Tag Archives: ground pork

Bolognese Sauce

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Some dishes are simply classics. They are the go-to recipes that you return to over and over again. In my family bolognese sauce is one of those recipes. Rarely does a week go by without our eating a steaming plate of pasta topped with rich bolognese sauce for dinner. Its comforting, satisfying and when I make a pot of the sauce over the weekend, becomes the perfect fast weeknight dinner.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Williams Sonoma’s Essentials of ItalianIts taken me years to find my right balance of meat, vegetables and sauce but I think I’ve finally found my magic combination. The key to a good sauce is long and slow cooking. The process just can’t be rushed if you want to achieve the perfect balance of flavor and texture. I’m also a fan of including a piece of parmesan rind in my sauce. Most people discard this hard remnant of cheese but I stash my leftovers in the freezer then pop one into my sauce while it simmers. It adds a richness and complexity that you just can’t find any other way. If you don’t have a parmesan rind on hand that’s ok to. Skip it for now but save it the next time you use up your hard parmesan cheese. Try it once and you too will be a convert.

BOLOGNESE SAUCE

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces pancetta, chopped

1 large carrot, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 leek, quartered and thinly sliced

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 cup drained and chopped plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 beef bouillon cubes

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 parmesan rind

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • Melt the butter in a large heavy pot set over medium-low heat.
  • When the butter has melted add the pancetta, carrot, celery and leek. Stirring occasionally, cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the ingredients are golden brown and tender.
  • Add the ground pork and ground beef to the pot and stir well.
  • Raise the heat to medium and stirring often in order to break up the meat, cook until the meats are lightly browned and crumbled with most of the juices having evaporated. This should take about 20 minutes.
  • Add the wine to the pot and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pot.
  • Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon cubes, water, milk, parmesan rind, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well.
  • Allow the mixture to just begin to simmer then reduce the heat to very low and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally for about 1 hour. If the mixture becomes too thick you can add in a bit more water.
  • Partially cover the pot and continue cooking until the sauce is thick and dark brown, an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Skim off any fat that floats to the surface of the sauce and serve over hot pasta. Alternatively, let cool, cover and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat, additionally additional water or wine as necessary to get the right texture.

Yields 4 cups

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Chinese Five Spice Pork & Noodles

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I first discovered Chinese five spice powder when it showed up in my spice order as a free sample and I was immediately hooked.  Chinese five spice powder is an intriguing combination of cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, fennel, and anise.  When added to simple ingredients such as pork and noodles it brings the ordinary to extra-ordinary.  Even better, this dish is fast which is the perfect way to end a long week. The original recipe, from Fine Cooking Magazine, calls for using fresh Chinese egg noodles, an ingredient I have yet to be able to find here in Albania. You can make your own or use any long fresh noodle you can find in the refrigerator case of your grocery store.

CHINESE FIVE SPICE PORK & NOODLES

1/3 cup salted peanuts

1/4 cup bacon, cut into thin strips

2 medium cloves, garlic, coarsely chopped

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 cup peanut oil

3/4 pound ground pork

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 scallions, trimmed and sliced

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

3/4 pound fresh egg noodles or other fresh pasta

  • Fill a medium-sized pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Coarsely chop the peanuts in a food processor.  Transfer to a small bowl.
  • Place the bacon, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in the food processor and pulse to finely chop.
  • Heat the oil in a heavy skillet set over medium heat.  Add the bacon mixture and cook, breaking it apart with a spoon until the bacon renders most of its fat and darkens somewhat, about 4 minutes.
  • Raise the heat to medium-high and add the pork, five spice powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.  Cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it looses its raw color, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the scallions, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and sugar.  Keep warm over low heat.
  • Cook the pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain and put it in a large bowl.  Toss in the pork mixture.
  • Divide the pork and noodles amongst four shallow bowls and sprinkle with the reserved peanuts.

Serves 4

Bolognese Sauce

IMG_4181

Some dishes are simply classics. They are the go-to recipes that you return to over and over again. In my family bolognese sauce is one of those recipes. Rarely does a week go by without our eating a steaming plate of pasta topped with rich bolognese sauce for dinner. Its comforting, satisfying and when I make a pot of the sauce over the weekend, becomes the perfect fast weeknight dinner.

I’ve adapted this recipe from Williams Sonoma’s Essentials of ItalianIts taken me years to find my right balance of meat, vegetables and sauce but I think I’ve finally found my magic combination. The key to a good sauce is long and slow cooking. The process just can’t be rushed if you want to achieve the perfect balance of flavor and texture. I’m also a fan of including a piece of parmesan rind in my sauce. Most people discard this hard remnant of cheese but I stash my leftovers in the freezer then pop one into my sauce while it simmers. It adds a richness and complexity that you just can’t find any other way. If you don’t have a parmesan rind on hand that’s ok to. Skip it for now but save it the next time you use up your hard parmesan cheese. Try it once and you too will be a convert.

BOLOGNESE SAUCE

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces pancetta, chopped

1 large carrot, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 leek, quartered and thinly sliced

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 cup drained and chopped plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 beef bouillon cubes

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 parmesan rind

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • Melt the butter in a large heavy pot set over medium-low heat.
  • When the butter has melted add the pancetta, carrot, celery and leek. Stirring occasionally, cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the ingredients are golden brown and tender.
  • Add the ground pork and ground beef to the pot and stir well.
  • Raise the heat to medium and stirring often in order to break up the meat, cook until the meats are lightly browned and crumbled with most of the juices having evaporated. This should take about 20 minutes.
  • Add the wine to the pot and scrape up any browned bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pot.
  • Add in the tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon cubes, water, milk, parmesan rind, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well.
  • Allow the mixture to just begin to simmer then reduce the heat to very low and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally for about 1 hour. If the mixture becomes too thick you can add in a bit more water.
  • Partially cover the pot and continue cooking until the sauce is thick and dark brown, an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Skim off any fat that floats to the surface of the sauce and serve over hot pasta. Alternatively, let cool, cover and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat, additionally additional water or wine as necessary to get the right texture.

