Category: Pork

Instant Pot Vietnamese Pork Ribs

If you’ve been following me at all you know that I have been experimenting with my Instant Pot. I have been using it for about a year to make chicken and beef stock, cooking dried beans and legumes, and for some long-cooking vegetables such as beets. But a couple months ago I wanted to branch out, see what all the fuss was about. So I tried my first “pot in pot” meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and beets (good), chili (very good), beef bourguignon (excellent! Recipe coming!), and last week, pork ribs. I was planning to do them BBQ style but made the mistake of asking Husband. “Asian!” he said. Oh for Christmas sake!

So I started researching. My original plan was do to them in the traditional Vietnamese style of making a pungent caramel and braising them in it which I have done in the oven a few times but I quickly realized the caramel sauce thing doesn’t really lend itself to pressure cooking. So I checked out a bunch of other pressure cooker “Asian rib” recipes but none of them contained the flavours I was imagining… primarily soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, and some sweetness. Then I ran across a recipe in the New York Times that had the flavours, I just needed to convert it to make in an Instant Pot.

And I’m going to reeeeeeach around and give myself a pat on the back because these ribs were delicious. I used side riblets which I can easily find at my local grocery store but if you can’t find them ask your butcher to cut side ribs in half lengthwise. I love baby back ribs for smoking but I think side ribs are better for this recipe because they are meatier (and cheaper!). Husband and I ate the entire 2 1/2 pounds of ribs in one sitting. Gluttons! Double the marinade for 4 pounds (or more!) of ribs but don’t double the amount of water (1 cup) when adding to the Instant Pot or you will be reducing the final sauce forever!

2-3 pounds pork side riblets (get your butcher to cut rib racks in half lengthwise if you can’t find pre-cut riblets)

1 medium shallot (finely diced)
1 stalk of lemongrass, outer layer removed, finely minced or grated (I find it very easy to grate if you freeze it first)
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS fish sauce
1 TBS hot chili paste (I used sambal oelek)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 TBS fresh ginger, finely minced or grated

chopped fresh cilantro, mint, and green onion

Cut riblets into 2-bone portions and place in large ziplock freezer bag. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over ribs. Seal the bag and marinate overnight in the fridge or at least 4 hours.

When ready to cook, empty the contents of the freezer bag (ribs and marinade) into the Instant Pot. Pour in one cup of water along the side of the pot so you don’t wash the marinade off the ribs. Seal the pot and pressure cook using the manual button on high for 25 minutes. If using baby back ribs or if you prefer a bit of chew rather than falling off the bone, 20 minutes should be fine. When finished, let the pressure naturally release (this should take about 15 minutes).

Preheat oven to 400F.
Once the pressure has been released, open pot and use tongs to remove ribs to cookie sheet lined with tinfoil. Cover to keep warm. At this point I like to pour the marinade and pork drippings into a large measuring cup and let sit for a few minutes so I can skim off most of the fat. Return liquid to Instant Pot and turn on saute. Heat to a vigorous simmer to reduce liquid to approximately half the volume. I had 2 cups of drippings and it took about 15 minutes to reduce to 3/4 of a cup. Using a pastry brush, generously brush ribs with reduced marinade. Place in hot oven, uncovered, until nicely browned and caramelized, about 15 minutes.

Drizzle with remaining sauce and garnish with chopped herbs. I served with Jasmine rice.

Spaghetti with Ricotta Herb Meatballs

ricotta-meatballs-4I love any pasta you put in front of me but rarely eat it because, carbs (insert sad face here). However, we have had an unusual amount of snow in the past couple days and I still went for a pretty lengthy walk, slipping and stumbling over the icy, uneven ground, and that deserves a treat. And if I’m going to indulge, this is great way to do it. It is delicious and not too unhealthy (no cream!). Adding ricotta to the meat helps keep it tender and the copious amount of herbs give a flavour and freshness that you don’t usually find in a meatball. I used my lovely frozen confit tomatoes but good quality canned tomatoes (San Marzano if you can find them) work just as well. Don’t use ones that are pre-diced. They contain an additive to help them keep their shape and who wants to eat that?!

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Spicy Sausage and Fennel Galette

galette sausage fennel 5Happy pie day a day late!!! Pie is good. Pie is usually sweet but can be savoury. Pie has a beautiful crust. Pie is… a bit straight-laced. And pie, well she can stress me out.

