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Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category

I am lucky enough to have a wonderful friendly neighborhood farmer who occasionally offers to his inner circle fine items he makes from his pastured meats like bacon, bratwurst and sausage. Recently I got a few pounds of an amazing somewhat hot Italian sausage that he made. At the same time, I ended up in possession of a large number of red, orange and yellow bell peppers (Sprouts had a sale on not-so-perfect but organic peppers).

There was only one thing to do.

Of course if I was going to make sausage and peppers I needed something to display them on. It had to be a potato, and for the most eye pleasing plating, they needed to be turned into hash browns. Welcome to the most delicious sausage and peppers ever. It’s simple and it’s satisfying. You’re welcome.

sausagepeppers

KKF Sausage & Peppers with Hash Browns

1 pound of the best quality sausage links you can get your hands on (raw)*

2 large russet potatoes (about 2 pounds)

4 bell peppers (mix of red, yellow and orange), thinly sliced

4 T butter

2 T olive oil

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

2 t paprika

salt & pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to boil and simmer the sausages for about 30 minutes. Shred the potatoes in your food processor. Move the spuds to a large bowl and stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and a little salt and pepper (you can always add more later.) Melt 2 T of the butter in a cast iron pan over high heat and add the oil. Spread the potato mix over the fat and cover. Let it sit, undisturbed for about five minutes, then reduce heat to low and give it another 8-10 minutes until the potatoes are mostly soft. Cover and set aside.

In another cast iron pan melt another 2 T of butter. When it is nice and hot add the sausage and brown them up on all sides. I usually let them go about two minutes or so, then roll them until they are brown and crunchy looking all the way around. Move to a cutting board and let them cool. In the leftover butter and juices from the sausages, add your sliced peppers. (You can add more fat if needed but usually what’s left is sufficient.) Sauté the peppers with about a half a teaspoon of salt until they are just softened.

While your peppers are cooking and your sausages are cool enough to touch, slice them on the diagonal in about one inch slices. When the peppers are done, add the sausages back to the pan and heat through.

To serve, layer a serving of hash browns (crunchy side up if you please) on the plate and pile peppers and sausage medallions on top. Delicious!
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*This is the most important element of this recipe. Your sausage and peppers will only be as good as your sausages.

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Eggplant Unrolled. Note the stylish 40 year old Corelle!

Well, it happened again. I set out to follow a recipe and end up doing my own thing. I may never know how an original recipe actually tastes.

Inspired by an Eggplant Roll recipe and this marinara recipe, I came up with the following Eggplant lasagna, or non- rollatini. Rolls would have been cool, but I felt my eggplant slices were too small and it would make it more work than it was worth. The resulting bake (I hate to use the word casserole) was absolutely delicious. Not to toot my own horn, but I seriously felt it was restaurant quality. This makes a HUGE amount, so this would be a good dish to make for a crowd.

KKF Eggplant: Unrolled!

For the unrolls:
3 large eggplant, sliced ¼ inch to 3/8 inch thick
1 head of garlic, smashed and removed from skins
3/4 cup olive oil
2 cups of yogurt cheese (yogurt that has had most of the whey strained out. If you don’t have or don’t want this, you can use ricotta and have the same impact.)
1 cup of cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1 ½ cups grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella plus some for topping the dish
A handful of minced fresh basil
1 pound ground pork
1 t salt
1 T Italian seasoning
Black pepper to taste

For the marinara:
3 T olive oil
6 cloves of the garlic used in the eggplant marinade, minced
26 oz canned diced tomatoes
16 oz can tomato sauce
7 oz can tomato paste
½ c diced mushrooms
¾ cup red wine
1 t salt
Pepper to taste

Steps:

Roasted eggplant slices

1. Toss eggplant rounds with smashed garlic cloves and the olive oil. Marinate for two hours, tossing half way through.
2. Cook the ground pork with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Cool to room temperature.
3. Place eggplant rounds in a single layer on baking sheets and put in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.
4. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms in the olive oil until the garlic starts to brown. Add all the other marinara ingredients and let simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, mix the cheeses, basil and seasoned ground pork.
6. Take a large casserole dish (I used a 9 x 11, deep dish) or two smaller dishes and put together the layers thusly: cover the bottom of the dish with marinara, then do a layer of eggplant. It’s ok if it doesn’t cover the whole bottom. Put a big dallop of the cheese/pork mix on top of each round, then press another eggplant round on top (not too hard, just flatten it out a bit). Repeat until you run out of rounds, with the cheese mix being the top layer.

Building the layers

7. Pour the rest of the marinara sauce all over the stacks of eggplant and top with the rest of the mozzarella.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until hot and bubbly throughout.

Hot, bubbly and delicious!

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Pork belly. Also known as pork side or middlen. The most treasured part of any hog purchase because it is used to MAKE BACON.

But every now and then you have to try something new.