Yields 4 cups

Mimi’s Meatloaf

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Meatloaf is a classic comfort food that satisfies the way few other foods do. The ingredients are about as basic as they come; ground meats, a few herbs and spices and a bit of filling all baked together in the form of a giant loaf. Meatloaf can feed a crowd with plenty of leftovers for the next day or two. In fact, I like it better reheated the next day.

Of course every home cook has their own special recipe for this classic. My version of meatloaf is inspired by my mother. When my son was just over a year old she came and stayed with him while both my husband and I had to travel for work. Sidney hadn’t been eating solids for long at this point but he was a curious eater and always wanted to try new things. The night she made meatloaf not only did he try it, he loved it and ate everything on his plate. As well as the second helping that he requested. Its been a family favorite since. And here’s a hint: the instructions have you using your hands to mix everything together. Do it. A spoon or spatula is too cumbersome and your hands will make it so much easier to evenly distribute all of the ingredients.

MINI’S MEATLOAF

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2/3 pound lean ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

1/3 pound ground lamb

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats

1/3 cup parsley, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried basil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2/3 cup ketchup, divided

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a small skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Place the beef, pork and lamb in a large bowl. Using your hands, knead the meats until they are well combined and uniformly distributed.
  • Add the oats, parsley, mustard, basil, salt, pepper, eggs and 1/3 of the ketchup to the bowl. Again, use your hands to combine all of the ingredients.
  • Move the meat mixture to the prepared baking sheet and again using your hands, form the meat into a loaf shape. You can either form a thick loaf or a longer and narrower thin one. I prefer the later since it allows the meat to cook faster.
  • Spread the remaining ketchup over the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 45-60 minutes depending upon the thickness of the loaf. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meatloaf should produce a temperature of 160 degrees.
  • Allow to sit for 10 minutes then slice and serve.

Yields: 10 servings

 

 

 

Swedish Meatballs w/ Dijon Cream Sauce

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Most of us are probably familiar with the Swedish retailer Ikea.  After all, who hasn’t struggled with assembling a piece of their furniture with nothing more than a pictorial, terse instructions in a foreign language, and an allen wrench.  The self assembly nature of their products doesn’t deter me as I keep going back.  But I keep returning for more than their economical furniture; no trip to Ikea would be complete without dining on a heaping plate of their meatballs.  Whether we are in the US or Europe, a shopping trip to Ikea is never complete without a stop in their cafeteria.

But if you can’t make it to the big blue and yellow box store, you can easily make your own Swedish meatballs at home.  This recipe is courtesy of From Away and I’ve made a few adaptations but it is very easy to make.  I served these meatballs as an entree alongside steamed broccoli and crispy smashed roasted potatoes but garlic mashed potatoes would also be good. You could also serve these meatballs as an appetizer or as a part of a buffet table instead.  Either way, they are sure to be a hit.

SWEDISH-STYLE MEATBALLS w/ DIJON CREAM SAUCE

For the meatballs:

1 pound ground pork

3 cups fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup onion, diced

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 1 cup chicken broth

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup half and half

Salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the meatballs:

  • In a large bowl, mix together the pork, bread crumbs, milk, egg, garlic, onion, salt and pepper.
  • Using your hands, roll the mixture into small balls.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When the oil shimmers, place half of the meatballs into the pan and brown on all sides.  Remove the meatballs to a plate and keep warm in the oven while you brown the remaining meatballs.

For the sauce:

  • In a deep saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour, stirring until it begins to bubble and becomes fragrant.
  • Stir in the chicken broth, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up any of the stuck on pan bits.
  • Turn up the heat and bring the sauce to a boil.
  • Stir in the Dijon mustard, honey, and Worcestershire sauce.  Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in the half and half and season with salt and pepper.
  • Gently transfer the reserved meatballs to the pan and let them cook in the sauce for 5 minutes.

Yields: 32 meatballs

Asian Sloppy Joes

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Here is a new twist on a childhood classic and these sandwiches certainly aren’t the Manwiches you grew up with. The recipe comes from Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger Restaurant and combines the best of Asian flavors in a fun form. Sambal Oelek is a spicy chile sauce which adds zip to any dish. If you aren’t familiar with it, try a bit before adding it to your meat mixture. I love it but it is spicy so a little goes a long way. Three tablespoons might add too much spice for your family so add less (or more) if you prefer.

The recipe calls for using a mixture of ground pork and ground chicken but feel free to substitute ground turkey or lean beef if you prefer. You can serve these sandwiches as bite sized sliders or as full-sized sandwiches for a quick dinner.  Like their namesake, these sandwiches are messy so put plenty of napkins on the table, use a fork and knife if you prefer, and dig in. These are a new family favorite in our house.

ASIAN SLOPPY JOES

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 medium red onions, finely chopped

1 cup celery, finely chopped

3 tablespoons Sambal Oelek

3 tablespoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound ground pork

1 pound lean ground chicken

1 cup Hoisin sauce

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

8 large or 20 small rolls, split

  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers.
  • Add the onions, celery, Sambal Oelek, garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper. Combine all of the ingredients then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the ground pork and chicken and cook for 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat.
  • Stir in the Hoisin sauce, tomatoes, and lime juice and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.
  • Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Serve on top of the rolls.

Yields: 8 large or 20 small sandwiches.

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