Category Archives: Recipe

Popeye applauds

I am not very good with spinach. I can make decent creamed spinach, but otherwise it tends to come out with that spinachy texture. Last night, however, I discovered a winning spinach recipe:

In a skillet, heat the extremely concentrated juices left over from a pork roast. Add the spinach. Cook until wilted. Serve under pork. You’re welcome.

My chili is spoiling…for a fight!

It’s the kind of Seattle winter weather that makes us put on parkas and tire chains in order to entertain scoffing midwesterners. When Iris and I headed out this morning it was 23 degrees. To make myself feel better I checked the weather in Minneapolis, where it was -1.

So stew is the meal of the week, and last night I made one so good I took a picture of it. As you know, my dinner is notoriously camera shy, but check this out:

Pork stew with greens and beans

Here’s how it came together. It was a bit of a fridge-cleanout recipe, so substitute whatever you have on hand.

Toast, seed, and grind a dozen guajillo chiles. Stir in salt, minced garlic, and enough water to form a paste. Brown 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cubed. Remove the meat and set aside. Add diced onion and celery to the pan and cook until browned and softened. Add the chile powder mixture and cook a couple minutes. Add 2 cups chicken stock, 1/2 cup tomato juice, and the juice of half a lime. Simmer until pork is tender; adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, saute some baby bok choy (or whatever greens are handy). Garnish the stew with the bok choy, some pinto beans (we had homemade in the freezer but canned would be fine), and scallions. Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce.

While the stew simmered, I thought about Anita and Cameron Crotty of Married with Dinner and their chili recipe. You know I don’t make a habit of criticizing other people’s recipes, but with chili it’s almost required. I mean, Mother Teresa used to go off on the most profane rants about the Dalai Lama’s chili (“yak shit” was the kindest term she used), and the Lama threw it right back.

Anyway, you’ll notice that the Crotty chili contains only 1 tablespoon of chile powder in the whole pot. It has as much cinnamon as chili. And it contains no cumin. A person who would put chile powder into a pot without ground cumin would send their kids to school on a 23-degree day without pants.

That’s the rant I was working on when I realized that I hadn’t put any cumin into my stew. Or chili. Or whatever. Which means there’s a significant chance that the Crotty chili is awesome. But you won’t hear me admit it.

Get squashed

We’ve been on a real kabocha squash kick this fall. Kabocha is a mean thing. Thanks to its dense texture, it never goes mealy and falls apart. For this reason, not to mention its vibrant flavor and color, it’s my favorite squash. For the same reason, it is terrifying to cut one up. There is no method that guarantees freedom from fear. They were doing a demo at the farmers market last Sunday and I saw a cook cutting up a kabocha in such a way that I kept my ears peeled for ambulance sirens.

I mean, not to scare you off. Probably you’ll survive a kabocha encounter. We survived one last night, and I want to share the recipe with you because it came out so great.

Usually I cut kabocha into peeled 1/2-inch slices, toss them with peanut oil, and roast until tender and browned. But last night I wanted to stir-fry. So I Googled “stir-fried kabocha” and up came with my friend Jess Thomson’s website, Hogwash, and her recipe for Stir-Fried Kabocha with Ginger and Scallions.

I made it almost exactly as written, except that I was out of cilantro and wanted to include chicken. I also wanted to serve it on top of a crispy noodle cake. So here’s how I did it:

STIR-FRIED KABOCHA WITH CHICKEN, GINGER, AND SCALLIONS
Adapted from Jess Thomson
Serves about 3

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine
3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1/2 a medium kabocha squash, skin cut off, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup sliced scallions (green and white parts)

  1. Stir the chicken together with the 1 teaspoon soy sauce and rice wine. Marinate in the refrigerator for up to 20 minutes if you have time. Otherwise, proceed immediately.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat and heat until beginning to smoke. Add the chicken, in a single layer, and cook without stirring until browned, about 2 minutes. Stir and continue cooking until no longer pink, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

  3. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the kabocha and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and tender, about 5 minutes. If the squash is still too crunchy for your taste, add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and steam 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Add the ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, return the chicken to the pan, and simmer until the sauce coats the squash and chicken, about 1 minute. Stir in the scallions and serve immediately with crispy noodle cake.

CRISPY NOODLE CAKE
Makes one 10-inch cake, serving 3 to 4

The brand of Asian noodles I’ve been buying lately is Wang, from Korea, but any fresh thin wheat noodles will be fine, with or without egg.

