Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pork with kale and beans - thanks to "the Chew"

I have to admit it, I watched some of the first episode of "The Chew" a daytime talk show on ABC in the USA. It features several excellent chefs - including Michael Symon who has inspired me before. This recipe is based on the recipe he did on the show, but with some minor tweaks which aren't terribly material. The goal was to make a dish that comes in at less that $7 per serving. This made that easily. For approximately $4.50 per serving, this lovely dish came out.

This recipe was to serve 2 people.
2T grape seed oil (or other neutral oil)
2 pork loin chops (about 5oz each), pounded thin (1/3 of an inch thick)
6 pieces of pancetta
a little parsley
salt/pepper for seasoning
a little flour to dust the meat
1 shallot minced fine
1 garlic clove sliced thinly
1 minced cayenne pepper
1 small can canellini beans (rinsed and drained)
1 bunch of kale, leaves stripped from the stalks and shredded
1/4 cup chicken stock
juice of 1 lemon

For each piece of pork, lay it flat on the board. place 3 pieces of pancetta on each piece of pork. Add a little parsley. Fold the pork over the pancetta and pinch the edges closed. Salt and pepper the pork on both sides. Sprinkle lightly with flour. heat the oil in a skillet until shimmering. Place the pork pieces into the hot oil and fry about 3 minutes on the first side, turn over and fry 2 more minutes. After turning the meat, add the shallots, garlic, cayenne pepper and fry gently until softened. remove the meat from the pan, and add the washed jale. Stir and add the drained beans.Add the chicken stock and simmer until the kale is tender, and the beans warmed through. Add lemon juice and serve immediately on warmed plates.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A sauce for empanadas

There's a wonderful Empanada shop near where we live. It has become the go to place for appetizers for some of our bigger parties. Yesterday we had about 40 people over, and as usual bought empanadas. But this time I wanted to have a little sauce to go with them. The empanadas were beef, ham and cheese, and spinach. I figured something green and herbal would work, so came up with this (after scouring the internet).
Half a dozen or so green onions minced
4 garlic cloves - minced very finely
Juice of 2 lemons
1 bunch cilantro chopped pretty finely
2t ground cumin
4T sugar
1/2 cup vinegar (I used white distilled, but I imagine cider vinegar would be fine too)
Salt (if desired, to taste)

Combine the onions and garlic in a non-reactive bowl. Mix in the other ingredients, stir and refrigerate at least 2 hrs - preferably overnight. If the vinegar doesn't cover the vegetation, add a little more.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Plum pickle

On a road trip to Houston recently, Madame and I stopped  in Fairfield to eat at the mighty fine Sam's restaurant. The breakfast buffet is huge - makes fgreat road food. As we were leaving we noticed a roadside stand selling peaches, plums, potatoes - some things grown by the farmer, some imported (California strawberries). You have to know what's in season. Strawberry season in Texas is March/April - not the end of August!

Anyhow, we bought some fantastic peaches, some OK tomatoes, and some ammunition - oh wait they were plums, but as hard as bullets. You may wonder why. Well, I hoped they might ripen up a bit. They did, so now they were rubber bullets and not the deadly kind. The only thing to do was to make some kind of a chutney. I did - and it was surprisingly good. Especially with pork chops. It is tart enough so that it cuts through the pork fat well.

1 whole star anise
6 whole green cardomoms
12 coriander seeds
12 black pepper corns
2 whole cloves
1/2 Kaffir lime leaf
2lb small, unripe plums - whole with stones, washed but not dried
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 T agave nectar (more or less depending on taste)
pinch of salt

Make a spice bag out of a piece of cheesecloth (muslin) and the first 6 ingredients. You don't have to do this but it meakes fishing the spices out afterwards a breeze. Put the spice bag and the rest of the ingredients in a sauce pot, bring to a simmer, and cook stirring occasionally for about 45 minutes - until the plums have lost most of their texture.

Remove the spice bag. Leave to cool. Transfer to a screw topped jar, removing the plum pits as you transfer it. Store tightly sealed in the fridge for a couple of weeks.