Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork.

Pulled pork is legendary. I could probably eat it a few times a week. But its 4-6 hour cooking time can be brutally long, especially on a weeknight, when you’d have to be nuts to attempt it. Four to 6 hours cooking after work means either a midnight meal or a “creative solution,” and that’s what I’ve got for ya here. Complete with its own quick homemade sauce, this one-pot dish cooks on the stove top and is ready to go (even if you’re a slow recipe-maker!) in under an hour. Now of course, this isn’t the same as the 6-hour slow-cooked version, but it’s tender and flavorful and still makes for awesome leftovers the next day. And the day after. And it’s an excuse to eat some of my favs – coleslaw and refried beans!

Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork by KellyintheKitchen | 2 tbsp butter, olive oil, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves garlic, salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 lb boneless pork loin roast

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp butter
olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup ketchup
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 lb boneless pork loin roast, cut into 4 pieces

DIRECTIONS

Heat a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid over medium heat. Melt the butter (plus a splash of olive oil to keep the butter from burning) and add the onion, cooking until soft and just starting to brown. Add the garlic and salt and cook another minute, careful not to burn the garlic. Add the cayenne pepper, cumin, and ground coriander. Stir and toast the spices for about a minute.

When the spices are fragrant (and you feel like you might sneeze from the smell of the cayenne pepper), add the ketchup, stock or water, brown sugar, thyme, and cider vinegar. Bring to a boil and then add the pork to the pot. Cover the pot and keep at an active simmer for about 25 minutes. I flipped the pieces of pork over halfway through.

When the pork is tender and cooked through, remove it to a plate. Turn up the heat so that the sauce comes to a steady boil and let it bubble away until thickened a bit – I let mine go for about 15 minutes.

Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork | KellyintheKitchen Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork | KellyintheKitchen

Let the meat cool until it’s not too hot to work with, and then shred it with two forks. It won’t shred as easily as the slow-cooked kind—don’t worry, just power through it. Toss the pork in the sauce and serve!

Quick Weeknight Pulled Pork by KellyintheKitchen | 2 tbsp butter, olive oil, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves garlic, salt, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 lb boneless pork loin roast

Balsamic Chicken with Sauteed Vegetables and Lentils.

Can we talk about lentils? Why don’t we eat more lentils in this life we lead? I realize I’m speaking for you, readers, when really I should just speak for myself…maybe you eat a lot of lentils already, or maybe you’re allergic to lentils and I’m being insensitive to your needs. Sorry. But everyone else, why aren’t lentils a bigger part of our lives?! They are cheap, good for you, SO easy to make, and incredibly versatile. They can be the star of a dish, the sidekick, or the background canvas for another ingredient’s greatness. And let me repeat how cheap they are. Most stores in my neighborhood sell a pound bag of lentils for less than a dollar, and since they do plump when you cook ’em, you end up with a LOT of lentils for very little money. They are also a great high-protein substitute for rice if that’s your thang, and since you prepare them basically the same way you prepare rice, it’s not hard to learn to make lentils. Also they taste great. Are you convinced? Good. Make this. IMG_1270 INGREDIENTS

for chicken:
3 small chicken breasts
fav all-purpose spice rub (there are 2 kinds of people: those who know that Back-of-the-Yards rub from the Spice House is the best seasoning ever, and those who haven’t tried it yet)
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar
butter

for lentils:
1/2 lb lentils
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups water
pinch of parsley
pinch of rosemary
pinch of thyme

for veggies:
1/4 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups spinach leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
lemon juice (optional)

DIRECTIONS

IMG_1281 I believe marinades are an art, not a science. With that in mind, have a bowl or plastic bag handy and rub the chicken breasts with some spice rub and salt and pepper. Put the chicken in the bowl or bag and pour in a few teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. Let this concoction marinate in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, or as long as overnight.

The lentils take a little while, so get them going next. Sort through and pick out any stones or weird looking ones, and rinse the remaining beauties. In a small pot, combine lentils, chicken stock, water, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook until tender, and drain any remaining liquid. Set the lentils aside.

When you’re almost ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 F.

To cook the chicken, heat a skillet or other stove-to-oven-safe pan over medium high heat. Add some butter to the pan and let it melt, and then add the chicken breasts. I like to move each one around a little bit in the butter so that I know they’ve all had their turn in the good stuff. Make sure the chicken breasts are not touching or crowded too closely (we don’t want them to steam or braise).

When one side of the chicken has browned nicely, flip the chicken over and get some color on the second side. Once you’ve got some good color on both sides, turn off the heat and finish cooking the chicken all the way through in the oven. It’s done when the center is white, not pink, and the juices run clear. Remove from the pan and set chicken aside.

