Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beer Braised Pork Chops With Cabbage, Apples And Caraway

Frigid weather and Eastern European flavors were built for one another. Hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare is just what the doctor ordered when outside temps seem more suited to the frozen tundra of the far, far (FAR) north than to Western Pennsylvania.

Morning temps of -10, -8, -4 demand substantial fuel for our bodies to warm us up and get us through the workday until we're once again home...preferably snuggled under an afghan next to a roaring fire. (Can't you just picture a golden lab sleeping peacefully in front of the fireplace while you cradle a mug of steaming cider between your slowly thawing hands?)

What might such a dinner consist of? Pork. And bacon. Cabbage and beer! Here's a dish that's sure to warm you from the inside out.....

Beer Braised Pork Chops 
With Cabbage, Apples And Caraway

  • 4 slices thick sliced peppered bacon, cut across into 1/2" lardons 
  • 4  1" thick bone-in center cut loin pork chops 
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 T. Butter
  • 1 small head of cabbage, cut into quarters, core removed and sliced across into 1/2" slices - about 12 C, more or less
  • 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
  • 3 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1 t caraway seeds (optional, but it really makes a difference!)
  • 12 oz. bottle of beer (I used gluten free beer to make this GF)

In a large electric skillet, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove to a plate, leaving the bacon fat in the skillet. Add 1 T butter to the skillet, melt it with the bacon fat.

Season the chops on both sides with salt & pepper and brown them on both sides in the skillet. Remove to a plate.

Add 1 T butter to skillet again and melt. Add the cabbage, apple and onion. Stir and let it soften. Add brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, 1 1/2 t kosher salt, caraway seeds and the reserved bacon. Stir everything together well. 

Add the pork chops back into the skillet, nestling them into the cabbage mixture. Spoon some of the mixture over the pork chops. 

Pour the bottle of beer over all, reduce heat, cover and let simmer for about an hour until the pork chops are tender, but the cabbage mixture is still moist. (Add a little water, if necessary.)

Just add a salad or a veggie of some type...and definitely a nice dark pumpernickel to complete the meal!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Eggs In Purgatory With Sweet Italian Sausage

Without fail. Every time I see Eggs In Purgatory on a brunch menu, that is exactly what I order. Every. Single. Time. 

There it is on the menu of Meat & Potatoes (Downtown Pittsburgh)

And here it is smack dab in front of me!

Why? Undoubtedly it's the zip of spicy, peppery tomato against lush, smooth, creamy and cheesy polenta topped with perfectly poached eggs that create such richness that it sets my pulse to racing. Brunch paradise, I tell you!

Stagioni's (Southside Pittsburgh) simple and classic take on Eggs in Purgatory

Redpack tomatoes recently sent me a kit of products to try out in conjunction with their Carnevale promotion. The moment I opened the box and saw the goodies, I knew just what I'd be making with the variety of tomato products inside.  

Could I make Eggs In Purgatory in my very own kitchen? Would it compare to the restaurant versions? Could it be simple enough to make whenever I got the urge? The answers: yes, yes and YES! Not only that, you can do it easily too!

I started with a spicy arrabbiata sauce that came together in just minutes...this would be a quick sauce for weeknights, too! While the sauce simmered, the polenta cooked and all that was left was to poach the eggs and plate the dish. And yes, it was everything I'd hoped it could be!

Want to check out some more recipes and enter to win a kit from Redpack just like I got in the mail? Head on over to for the scoop on how to enter and to get recipes for Tuscan Tomato Bruschetta, Antipasto Salad, Authentic Italian Gravy, Pizza Stromboli, Baked Ziti (you KNOW how we Pittsburghers love our ziti!) and Chicken Parmesan. 

Now here's my own recipe for my very favorite brunch. Ever!

