weeknight gourmet

Category : Pork

Chicken Tagine with Fennel & Olives

IMG_0414When I started this blog back in 2009 (holy sh%t it’s been that long!), I said I would post the winners and the losers.  This dish wasn’t a loser but it didn’t come together as I had hoped.  The sauce didn’t thicken as described in the recipe.  The chicken was flavorful and packed a bit of heat from the cayenne and paprika.  But the sauce was disappointing.

I find far more winners than disappointments but it is annoying after a long day to cook a dinner you are not thrilled with.  Oh well…onto the next recipe!

Chicken Tagine with Fennel & Olives
Bon Appetit

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 skinless boneless chicken thighs (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, stalks trimmed, bulbs halved vertically, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup pitted brine-cured green olives, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Mix cumin, paprika, salt, and cayenne in small bowl. Cut chicken crosswise into thirds. Toss in large bowl with spices.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; brown 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and fennel to same skillet. Sauté until golden in spots, 5 minutes. Return chicken and juices to skillet. Add broth and lemon juice. Bring to simmer, scraping up browned bits. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 15 minutes. Add olives. Simmer until sauce thickens, 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

Chicken, Sausage & Peppers

First of all, this recipe is MUCH more delicious than the photo makes it appear.  The dish is basically a quick version of traditional  sausage and peppers which I love.

The pickled cherry peppers and their juice add a great flavor; as did the hot Italian sausage I used.

If you wanted to lighten the dish up more, you could use turkey sausage rather than pork sausage.

Serve with some crusty bread or some sliced polenta for an easy weeknight meal!
Chicken, Sausage & Peppers
Food Network Magazine

•    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•    3/4 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, cut into chunks
•    3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
•    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
•    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
•    1 small onion, chopped
•    2 Italian green frying peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
•    3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
•    1/2 cup dry white wine
•    3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
•    1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
•    2 jarred pickled cherry peppers, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons liquid from the jar

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until golden, about 2 minutes. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then toss with the flour in a bowl; add to the skillet and cook until browned but not cooked through, about 3 minutes.

Add the onion, peppers, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste and cook 3 minutes. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits; bring to a boil and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook until the sausage and chicken are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken, sausage and vegetables to a platter with a slotted spoon. Increase the heat to high and stir the parsley and cherry peppers and their liquid into the skillet; boil until reduced by one-third, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Pour the sauce over the chicken mixture.

Meatloaf with a Kick!

Who doesn’t love meatloaf?!  It’s a perfect dinner as the cool fall weather arrives.  The Barefoot Contessa Turkey Meatloaf is my go-to but I decided to try a beef – pork version and came across this Emeril recipe.  Looked up my alley with the added kick from the chorizo, chili sauce and creole seasoning!

I forgot my shopping list at home so I ended up making a fair number of substitutions.  I used a meatball mix (beef, pork and veal); seasoned breadcrumbs with some red pepper flakes added because I did not have any creole seasoning; whole milk instead of the heavy cream; and, hot Italian sausage instead of chorizo because I could only find smoked chorizo.

I served the meatloaf with pureed cauliflower for a great fall dinner.  The meatloaf was delicious even with my multitude of changes!  I will definitely make it again and am curious how it will turn out if I am more faithful to the recipe.

Mr. John’s Meatloaf
Emeril Lagasse for Everyday Food

  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 green bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Emeril’s Creole Seasoning
  • 8 ounces fresh chorizo sausage (not smoked)
  • 1/2 cup bottled chili sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside. In a large bowl, combine beef, pork, eggs, onion, breadcrumbs, bell pepper, cream, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and Creole Seasoning. Gently mix to combine (do not overmix).

Place half of meat mixture on prepared sheet; form into a 9-by-4-inch loaf. Using a paring knife, remove casing from chorizo (keeping the shape intact). Place chorizo lengthwise down center of loaf. Cover with rest of meat mixture, enclosing the chorizo and patting to adhere.

Brush chili sauce over meatloaf. Bake, basting occasionally with pan juices, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of loaf registers 160 degrees, about 1 hour. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Weeknight Chicken: Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower & Chickpeas

Here is a great roasted chicken recipe — perfect for the fall weather!  The dish takes about an hour to cook but has minimal prep work so it is definitely doable on a weeknight.

I made two minor additions to the recipe.  In addition to seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper, I also sprinkled it with some Italian seasoning for a little extra flavor.  I also added a couple of tablespoons of capers for the final five minutes of roasting.  I love the combo of cauliflower and capers.

The chicken was perfectly cooked — nice and juicy — and the veggies were delicious.  Although next time, I’ll use smaller florets — not all of the cauliflower was as tender as I would have liked.

Enjoy!

Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower & Chickpeas
Everyday Food

  • 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 8 pieces
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cored and cut into 2-inch florets
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven and preheat to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and middle thirds. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Carefully remove sheet from oven and arrange chicken, skin side up, in a single layer. Roast on upper rack, 20 minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and, with tongs, transfer to another rimmed baking sheet along with tomatoes. Add cauliflower, onion, and chickpeas to drippings on first sheet and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Roast chicken on upper rack and vegetables on middle rack until chicken is golden and cooked through and cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving dish and serve immediately.

Note: Roasting the chicken on a preheated pan saves time and helps the meat brown. You don’t need to add oil to the vegetables; they cook in the drippings from the chicken.

Holiday Menu: Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Bacon, Baby Arugula Salad & Cauliflower Gratin

The day after Christmas is my father-in-law’s birthday.  Tim’s immediately family came up to the Berkshires on the 26th to celebrate.  We had the delicious and festive menu below.  The pork I have made before and it was even better than I remember!  The bacon and the honey mustard coating gives amazing flavor to the meat.  This is the first time I made the Barefoot Contessa’s Cauliflower Gratin and it was a huge hit!  Who wouldn’t love cauliflower with a nice cream sauce and lots of Gruyere. I had some leftover Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash.  The dish reheated nicely.

We finished the birthday meal with a delectable Red Velvet Cake.  So moist!  And the cream cheese frosting was amazing!

Honey-Mustard Pork Roast with Baby Arugula Salad

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Cauliflower Gratin

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Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash with Bacon Vinaigrette (leftovers from Xmas)

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The Best Red Velvet Cake

Slow Cooker Recipes: Black Bean Soup with Shredded Pork

If you love black bean soup, you’ll enjoy this slow cooker recipe!  How amazing are slow cookers!  I love throwing the ingredients in the cooker and then coming home 10 hours later with dinner prepared.  This recipe was especially appealing because, as you know, I love any recipe that gets some heat and smokiness from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  Enjoy!

Black Bean Soup with Shredded Pork
myrecipes.com

  • 1  pound  dried black beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 2  bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1 1/4 lb.)
  • 2  slices bacon, chopped
  • 1  onion, finely chopped
  • 2  cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo plus 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  salt

Combine 6 cups water, beans, pork chops, bacon, onion, garlic, chilies, adobo, cumin and salt in slow cooker. Cook on low until beans are tender and pork chops are falling apart, 4 to 6 hours.

Remove and discard bacon. Cut pork away from bones. Discard bones and shred meat. Add meat back to slow cooker with beans. Season with additional salt and serve.

Looking for Menu Ideas? Real Simple's Four-Week Dinner Plan

I used to grocery shop multiple times per week.  I would just pick up what I needed for dinner that night on my way home from work.  That’s not a realistic option now that Charlotte has come along and I am working full time.  Menu planning (and some shortcuts courtesy of Trader Joe’s and Fresh Direct) has become key to my weeknight cooking.

October’s issue of Real Simple Magazine features a four-week dinner plan.  Not having a ton of time to look for menu ideas, I decided to give Week 1 of the plan a whirl!  I made 4 of the 5 recipes.  They were all quite good but I thought the Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella and the Pork Cutlets with Spicy Noodles really stood out!  Real Simple provided a shopping list making my life even easier!   I bought all of the ingredients on a Sunday and was prepared for a week of tasty, healthy eating!

The four recipes I made are below.

Roasted Tilapia, Potatoes, and Lemons

Very tasty!  I used tri-colored fingerling potatoes which were tasty and provided some great color to the dish.  The lemon and olives lend a great flavor to the very mild tilapia.

  • 1 pound baby potatoes (about 12), halved
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 4 6-ounce skinless tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Heat oven to 400° F.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes, lemon, thyme, 2 tablespoons oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer.  Roast, tossing once, until the potatoes begin to soften, about 20 minutes.
Toss the olives with the potato mixture; nestle the fish in it. Drizzle the fish with the remaining oil and season with paprika and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Continue to roast until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp and the fish is opaque throughout, 12 to 15 minutes.

Penne With Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Delicious!  I skipped the mint and used basil instead.  I also added some grated parmesan.

  • 1/2 pound penne (1⁄2 box)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 1⁄4 pounds), cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the eggplant. Cook, tossing occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, red pepper, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing, until the tomatoes soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the tomato mixture to the pasta, along with the mozzarella and reserved cooking water. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with the mint.

Turkey Burgers With Creamy Romaine Slaw

This was my least favorite of the four dishes but it was still tasty!  To save time I used shredded carrots.  And, we used sandwich thins as opposed to buns to save on calories.

  • 1 pound ground dark meat turkey (93 percent lean or less)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 leaves romaine lettuce, thinly sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
  • 4 soft rolls, split and toasted
  • potato chips and pickles, for serving

In a medium bowl, gently combine the turkey, mustard, thyme, and scallions. Form the meat into four ¾-inch-thick patties. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the patties until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss with the lettuce and carrot.