But don’t do anything to that wonderful pan! It has awesome flavor in it from the chicken. So put the pan back on the stove and turn the heat to medium low. It should still be a pretty hot pan, so add the onions, carrots, and garlic, and stir around to pick up the beautiful browned bits of flavor. Cook until softened and add the spinach, cooking just until wilted. Squeeze over a bit of lemon juice if you like.

Then add the lentils into the pan and stir to create a beautiful mottled mosaic of colorful veggies. Taste for salt and pepper, and then top with your chicken breasts for a gorgeous, rustic meal!

IMG_1284 This lasted me a few days of lunches at work, and man was it good. Lentils are just awesome. IMG_1236

Czech Goulash: Updated Recipe.

Four years ago when I went to Prague, I ordered a dish of goulash at a little restaurant near our hostel. It was my first taste of goulash–my first heavenly taste of that paprika-y, hearty stuff–and I’ve loved it ever since. In fact, my goulash might be the first recipe I ever made that I can claim as a Kelly original. That recipe has lived through a few delicious incarnations as I’ve re-worked it through the years; I think this posting is the third version. And it’s by far my favorite. I’ve kept it simple and focused on my favorite flavors, most importantly the deep deep warmth of paprika, which absolutely rocks on a chilly winter day. An homage to my Bohemian relatives and a sweet memory of my trip to Prague, here is my updated recipe for Czech goulash!

Czech Goulash | KellyintheKitchen | olive oil, 1 large onion, 3 carrots, bay leaf, 2 lb stew beef, cubed, 3 cloves garlic, 3-4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp dried thyme, 15 oz canned crushed tomato, 4-6 cups cold water or stock, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp corn starch, and garnishes: sour cream, green onion, marjoram/parsley

INGREDIENTS

olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
bay leaf
2 lb stew beef, cubed
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tsp paprika
2 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp dried thyme
15 oz canned crushed tomato
4-6 cups cold water or stock
salt, pepper to taste
2 tbsp corn starch
sour cream, green onion, and marjoram or parsley for serving

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil over medium in Dutch oven or other large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and bay leaf, and cook until transparent. Then add the beef and cook until browned.

Stir in the garlic, paprika, thyme, and caraway seed. Cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.

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Pour in the tomatoes and 4 cups of stock and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if necessary.

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After 2 1/2 hours, stir in the corn starch. Cook for another hour at least; I like to cook the goulash for a total of 4-5 hours if I have the time. We’re going for fall-apart tender beef that could almost float away in the broth/gravy/stew juices (or whatever they’re called).

Remove from heat and fish out the bay leaf. Serve with a scoop of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion and parsley or marjoram. This stuff is amazing right out of the pot and only gets better as it sits in the fridge!

Czech Goulash | KellyintheKitchen | olive oil, 1 large onion, 3 carrots, bay leaf, 2 lb stew beef, cubed, 3 cloves garlic, 3-4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp caraway seed, 1 tsp dried thyme, 15 oz canned crushed tomato, 4-6 cups cold water or stock, salt and pepper to taste, 2 tbsp corn starch, and garnishes: sour cream, green onion, marjoram/parsley

Savory Braised Short Ribs.

What’s not to love about short ribs? They’re pretty cheap, super meaty, and easy to cook because after a bit of prep, you can just walk away and forget about them. My kind of meal. These short ribs are fantastic and feature one of my all-time favorite flavors in the world ever in the history of the universe: Worcestershire sauce. I’ve loved it since I was little (though we did break up for a short time, when I discovered “anchovies” on the ingredients list. But I got over it and we’re back together). I love cumin and bay leaf with Worcestershire, so they got thrown into the mix, and thyme is always a good time/thyme., so he’s here, too. As far as side dishes go, I like to add petit pois at the end of the cooking process and make a sort of one-pot meal, but short ribs also go great with mashed potatoes, grits, or some delicious buttery rolls. Just go carnivore-nuts on their deep amber goodness.

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INGREDIENTS

5-6 short ribs (I actually prefer boneless short ribs, but my store was sold out, so I used bone-in. Boneless usually don’t need to cook quite as long, so keep that in mind if you go for boneless.)
butter
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 small onions (or 1 large onion), diced
1 1/3 cups carrots, sliced into segments
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch of red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cups stock (beef stock would be best, but all I have is my homemade chicken stock, and it does the trick)
optional: 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (J‘adore les petits pois.)