At a recent visit to Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta I had the fried pork belly appetizer with sorghum glaze. UH.MAZE.ING. I was initially going to share with the rest of my dinner companions but after I took a bite I told them to stick it. Restaurant Eugene is a fantastic farm-to-table restaurant and we can’t wait to go back once we get done paying the last installment for our last meal, if you get my drift…

So that got me thinking. Of course bacon is a thing of beauty, but what if I could make a similar pork belly recipe? Hello, Google…and I found Dan Barber’s Pork Belly. You do have to plan in advance for this recipe because it needs to cure for three days before being slow cooked for 7 hours, but honestly the overall time investment was minimal, making this an easy and delcious recipe.

I followed the recipe almost exactly. For the cure mix, I forgot to buy star anise so I subbed dried basil because I smell anise in basil sometimes. (Don’t ask me for rational explanations.) I used ground white pepper instead of whole white peppercorns. I subbed celery seed for fennel seed. Also, I scaled back the sugar a little bit. Since I had a 3 pound pork belly and the recipe called for a six pounder, I halved the cure mix.

After blending the cure mix I rubbed it all over my partially thawed belly, then packed the cure around it, wrapped it up in wax paper then aluminum foil. It sat in the fridge for a little over three days. When it came time to cook, I rinsed as directed. Since I had failed to cut off the skin before curing (duh to me, I’ll take it off first next time) I cut the belly in half and ran it through my Chef’s Choice Electric Food Slicer to cut off the tough skin. I put the two pieces fat side down in a ceramic dish, poured two full quarts of chicken stock over it and covered with foil.

In it went for 7 hours.

When time was up, I pulled the dish out and took a look. Not terribly impressive looking. Kind of like a huge chunk of lame, pasty bacon. Good thing I wasn’t done yet!

I cut the two halves into 8 chunks each and fired up the cast iron skillet. Frying first on the fat side for 3-4 minutes until it got nice and dark and carmely and crunchy, then on each side for a minute or so until the entire small chunk was crunchy and brown.

CAUTION. DO NOT FRY THESE CHUNKS UNLESS YOU HAVE A SPLATTER SCREEN BIG ENOUGH TO COVER YOUR WHOLE SKILLET. It WILL splatter all over God’s green earth and burn you and your loved ones if you don’t cover it up.

Safety first!

While the pork belly goodness was frying I was also frying up some cubed red potatoes in butter with a few tablespoons of Mill Creek Spice’s Steak Seasoning. Man, is that some good stuff.

Anyway, so once you have your well-crisped chunks of pork belly, drain as you please and enjoy. This made me do a dance in the kitchen, just ask Test Subject Bill. Good luck eating more than two. They are SUPER rich but unbelievably tasty. I think it might be better than bacon.

But a word to the wise – make this for a crowd! This is way too much for two people and good enough to share with your best friends! Also, consider serving with something pickled or maybe a salad with vinaigrette just to cut the richness of the fat. It is a thing of beauty. Ah, pork belly euphoria!!

Pork belly and seasoned spuds!

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Test subject Bill loves pork, so I’m always looking for new ways to make pork. He also has a tough time swallowing ground beef because of the gristle/connective tissue that’s often a part of beef…but not so much with pork! So ground pork is the convenience food of choice in our house.

I was inspired by this recipe over at AllRecipes. White sugar is something I avoid so every time I see it in a recipe I’m always tweaking to see how to get out of it. This turned out fantastic. I don’t even have a picture because they are GONE.

KKF Sweet n Sour Pork Balls

1 1/2 lbs ground pork

16 oz. tomato sauce

1 cup water

1/4 c maple syrup

1 T sucanat (you could use white sugar if you want, or increase the maple syrup)

1 T Worcestershire sauce

1 t Italian seasoning

1 t chili powder

1 t apple cider vinegar

1/2 t salt

Preheat oven to 350 degress. Form the ground pork into balls and place in a glass baking dish. Stir together all the other ingredients in a saucepan and heat lightly. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Pour the sauce over the balls and bake for 45-60 minutes, depending on how big you made your pork balls.

We had this over rice with broccoli on the side. It was fantastic, used waaaay less sweetener than the original recipe, and was still pleasantly sweet.

When I make this again I’ll try to remember to take a picture so I can come back and post it!

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The KKF and the BGE

When you buy a Big Green Egg, it’s kind of like joining a cult. People who own a Green Egg (or “Eggheads”) become fanatical, notice other Eggheads when they drive or walk by their house, and dancing or jumping ensues just from seeing someone else’s Egg. This month, I joined the Egg Cult.

The first night after a laborous process of setting up our new large Egg, I had burgers ready to throw on and french fries ready to go in some piping hot tallow. I used Cheeseslave’s fry recipe and they were out of this world delicious! And the burgers…amazing. So delicious and moist.

That was enough to get me hooked, and within the first two weeks of owning the Egg I probably grilled six times. Gratuitous grill porn follows. Enjoy! (And yeah, if you don’t have one I strongly recommend picking up a Green Egg!)

