Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Pork

I have a sweet cat sleeping on my arm, making typing is difficult, therefore I will get right to the point. This is tasty - you should make it. The pork goes perfectly with the sauce, and fresh pineapple can't be beat! I have yet to be disappointed with anything I've made from this Rachael Ray cookbook. I've given away just about all my other books by her except this one.

Sweet and Spicy Pineapple Pork
adapted from Rachael Ray - 365: No Repeats
serves 4

Notes: Serve with white or brown rice and a simple steamed veggie, like snap peas.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 (1 1/2-inch thick) boneless center-cut pork chops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely chopped
8 ounces pineapple chunks, fresh or canned (use the juice if canned)
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add two tablespoons of the oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Let them sear for about two minutes on each side. Transfer them to a rimmed cookie sheet and place them in the oven to finish cooking all the way through. Rachael says you can tell the meat is done when it is firm to the touch, but I prefer the precision of a thermometer (145 F). Remove the pork from the oven and let rest, covered with a piece of aluminum foil (as they rest they will get closer to 160 F, the actual "done" temperature).

While the pork chops are in the oven, return the skillet you were using to medium-high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the veggies begin to soften. Add the pineapple (juice if you have it) and the chicken stock. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the parsley and stir to combine. Serve the sweet and spicy pineapple sauce over the pork chops. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast or: What to do with Leftover Corned Beef

Still have some corned beef leftover from last weekend? This is a great way to make it into a new meal.

In fact, the main reason I even bothered to make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day MAY have been for the sole purpose of having leftovers which I could then smother with white sauce and serve on a piece of toast. I am a HUGE fan of biscuits and gravy, after all, and this is a pretty similar dish.

My co-workers shared with me their not-so-fond memories of the original version of this dish. It goes by the endearing name "S.O.S", or "Sh*t on a shingle", from when it used to be served in the Army during World War II. Luckily, unlike the old versions, you won't find any condensed soup or canned chipped beef in this recipe.

By the way, the other thing in the background is a bowl of kale chips we made to have with it, because I have virtually no food-pairing skills whatsoever so that's what I came up with. Kale chips are awesome though. I used this recipe.

Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast
adapted from Cook's Country - February/March 2012 issue
serves 4-6 (can easily cut this in half if you don't have much leftover beef)

Notes: I made their recipe for Corned Beef and Cabbage, and reserved some of the cooking liquid for this recipe. It adds a lot of flavor, but you could also use chicken or beef broth if you didn't save any of the cooking liquid.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups half-n-half
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup reserved corned beef cooking liquid
2 cups chopped cooked corned beef
Pinch nutmeg
6 slices hearty white sandwich bread, toasted
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 1 minute, or until softened slightly. Add the flour, mustard, thyme, and cayenne and stir to combine. Cook for about 1 minute so it becomes fragrant. Slowly add the half-n-half, milk, and corned beef cooking liquid, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring every now and then, until thickened.

Add the chopped beef and nutmeg and stir to combine. Cook for a couple of minutes to let the beef heat through. Season with pepper to taste, and a little salt if it needs it. Spoon over the toasted bread, and top with the minced chives. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Matsaman Curry

A few years ago we took a Thai cooking class from Niddy Lindsley for Joe's birthday. She came to our house armed with a rice cooker and bags of groceries and taught us the traditional way of cooking several different Thai dishes. We took lots of notes and still try to replicate her dishes in our kitchen years later.

Tonight we made a version of Matsaman curry (my favorite curry). Usually it's made with onion, potatoes, and pork or chicken. This time we used what we had on hand, which happened to be an eggplant, some carrots, and some chicken thighs.

On a good week, I try to plan at least three meals and shop for all the ingredients on Sunday. This was not one of those weeks. I managed to get to the store, but I had no plan. So I bought some random veggies that looked good and that I knew we liked: eggplant, carrots, asparagus, cabbage, and some kale. I bought some boneless chicken thighs because they are relatively cheap, and the ingredients for my current favorite snack, cottage cheese and pineapple. Between the basic veggies I bought and our Costco stash of salmon burgers, Ling Ling Potstickers, and chicken apple sausages I knew we could figure out some simple meals this week.  

So while this particular version of curry is definitely not traditional, it's still a delicious, home-cooked meal. 

I love how she uses the coconut milk in this dish. You add the thick, creamy part of the coconut milk first, which rises to the top of the can, and then you pour in the remaining coconut water later on in the cooking process. For this to work, you can't use light coconut milk, you can't shake the can before you open it, and you have to make sure that you buy one without guar gum, which I think is a stabilizer that keeps it from separating. We like Aroy-D the best, but Mae Ploy is good too, which is what we used this time. We also like Mae Ploy curry paste, as seen below.

Matsaman Curry with Chicken Thighs, Eggplant, and Carrots
adapted from Niddy Lindsley
serves 4

Notes: If you wanted to be more traditional, use 2 medium potatoes and 1 medium onion, diced, instead of the eggplant and carrots. If you click on the link to her original recipe, you'll see a few more ingredients on her list that we didn't use. We just didn't have them on hand, but if you do (or have time to go buy them) by all means, use them. Your dish will be that much more authentic and delicious. 

2-4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2-3 tablespoons Matsaman curry paste
1 pound boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat, and chopped
1 can coconut milk (15-19 ounces)
1 cup water (or more as needed)
1 medium-large eggplant, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 medium carrots, diced or cut into matchsticks
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
basil (Thai or regular) for garnish

While you get your other ingredients ready, place the diced eggplant into a strainer, place the strainer on a plate, and sprinkle some salt over the eggplant. Let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour. This helps extract bitterness.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the curry paste. Cook until fragrant, 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. 

Add the chicken, and a little more oil if the pot looks too dry. Cook until browned for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the creamy part of the coconut milk and simmer 4-5 minutes, until you can see the red oil start to separate and float to the top. 

Add the eggplant, carrots, peanuts, and the rest of the coconut milk (the watery part). Add more water to cover if needed. Stir to combine and simmer for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. The red oil will separate to the top again. 

Add the sugar, fish sauce (pictured below), and lime juice. Taste and add more fish sauce or lime juice as needed. If it's not spicy enough for you, add more curry paste.

Serve over rice. Garnish with the basil. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Turnips in Mustard Sauce

This is one of our favorite side dishes. This time we used turnips, but you could use carrots, radishes, onions, beets, parsnips, or a combination of whatever you have. As the root vegetables cook, they become a little bit sweet, which blends very nicely with the tangy Dijon mustard. It goes great with chicken or beef. This particular night we had it alongside some delicious tender elk meat over noodles (thanks, Donna!).

Turnips in Mustard Sauce
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything
serves 4

2 tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds turnips (or other root vegetable listed above), peeled and cut into pieces about the size of radishes (about 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
About 1 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or more to taste (I measure pretty hefty tablespoons; we like mustard)
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Use a medium saucepan that is large enough to hold the vegetables in a single layer. Add the butter or oil and heat over medium heat. When melted and hot, add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until the vegetables start to brown.

Add the sugar and enough stock to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-30 minutes, pretty much undisturbed, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are tender and brown. You know they are done when they are sitting in a puddle of syrupy liquid. Reduce the heat, add the mustard, and stir until it's dissolved in the sauce.

Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Add more mustard too if you think it needs it. Garnish with the parsley and serve hot or warm.

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