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Day Twenty Nine: Wild Mushroom Pork Meatloaf

30 Apr
I love meatloaf. It is such a comforting and versatile dish – you can go with Greek flavors, Italian flavors, Asian flavors, and you can use a mix of meats or just one. Meatloaf is one of those things that, if you have any ground meat in the fridge, you can throw together with almost anything you’ve got laying around.
Another thing I love? Wild mushrooms. So naturally, I threw these two loves together. It isn’t any amazing combination that I can be credited for, obviously – roasted mushrooms and meatloaf have been paired together forever.
This meatloaf turned out great. It was so incredibly moist, and just full of great flavors. The fresh herbs brightened the meat up and complemented the woodsyness of the mushrooms. Christian said that this is now, to date, at the top of his list. I was shocked that this edged out the Milk Braised Pork, his previous favorite. For me, this is a very close second to the greens stuffed shoulder I made last month (my top dish so far).
I ended up trimming nearly 99 percent of the fat off the shoulder piece I had. By cooking the meatloaf in a loaf pan, as opposed to a free form meatloaf on a baking pan, the fat and juices stay in and don’t dry out the dish. Additionally, the milk soaked bread further ensures no drying out. While a well known trick, it was something I learned from my Mom and Grandma’s meatballs. Anyway, back to the fat point – I just didn’t feel the need for a fatty, greasy meatloaf. In fact, it kind of grosses me out to see that sometimes. This particular meatloaf is so juicy, even without all the fat, and so moist. While one of the greatest things about pork shoulder is the fat content and the fact that it can produce such tender meat, it isn’t always necessary. I think it is a misconception that anything with pork shoulder is going to be over the top fatty and bad for you – if you can control how you use it, you can make it as lean as you want.
The sauce that I made for this was a great accompaniment to the pork-based meatloaf. Dijon and balsamic are great pairings with pork, and this sauce just made the meatloaf feel a bit more elegant. Not the typical ketchup topping (which I never liked anyway). It added another dimension and really finished it off nicely – a bit tangy from the Dijon, with the right amount of sweetness from the reduced balsamic and maple syrup. Rather than a sauce, you could also use this as a glaze while the meatloaf is cooking. From a presentation standpoint, the sauce application adds a little something – otherwise, it is pretty monochromatic (maybe the one downside of this dish).
Served along side roasted fingerling potatoes and roasted green beans, this was a nice update on a classic. Super comforting for what I’m hoping was the last snowy, gray, dismal day until the cycle starts all over again towards the end of the year.
And as is the case with all meatloaf, this was fantastic as lunch the next day.

Wild Mushroom Pork Meatloaf

For Meatloaf:
  • 2 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of most fat and ground
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 slices of bread (gluten-free or regular), cut into cubes
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
For Mushroom Filling:
  • 6 to 8 oz mixed, fresh wild mushrooms (oyster, cremini, chanterelle, etc)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tsp olive oil
For Sauce:
  • 1/4 c chicken stock
  • 1/4 c white wine
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Soak the bread cubes in milk for 10 minutes; squeeze out excess milk and set bread aside.
In a small saute pan, heat the 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, shallot, and 1 tsp thyme; saute until browned and liquid is evaporated. Add 1 tbsp white wine and cook until evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove mushrooms and set aside, reserving pan for use later.
Combine the pork, bread cubes, eggs, thyme, rosemary, onion, cheese and garlic. Using your hands, mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Add 1/2 of the pork mixture to a loaf pan. Spread the mushrooms leaving a bit of a border, then top with the remaining meatloaf mixture, pressing to seal the edges. Transfer to oven and cook for 50 to 60 minutes.
During the last 10 minutes of cooking,  heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat in reserved pan from mushrooms. Add the shallots and cook till browned. Add the chicken stock and wine; reduce slightly. Add the dijon and balsamic and continue to cook until the sauce becomes thick and color has darkened. Add the maple syrup, thyme, salt and pepper.
To serve, slice the meatloaf and drizzle with the sauce.

Day Twenty Six: BBQ Pork Stuffed Mini Corn Muffins

4 Apr

On Saturday night we all convened at another friend’s house to watch the Final Four games. UCONN won, which was nice. Amidst the game watching there were babies bouncing (and scooting across the floor at high speeds), wine drinking, and of course, food eating.

