Pork Loin with Apples and Onions

I’m cooking out of the freezer and fridge as my house is about to be fumigated for termites, so in searching around the crisper drawers, I found several slightly bruised Granny Smith apples and medium onion. Instead of sweet applesauce to go with a pork loin I found, I decided to do an apple and onion accompaniment.

Slicing the onions thin allows them to become sweetly caramelized in a fairly short cooking time. They are a perfect way to tone down the sour apples without adding sugar. Michelle thought a sprinkle of pepper would be a good taste and I think she’s right, so I added pepper to the to taste seasonings.

Pork Loin with Apple and Onions

1 – 3 lb pork loin
⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Granny Smith apples, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

Make a marinade by mixing together apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, honey, lime juice, Creole seasoning and rosemary. Put loin in zip top bag and pour marinade over pork. Seal and marinate for at least an hour and as long as 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Discard marinade. Brown all side of pork in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Place pork in roasting pan and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until meat thermometer registers 140 degrees F.

Deglaze the skillet with with 1 cup of water. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the apples to the pan and cook over medium heat until apples soften and onions are golden and all the water has steamed away. Add 2 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Continue to cook until apples are fork tender. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary.

Remove loin from oven when done and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Spoon apple and onion mixture over top.

 

Skillet Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie

I wanted some comfort food, so I decided to make a pot pie for dinner. My version includes chicken and onions and mushrooms and seasonings but none of those pesky peas, confounded carrots or other vexing vegetables. My version, in other words, is awesome.

I used large portobello mushrooms, sliced but most any mushroom would do. Make sure they are in bite sized pieces.

For this recipe, I’m using a Pillsbury Pie Crust for the topping. It is easy to thaw and unroll and tastes great.

Skillet Chicken Mushroom Pot Pie

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons rubbed sage
1 cup low salt chicken stock
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 roll of pie dough
1 egg, beaten with a teaspoon of water

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Dice the chicken breast into bite-sized cubes. Stir them with the Worcestershire sauce and then toss with the cornmeal to coat. Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat and add in some oil. Turn the heat down to medium and sear the diced chicken until browned on all sides. Remove the seared chicken with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate.

Keeping the pan over medium heat, add in the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Toss in the sliced mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have reduced in size and given up their liquid. Remove from the skillet to a bowl.

Melt butter and stir the flour in the skillet over medium heat. Cook the roux for 5 minutes to make sure the raw flour taste is cooked away. Stir in the pepper, salt and sage. Pour in the chicken stock and turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the skillet. Stir in the sour cream. Return the onions and mushrooms to the skillet and stir to coat with the pan sauce. Return the chicken to the skillet. Cook and stir until the mixture has thickened. Turn off the heat.

The pie crust should be about the size of your pan. If not, roll it out until it is just a little bigger than the pan, then place it over the filling, using a wooden spoon or scraper to push the edges down into the sides. Cut slices in the top to allow steam to escape during baking.

Brush the top with the beaten egg and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden-brown and the chicken juices are bubbling and overflowing.

Let the chicken mushroom pot pie rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Yummy!

Yogurt and Aleppo Pepper Marinated Grilled Chicken

I’ve jumped on the Aleppo pepper bandwagon with both feet. It is a less hot and almost fruity pepper that has a slow build of heat. It makes a great marinade for chicken (and, I’ve heard, for vegetables). I like that I get flavor without burning myself.

It was a rainy afternoon but that didn’t stop me from getting out and grilling. The chicken was tender and juicy and the mild spiciness of the marinade/sauce made our mouths happy. Heck, Michelle wants me to make more sauce for her to use on chicken tenders.

If you don’t have Aleppo pepper (and you really, really should get some), substitute crushed red pepper flakes and sweet paprika. Combine 4 teaspoons of each in the bowl with 4 tablespoons warm water as the first step.

Yogurt and Aleppo Pepper Marinated Grilled Chicken

3 tablespoons Aleppo pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup honey
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

4 bone in chicken breasts (or leg quarters)

In a large bowl combine 3 tablespoons Aleppo pepper with 2 tablespoons warm water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes for the water to be absorbed.

After the pepper has soaked, place remaining ingredients except the chicken in the bowl and whisk to combine. Reserve 1/2 cup of the marinade in a small container and refrigerate. Add the chicken to the large bowl (or pour the contents in a zip top bag) and thoroughly coat. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.

Set the grill for indirect cooking.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Arrange the chicken skin side up on the cool side of the grill with the thickest part nearest the coals. Grill for 30-45 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the largest piece registers 160° -165 degrees F.

Drizzle the chicken with the reserved marinade and serve.

I served the chicken with couscous.

