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Posts Tagged ‘pork’

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Salsa options range from mild and tangy, to slightly sweet fire sauce.  Clockwise above: medium heat tomato based salsa, hot Habanero sauce, and mild tomatillo sauce.

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Lunch specials include $4.99 for two tacos and an iced tea (including refills).  I tried the Cochinito Pibil tacos, pork in a habenero sauce cooked in banana leaves, which was flavorful and very tender.  If you are gluten-free, ask for corn tortillas.  I didn’t ask if they have separate kitchen areas for the gluten-free orders, although a friend eats there on a regular basis who recently discovered their aversion to gluten.

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This is one of the other lunch special tacos on the menu: Green Chile.  Not spicy.  Pork is just as tender as the first tacos.  I removed most of the large pieces of white onion, otherwise it’s a great taco.

Spinach Enchiladas

Also tried the vegetarian option on the lunch menu that did not involve fish, the Spinach Enchiladas, which were tasty and full of veggies.  The black beans were slightly harder than I would make them.

carnitas rojo taco plate

Lastly, the carnitas rojo tacos which are pork simmered in a red sauce, probably my favorite so far.

The atmosphere is hole-in-the-wall but the staff were all pleasant.  They try to spruce up the tangerine walls with art and mirrors.  It lacks in high class comforts but makes up for it with authentic Mexican flavors.  Evidence is on the chalkboard menu on the wall next to the kitchen, it lists “Gourmet Tacos” which are not found on the menu, you’ll have to ask if they have any of them available that day.

Molca’s is at 8127 Mesa Dr, Austin, TX 78759

For more Mexican restaurants check out my city guide post, or view the entire Austin City Guide here.

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Living in Texas has influenced my choices in quickly prepared meals.  Tacos are the ubiquitous fast food in Texas and there as many ways to prepare them as there are fire ants in your backyard.  Some like it hot, some as hot as an inferno.  Others keep chilies out of the equation.  Do you like avocado?  Loads of diced vegetables?  The selections of meats and different cuts within each type of meat are enough to send your tongue in a tizzy.  Today I had some pork stew meat ready to be made into something delicious.

First, prepare the meat.  I chose a smoky mild dried chili, called cascabels, as the flavour base for my chunks of pork.

  • 1 1/2 lb pork (stew meat cuts)
  • 1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4-5 dry cascabel chilies
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced

pork cascabel tacos

Place all above in crock pot on low for about 6 hours or until the meat is tender.  You could do this on the stove if you like on a very low simmer.  I hesitated to add more liquid than what came in the can of tomatoes, and I’m glad I did.  This would have been much soupier and the pork may have been tough if it was left to boil in liquid.  With minimal moisture, the fat rendered out of the pork to allow it to fall apart.

You can prepare the pork in advance, keep it in the fridge in a sealed container.  The flavours will marry even more.

For the tacos, I made a fresh salsa (tomato, red onion, poblano pepper, pinch of salt) and warmed up the tortillas in a small fry pan.  A few shreds of sharp cheddar cheese, I can’t have tacos without cheese, under shredded pork and topped with the salsa.   If we had any good avocado, that would have made this even more delicious with its balance of creaminess against the tang of raw onion.  Oh well, dinner is served!

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A quick post to share my weeknight dinner plate.

  • broccoli with grated Gruyère cheese
  • peas
  • sauerkraut
  • 2 russet potatoes, mashed with about 2/3 cup Dill Ranch Dip
  • pork shoulder chops, bone-in, pan seared with Montreal Steak Spice
  • cream of chicken soup + gravy mix (McCormick’s) and 1/2 cup water to first deglaze the pan after the pork is done

And yes, pretty plates do make the food taste better.