8 ounces fresh Asian noodles
2 tablespoons sliced scallions
4 tablespoons peanut oil

  1. Boil a large pot of water and add the noodles. Cook according to the package directions. Drain in a colander, and, using a pasta server or large fork, toss with the scallions.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cooked noodles, flattening them out to cover the whole surface of the skillet. Cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the noodles out on to a large plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, slide the noodles back in, crispy side up, and continue cooking until browned on the other side, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove the noodles from the pan, cut into 8 wedges, and serve immediately.

No sufferin’ here

This is perhaps so obvious it’s not even worth a post, but I made an excellent summery succotash-like side dish on Sunday. The ingredients: corn off the cob, fresh cranberry beans, fire-roasted canned tomatoes, scallions. And plenty of butter. If you don’t have access to fresh beans, try frozen limas or soybeans; I think canned would probably be too mushy here.

Boil some fresh shell beans for 20 minutes or until tender. Meanwhile, heat butter in a skillet and add corn and sliced scallions. Cook over medium-high until the pan bottom starts to get brown and sticky. Add a few tablespoons of diced tomatoes with juice, scrape the pan bottom clean, reduce heat, and simmer a couple minutes. Stir in the beans, another tablespoon of butter, and salt and pepper. Add water if the mixture seems dry. We had this with lamb chops, but I could certainly see eating it as a main dish.

Do this quick and pretend it’s still summer.

The white stuff

“Four–chops. I’ve just written the word ‘chops.’ Not really sure where I was going with that one. Any idea?” –The Pirate Captain

I suspect he was reading Jennifer McLagan’s new cookbook, Fat, and slavering over the cover photo of lamb chops.

Wow, talk about a niche product. Would you buy a whole cookbook about animal fat? I would, but I suspect there are few like me. Prove me wrong.

The book is divided into four sections: butter, lard, poultry fat, and beef/lamb fat. You’ll find recipes for duck rillettes, bone marrow crostini, salt pork and lentils. The text is liberally marbled with aphorisms and anecdotes.

Goose grease could also be found in the medicine cabinet, as it was the main ingredient for making a hot poultice to treat chest colds and bronchitis.

Aaagh! Mom, get away!

Anyway, if you’re already convinced that animal fat is good for you, you’re going to love this book, and if not, you won’t make it past the cover. I do wish the butter section had been chucked in favor of a section on solid vegetable fats like palm and coconut oil, which are even less appreciated in the American kitchen than duck fat.

I’ve cooked one recipe from Fat, for Miso- and Orange-Roasted Pork Belly, and I’ll give you my version of the recipe and how I reworked it.

MISO-ORANGE PORK BELLY
Adapted from Fat, Jennifer McLagan

The original recipe makes a larger quality and calls for making a pan sauce, but (a) I made this specifically for the leftovers, and (b) I don’t own a roasting pan.

1 pound boneless, skinless pork belly
salt and pepper
3 cups water 2 tablespoons miso (recipe called for red; I only had white; end result was tasty)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
zest of 1 small orange

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Using a sharp knife, score the fat of the pork belly in a crosshatch pattern. Season with salt and pepper. Place the pork on a rack set in a roasting pan (or sheet pan). Add 2 cups water to the pan and roast the pork for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together miso, honey, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and orange zest.

  2. Reduce heat to 325°F. Brush the top of the pork with half the miso mixture. Add remaining 1 cup water to the roasting pan and roast 30 minutes. Brush with remaining miso mixture, add more water if the pan is try, and roast 30 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate, tent with foil, and rest ten minutes. Slice and serve, or see below.

PORK AND BEANS

a few ounces leftover miso-orange pork belly, cut into lardons
1 pound fresh cranberry beans, shelled
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup diced red onion
salt and pepper
minced fresh parsley

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

  2. Meanwhile, cook the pork in a skillet over low heat until browned and beginning to crisp, about 20 minutes. Add a little olive oil if the pork fails to render enough fat.

  3. Remove the pork from the pan and add the onion. Raise heat to medium and cook until soft and browned, about 10 minutes. Add the pork, beans, and chicken broth and simmer briefly. Season with salt and pepper, stir in parsley to taste, and serve, garnished with additional parsley.

This book was given to me as a free promotional copy.