Serve the burgers on the rolls, topped with the slaw. Serve with chips and pickles (if desired).

Pork Cutlets With Spicy Noodles

This was delicious!  I had trouble finding udon noodles so I used a brown rice spaghetti that I found at Trader Joe’s.  The noodles had great flavor from the broth, ginger, and jalapeno.  The pork was delicious as well!  I used two butterflied pork chops.

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 pound udon noodles
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
  • 1 red jalapeño pepper, sliced
  • 4 thin pork cutlets (about 3⁄4 pound total)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 scallions, sliced

In a large pot, bring the chicken broth and ginger to a boil.

Add the noodles and cook, stirring, until the broth is nearly absorbed and the noodles are al dente, 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and jalapeño and simmer until the mushrooms are just tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the pork with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Coat with the flour, then the egg, and finally the panko.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Slice the pork and serve over the noodles. Sprinkle with the scallions.

Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola

Here is a delicious way to prepare your basic pork chop, courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis.  I bought some delicious center cut pork chops at the butcher shop in Chelsea Market.  We were thinking of grilling them but then I came upon this recipe.  With the tomatoes, onions, red pepper flakes, and herbes de Provence, it looked right up my alley.

The dish was quick and easy to prepare and packed with flavor!  You likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen.  I actually didn’t have any diced tomatoes but I just chopped up a can of whole tomatoes.  Make sure to serve with some crusty bread to mop up the extra sauce!

Tim and I both loved the meal — will definitely be making this again.

Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola
Giada de Laurentiis

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork loin center-cut chops (about 12 ounces each)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook until they are brown and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted horizontally into the pork registers 160 degrees F, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and tent with foil to keep them warm.

Add the onion to the same skillet and saute over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, herbes de Provence, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cover and simmer until the flavors blend and the juices thicken slightly, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and more red pepper flakes. Return the pork chops and any accumulated juices from the plate to the skillet and turn the pork chops to coat with the sauce.

Place 1 pork chop on each plate. Spoon the sauce over the pork chops. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

Comfort Food Classic: Bolognese Sauce

Since I am still on a quest for the perfect bolognese sauce, I decided this recipe from the March Bon Appetit was a good use for the last of the ground beef from the steer.

This recipe is from a “back country” menu, so it calls for antelope sausage and venison.  I didn’t have easy access to either so I substituted spicy Italian sausage for the antelope sausage and ground veal for the venison.  The only other changes I made were to halve the recipe and to use a bit more tomato paste than the directions called for.

I bought fresh fettuccine — the store didn’t have fresh pappardelle — to serve with the sauce and I prepared a simple green salad as a side.

The hearty sauce was delicious and rustic!  The four different meats — beef, sausage, bacon, and veal — provided wonderful flavor.  And, there is plenty left over for another meal this week.  I bet the sauce will taste even better when we have it later this week.  This just might become my go-to bolognese recipe.

Homemade Pappardelle with Bolognese Sauce
Bon Appetit

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (15% fat)
  • 1 1/2 pounds antelope sausages or spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 3/4 pound ground venison or ground beef (15% fat)
  • 3/4 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup tomato paste (about 7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for passing
  • 2.5 – 3 lbs fresh pappardelle

Melt butter with oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add next 4 ingredients. Sauté until vegetables are soft but not brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Add beef, sausage, venison, and bacon. Increase heat to high. Cook until meat is brown, breaking into small pieces with back of spoon, about 15 minutes.

Stir in milk, wine, and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until sauce is thick, flavors blend, and juices are reduced, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool 1 hour. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and chill. Rewarm over low heat.

Cook pasta in very large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes if cooking immediately or 5 to 6 minutes if previously chilled. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Return pasta to same pot. Add warm Bolognese and 1 cup cheese. Toss over medium heat until heated through, adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to large shallow bowl. Serve, passing additional cheese.

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

Here is a very tasty way to prepare your basic pork chop!  The goat cheese, cream cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomato filling is super tasty and tangy.  The dish looks like it would take a long time to make but comes together quite quickly.

A couple of notes…I used sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil that I drained.  My box of spinach wasn’t quite thawed so I placed it in a colander, ran hot water over it, and then squeezed it dry.  The chicken broth – lemon – mustard sauce adds a very nice touch to the dish.  We even dipped some bread in it!

Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach
Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag of frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 4 (4-ounce) center-cut pork chops
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Warm the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese. Stir to combine and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and sun-dried tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, and mustard.

Warm the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan as the chicken broth simmers. Reduce the broth by half to make a light sauce, about 8 minutes. Spoon some sauce over the pork before serving.