Pantry Staple Pasta Sauce

We returned from a short vacation Friday night and Saturday was filled with all the errands except for grocery shopping. As a dinner time approached I turned to the cupboard to see what kind of thing I could cobble together.

Lentils and chickpeas provide a bit of protein in a vegetarian dish. We served it with some grated Parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.

Pantry Staple Pasta Sauce
Servings: 4+
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
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Mustard Pork Cutlet

I love me a crispy, pan-fried, cutlet. I often do a traditional flour, egg, breadcrumbs coating however I wanted to dry something a bit different. The idea of using mustard to bind the crumbs to the pork popped into my head. Walla, another successful weeknight protein source.

Mustard Pork Cutlet
Servings: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 pork chops, about 4 oz. each and 1/2″ thick
  • 4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the panko breadcrumbs in a pie plate or rimmed dish. Set aside.
  2. Use a meat pounder to flatten each pork chop to around 1/4″ thick. Season with black pepper and kosher salt on both sides. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Smear each side of the cutlets with about 1/2 tsp. of mustard. Press each side of the cutlet into the breadcrumbs until they are well coated. Coat all 4 cutlets before continuing.
  4. Heat the oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet until it shimmers. Add 2 cutlets and cook for 4 minutes per side. Check the temperature of the cutlets with an instant read thermometer; 140°F is fully cooked. Transfer to a cooling rack set over some paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Repeat with the other two cutlets.

Slow-cooker Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce

Summer cooking is often about trying to not heat up the kitchen any more than necessary. A slow-cooker adds some heat but certainly not as much as the oven. You could even set the slow-cooker up in the basement or garage if you really wanted to keep the heat out of the kitchen.

Slow-cooker Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce
Servings: 8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 1/2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 10 lb. pork should, skin removed
  • 1/2 cup Alton Brown’s Rub Number Nine, divided
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce

Special Equipment:

Directions:

  1. Rub the pork shoulder all over with 1/4 cup of the dry rub. Place in the slow-cooker. Add the orange juice. Cover and cook for 10 hours.
  2. When the time is up transfer the pork shoulder to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes. While it rests combine the ketchup, chili sauce, remaining dry rub and 1 cup of the liquid in the slow-cooker in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until sauce reduces to about 1 1/2 cups.
  3. When the pork is cook enough to handle start shredding the meat. I pull a large piece off the shoulder with tongs and then use 2 forks to shred it. Place shredded meat in a large bowl.
  4. When all the meat is shredded ladle about 1/2 cup of sauce and 1/2 cup of liquid from the slow-cooker over the meat. Toss the meat in the sauce and serve.

Notes:
I flipped the pork shoulder every 2 hours in the slow-cooker.

This could be made a day or two in advance. Pull the meat as above and stash the cooled meat in a large zip top bag. Strain the liquid in the slow-cooker and save that separately. To reheat: Place the meat in an oven-safe dish, add a cup of the slow-cooker liquid and cover the dish with foil. Heat in a 200°F oven for 15-20 minutes. Make the barbecue sauce while the pork reheats and toss the heated meat with the sauce when you are ready to serve.

If you are more ambitious, or just plan ahead, you can prep and rub the pork shoulder 24 hours in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge. This will give the sugar and salt in the rub an extended bit of time to do it’s magic in seasoning the meat.

Maple-glazed Pork Roast

I’ve made this recipe several times using both pork tenderloin and pork roast. I think I prefer the pork roast; the meat to glaze ratio is higher so the sweetness of the glaze doesn’t overpower the meatiness of the dish.

If you want to make this with a pork tenderloin use 2 x 1 pound tenderloins and cook them for 15 minutes in the oven before checking the temperature.

