Tag Archives: parsley

Pork Tenderloin: Two Spanish Dishes

I had one of those packages of two pork tenderloins, about 3 pounds, and I didn’t feel like just using one and freezing the other, because I’m all about the cook once, eat twice way of cooking when I can, so I can do other things, like finish the pirate costume for my granddaughter that you can read about on my sewing blog. I almost didn’t get to the second meal on this trip, though, as the first dinner was so good, my husband went back for more. But it’ll work out because the second dinner is one where a smaller amount of meat can be stretched.

The first meal was Spanish-Style Pork Kabobs from the Weber Grilling site, without the onion and peppers, and substitutes of rice vinegar for sherry vinegar and ground chipotle for cayenne. I think I cut my chunks a little larger than the original, but the important thing was the marinade, which set up the meat for the second meal of Spanish Rice. Sometimes it’s hard to find marinades or sauces for grilling that aren’t sweet, but this one scores on that point. In addition, it has that splash of vinegar that brightens up a spicy dish.

You can follow the link above for the specifics, but it’s really just 3 steps: marinate, skewer, and grill. Here are the ingredients for the marinade, with my substitutions:

  • ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced or grated
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper

The second meal is a Spanish Rice made with tomatoes from our garden, roasted poblano peppers from our friend Greg, and the remaining grilled pork, shredded. Spanish rice is one of those dishes that is often simply an accompaniment to a meal, but it becomes a main dish with the addition of meat. Technically a Mexican recipe, not a version of the Spanish Paella, I’m going to slip in a pinch of saffron for a nod to that famous Spanish dish. The marinade used for the pork kabobs has the flavors I’m looking for, but there won’t be enough on the cooked meat to flavor the rice, so I’ll be adding a little more of some of the original marinade ingredients.

Spanish Rice with Pork Tenderloin

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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The time depends on the kind of rice you use and how quickly it cooks.

12 oz cooked pork tenderloin, shredded (about 1-2 cups)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup long grain rice (mine was Jasmine), rinsed

about 8 small-medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and pulsed in a food processor

1 tablespoon garlic, minced or grated

3 roasted poblano peppers, peeled and seeded

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 pinch saffron threads

1 teaspoon salt

chicken stock to make about 2 1/2 cups of liquid with the tomatoes

  1. Rinse and drain the rice and set aside to dry a bit.
  2. Heat olive oil in large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent, then add rice and continue sauteing and stirring until the rice is well coated with oil and crackling in the pan.
  3. Add tomatoes, mashing them in the pan as they heat. Cook the tomatoes until all the water evaporates or is absorbed by the rice. This gives the rice a head start in cooking.
  4. Stir in the garlic, peppers, and spices.
  5. Stir in the shredded pork.
  6. Add enough chicken stock to make about 2 1/2 cups total liquid. In the end, I used about 1 1/2 cups chicken stock before the rice was done.
  7. Cover and simmer until the rice is done, which could be anywhere from 15 to 45 more minutes, depending on your rice. I have had rice that will not cooperate, so I’m not going to be too prescriptive about the time here. I don’t know how or why it works, but if you have exhausted the cooking time and your rice is not tender, turn off the heat and let it steam, covered, for 15 minutes and it will usually be done.

Lake Erie Walleye Cakes

My husband used to go out on Lake Erie and furnish us with lots of walleye every year, but he got tired of that type of fishing (trolling) and mostly of cleaning fish. Luckily, we still have a friend who gives us a few each year, and I’m ready for them with a collection of good walleye recipes. Another thing about my husband is that he doesn’t like the taste of fish, although walleye are very mild, so I found a number of recipes that distract him from the main ingredient. Of them all, he likes fish cakes the best.

This recipe is a version of Martha Stewart’s Codfish Cakes, but I use walleye and parsley instead of cod and tarragon, and my hot sauce is Huy Fong© Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce. Stewart’s recipe is online, but I found it first in the paperback What To Have For Dinner (1995), a useful book that organizes meals by season. The Codfish Cakes are in the spring section.

Lake Erie Walleye Cakes

  • Servings: 6-8 patties
  • Difficulty: easy
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Although I made 4 inch patties, they would be great in a smaller appetizer size—just more browning time.

Preheat oven to 200°; it’s a good idea to keep the finished cakes warm while browning the rest.

  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs walleye, cut into chunks then pulsed to a small dice
  • 1 onion, minced, cooked in olive oil until translucent
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Huy Fong© Vietnamese Chili Garlic Sauce
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • Olive oil for sweating onions and browning cakes
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs—I used Progresso™ Garlic Herb Bread Crumbs
  1. Saute the minced onion in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until translucent, but not browned. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cut skinned and boned fish into large chunks, then pulse in a food processor to a small dice, without turning into a paste. Note: we cut out any red muscle in fish, which has an unpleasantly strong taste.
  3. Mix fish with remaining ingredients, except bread crumbs—do not use bread crumbs as a binder, just for coating. Mixture will be soft and moist.
  4. Form fish mixture into 4 inch patties no more than 1/2 inch thick. Wetting your hands will make the mixture a little easier to work with. Coat each cake with breadcrumbs and set aside until all are made. The cakes will still be soft and will not stand up to a lot of handling, so just plan to be careful. They will hold together on cooking.
  5. Heat 2-4 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-low heat until hot. Lift cakes with a spatula and place in skillet, about 3-4 depending on the size of your pan.
  6. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove to ovenproof plate in warm oven.
  7. Add more oil, if necessary, and brown the rest of the cakes.

These would be great with a colorful vegetable slaw, but we had macaroni salad and peas.