Ham Salad Spread

You know when you’ve gotten toward the end of the ham you’ve cooked and it is too little to slice anymore? Dicing the remains and making ham salad spread is a great way to use up the rest.

I was out of stalks of celery, so I used ground celery instead. I kind of liked the added flavor without the crunch.

Use as a spread with crackers or slather between slices of toasted bread. I also stirred some into a skillet with some diced, parboiled potatoes for a quick and tasty hash.

Ham Salad Spread

2 cups cooked ham, diced
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, cut into pieces
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons ground dried celery

Place the ham in a food processor and pulse a couple times to chop it up. Add the eggs, cream cheese, mayo, relish, mustard and celery to the processor. Pulse until it is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Rosemary Root Beer Ham

I bought a large ham recently for making sandwiches. Starting with good ham is a great way to get better results. I went for a local favorite Chisesi New Orleans ham.

I was out of root beer so I used some Zatarains root beer concentrate for the glaze. I used 1 teaspoon in 1 cup of water to make a cup of root beer.

For the ground rosemary, I took 2 tablespoons of whole, dried rosemary leaves and gave them a long whirr in my spice grinder. I used two teaspoons in the recipe and put the extra in an airtight jar for another use

The ham had a delicious crust and smokey interior. I can’t wait for more sandwiches!

Rosemary Root Beer Ham

1 ham (I used a 9 lb Chisesi New Orleans Smoked Ham )
1 cup root beer
1/2 cup cane syrup (I prefer Steen’s Cane Syrup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Creole mustard
2 teaspoons ground rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Whisk together the syrup, root beer, brown sugar, and mustard. Sprinkle in the rosemary, cloves and cinnamon and stir to combine.

Lay the ham in a baking dish and cut a lines in the skin all around the ham. Pour the syrup mixture over the ham.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees for 3 hours. Remove foil and begin basting for at least another hour or until the internal temperature is 145 degrees F.

Great with the rolls (recipe here), too!

Cheesy Meatloaf

I love meatloaf – it is cheap, easy and any leftovers makes awesome sandwiches for the next several days. I’ve done meatloaf before (here and here) but this one uses lots of cheddar cheese to make the finished meatloaf even better.

I served it with a bacon, broccoli, cheese stuffed Vidalia onion but that recipe needs a lot more tweaking before I will post it.

Cheesy Meatloaf

3/4 cup milk
2-3 slices stale bread (at least 1 1/2 cups worth when torn)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 lbs ground beef
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Make a panade by soaking the torn pieces of bread in the milk for ten minutes.

Sauté onion in a tablespoon of butter until softened, at least 5 minutes.

Combine panade, sautéed onions and all the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix with your hands. Form into one large loaf or two smaller loaves and bake at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes (or until it reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees). Remove from the oven, slice and serve.

Honey Lemon Chicken

I needed a quick meal when I came home from an all day event in Baton Rouge but I didn’t want to sacrifice flavor. This meal takes a little over an hour but that includes the marinade time. I prepped the marinade and let it sit over the chicken when I first came home and then changed clothes and walked the dog and the chicken was ready to cook when I was done with those chores. Stove time is about 20-30 minutes, about the duration needed for the rice to cook.

The chicken is sweet from the honey, tangy from the mustard and sour from the lemon. The chicken stock adds a depth of flavor that you usual don’t get from a quick meal.

Honey Lemon Chicken

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
2 chicken breasts, skinless although they don’t need to be boneless
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 lemon, sliced

Whisk together honey, lemon juice and mustard. Pour over chicken and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Remove chicken from marinade and season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Sear chicken in skillet, for about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Whisk together the marinade and chicken stock. Pour into skillet and whisk until boiling. Reduce to a simmer and add chicken and juices back in pan. Lay the lemon slices over the chicken, cover the skillet and let simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If using bone-in chicken breasts, increase cook time to 20 minutes.

Serve over a bed of rice, with remaining sauce poured on top. Squeeze the lemon slices for a bright burst of flavor.

 

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Whole Chicken

I tip my hat to my brother-in-law, Wayne, who made such a delicious bacon wrapped pork loin that I decided to get in on the fun. I choose a chicken as I had one thawing.

I didn’t have a can of beer so I drank a can of Coke and filled it halfway with water and dropped in a couple of garlic cloves. I went with the “beer can up the butt” method as that was the easiest way to get the bird in a position for the wrapping. It also keeps the grill environment moist during the cook.

Use your favorite chicken rub for the dry brine. I used my Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub. You’re looking for a good amount of kosher salt as you’re basically jumpstarting a breakdown of the protein structure. This denaturing makes the meat hold onto more water so your final result will be a tender and juicy bird. I don’t generally rinse the brine off but, because the bacon is salty, I brushed off as much as I could before wrapping.