Pork Chops with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

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We discovered another favorite Chinese BBQ dish at one of our lunch time places in Austin, Din Ho Chinese BBQ off 183.  Number 27 off the menu is a pair of delightful BBQ meats, roasted duck breast and BBQ pork.  The duck had a musky spice and caramel notes from the skin, very tender and not overly fowlish.  The pork, with the red lining and lean meat was also very tender.  I was tempted to order another half pound of it to go (only $7.50).

We also ordered the Orange Beef.  The beef had more fat than the other two meats combined.  The sticky sweet and spicy orange sauce never lets us down, I love it and can’t seem to recreate it at home so this was a good fix for that craving.  My lunchmate, Hubby, had a total brain fart and started eating one of the hot chilies off the beef thinking it was a carrot.  Poor thing.  Must have been preoccupied by his lovely wife when it happened.

My fortune cookie sounded like a message from my late Granny K.

Do not rely on others to make you happy.  You must do it yourself.

Thanks Grandma, and I have taken the reins of happiness by starting my own business.  It’s small and waiting for new customers, but it’s mine and that is my token happy thought every day.

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This was the main course following French Onion Soup.  The two worked well together as a satisfying Sunday supper.  My neighbour happened to stop in because her little ones wanted to play with my little ones.  She gave the soup and pork two thumbs up!  (I’m sure if she had more thumbs they would have been up too)

I don’t know if Julia Child would have served the pork loin on a squeaky bed of green beans, but I thought it worked quite well for presentation.

The pork was marinated in a rub of garlic, thyme, salt and pepper for 24 hours in a plastic bag in the fridge.  I used about twice the amounts called for, I was nervous that the pork would be, well like pork.  No flavor.  Dry.  Pork.  I think the reason my pork chops are always tough and dry as the west of Texas, is due to my over cooking them.  It’s also a factor of cut, the tenderloin (as the name so implies) is tender and moist when handled with care.

Roasting will not take very long, so this is a great meal any night of the week.  Just be mindful of the marinade time.  Roast covered loosely, for 30 – 35 minutes.  Uncover the tenderloin and continue to roast until the internal temperature is 145-150ºF.   Let the meat rest as you prepare the pan gravy.

Place the roasting pan on the stove, if it is safe to use on the stove top otherwise transfer to another pot over medium heat.  Add  1 cup or so of stock and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  Dissolve 2 Tbsp of cornstarch in about 3 Tbsp of cool water and stir it in.  Let the gravy bubble for about 30 seconds to activate the starch, then reduce to low for a minute.  The sauce should be fairly thin but holds to the back of a spoon.

As suggested in the photo, serve over a bed of steamed green beans and garnish with fresh chives.

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It’s a rare thing these days, buying stock in a box or can.  Before the holidays arrive full of turkey, chicken, and family members visiting I spend time to prepare and freeze stock.

Stock will keep in sealed containers in the freezer for about 6 months.  Make sure to label anything you freeze for later use.  Portions that are easier to manage are a good idea.  Most of my containers hold 2 pints (about 4 cups), I use this as soup and stew base.  Smaller containers, even freezer bags, work well for gravy.  Sometimes when you roast drier types or cuts of meat, there’s not a heck of a lot liquid left in the pan.  That’s where a bit of stock can extend or replace the pan drippings when making gravy.

To make your stock you need any of the following vegetables, spices and herbs:

  • celery
  • leek
  • onion
  • carrots
  • bay leaves
  • black peppercorns
  • cardamom pods
  • cumin seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • dill
  • fennel
  • rosemary
  • thyme

Then, if you want meat you can collect chicken, turkey or pork bones and freeze them in freezer ziptop bags until you have enough to make stock.  When I buy whole chickens, I save the neck, wings, and legs.  Either roasted or raw, freeze the extra bits for your stock.  Bone marrow helps add richness to the stock.  Beef can be used too, we just don’t have many beef bones leftover at my house!

Salt, should you add any at all, should be minimal.  The stock is a component for something else, the destination might already contain salt so you don’t want to end up with sea water soup.