Maple-glazed Pork Roast
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 lb. boneless pork roast
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp.ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • pinch each of ground cloves and cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. While the oven heats up tie the pork roast in 3-5 places with butcher’s twine to make a more uniform “log” out of it. Sprinkle with the kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Add the oil to a non-stick skillet and heat it over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until it starts to smoke. Brown the roast on all sides, starting with the fattiest side, for 2-3 minutes each. Transfer the pork roast to a plate.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and drain off any excess oil. Return the skillet to the burner and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and bring to boil. Cooks for 30 seconds.
  5. Return the roast to skillet and coat on all sides with the glaze. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes. The center of the thickest part of the roast should register 140°F on an instant-read thermometer.
  6. Rest the pork for 5 minutes in the skillet and then transfer to the cutting board for an additional 10 minute rest.
  7. Slice into 1/4″ slices, streak with some of the remaining glazes and serve.

Notes:
If you spray your measuring cup with a bit of non-stick spray before adding the maple syrup with will pour our much more easily.

Dark Color, Robust Taste Maple Syrup (formerly know as Grade B Maple Syrup) works very well in this recipe.

Soy-glazed Chicken Thighs

This recipe is brought to you by rainy weather which ruined my plans for grilled chicken. A couple hours in a soy sauce based marinade turned “boring” old chicken thighs into something very flavorful.

Soy-glazed Chicken Thighs
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 4 hours (includes time for marination)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup dark soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil plus additional oil for browning the thighs
  • 12-16 bonless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

Directions:

  1. In a large measuring cup or bowl combine the first 5 ingredients and whisk them together until combined.
  2. Place the trimmed chicken thighs in a large zip top bag or sealable container. Add the marinade, coating the thighs. Stash in the fridge for a minimum of 2-3 hours, Give the bag/container a shake every hour or so to recoat the thighs.
  3. Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 4 chicken thighs, “skin” side down and brown for 3 minutes. Flip the thighs and brown the second side for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer to a foil lined sheet tray.
  5. Repeat browning of the remaining thighs, heating additional oil as needed.
  6. When all the thighs are browned cover the tray with foil and transfer it to the heated oven for 20-25 minutes. The chicken should register 165&degF on an instant-read thermometer before removing.
  7. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Notes:
A 1-quart measuring cup is ideal for mixing the marinade.

Inspiration provided by the Joy of Cooking cookbook recipe for Deviled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts.

Lemon Shrimp with Garlic Rice

Rummaging through the freezer I came across a bag of peeled, uncooked shrimp waiting for inspiration. After looking through a couple of cookbooks and scavenging the Interwebs I came across a recipe similar to the one below. I made a few modifications and, presto, dinner was served.

Lemony Shrimp with Garlic Rice
Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more for seasoning the shrimp)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (unsalted if you can find it)
  • 2 lemons, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the rice and toss to coat with oil. Toast the rice for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the water, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cover, return to heat and reduce to low. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. While the rice cooks heat the chicken stock, lemon rings and paprika in a non-stick skillet over low heat until it is simmering; about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the butter and swirl it among the shrimp to create a slightly creamy sauce. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Serve shrimp over a generous helping of garlicky rice.

Mustard-glazed Pork Loin

When you host friends for dinner as often as we do you sometimes run low on inspiration. Luckily there are a host of websites, TV programs, cookbooks and magazines aimed at helping you find something to try. I believe the inspiration for this came from an copy of Food Network Magazine that I thumbed through while at my doctor’s office.

I used pork loin “roast” for this recipe. A pork tenderloin would also work however the cooking time would be less.

Mustard-glazed Pork Loin
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • a 2 lb. pork loin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • heaping Tbsp. Dijon
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Pat the pork loin dry and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the mustards, vinegar and maple syrup together and set aside.
  4. Add the oil to a oven-safe heavy bottomed skillet and heat on high until the oil shimmers. Sear the pork on all sides until nicely browned.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and brush the pork with about 1/2 the glaze. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Brush on the remainder of the glaze, rotate the skillet 180°’s and roast another 15 minutes.
  6. Check the temperature of your pork roast. If it hasn’t reached 145°F on an instant-read thermometer then roast in 5 minute increments until it reaches that temp. If it has reached that temp then remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the roasts to a cutting board. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes:
I thought this paired very well with Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potatoes that I served that night. The savory glaze, with a hint of sweetness matched the earthy sweetness of the side dish really nicely.