually felt a tad silly, but then shrugged and kept eating them, due to the supreme deliciousness and all. It was a lovely switch-up from the regular barbecue types of pork ribs I’m more used to. And of course, you simply must serve these with margaritas. Is that even a choice? Enjoy!

Margarita Glazed Baby back ribs 211

Some margarita drink ideas: Beer Margaritas; Mesa Grill Margaritas; Apple Cider Margaritas; Blood Orange Margaritas; Frozen Cactus Pear Margaritas; and for dessert – Chocolate Margaritas!
You might also enjoy: Margarita Fish Tacos; Margarita Meringue Pie; Maple Glazed Baby Back Ribs; Kansas City Barbecued Spare Ribs

{One Year Ago: Cherry Almond Galette}

Source: Slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, August/September 2011

Ingredients:

MARINADE:
Juice from 1 medium orange
2 tsp lime zest
Juice from 2 medium limes
¼ cup silver tequila
3 tbs dark agave syrup or honey
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs orange liqueur
2 tbs soy sauce
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs ancho chile powder
1 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 or 2 racks pork baby back ribs (about 1 ½ lbs. each) silver skin membrane removed *

GLAZE/SAUCE:
½ cup silver tequila
½ cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes)
2 tbs dark agave syrup or honey
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

*This makes enough marinade and glaze for 2 racks of ribs. I used only 1 rack (small apartment sized grill) and then tossed 1 lb. of shrimp with the remainder. I also used half the glaze on the shrimp. You could also cut the marinade and glaze in half for 1 rack of ribs.

Directions:
First, marinate the ribs. In a medium bowl, whisk the orange juice, lime zest, lime juice, tequila, agave, oil, orange liqueur, soy sauce, garlic, chile powder, cumin, 1 tbs salt and 1 tsp black pepper. Cut each rack of ribs in half and place in a large resealable plastic baggie. Pour the marinade over the ribs (or only half the marinade if using only 1 rack) and seal tightly. Shake the bag to make sure all the ribs are coated. Lay the bag in a baking pan in case of leaks. Refrigerate overnight, turning a few times to redistribute the marinade.
Next, grill the ribs. Preheat your charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking over low to medium-low heat. Remove the ribs from the marinade, shaking off the excess. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and set aside.*
Arrange the ribs bone side down over indirect heat. Cover the grill and let them go for around 1 ½ to 2 hours. They are ready when the meat is tender and the meat is starting to pull away from the bones, about ¼-inch.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Add the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and agave to the reserved marinade. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer until it is starting to turn syrupy, about 20 to 25 minutes. If you are not using the reserved marinade, simply add the glaze ingredients, except the cilantro, to a small saucepan and simmer until it looks a little bit syrupy and appropriate texture for glazing meat. This will not take as long, so be watchful.
When the glaze is the correct consistency, shut off the heat and add salt and black pepper to taste, if necessary.
Once the glaze is made, finish the ribs. Increase the grill heat to medium high and generously brush the meat side of each rack with the glaze. Use tongs to turn the ribs over so that the glazed side is down over the direct heat part, 3-5 minutes. Brush the bone side with some glaze, flip, and grill 3-5 minutes more. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest about 10 minutes.
Add the cilantro to the remaining glaze and pour into a small bowl or ramekin for passing at the table. Slice the ribs (I recommend a serrated knife – ironically it gets the cleanest, easiest cuts), and let everyone dive in, using the remaining glaze as a sauce.

*If you are hesitant to do this, I understand, and I wouldn’t advise this for pregnant women. You can make the glaze without the leftover marinade and it should still taste fine.