Ready?  Throw the chunks of veggies, palm full of seasonings, the optional meat components into the biggest pot you own.  Add water until everything is covered.  Bring to a boil slowly, then reduce to low heat for an hour or longer.  The longer you simmer the stock, the more concentrated it will be due to evaporation.

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I love ribs.  I can go to town on some finger-licking glazed, smoked, or BBQ pork ribs.  It’s not a pretty sight and not real lady-like to be seen gnawing on a bone, face covered in sticky sauce.  Doubly true whilst pregnant!  I ate a lot of ribs while carrying Big Brother, I can’t believe he turned six on Friday.  Speaking of which, I’ve lost quite a bit of baby weight using a simple trick.  Eat like French women.  There’s a book available that is on my wish list… French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano, although without reading the book I have one simple rule: only eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full.  Listen to your body and drink plenty of water and hot tea.  The hot tea bit is more of a Chinese thing, so my neighbour says, you should drink warm or room temperature drinks to not shock your system.  Green and white teas have additional benefits.

I have a craving for this one Chinese restaurant, Din Ho, where Hubby and I occasionally catch up over lunch.  I saw these ribs on Martha Stewart as part of a Pupu Platter, I didn’t have baby back ribs but these turned out just as delicious.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baby Back Ribs

  • 6 lb rack of ribs, trim excess fat, divide into 3-4 rib portions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 TBSP fresh ginger
  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup red plum preserves
  • water (if needed)

Put the marinade in a large zippered bag, mix to combine adding a bit of water if it looks too thick.  Add the pork ribs and refrigerate in a container for 12-24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Reserve the marinade as the ribs are removed to a foil lined rack on a sheet or broiler pan.  Bake for 45 minutes to 75 minutes (it depends on how thick the ribs are and how you portion them), use the reserved marinade as your basting liquid.  Remove from the oven and allow the ribs to rest before cutting individual ribs.

* You could bake the ribs until they are just cooked, then finish them off on the grill.  This is a great way to get ahead of the game if you have guests to feed!  Same applies to chicken, only the chicken should be covered in foil while in the oven to help maintain its moisture.  Grill marks add a delicious touch to both ribs and chicken.

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Sweet potato hash with a slowly roasted piece of pork shoulder, dry marinated with garlic, allspice, sage and thyme.  Winner Winner Pork for Dinner!

One of these days I will try more recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I hardly know where to start though!  The marinade sèche for the pork is based upon Julia’s, I just don’t measure each herb and salt and go by the look and feel of it.  God gave me hands, why not use them?  For now, this recipe is tabbed with a sticky since I don’t want to dog-ear this beautiful hardcover culinary bible.

Marinade Sèche for about 2 lbs of pork

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed is even better
  • salt
  • thyme
  • sage
  • allspice, go easy with this stuff
  • freshly cracked black pepper, a few turns

Mix the marinade in a small bowl, it will become a little pasty due to the fresh garlic.  Rub the marinade on all sides and in all crevices of the pork.  The piece of pork can be tenderloin, shoulder (boneless), or even chops for the grill.  Cover the meat in a glass dish or place in a plastic bag within a container to prevent spills, place in the refrigerator anywhere from and hour or two up to 24 hours.  Turn the meat if it’s left for longer than one hour.

Julia instructs you to scrape off the marinade before cooking the pork.  I leave it on, if you don’t want to eat the stuff, you can scrape it off on your plate.  I especially leave it on when the meat has only had a couple of hours to marinade, and it’s going to roast in the oven.  If these were chops heading to the grill, then yes by all means scrape off the bits of garlic and fresh herbs (if used) so they won’t burn. Burnt garlic is not a good thing.

I use a small casserole dish with a lid to marinade then roast the pork in, saves me a step and washing an extra dish.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the meat.  Pop the pork into a 325ºF oven and roast, covered, for about 45 – 55 minutes.  Do follow temperature guides for degrees of doneness which are safe to consume, this is only a suggested roasting time.

