Archive | July, 2011

Day Thirty Two: Grilled Pork Kebabs with Basil Chimichurri

12 Jul

I have a bad habit of buying basil and never being able to finish it before it goes bad. At Whole Foods, or at least ours, you have to buy a rather large container of it and frankly, not everything I cook works well with basil. I’m also not big on making a ton of pesto to freeze – I just find it so much better when it is freshly made. But that is just me.

Anyway, so I decided that I was not going to waste basil this time. It is just too good to waste, and I get so mad every time I realize I’ve made that mistake, yet again. I used some this week for a chilled roasted beet side dish, but had a ton left over. That led to this recipe, one that I thought would be great way to use more of it up. A fresh basil chimichurri would definitely pair well with marinated and grilled pork kebabs, right? Yep, it did.

This recipe is so darn easy, it is like child’s play. Some of the best recipes are the simplest, with no complicated methods, ingredients or flavors. Marinate the meat overnight and grill, throw sauce ingredients together in a bowl and mix for 30 seconds. Done. It would really make a great dish when you don’t have a lot of time or don’t want to be cooking when you have guests over, since the sauce and pork is mostly prepared ahead of time. All you have to do at game time is grill.

The fresh flavors make this a great summer meal. I served it with a roasted fingerling potato and arugula salad and some grilled spring onions, as well as an Argentinian Malbec – delicious side dishes and wine. The pork was juicy, tender, and nicely charred on the outside, with just the right amount of lemon coming through from the marinade. The chimichurri added to the bright flavors and pulled it together nicely. The dinner really was perfect for eating outside on the deck overlooking Lake Tahoe (well, what we see of it at least). We finally have summer here, and the weather is just too good not to be eating every single meal al fresco.

Note that the recipe will probably yield more chimichurri than you’ll need. I’m planning to use the rest mixed with roasted fingerling potatoes, or perhaps on some grilled chicken. I have a feeling it would be good with anything, really, even just eaten on it’s own!

Grilled Pork Kebabs with Basil Chimichurri

(Serves about 3)

For Pork and Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut int 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
For Basil Chimichurri:
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine marinade ingredients together in a bowl and transfer to a ziploc bag or dish. Add pork and move around to coat. Marinade up to 24 hours in refrigerator.

About 2 hours before you are ready to grill, make the chimichurri. Combine sauce ingredients together and cover; transfer to refrigerator until ready to use. You’ll want the flavors to infuse and develop before you serve it.

Prepare grill at medium (with a gas grill) until hot. Put pork pieces on metal skewers and grill until done, turning once, about 14 minutes total.

To serve, remove pieces of pork and put on plate; top with chimichurri.

Day Thirty One: Pork Tostadas with Pickled Farmer’s Market Vegetables

10 Jul

And we’re back! Oh how I’ve missed pork shoulder! Still feeling good, albeit with some minor setbacks along the way. I’m very excited to pick up where I left off back in May (I can’t believe it has been that long).

Summer brings us one of my favorite things – the Farmer’s Market. I get so excited on Thursdays to see what great, beautiful, fresh vegetables, fruits and flowers the vendors have. So far, it has yet to disappoint. I’m currently obsessed with bright purple spring onions one stand has been having – they are amazing on the grill. Sweet, charred deliciousness.

For the newest recipe here, I added some Asian flavors to the tostada concept. The result? Pork tostadas with pickled farmer’s market vegetables. The pickled veggies consisted of kohlrabi, cucumbers and radishes that I picked up at the market. And “pickled” is used here loosely – they are more like veggies that have been marinated in a vinegar-sugar solution, long enough for flavor them but while staying a bit crunchy. Whatever you call them, they are good.

If you’ve never had kohrabi, I suggest trying it at least once. The taste is sort of like a combination of a radish, celery root and a turnip, while the texture is almost jicama-ish. I love it, and it is surprisingly versatile. I’ve made it into slaws, and more recently, made a salad with raw diced kohlrabi, steamed chard and red lentils. I had 1/2 of a bulb left over and figured this “pickling” method would be a good way to use it up.

The succulent pork was marinated in a cilantro, lime and soy mixture, then slow cooked to pull-apart perfection – it was a great accompaniment to the vegetables.  For the tortilla, I used brown rice tortillas in lieu of traditional corn, and rather than frying them, I brushed them with oil and crisped them in the oven (this was a staple item on the cleanse). This method is not only a bit healthier, but at least with the rice tortillas, they get really crispy. They also hold up well to the topping, without getting soggy from the juices and sauce.

We really enjoyed this recipe. I served it as an appetizer/first course with some friends we had over for an impromptu bbq at our house. Definitely think this is a great entertaining recipe since the serving size can be so adaptable – larger tortilla portions for main course, or really small bite size for appetizers. I opted to serve the tortillas in quarters, with each person having 2 pieces. There was leftover pork that would have made 2 more, but I wanted it the next day for a sandwich (which was great, by the way).

The bright flavors of the vegetables really matched well with the rich but fresh, juicy pork. And by topping it off with a bit of fresh cilantro and black sesame seeds made this a pretty dish.  I think it needs to be stressed how important the vegetables are to pull the dish together. Our friend, Steph, doesn’t particularly like vinegary stuff, so she had one first without them. For her second, she had one with the veggies and definitely agreed it was much better. It is amazing how something so simple can make a dish just taste right. Highly recommend this one!

Pork Tostadas with Pickled Farmer’s Market Veggies

(Serves about 6 as a first course/appetizer, more for hors d’oeuvres and less for main course)

For Pork and Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 3 equal pieces
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger (you can add more or less)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
For Pickled Veggies:
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 radishes
  • 1 small cucumber, or 1/2 regular
  • 1/2 bulb kohlrabi
  • Brown rice tortillas (or corn tortillas)
  • Olive oil
  • chopped cilantro
  • black sesame seeds (optional)

Mix together all the marinade ingredients with a whisk. Set aside 1/2 cup of marinade for later (keep this in the refrigerator). Pour the rest of the marinade in a dish and add the pork, turning to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours. Add the contents of the dish to the crockpot and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until falling apart. When done, shred into large pieces.

While the pork is cooking, make the veggies. Using a mandoline on the thinnest setting, slice the vegetables. For the kohlrabi, once sliced, julienne the pieces so they are thin sticks. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a glass bowl and add the vegetables; cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

When ready to serve, cut the brown rice tortillas in 1/4’s (if using small corn, don’t worry about doing this). Brush top side with olive oil and broil until crisp and brown, about 3 minutes. To each tortilla quarter, add pork and drizzle with a spoonful of the marinade that you set aside. Top with some of the vegetables and sprinkle with black sesame seeds and extra cilantro. Serve and eat.