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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Crispy Pork Belly

2016-01-14 18.22.56

2016-01-14 18.22.45

Pork Belly seems to be one of the most sought-after cuts of meat. The Iron Chef show is who really brought this cut to the forefront. In restaurants today, it’s become one of the hottest items to order. I mean, once you’ve ordered the Pork Belly, you’ll most likely always order it no matter the style it’s being served. It’s that delicious!  I sometimes think we may be a little slow when it comes to trying new things. Many Asian cuisines, have for many years, implemented Pork Belly into a variety of their dishes.

I have a great and easy way to prepare  Crispy Pork Belly at home so it will come out tender, golden, with a crispy top. This recipe doesn’t require scoring the skin in any way. This will allow you to slice it later and it will retain its integrity. I think it’s worth mentioning, that Shaoxing rice wine is available in most Asian markets today. If you adore Asain cuisine and want to make delicious Asian dishes at home, Shaoxing rice wine should be a pantry staple.

2016-01-14 18.22.56

Yields: 10 large pieces
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 hours to overnight
Cook Time:  roughly 1 hour 10 minutes
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack

Ingredients:
2-pound pork belly
1 cup of Kosher salt

Marinade:
1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup of Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 cloves of minced garlic

Directions:
Using a paper towel, pat the skin of the pork belly completely dry. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and then pour them into a rectangle style baking dish that’s just big enough to hold the pork belly.

Carefully place the pork belly into the baking dish making sure only the meat touches the marinate. The skin on the top must remain completely dry. If the marinade level is too high, then discard any extra by pouring some of it off. Place the baking dish with the pork belly and marinade into the frig for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.. Completely line a roasting pan with foil. Pour an inch of water into the bottom of the pan. Place a wire rack on top to hold the pork belly.

Remove the baking dish with the marinated pork belly from the frig. While the pork belly is still in the baking dish, spread 1 cup of Kosher salt evenly over the fat cap of the pork belly as seen in the pictures above.  Next, transfer the pork belly onto the wire rack. The pork belly will cook above the water and the drippings will fall into the water.

Note: If one part of the pork belly is slightly lower or shorter on one side, use an oven-safe item to prop up that side so the pork will cook evenly. Bake for around 40 minutes until the meat looks cooked through.

Remove the pan with the pork belly and increase the temperature to 470 degrees F. The salt should have formed a crust which you can easily remove. You’ll be able to see the pork belly, side by side, with the removed salted fat cap, in the picture above. Once the temperature of the oven has reached 470 degrees F., place the pork belly back into the oven and bake for another 30 minutes. The skin should be bubbly and crisp.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Crispy pork belly is a great appetizer and one I know you’ll make over and over.

 

 

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Homemade Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, And Rice Casserole

2016-04-20 20.49.53

 

What a great weeknight meal!  Casseroles are a magical thing. Everything baking together in one dish. Hot and bubbly, with a golden brown cheesy top. What’s not to love about that?  My cheesy chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole will set you on the path to “Comfort Town”.

Not as traditional as most of the chicken, broccoli, and rice casseroles you may have encountered. I do add mushrooms to mine, but the big difference is, I use a combination of white and yellow cheddar. I prefer a good white English cheddar.

2016-04-20 20.49.53

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Yields: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 box of low sodium chicken broth (poaching liquid)
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 pint of sliced cremini mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2-1/2 cups of cooked rice ( 2 boil-n-bag rice packets)
2-1/2 cups of thawed and roughly chopped frozen broccoli florets
3 cups of cooked diced chicken (4 boneless chicken breasts)

Sauce:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup of sour cream
2-1/2 cups of whole milk
1-3/4 cup of shredded white English cheddar
1/4 cup of shredded yellow cheddar
2/3 cup of Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 11 x 9 x 2 baking dish with cooking spray.

Note: Make sure to defrost the frozen broccoli florets. If they are not thawed completely, place them into a large bowl of really warm warm water for a couple of minutes. Using a colander drain thoroughly.

Poach 4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts in low sodium chicken broth with dried thyme, Kosher salt, and black pepper. The stove should be on medium heat so the chicken poaches low and slow. Place the chicken breasts in a single layer, into the pot, to cook evenly. Pour the chicken broth over the chicken so the chicken is completely covered. Once the liquid starts to boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cover. This process should take anywhere from 10-15 minutes. The chicken should be opaque in color and be at 165 degrees internally. Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and transfer to a plate.  Next dice the chicken into 1 inch cubes.

While the chicken is poaching, start with the quick cooking rice in a bag. Follow the instructions on the box. Once cooked, remove from the bag and transfer to a large bowl. N

Next, in a large saute pan on medium heat, heat olive oil. Add diced onions, cook 3-4 minutes, then add sliced mushroom, Kosher salt, and dried thyme and saute for another 4-6 minutes. Saute until all the liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are brown. Add in the broccoli florets, toss through and saute for another minute.

Transfer the mushroom and broccoli mixture into the large bowl with the cooked rice and cooked diced chicken. Toss all the ingredients together and set aside for the time being.