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Bacon and cheese quiche on a bed of arugula

Even when you love to cook, there are some days you are just energy-zapped or plain too busy to spend time making a delicious meal. Takeout is tempting you. A pizza delivery is just a phone call away. Just say no! When I’m feeling like this, I often turn to a crustless quiche. It’s easy, flexible, takes next to no time to prepare and is super delicious. A bacon and cheese quiche is what I made last week.

KKF Bacon & Cheese Crustless Quiche

4 eggs

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

About ½ cup of cooked bacon bits (preferably nitrite-free from free ranging hogs)

About ½ cup of grated cheese (your choice)

Nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter (preferably grass-fed)

Coat a glass pie dish with butter. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer but make sure the whole surface is covered. (I use my fingers, but you could wax paper or plastic wrap.) Beat together your eggs and dairy, grate in a good five or six scrapes of fresh nutmeg (I never use pre-ground nutmeg) and season with a bit of salt and pepper, keeping in mind that you’re adding bacon so that will add salt as well. Pour the egg mixture into the buttered pan. Sprinkle the bacon bits and grated cheese onto the quiche-to-be. (I kind of push down the cheese and bacon so the egg mix covers them so that the cheese doesn’t burn.) Pop the dish in a 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes and pow – delicious dinner!

A note about bacon bits: I cook my homemade bacon up in large batches. Whatever I can wrestle away from Test Subject Bill I cut up into chunks and keep in the freezer. That way I can reach in and grab REAL bacon bits any time I need to add them to something. You don’t even have to worry about thawing them.

The great thing about quiche is that you can put just about anything into them. Leftover asparagus? Toss it in. Cooked spinach? Score. Diced ham, goat cheese, broccoli. It’s a great way to use up little bits of leftovers.

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Georgia Luau

An 18 year old KKF poses with a really pretentious sunbather on Waikiki beach (I think) on the Big Island.

When I was 18 I visited Hawaii with my mom. It was my first plane flight and, other than a weeklong trip to Ohio when I was a pre-teen, my first actual vacation. Our friend Emmette graciously gave us a grand tour of Kauai, the island he lives on. Part of this tour was the obligatory luau.

I was completely grossed out by the idea of the hog being buried in the ground. They expected us to eat that? Really? Ugh, no way! So I had a mai tai. (Somebody told me it was the real deal but I disagree.) That made no difference. I was still horrified. But when they raised up that pig and started plating up, the aroma drew me in. Maybe it wasn’t so disgusting. With the first bite, it was a wrap. I was in hog heaven for real.

When I came across this recipe for kalua pig in the crockpot I was intrigued. Could this really duplicate that experience? It was worth a shot. I had to special order the Hawaiian sea salt because I couldn’t find it at Whole Foods (what gives??) but it was worth the wait.

I used a 2 pound pork roast from Nature’s Harmony and about a 2.7 pound ham roast from Stokes Family farm. (What is the difference? Not sure.) I poked the meat with a knife and rubbed in about two tablespoons of the sea salt, put it in the crock and poured 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid smoke over it. That’s it. Lidded it and let it go for about 8 1/2 hours. I did turn the meat about half way through the cook time. And all day long I had to sit and work and SMELL that roasting away. I thought I would die waiting!

Kalua Pig with broccoli and gravy

Finally the time came. A sample, of course, was a given as I removed the meat. Man, oh man…I almost passed out right there. It was sweet without being sweet, savory and hot and melting in my mouth. And oh, the FAT. The fat was soft, moist edible love. I actually rubbed fat into the pork after I shredded it, it was so freaking delicious. I put it in a warm oven to keep it hot while I made some gravy out of the drippings: Strain drippings, whisk together water and AP flour (or arrowroot flour – I wonder if you could use coconut flour?) and whisk into the drippings. Taste. It may be very salty depending on how much sea salt you ended up using. I’m glad I used more than the recipe called for because I ended up with a good amount of gravy by adding more water. It was still VERY flavorful. I kept the consistency a bit thin because I didn’t want it to compete with the pork, just compliment and add moisture.

Let me tell you…it was out of this world. I served it with CSA broccoli and poured the gravy over that, too. I was satisfied with a relatively small portion, too. Even test subject Bill was quite impressed and agreed it was a keeper. If I’d had a hula skirt, I would have put it on. This pork, while not Hawaiian luau, is as close as you’re going to get on the mainland.

4.7 pounds of pork is a lot for two people, so I wanted to freeze some. I read here that freezing gravy has greater success if you blend it before freezing, so I took my KitchenAid KHB100OB Hand Blender, Onyx Black
to the gravy. Love that thing. I packaged up two containers of kalua pig and poured gravy over them, and into the freezer they went. I really really hope they thaw well!

Follow up: they thawed to perfection the way I packed them up. Excellent!

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