Eggs In Purgatory With Sweet Italian Sausage
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T crushed red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how much heat you can's purgatory, remember)
  • 6 oz. can Redpack tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 T minced fresh basil
  • 28 oz. can Redpack diced tomatoes
  • 2 t Kosher salt
  • 3 links sweet Italian sausage, broken into medium large chunks, browned and drained
  • cooked parmesan polenta (see recipe below)
  • poached eggs
  • freshly shaved parmesan

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add crushed red pepper flakes and stir a few seconds before adding the minced garlic - stir a few seconds again, then stir in the tomato paste. Let the mixture cook a couple of minutes to caramelize the sugars in the tomato paste and the garlic. Add salt, basil - stir together well, then add the can of diced tomatoes. Stir until well combined, add the cooked sausage, combine into the sauce and that's it! Set aside.

Poach as many eggs as you need to serve as many people as you are serving. Then begin assembly.

Spoon warm polenta into individual serving dishes, make a nice well to snuggle the eggs into. Spoon Arrabbiata sauce around the polenta, place the eggs into the well you made in the polenta, shave fresh parm over all and serve! 

Arrabbiata sauce, sweet Italian sausage and Redpack tomato products.

Did you know that "arrabbiata" means angry in Italian? Reportedly the sauce is angry because of the hot peppers. Or could it be because it's often found in Purgatory? Hmmmmmm......

Parmesan Polenta

  • 8 C chicken stock - I used unsalted
  • 2 t. salt - use less if your stock is already salted
  • 2 C polenta
  • 3 T. butter
  • 2/3 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pot, bring the stock and salt to a boil. Sloooooowwwwly pour in the polenta while stirring constantly. Continue stirring for a minute or two until you're sure the mixture is smooth. Stir frequently for another 20-25 minutes until the polenta is thick and smooth and creamy. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan completely. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sunday Supper One Pan Roasted Chicken N Ribs

Time for a kitchen quickie! Here's one that's almost dinner in a dish. With only four ingredients to the marinade for the chicken, ribs and veggies that all roast together, it's a true one dish wonder. And, it makes more than enough to have leftovers for a second quick and simple weekday meal. Sunday supper can hardly be easier than this one.....

Sunday Supper One Pan Roasted Chicken N Ribs

  • 4 skin on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 skin on, bone-in chicken breasts, cut in half crosswise
  • 1/2 rack of lean babyback pork ribs, cut into individual ribs - I get mine at Costco...the meatiest ribs anywhere!
  • 3 baking potatoes, scrubbed, skin left on, cut lengthwise into wedges
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, broken into large pieces
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots

  • 1/3 C olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 lemons, juice 1 for the seasoning mixture, save the other to squeeze over the chicken & ribs before roasting
  • 1 T Slap Yo Mama Cajun seasoning, or other BBQ seasoning rub - plus extra for seasoning the chicken & ribs before roasting
  • 1 T Jane's Krazy Chunky Mixed-Up Garlic Seasoning, or other garlic seasoning salt

Just 4 ingredients to the marinade...and here they are!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large ziptop plastic bag, combine olive oil through garlic seasoning salt. Close the top securely, then mix/shake the ingredients well. Add all the veggies to the bag, zip it securely again and shake and turn until all the veggies are well coated. Set aside.

In the center of a large roasting pan, arrange the chicken and ribs skin side up leaving space around the edges of the pan for the veggies. Season the chicken and ribs very liberally with more Slap Yo Mama. Shake up the veggies again and arrange them around the chicken and ribs evenly.

Meats piled in the center, veggies all around the edges and ready for roasting.

Drizzle the chicken & ribs with more olive oil, then squeeze the juice of the 2nd lemon over the meat/poultry, as well.

Roast at 400 degrees for an hour, raise the oven temp to 450 degrees and roast until the chicken is browned and the veggies are tender and slightly crispy/browned.

Note: Next time, I'm definitely throwing in some cherry or grape tomatoes for a pop of color and a sweet/tart contrast to the rest of the veggies. Mmmmmmm......

There you go, a one dish Sunday supper! And an easy weekday dinner to boot.