Spicy Braised Beef Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

I had in mind some fabulous beef tacos I had a few years ago in a restaurant called Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar, near Cleveland, Ohio. A faculty member treated me for having helped her with some technology for her courses. It was more than a fair trade. I have no idea how the soft taco filling was actually made, but the memory was at least an inspiration for me.

I chose to braise the beef chuck roast on the stove, because I didn’t want to turn on the oven. I have my eye on a cast iron dutch oven for making such things on the grill, but while it’s still on my wish list, the stovetop will do. It’s a toss up as to whether the beef or the pesto was the hit of meal, or maybe it was the combination. Either way, I think these tacos are going on the menu of favorites.

Spicy Braised Beef Tacos with Cilantro Pesto

  • Servings: about 8 soft tacos
  • Difficulty: time-consuming
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Spicy Braised Beef

3 lb chuck roast

olive oil for browning

13 oz crushed tomatoes

up to 1/2 cup water or beef broth, as needed

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (canned chipotle in adobo sauce would be good, too)

1/2 teaspoon salt for cooking sauce

salt & pepper for seasoning beef

  1. Heat a dutch oven over medium-high to high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoon olive oil, then brown the seasoned chuck roast on both sides.
  2. Add the garlic and spices to the pan next to the roast and stir for a few seconds, but watch that none of them burn.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and as much water as you think you need to keep the sauce moist for about 3 hours of simmering. I suppose it depends on the quality of your crushed tomatoes. Some crushed tomatoes seem very watery or saucy, and some are very thick and full of tomato chunks. I needed about 1/2 cup of beef broth.
  4. Bring the sauce to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer for about 3 hours, until the meat pulls apart easily.
  5. Remove the meat to a platter or board, and pull apart. Strain out the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and add to the pulled beef.

Cilantro Pesto

2 bunches cilantro tops, cleaned and dried

1/2 cup parsley (I used my frozen, chopped parsley)

1 red onion, roasted on the grill

3 jalapeño peppers, roasted on the grill, peeled, and seeded

1 bulb roasted garlic

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup Cotija or Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

*Keep in mind that roasting garlic, onion, and jalapeño produces a milder taste than the fresh versions, which may be too strong for some tastes. If you aren’t going to roast them, you might adjust the amounts to your taste.

  1. I put everything but the oil into a food processor and processed until it was all finely blended.
  2. While the processor is running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto is blended.
  3. Store in the refrigerator to serve with all kinds of meats, especially in tacos.
Putting the tacos together:

Soft taco shells

Shredded cabbage—red looks nice

Spicy braised beef

Cilantro pesto

Crumbled queso fresco

Build the tacos in the order above. That was easy.

Colorful Stuffed Peppers

Colorful, because he won’t eat a green pepper and I prefer them.

The main thing to remember about meat-stuffed peppers is that you’re not making meatloaf. You don’t need egg or breadcrumb binders. The meat filling should be lightly stuffed into the pepper shells, not packed in tightly.  I think some people actually cook the filling first, so that would be really loose, more like a meat sauce or like the meat filling in a taco.

There are two other issues that arise in filling peppers: (1) rice or no rice, and (2) whether or not to parboil the peppers.

Isn’t rice in the filling a kind of binding ingredient? Yes, probably, but it still doesn’t give it that meatloaf texture. I can’t imagine stuffed peppers without rice, because that’s how my mother always made them. Of course she used Minute Rice®, so it didn’t need to be pre-cooked; it cooked while in the filling and poked out all over like a porcupine, just as in porcupine meatballs. I use whole grain brown rice and pre-cook it, which also means I don’t need to cook a starchy side dish with the meal. Grated zucchini would make a nice rice substitute in the filling.

As for parboiling, I think you really must do that, just for 3-5 minutes to take off that rawness, not to get it to a soft, floppy stage. I have tried it without par-boiling and those darned peppers can still come out bitter and a little crunchy.

This is another of those construction dishes that can be done quickly, if you have pre-cooked a few things earlier or the day before:

  1. Pre-cook the rice. I cooked 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water. I only used 1.5 cups of the cooled cooked rice in the meat mixture.
  2. If making your own tomato sauce, make it in advance, simmering for about 30 minutes.
  3. Par-boil the peppers.
  4. Sweat the onions that you will add to the meat mixture, cooling them after.

All these can be done earlier and refrigerated.

Colorful Stuffed Peppers

  • Servings: 8 half peppers
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°

Sauce:

1 28 oz can peeled whole or crushed tomatoes

1 6 oz can tomato paste

3-4 oz water

1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Mix the sauce ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for about 20-30 minutes.
  2. Set aside to cool while preparing the peppers or refrigerate.

4 large bell peppers in all colors, halved, seeded, and parboiled for 3-5 minutes

Filling:

1 lb ground beef chuck

1 lb ground veal

1 medium onion, diced and lightly cooked in olive oil, cooled

1.5 cups cooked brown rice, cooled

2 teaspoons minced or grated garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons chopped parsley

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Mix the filling ingredients in a large bowl—the rice and onions should be cool enough to not start cooking the meat.
  2. Arrange the peppers in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish over about 2 cups of sauce.
  3. Lightly fill the peppers without packing in the meat filling. You can pile the meat as high as the baking dish will allow. I had a little meat left over and made three meatballs that I placed between the peppers.
  4. Pour the remaining sauce around the peppers and a little on top of each pepper. I prefer that the sauce come only to the top of each cut pepper, not over the top.
  5. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Uncover and sprinkle with about 1 cup of grated or shredded Parmesan. Bake uncovered for 15 more minutes or until cheese browns.
  7. Try to spoon off as much fat as you can before serving.

I roasted zucchini and more parmesan in a dish alongside the peppers for a side. It’s a great pairing.