My contribution to the event was mini corn muffins stuffed with bbq pork. I had a smaller chunk of the shoulder left, which I figured I could use up for some snacks to bring along. I almost feel like this dish is kind of cheating, not really following the rules of my challenge – it is just too easy. But I’m still counting it – 100 different recipes will require me to get pretty inventive real soon.

I’m not including a recipe with this, since it is quite simple. Just throw your pork shoulder (mine was about 1/2 lb) in the crockpot with some onions and a splash of stock/broth for a few hours on low. Meanwhile, make up some bbq sauce if you aren’t using your favorite bottled kind. When the pork is done, chop it up and mix it with the bbq sauce. Whip up some cornbread (I made a gf version with cornmeal and white rice flour), and you’re almost done. Using a mini muffin pan, spoon a small amount of batter into each cup, then add some of the chopped pork, and cover with more batter. I did three variations – one with just pork, one with pork and sharp cheddar, and one with jalepenos and pork. Serve with some bbq sauce on the side to dip the little muffins in, and that is it. Pretty easy, huh?

These were all eaten up – great finger food for a party. I think they’d be great using a normal size muffin tin, which would yield a more substantial sandwich-like muffin. The larger ones could work well as a part of a light lunch with a salad. It seems like it would be a great thing to take along for a picnic or a beach day.

Day Fourteen: Red Chile Pork Enchiladas

13 Dec

When I was a kid, I would only order cheese enchiladas when we went to a Mexican restaurant. The mix of super melty and stringy cheese with the red sauce was just something I couldn’t get enough of. As I grew older, I still enjoyed these but got tired of what I learned was the “Americanized” version of enchiladas. Now, we’re lucky and have what I think is the best Mexican restaurant ever in our small little mountain town – Lupita’s. This place is authentic and doesn’t give you a plate of enchiladas covered in so much sauce and melted cheese that you can’t even see them, next to grayish colored refried beans with yet more melted cheese. No, this place will give you 2 amazing enchiladas filled with whatever you want (shredded beef, please), just the right amount of sauce and a sprinkle of crumbly cheese, all  next to real Mexican rice and real beans with just a touch of more cheese. And the sauce itself is amazing – it blew my mind the first time I ate it. I essentially lick my plate when I’m done, it is so good. I could just order the sauce and be happy. Now that the staff actually knows us and knows what we order (no menu needed), I’m tempted to ask for the recipe. If they were smart they’d keep that recipe a secret.

My pork enchiladas were a success, and really easy since it used leftover meat. Sure there were a few steps, but it was worth it. I’d classify this as either a wholly weekend meal, or maybe a Monday nighter since you can make the sauce and pickled vegetables the day before.

The red chile sauce was that deep, rich red that is reminiscent of Lupita’s sauce. It has a good heat to it, but not so much that it over powers what is wrapped inside the tortillas. Adding the sweet pickled vegetables also cut the heat a bit, and added a nice flavor combination if you got it all in one bite.

My only complaint about this dish was the enchiladas were messy – they just fell apart when you tried to transfer them from the baking dish to a plate. Granted, it didn’t change how they tasted, but they definitely looked disheveled and more like an enchilada casserole, rather than individual enchiladas.

Red Chile Pork Enchiladas

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups leftover pulled pork
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 2 dried New Mexico or Guajillo chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 dried Ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 whole cloves, crushed
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 small watermelon daikon julienned, or 2 small radishes, sliced
  • 1/4 c rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 oz Queso Fresco
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • juice from 1/2 lime

To make sauce and pickled vegetables:

Boil the water. Tear the dried peppers into pieces. In a small skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil and when hot, add the peppers. Cook for about 1 minute or so. Add to a pot and cover with the boiling water. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

While the peppers are soaking, mix the water, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Place the vegetables in a bowl, and cover with the pickling liquid. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water, then cover and place in  refrigerator until ready to use.

Once the peppers have finished soaking, pour the pepper and cooking liquid into a food processor. Add the cloves and garlic and puree until smooth. Season liberally with salt.