Don’t get me wrong! I do love a good fruit pie with a piece of cheese, or a tart and tangy shaker pie full of slices of lemon with a piece of cheese. Do you see a pattern here? Why not put cheese IN… THE… PIE?!?! And what if that pie was just a little more hippy-dippy than your usual pie? What if that pie was the sort of free form pie that wore gauzy shirts and long skirts and beaded twine bracelets? What if that pie was *GASP*, Galette?!?!

Whoa lady.

Galette is 78.3% easier than pie and every bit as impressive. The dough comes together in about 15 minutes, give it an hour or so in the fridge to get nice and cold, roll that puppy out into sort of a circle, scoop on your filling and fold up the edges. 40 minutes in the oven and she’s all yours. Ahhh Galette. J’taime.

Now that I’ve sold you on galette, let me sell you on something else you are going to love but you don’t know it yet… savoury galette. That’s right… saaaaaavoury. And not just savoury but spicy with delicious sausage balanced with the sweetness of fennel and topped with smoked cheese. Ya, you heard me.

The filling is inspired by this recipe. The dough is my usual recipe which you can find here but you can use any pie crust dough that you are comfortable with. You will need enough to make one round about 14-15 inches across and slightly thicker than 1/8th inch.

Use whatever sausage you like but make sure to taste the filling and adjust the seasoning before you spoon it onto the dough. Every sausage is different so yours might need a dash of salt, a touch of sugar, or a shake of worchestershire to give it some depth. It’s much easier to correct the seasoning at this point than after the pie is made.

Pie crust dough to make one round 14-15 inches across
1 pound spicy sausage meat (I used regular hot Italian but fennel would also be delicious)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in oil, chopped
1 cup shredded smoked cheese (gouda or mozzarella)
2 TBS chopped fresh sage
2 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg, lightly beaten with a teaspoon water for egg wash
flake sea salt

Heat oven to 375F.

For the filling:

Sprinkle thinly sliced fennel with 1 tsp sugar and set aside.

galette sausage fennel 1

Remove meat from casings if you have purchased it in sausage form and fry over medium high heat until the fat starts to melt and coat your pan. Add onion and fry for about 4 minutes. Add the thinly sliced fennel and continue to fry until everything is soft and lighlty browned, approximately another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sun-dried tomatoes, and chopped sage and rosemary. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.

galette sausage fennel 2

Assemble the galette:

Roll out dough on a clean, lightly floured piece of parchment about 14-15 inches across and slightly thicker than 1/8th inch. No worries if the dough goes over the edges as you will be folding it up over the galette shortly. Scoop filling onto the centre of the dough with a slotted spoon or tongs, leaving behind most of the fat in the pan. Ensure you have a good 2 inch border all around the dough. Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese and fold the border up over the filling, overlapping the dough where necessary and press down lightly to create the folds.

galette sausage fennel 3

galette sausage fennel 6

Brush the border with the egg wash and sprinkle with flake sea salt. Slide the parchment with the dough onto a cookie sheet and place in oven. Cook for 35-40 minutes until crust is golden.

galette sausage fennel 4

Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before cutting. Serve alongside a salad with a zesty, fresh dressing to balance the richness of the pie.

White Bean Soup

bean soup finishI’m baaaaack! I had an amazing time in Paris with my best friend and then in Venice and Rome with Husband. I saw my favourite painting again (I will never tire of sitting in front of it), found the third Statue of Liberty, explored two new (to us) cities, and walked until we thought our feet would fall off. We had some incredible food (that minted pea soup in Paris… I will never be the same), and ate in a 3-star Michelin restaurant. I have tons of new recipe ideas but, today, I am seeking comfort food. Fall somehow arrived while we were away… how did that happen?!?! I need a food hug to help get over the jetlag, my disappointment that summer is over (wahhh), and the fact that I have to go back to work (blechh).

I’m not using a recipe… just winging it with some basics picked up on our 7:00am trip to the grocery store (one thing about jetlag, it does make you efficient) and what I have at home.

This is your chance to use whatever herbs you have growing in your garden as well as that parmesan rind you have sitting in the freezer. If you don’t have a parmesan rind, you can substitute 2 TBS of finely grated parmesan into the soup at the end (but, Lordy, please not the stuff in the green can).

