A beautiful thing happens when two culinary superpowers collide. When the savory bliss of miso goes head-to-head with the creamy indulgence of mayonnaise, magic happens. Magic, my friends, that merits repeat dips from some crispy oven fries.
While I can hardly lay claim to the invention of miso mayo, singing its high praises has become a 2014 passion. I hear too many people talk about how they don’t like mayonnaise (including the guinea pig dinner guests I fed this meal to), and it’s totally understandable. We’ve all had a bad moment with mayo: Goopy potato salads or the oft-feared blob that effectively submerges a deli sandwich can both tarnish the condiment’s reputation. And don’t even get me started on that boot-stuck-in-the-mud squishing sound of a picnic macaroni salad being stirred.
But even the darkest of nights one day see the dawn. Put down your torch and pitchfork — this is a new day for mayonnaise. Whisking in a generous spoonful of miso is transformative to a condiment that my Dutch in-laws manage to put on everything (trust me, I’ve had a lot of mayo since marrying into this family). It takes on a salty-sweet depth that will change your outlook on mayo forevermore.
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Ginger Pork Patties with Miso Mayo + Oven Fries
I spend a lot of time with recipes, usually writing, photographing or testing them. Like reading anything consistently, the work becomes familiar and you start to pick up on its patterns — in the case of recipes, that tends to mean similar cooking methods or ingredients. I had a record-scratch moment the other day as I came across a recipe for Vietnamese shrimp that started out by making a dark caramel. Step 1: Almost burn a pot of sugar. Huh?!
Turns out, lots of Vietnamese dishes — which are known for big, bold flavors — build their sauce or marinade from a dark caramel foundation. When I say “dark caramel,” shutter out those visions of some sensual portion of a dreamy indulgent confection. We’re talking almost-burnt sugar that is cooked so long it loses its sweetness and transforms into an enriching base that soaks up savory flavors like a sponge. It’s in that almost-burnt moment, my friends, when greatness happens.
So, as you start to prepare this dish and begin with a whole bunch of honey going into a bowl, ignore that inner record scratch. Go with it and watch as the glaze reduces, bubbles and thickens its way toward that luxe caramel base. Sure it’s a bit different, but be not afraid. You’re doing it right.
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Vietnamese-Glazed Pork with Edamame
Butchery has never been my strong suit. I was a baking and pastry major in college and managed to pick up cooking along the way. I think I’m pretty good at it. Meat, however, has just never been my thing. Navigating my way through half of a cow or pig to net out with individual cuts is a feat that has always left me baffled.
Earlier in the year, the USDA started a new press campaign to rename common cuts of beef and pork, which I’m super on board with. The overarching goal (which will really help us aspiring butchers) is to sync up the names of similarly shaped cuts from two different animals. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for the craft of the butcher, but I cannot, for the life of me, keep all of the different cut names straight. Imagine my elation when this whole thing came full circle and porterhouse pork chops starting showing up in the meat case at my local market. I know exactly what I’m getting. I know exactly how to cook it. And I feel just a bit smarter because of it.
Here’s the problem with too much information, though: The more you know, the less material you have when flirt-chatting with Jeremy the blue-eyed butcher.
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Porterhouse Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Grapes
My mom is one of those endlessly entertaining people who calls me with the best food questions. “How can I combine cream and cheese to make cream cheese?” “Do you have a recipe for diabetic cupcakes?” “What the heck is in bologna, anyway?”
We had a similar conversation last week about barbecue sauce as her mind was blown upon learning that one could make their own with about as much effort as it takes to watch paint dry. Breaking beyond the bottle I walked her through the careful blending of ketchup, sweetener and assorted spices with nuclear precision. As we talked through it and my Dinner Rush light bulb kicked on, I told her I was going to make a barbecue pork loin with spicy watermelon salsa.
“Wait now, a what?! A watermelon salsa?!”
“Yeah, Mom, I was reading about a spicy fruit salsa in a magazine last week. Sounded delicious, plus I’ve got a bunch of watermelon to use up.”
“Wow, a salsa made of watermelon. I tell ya. Just what will they think of next?”
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Chipotle BBQ Glazed Pork Loin With Spicy Watermelon Salsa
Time was not on my side this last week. I know you know the feeling — work meetings, cat feedings, domestic chores and professional bores (c’mon, that was pretty good, right?). Point is, when it came to making dinner, it was the last thing I had time to commit to.
While tearing through the aisles of my local supermarket, I noticed one amazing improvement: They had completely remodeled the salad bar! I’m not talking a new variation on ranch dressing or shredded carrots. I’m talking a complete overhaul (much like the ones I see in other bigger cities when I’m traveling with production crews). They had added new, lighter dressings (like the lemon one I used here), more vegetable variety and — best of all — precooked grains. While the pick of this week was wheat berries, they told me they’re also cycling in quinoa, farro, bulgur and barley. What a hearty and delicious timesaver!
Pairing a quick-cooking piece of protein like a pork tenderloin with the helping hand of fresh, natural and already prepared ingredients from the salad bar is definitely an ace in the hole I won’t soon forget. Just goes to show you that it pays off to explore your local store a bit — they’re always adding in something new.
Glazed Pork Loin With “Salad Bar” Salad
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Glazed Pork Loin With “Salad Bar” Salad
Isn’t fall just the best? In New York, anyway, the dappled landscape of red and orange leaves and the ever-present smell of apple cider doughnuts frying in vats of oil so dark and overused you can’t see through it just screams: “Feed me something delicious and hearty! And put on a sweater! Now!”
At my dinner table, the flavors of fall usually revolve around some combination of pork, fennel and apples — a serendipitous trifecta of flavor that has brought us together here today over this digital screen. It’s a combination that I find simple to prepare and a consistently delicious hit, even with a quick preparation like this one.
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Pork Chops With Warm Fennel-Apple Slaw
The slow cooker and I have a bit of a rocky history. As a kid, I quite vividly remember coming home from school to the smell of barbecue chicken wafting through the lid of my mom’s slow cooker – barbecue chicken whose slow 8-hour steam bath left it a stringy, mushy mess by the time it hit my dinner plate. At the tender age of 9, I awarded slow cooking my coveted blue ribbon for “Best Way to Ruin a Perfectly Good Meal.”
After countless recommendations from friends who laud the high, holy merits of the slow cooker, we’ve started talking again. Nothing crazy, totally “first base” stuff, just feeling each other out. And what I’m starting to realize is that I’ve kind of been missing out on a kitchen tool that, when used correctly, makes wicked delicious food.
Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Slow-Cooker Coconut-Braised Pork
Joshua Applestone of Fleisher's
Our kitchens turned into pork central when Joshua Applestone of Fleisher’s led us in a “nose to tail” class. We butchered, cooked, developed recipes and got inspired by the awesomeness of great pork. Using every part is good economy and ecology (and how we need to think about all meats in general), but it’s also fabulous eating. It is remarkable what comes from thinking whole hog:
Continue Reading From Nose to Tail, Be Inspired by Pork