For the cheese sauce, in a 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour over the melted butter. Add 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt and beat with a whisk. Cook 1-2 minutes or until mixture turns light brown. Slowly beat in the milk, about 3 tablespoons at a time until smooth and combined. Heat to the mixture until it starts to boil, stirring constantly. Turn the heat down and continue to cook and whisk for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Next, whisk in the sour cream, Parmesan, white, and yellow cheddar cheese to the sauce mixture, reserving 4 tablespoons of the Parmesan for the top. Add the cheese sauce to the large bowl with the chicken and vegetables, stir to combine. Pour into baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the reserved Parmesan cheese over the top. Dot with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter cut into tiny cubes, scattered over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes or until heated through.  Turn broiler on and cook another 3-5 minutes,or until top is golden brown

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Homemade Chili

2016-01-15 13.58.08

There are times when I crave a bowl of my homemade chili. Chili that’s smokey, spicy, and with real depth of flavor. In this recipe I bring out all the stops. To add texture and sweetness, I like adding shoe peg corn. Shoe peg corn are small sweet white corn kernels, and I believe, is an ingredient that’s underutilized. I’m also a believer in adding black beans to chili. Everyone who loves chili knows, the longer it simmers the thicker and better it gets. The making of chili takes a lot of love. If you can dedicate 30 minutes of prep time and a little over an hour of cooking time, I promise you will really love this chili.

Ancho chilies are just a smoked Poblano peppers that’s been dried. A mild pepper with a smokey flavor that’s perfect for chili. Let me start out by showing you how to add these peppers to your chili.

Directions For Reconstituting Chiles:
I start by placing 6 dried ancho chilies to a pot along with 2-1/2 cups of water. On medium heat, I bring the chilies up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. I let the chilies simmer for about 20 minutes. I turn the heat off allowing the chiles steep in their liquid (chili stock) for another 10 minutes before going into the food processor.  While this process is taking place, use this time to prep all the veggies, measure out the spices for the chili, thawing the shoe peg corn, and finally rinsing and draining the beans for the chili.

After the peppers have been reconstituted, stems removed and seeded, I place them into a food processor along with their liquid ( start with 1/2 a cup, add more cooking liquid if needed) to be processed and then set aside. You want the processed chiles to be a thick puree. Yields, 1/2 cup of ancho chili puree

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2014-10-20 15.51.09

The next day I like to do something a little different. You know how chili always better the second day well… I grab a warm corn tortilla and make a taco. A little homemade chili, Pico de gallo, and Queso Fresco. YUMMY!

Taco.jpg

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Equipment: 6 quart Dutch oven pot
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds of lean ground sirloin
6 processed ancho chiles, yields, 1/2 cup of ancho puree
3 tablespoons of Mexican chocolate (optional)
1 small jar of processed Piquillo peppers
3 tablespoons of chili powder
3 packed tablespoons of light brown sugar
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika
2 tablespoons of smokey paprika
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 minced and seeded chipotle peppers
1 minced and seeded jalapeno pepper
2 cloves of minced garlic
2 diced red bell peppers
1 diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup of sliced green onions ( reserving the green tops for garnish)
1 large diced onion
2-28 ounce cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes
1- 10-1/2 ounce can of beef consomme
2 cups of low sodium beef broth
1-15 ounce can of drained and rinsed kidney beans
1-15 ounce can of drained and rinsed black beans
1 package of thawed frozen shoepeg corn

Toppings:
cilantro
shredded cheddar cheese
lime wedges
guacamole
diced red onion
sliced tops of green onions
tortilla chips

Directions:
As shown above, while the dried ancho chilies are being reconstituted on the stove, you want to move on to the prep work for the chili. Start with dicing and mincing of the vegetables.

Diced green onions (reserving the green tops for garnish), a Spanish onion, red and green bell peppers, minced garlic and seeded and minced a jalapeno pepper. Alongside those ingredients, I’ve seeded and chopped a couple of Chipotle peppers packed in Adobo sauce. Another ingredient is, I’ve taken a jar of Piquillo peppers and pureed those in a food processor. I have my black and kidney beans drained and rinsed. My shoepeg white corn has been thawed.

By the time all the veggies have been diced and minced, it’s time to seed, clean, and process the ancho chilies.  After the ancho chilies have been processed, then you want to get all your liquids together for the chili. The low sodium beef broth, beef consomme, and the canned San Marzano whole tomatoes.

Next, is to get together all the spices that will be going into the chili. First, and this is totally optional, is the chocolate. I’m using what’s known as Mexican chocolate. It’s used as a spice and gives a depth of flavor to the chili. Then there are the standard chili spices, chili powder, ground cumin, sweet and smokey paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, light brown sugar, Kosher salt,  and black pepper.

Using a large heavy Dutch oven pot to make chili.  The stove on medium heat, I start with some vegetable oil in the bottom of the pot. To bloom all the spices, I add them right in with the vegetable oil. Stirring and mixing all the spices, including the brown sugar. Once the spices release their aroma, add the lean ground sirloin to the pot. Once the meat is stirred and mixed with the spices, add in the minced Chipotle peppers, stirring that through. Continue cooking the meat for another 10 minutes allowing the meat to brown completely.