I really would like a kitchen scale.

That was a random thought, but a good one!

Now for the hash part of “pork and hash”.  This is something I’ve made before and I keep coming back to, it’s such a comforting and easy dish to prepare and I usually have enough of the key players to pull it off.  Those key ingredients being bacon, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.  I’ve even used canned tomatoes in a pinch.

I had some fresh Roma tomatoes and two sweet potatoes left behind in the fridge, perfect.  Seeing how bacon should never run out at my house, I also had a fresh package waiting for me to open.  Happy Happy 🙂

The Gist of the Hash

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a large dice, equal size counts here
  • 3 – 4 rashers, large slices crosswise
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered lengthwise (optional: seeded)
  • 1/2 of a big yellow onion, rough chop, they will shrink down
  • sea salt and pepper

Start the pan with some water and the potato, drizzle over some olive oil and cover.  Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to sort of steam the potatoes until they are cooked but really firm.  Just a tad before al denté.  Take the potatoes out.

Cook the bacon pieces until crispy.  Sauté the onion in the bacon fat, add a little olive oil if needed.  Add salt and pepper.

Add the tomatoes to the onions when they are soft and start to caramelize.  Add the cooked potato and bacon, cover and turn down the heat to low to let the tomatoes release juices and potatoes finish off.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

The hash comes together quite easily once you have a rhythm to it.  This has been stored in my brain for easy recollection, any excuse to eat more bacon with my veggies 🙂

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A quick but very filling lunch of tacos, rice, and a type of curried veggies.  I went easy with the spices for the Aloo Gobi, Indian is still a learning curve for me but Aarti helps shorten the leap across the pond(s).

The pork was a small portion of shoulder that I reserved for lunch, it was tossed in fajita seasoning and sea salt.  I have a stash of chopped vegetables in the freezer so that

a) I don’t need to go shopping as often and

b) they won’t wilt and mold away because they were forgotten in the back of the fridge , or

c)  I can actually stock up on “fresh” foods when they go on sale. 

I pulled out a few slices of red pepper out of the freezer and tossed them in the pan with the pork after the first flip.  The tacos are very simple: pork, peppers, salsa on a whole wheat tortillas.

The Aloo Gobi is made with ginger, garlic, cumin, curry powder (which I substituted for turmeric), coriander, cauliflower, and potato.  Check out Aarti’s recipe here.  I would use a firmer potato, like reds, so they don’t break apart and go all fuzzy and stick to the pan.  I’m still battling with turmeric as it makes my whole face numb, so I used a little curry powder instead.  I also used just a little of the spices, I only had half of a huge head of cauliflower and two russet potatoes.  The dish smells wonderful and has the bright yellow tinge of color from the turmeric.  If only I had naan to go with it!

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Greens Remix

Have you ever had greens like this?

Roll up the trimmed greens and slice thusly…

Add those ribbons of nature’s goodness to a pan of vegetables, beans and a can of tomatoes, then wilt ever so slightly.

Top with browned italian sausages and bake for a while.  Cover the roasting pan to force everyone to meld.

Serve over freshly made rice and enjoy with your loved ones.

Full recipe…

Collard Green Oven Stew

  • 1 lb sausage (mild Italian, chicken, or merguez)
  • 3 heads of collard greens, stems removed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 (15oz) can white beans, drained well
  • 1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes (with garlic, green chilies, or onion add a bit more flavour)
  • 1 tsp Greek Seasoning (or oregano and thyme)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF.

In a Dutch oven or roasting pan with a lid, brown the sausage on both sides.  Remove from the pan and drain off any excess fat, the amount of rendered fat will depend on the type of sausage used.

Add a little olive oil and the onions, sauté.

Add the red pepper, carrot, greek seasoning, salt, pepper and the strips of collard greens.  Toss it around.  Add the beans and tomatoes, plus a couple tablespoons of water.

Top with the sausage and cover.  Bake for 1 hour.

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