To make enchiladas:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1 cup of enchilada sauce in another skillet and simmer over medium low heat. Ladle another 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Place one tortilla in the skillet with oil and cook on each side for about 5 seconds, then dip each side into the enchilada sauce. Place on work surface and add some pork and cheese. Roll up and place in the baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining 5 tortillas.

Pour the sauce from the skillet over the enchiladas and spread to cover. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until heated through and cheese has melted.

To plate, place enchiladas on a plate and garnish with the cilantro, tomato and green onion. Mix the sour cream with the lime juice and drizzle over the enchilada(s). Add the pickled vegetables either on top or on the side.

Day Four: Pork and Apple Shepherd’s Pie

21 Oct

Yesterday was a personal trifecta – the Yankees beat the Rangers to keep that series alive (sorry Uncle Jim), my dinner turned out great, and most importantly, the Giants kicked the Phillies butts. It was a good day.

Okay, back to dinner. This dish was outstanding. According to my husband, it needs to be a house staple, like (and I quote) dijon mustard, Hellman’s mayo, bread and butter pickles and peanut butter and jelly. Well okay then, I guess it was a success.

I have a recipe for a Normandy-style chicken, which is baked with Calvados, cream and apples, then topped with a parsnip-potato mash. It is a really tasty dish that I thought would translate to pork well, with some modifications. And so the Pork and Apple Shepherd’s Pie was made.

The milk with the infused herbs and spices really makes the mashed potatoes stand out and complements the filling wonderfully, while the pork itself is super tender and just melts with the apple. The dish isn’t super heavy, but has a creaminess to it that I loved. The flavors all combine together perfectly to make one tasty meal.

I kept the skin on both the potatoes and the apples – to me, there is no point in taking the time to peel them. It makes it a bit more rustic feeling, and you can keep some of the good healthy stuff in the peel/skin. But if you prefer, you can definitely peel them. Also, if you don’t have Calvados, you can substitute apple jack or any other regular, non-apple brandy here.

I used a chardonnay that was not overly oakey and paired nicely with the meal. We served a simple green salad on the side, with ricotta salata crumbles and a homemade dressing of apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and homemade mustard with thyme. This is a super comforting fall or winter dinner, and could easily be doubled or tripled to serve more people.

 

Pork and Apple Shepherd’s Pie (serves about 2-3 people)

  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 3 slices pancetta, cut into pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 pork shoulder, cut into 1″ pieces, excess fat removed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary,chopped
  • 1/8 c white wine
  • 1/4 c Calvados
  • 1/2 c stock (I used beef stock, but chicken would work fine too)
  • 1/2 c  Granny Smith apples, cored and diced
  • 1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tbsp flour (or gluten-free flour mix)

In a dutch oven, saute the onion, pancetta and garlic in 1 tbsp butter for 5 to 7 min. Remove from pan and reserve.

Season pork with salt and pepper. Brown in dutch oven for 8 to 10 min, till lightly browned. Add herbs, wine, Calvados, stock and onion/garlic/pancetta mix. Bring to boil. Immediately turn to simmer and cover pan. Simmer about 1.5 hours, until pork is tender.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes until tender. Place milk, thyme sprigs, bay leaf and nutmeg in sauce pan. Bring to boil and immediately turn off heat and cover. Let sit at least30 min. Drain potatoes and return to pan. Add milk (minus thyme and bay leaf) and 2 tbsp butter; mash with a potato masher until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

When the pork is done, remove pork and other solids from dutch oven and put in a bowl; with two forks, break the meat up into smaller bits. Pour the cooking liquid into another bowl and set aside. Mix 1/2 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp flour mix; add to dutch oven and cook for about 3 min over medium heat, until the butter is foaming. Add apples and cooking liquid; bring to a boil and cook for 5 min, until it begins to thicken and reduce. Return pork mixture to the pan and cook an additional 5 – 7 min, until thickened more.

Pour pork mixture into a casserole/baking dish. Top with mashed potatoes and bake for 20 min, until liquid is bubbling at edges. Place a baking pan on a rack under the casserole dish to catch any spill over. Turn to broil for 5 min to brown top of potatoes. Let stand 10 min before serving.

 

 

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