Just the Recipe link: Savory Braised Short Ribs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a Dutch oven or other large, stovetop- and oven-safe pot with a lid, heat butter and olive oil on medium high. Season each side of the short ribs with salt and pepper, and brown them in batches, careful not to crowd the pan. Don’t worry about cooking them through; we’re just trying to get some color on these babies. Once all the short ribs have had their time to brown, set them aside.

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Turn the heat down to medium and add more oil to the pan if necessary. Toss in the carrots, onions, and garlic. Cook until softened, and then stir in the cumin, red pepper flakes, thyme, and bay leaf.

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Cook until fragrant, and then pour in the Worcestershire sauce. Stir the veggies around as it steams, and then nestle the short ribs back into the pan. Pour in the stock and bring to a bubble. Taste for seasoning, and add salt as needed.

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Place the top on the pot and put the whole thing in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, checking occasionally to make sure you have enough liquid to keep things good and moist.

Once they’re falling-off-the-bone tender, the short ribs are done, so take the dish out of the oven and remove the bay leaf.  Use a large spoon to remove some of the fat from the top of the juices. Then, if you love peas as much as I do, stir them in now and then re-cover the pot, letting the heat cook them through.

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That’s it! Dig in and let the tender melty goodness fall right off the bone and into your heart/stomach. And watch out for little canine stomachs, who might want to steal a bite.

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Spicy-Tangy-Sweet Pulled Pork.

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INGREDIENTS

1 large onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
3-4 lb pork shoulder (also called pork butt)
salt
1 tsp peppercorns (or 3/4 tsp pepper)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds (or scant 1/2 tsp ground mustard powder)
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced (throw in a few more if you like it extra spicy)
1 tbsp adobo sauce (the sauce from the canned chipotle chiles)
2 bottles root beer (about 24 oz – I used Berghoff Root Beer, because I’m a good Midwestern girl)
1 cup water (optional – use if you want more juices leftover after it’s cooked)

Just the Recipe link: Spicy-Tangy-Sweet Pulled Pork

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Lay the onion wedges in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other large pot with a lid. Season the pork with salt.

If you’re using whole peppercorns and mustard seeds, grind them up using a mortar and pestle until they’re broken up, but not pulverized.

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Sprinkle your pepper and ground mustard over the pork, and place the pork in the pot, on top of the onions.

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Next, add the chipotle chile and adobo sauce to the pot, and pour in the root beer. Optional: add the water. Do this if you want more sauce at the end – I made mine without the water, and it had just enough sauce for the pork to soak it all up. If you like it a little saucier, add the water.

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Cover the pot and put it in the oven for at least 3 hours (I cooked mine for just over 4 hours). Flip the pork over once during cooking.

You know you’re there when you can easily shred the pork using two forks. At this point, remove the pork from the pot and shred it completely. Discard the bone.

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There should be just enough sauce left in the pot to coat the pork, so add the shredded meat back to the sauce and stir. That’s all!

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Obviously this makes a great pulled pork sandwich, but I served mine with these refried beans and this red cabbage slaw.

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Pork perfection, ready for its close-up.

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Harissa Grilled Pork Chops.

Often the best meals are the simplest, and these simple harissa pork chops are both easy to make and a little bit special, too. It’s the harissa. This spicy Tunisian mix of flavors has a real transformational power when it comes to seasoning meat, and I find myself using it more and more these days. You’ll see the rest of this recipe’s ingredient list is quite simple and basic – the harissa really stands on its own, with very little else needed by way of flavoring. And I just love recipes that are a breeze like this one: throw the marinade together with the meat in the morning, let the flavors develop and sink in all day in the fridge, and at the end of the day you’re just 15 minutes away from a tasty and speedy dinner. I’m having this for dinner again tonight!

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INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

for marinade:
4 small pork chops (I used 4 2oz chops)
2 tsp harissa (I get mine from The Spice House)
extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed with the side of a knife
salt and pepper, to taste

for yogurt sauce:
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
harissa, to taste
squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Just the Recipe link: Harissa Grilled Pork Chops

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, stir together harissa, olive oil, garlic clove, and salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the pork chops and use your hands to work it into the meat a bit. Cover and let the chops marinate in the fridge; I waited  about 45 minutes for the first batch I made, and 24 hours for the second. Both were great.

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When the chops have had their time with the marinade, remove them from the fridge and let them come to room temperature a bit while you preheat the grill or pan. Over medium high heat, cook the chops a few minutes on each side, depending on how think they are, until cooked through. Mine took about 3 minutes per side.

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The yogurt sauce couldn’t be simpler: just combine all the ingredients. Serve a big scoop of sauce over the chops and enjoy.

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