1 pound dry cannellini beans
12 cups water
1 meaty smoked ham hock (mine was so big, 3 pounds, I had the butcher cut it in half, but you can use a 1-2 pounder)
Fresh herbs to taste (I used several small sprigs of thyme, 3-4 sage leaves and a small handful of oregano. Use whatever you have in the garden. Fresh Italian parsley would also be good.)
2 medium carrots, medium dice
2 medium stalks of celery (I like to peel mine to get rid of the strings), medium dice
1 medium union, medium dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1-2 bay leaves
1 parmesan rind or 2 TBS finely grated parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tsp sea salt, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)
juice from 1/2 lemon to finish

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Allow to soak overnight. Alternatively, you can boil a pot of water, remove from heat, add the beans and allow to soak 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Put ham hock and 12 cups of water in a large, heavy-bottomed pot on high heat. Bring to a slow boil and reduce heat to simmer gently for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add the soaked beans, the fresh herbs and bay leaf to the pot. Continue to simmer until the beans are almost tender (they will cook more later), approximately 45 minutes. During this time, skim the surface with a spoon if any scum forms.

bean soup simmer

Add diced carrots, celery, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt to the pot (add the parmesan rind here as well, if using). If it looks like too much water has evaporated, feel free to add another cup to the pot at this point. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans and vegetables are tender and the meat is falling off the bone. Approximately another 30 minutes. Remove from heat.

bean soup simmer2

Remove the ham hock to a cutting board and let sit until cool enough to remove and dice the meat from the bones. Discard the skin and bones. Remove the thyme stems, bay and other leafy greens, and parmesan rind from the soup. If you didn’t use a parmesan rind and want that wonderful, deep umami flavour, add a couple tablespoons of finely ground parmesan cheese at this point.

Using a potato masher, lightly mash some of the beans and vegetables to thicken the soup to the consistency you want. Stir in the diced pork. Squeeze in juice from 1/2 lemon. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper.

bean soup with meat

Asian Noodles with Pork and Prawns

asian noodle final2I LOVE noodles. Husband does not. He has been gone for almost a week on a business trip so it has been a regular noodle-fest around these parts. Spaghetti with bolognese, udon with stir fry veggies, and now… TA DA!

These noodles are based on a recipe by Jamie Oliver except I switched out a couple ingredients and have given more exact measurements and cooking instructions. It is not a quick “throw-together” recipe; there is a lot of washing and chopping. It’s best to prep everything before you begin to cook as it goes very quickly once you start… like 5 minutes quick! The vermicelli noodles can be prepared ahead of time and I like to
cut them in half or thirds just to make it easier to toss and eat.

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side. The recipe is easily halved or doubled but if you are going to double, you will need to cook half at a time as there are too many ingredients to properly cook in a regular frying pan.

4 ounces (100 grams) vermicelli noodles

A good glug olive oil
1/2 pound (8 oz) lean ground pork
2 TBS Chinese five-spice powder

1/2 pound (8 oz) shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined, cut in half or thirds if large
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced with seeds (taste for heat and adjust to your liking)
1 TBS fresh ginger, grated or finely diced
2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup plain skinned peanuts, roughly chopped or crushed
pinch of salt

4 green onions, very thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/2 sweet red pepper, finely diced

1 large bunch (2 cups) cilantro, leaves removed and roughly chopped
1 small bunch (1 cup) mint, leaves removed and roughly chopped
2 limes, juiced
1 TBS soy sauce

asian noodle prep

Cook vermicelli noodles according to package directions. This usually means soak in very hot water for 3 minutes, rinse with cool water, drain and set aside. This can be done ahead of time.

Heat oil in large frying pan and add pork, breaking up with spatula until almost cooked through. Sprinkle over five-spice powder and stir to coat. Add prawns and toss for a minute to start cooking. Add garlic, jalapeno, ginger, sugar, peanuts, and a pinch of salt. Continue to toss and stir for another minute until prawns are almost cooked through.

asian noodle 1

Add vermicelli noodles, green onion, and sweet pepper to the pan. Continue to toss and stir for another minute or two until prawns are completely cooked and the noodles are warm. Remove from heat and add herbs, lime juice and soy sauce, stirring until herbs just start to wilt.

asian noodle 2
asian noodle 3

Pile all that beautiful spicy, fresh goodness into a bowl and enjoy.

That’s how it’s done when the cat’s away. :)