Next, add in all the diced veggies along with the minced garlic and jalapeno. To that, some tomato paste. I stir all of these ingredients together, making sure the meat and veggies are well combined.

Now for the liquids. Start with the canned whole tomatoes. Once they’re in the pot, using a wooden spoon,  start breaking them up. To the pot, add in the beef consomme and beef broth, again, giving everything a big stir to combine. Still, on medium heat, let everything come up to a bubble. Turn the heat down to med-low, stirring occasionally, let simmer for 50 minutes. Once the chili has been simmering for 50 minutes, add the black beans, kidney beans, and shoepeg corn and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Finally, the usual suspects, some shredded cheddar, diced red onions, cilantro, lime wedges, and of course some guacamole!

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Slow Cooker Pot Roast

2016-02-22 19.27.37

I have to believe that one of the most beloved dishes ever made is Pot Roast. I’ve never come across anyone who didn’t adore this one pot meal until now. That’s right until now! Steve doesn’t like stews of any kind. I thought… how can I turn him around? This challenge is one I’m up for! One things for sure, you won’t need a knife for this Pot Roast.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours 10 minutes
Yields: 4-6 servings
Equipment: Cast iron skillet, Slow Cooker
Ingredients:
3 pound chuck roast
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 tablespoon of black pepper
2 onions chopped in quarters
5 cloves of sliced garlic
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 quarts of unsalted beef stock (reserve 1/2 cup for slurry)(Note: the liquid may vary depending on the size of the slow cooker. You want the liquid to come up 3/4’s of the way up the sides of the meat)
2-6 ounce packages of chopped organic baby colored carrots (cut into thirds)
5 medium size quartered Yukon gold potatoes
2 pints of cleaned whole Cremini mushrooms
Slurry: 1/2 cup of unsalted beef stock whisked together with 3 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch

Directions:
I needed to start with a pan that could take this 3 pound piece of chuck roast over the top. Yes, an affordable yet so forgiving piece of chuck roast. I compare this piece of meat to the Boston pork butt of the beef family. Lots of marbling and fat running through it. Cooking low and slow, this fat will melt and add so much flavor to the finished chuck roast. I’m not a fan of meat having a lot of fat, but for this dish it’s necessary. Later in this post I show you how I get rid of a majority of it before the dish is ready to serve.

First, I start with a cast iron skillet. I like to take a piece of paper towel, pour a few drops of Canola oil on it, then wipe the pan with the oiled towel. Place the pan on the burner and turn it up to a med high heat. Just as it starts to smoke, lay the meat right on it. Now matter what, don’t fuss with it. The meat will let you know when it’s ready to flip. How can you tell? Well after about 4-5 minutes, take you tongs, and try to lift the piece of meat up. If it gives you no resistance, then it’s ready to flip. Repeat this process for the other side. Once both side are beautifully caramelized, set the chuck roast onto a plate and set aside for a minute. Note: while the meat is searing, cut up the onions and garlic.

The next phase is the slow cooker. Start by layering the quartered onions at the bottom of the pot, along with sliced garlic. To the slow cooker pot  I add in the meat, nestled just right on top,  with tomato paste and two sprigs of fresh rosemary. Then for the liquid, I add unsalted beef stock to the meat and onions. Just enough to where it comes up 3/4’s up the sides of the chuck roast.  Place the lid on, and set the time for 4 hours.

Three and a half hours in, I start chopping up the vegetables that I’ll be adding to the pot. Yukon gold potatoes that I’ve quartered, organic colored baby carrots cut into thirds, and whole Cremini mushrooms that have been cleaned. At this point, I remove the chuck roast and place it on a cutting board. Place all the potatoes in first, then carrots and mushrooms into the slow cooker. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper.

What I like to do at this point is… the meat is starting to get somewhat tender. I’ts easy enough at this point to remove any connective fatty pieces. I trim those all off and cut the meat into large chunks. Place the meat back in over the veggies and continue cooking for another 2 hours.

During this part of the cooking process, the veggies will release their water and the meat will submerge back into the juices.

After the six hours is up, the slow cooker is at a nice slow boil. This is when I make a slurry. This is a thickening agent.  This is when you mix cornstarch together with liquid. In this case I whisk it together with unsalted beef broth. Remember, my goal is to make the most delicious pot roast ever and to get Steve to agree. Thickening the broth will make the sauce a little thicker than just an Au jus style broth.

Add the slurry right in, give a gentle stir to combine, and let the cornstarch work it’s magic. Another 10 minutes is all it takes. Turn the slow cooker to the warm setting until your ready to serve.

To serve, I like add the potatoes and vegetables in the bottom of the bowl first. Place the meat on top and ladle that delicious sauce over everything. This dish does not require a knife. The meat is so tender that it will break apart using only a fork. After Steve took his first bite, he said, “This is the best pot roast I’ve ever had!”

 

 

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