I only had thick cut bacon in the house, so I went out and bought a cheap pack of thin for this recipe and it shrank so much it pulled off the toothpicks. It did give plenty of flavor anyway and ended up looking like the chicken was wearing a coat of many colors. The finished resulted looked awesome and tasted delicious. The meat was luscious and juicy with just the right amount of seasoning and a little crunch from the cooked bacon.

Bacon Wrapped Grilled Whole Chicken

4 lb whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
2 tablespoons Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub
1 can beer or soda – drink half the beer or all the soda
2 cloves garlic
1 lb bacon, thin sliced
bunch of toothpicks

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Use a dry rub to cover the chicken both inside and out. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight but no more than 24 hours.

Remove chicken from fridge and brush off any visible salt. Set aside to dry while you prepare the grill for indirect cooking. Fill and light a charcoal chimney and, once the coals are ashy, pour them around the edge in a horseshoe shape.

Drop the garlic cloves into the half full can of beer (or half filled with water coke can). Work the chicken onto the can by placing the can on a solid surface and setting the back end of chicken over the top of the can. Work it down until it is securely inside. Use the legs to set it up like a tripod and begin the process of draping it in bacon.

Wrap the chicken strip by strip with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Don’t forget the wings Transfer the chicken, with it’s can, to the grill and place it on the center of the grate and drop in some wood chips for smoke.

Cook the chicken for at least an hour or until temperature of the thighs is 175 to 180 degrees F. Remove from the grill and let stand for 10 minutes before removing the can and then carving the bird.

Creole Chicken and Rice

I recently did a Latin American chicken and rice dish (see recipe here) and now I’m going to do a Louisiana Creole version. This one has the Louisiana holy trinity of onion, green bell pepper and celery with a different set of seasonings and long grain rice instead of the short grain of the arroz con pollo.

It had the right amount of heat from the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes for my palate but you can always put a bottle of hot sauce on the table for those who need more.

I make my own Creole seasoning (see recipe here) as I can more closely monitor the salt content.

Chicken cut off the bone and stirred into the rice for serving

This is a very tasty and comforting meal in a pot. My taste testers, Charlotte and Thomas, both enjoyed seconds and we all were members of the clean plate club.

Creole Chicken and Rice

Marinade:

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil

Chicken and Rice:

2 tablespoons olive oil
6-8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs or 4 skinless breasts with rib bones
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1 cup long-grain rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth

Combine all marinade ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl or zip top bag. Add chicken and turn to coat. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Brown chicken about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer chicken to plate and lower heat to medium low. Add in chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Place in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in bell pepper and celery and sauté for about 3 minutes, until softened. Sprinkle on Creole seasoning and stir.

Add rice and stir to toast for 2 minutes. Pour in chicken stock, give it a stir, and bring to a simmer. Nestle chicken on top of the rice (pour in any of the juices that are left on the plate as well). Return to a simmer, then cover and place in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake another 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed into the rice and chicken is done. During this time, cut the chicken off the bones and stir it into the rice for the final moments of cooking.

Sausage, Potato and Cheddar Stew

My sister, Kathy, and her husband, Wayne, go to the Elberta Sausage Festival every spring and fall. Luckily for me, they pick up some delicious German sausage for me when they go.

While I typically poach the sausages in beer and finish them on the grill, this time I’m going with a recipe modified from the kitchen of my favorite Two Fat Ladies. Sausage and beer were made for each other and when you put in potatoes and cheese, you’ve nearly reached heaven.

I’m using German sausages here but you can use spicy Chorizo or Italian sausage or even Kielbasa. I took the sausage out of the casing as it can get too chewy. Just be gentle when browning it so it stays in large chunks.

Sausage, Potato and Cheddar Stew

2 lbs good quality sausages, cut into 2 inch lengths
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bottle beer
1 14.5 can diced tomatoes
6 medium potatoes, quartered
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a heavy Dutch oven, brown the sausages. Remove the sausages from the pot and set aside. Heat up the oil and then add the onions and a little salt and sauté for about ten minutes or they start to turn golden. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes or until fragrant. Pour in the beer and tomatoes with their juices. Season with pepper. Add in the potatoes. Return the sausages to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the stew to a boil and drop the heat to keep it on a simmer. Cover and cook for about an hour. You are looking for the potatoes to be fork tender. Uncover and add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring well between each addition to mix and melt. Cook for about 10 additional minutes for all the flavors to come together.

Serve this with plenty of crusty bread to sop up all the juices.