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

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Why I Feel Like an Empowered Shopper, and Spicy-Tangy-Sweet Pulled Pork.

Disclaimer: Buycott did not ask or pay me to write this post. These observations and opinions are all me!

None of us is a perfect consumer. Our buying decisions have ramifications far beyond the immediate, and even the most conscientious shopper can’t account for everything that goes into the products he buys. But since each dollar we spend sends a message about our standards and our principles, it’s incredibly important that we put our money where our mouth is when it comes to the things we buy. I’ve tried to do the research and make sure that I avoid companies that are most in conflict with my values and views (Chevron, Monsanto, Nestle, Tesco, to name a few), but with all the sub-brands and mergers and corporate crap that goes on, keeping tabs on these guys would be a full-time job.

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That’s why I want to share my experiences with the Buycott app—an app that gives me peace of mind by letting me make much more informed decisions when I’m standing at the grocery store shelf. Once you download Buycott, you browse through different “campaigns,” from support of LGBT rights to responsible disposal of waste to child labor to labeling genetically-modified foods. You choose any and all the campaigns that align with your consumer values, and Buycott saves them. Now the fun part: grab any product, pull up Buycott’s scanner, and scan the barcode. Buycott looks it up and tells you whether the company is in conflict with, neutral to, or in support of the campaigns you care about. Then you to decide whether it’s worth it to continue buying that product or not. It’s an easy way to make sure my money sends the right message, and it makes me feel empowered, like I have at least some idea where my dolla dolla bills are going.

On Friday, I made use of Buycott in a big way on a visit to a chain grocery store I had never been to before. As soon as I crossed the threshold, cart a-rollin’ in front of me, I pulled up the Buycott app on my phone and started scanning like a maniac. Normally I shop at Trader Joe’s, where I’ve never found a Buycott-conflict item for sale, so on this trip it was amazing to see just how many brands I would have put in my cart, if I hadn’t found out from Buycott that they went again my standards. For example, the huge Goya brand of Mexican foods, which normally I would be thrilled to put in my cart—according to Buycott, Goya dabbles in GMOs and Monsanto products! Heartbreaker. I will no longer be buying Goya because of this. And the store’s private brand, which I would have assumed the worst about—it turns out that they weren’t in conflict with any of my campaigns. They got to stay in the cart.

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While Buycott is not perfect, and definitely doesn’t take the whole consumer universe into account, it does make a difference to me. It’s an easy, time-saving tool with which to better wield the awesome power of my consumer dollar, and that’s why I love it. To any of my readers who feel the same way as I do about spending, I so recommend downloading it. I mean come on, it’s free.

And what did I have to show for myself at the end of this shopping trip? A kick-ass pulled pork, made entirely from ingredients that got the Buycott thumbs-up. I almost called it “Austin Powers Pulled Pork,” because, yeah baby.

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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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Loaded Chili.

Garnishes. Goodies. Fixins’. At least half the reason I love chili is the toppings you get to put on it. Oh, my, the toppings. This recipe is about making an amazing chili that will eventually become an Ode to Toppings, and I want you to use them all: avocado, cheese, cilantro, tomato—whatever your heart desires. And you know what? You are a great cook and a wonderful person, and you deserve a beautiful meal. So thank yourself for making this by plating it up like a work of art and garnishing the heck out of it. Heidi at 101 Cookbooks is the master at this. Here are some of her most gorgeously garnished soups: Split Pea, Broccoli Cheddar, Yellow Split Pea, and Posole in broth. Let life imitate art and load up this chili!

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INGREDIENTS

for the chili:
olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground meat (I used pork)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups stock (I used beef stock)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 16oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can corn, drained and rinsed

all the fixins’:
avocado, sliced
fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, shredded
fresh tomato, chopped
onion or green onion, thinly sliced or minced
squeeze of lime

Just the Recipe link: Loaded Chili

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a pan and add onion and red pepper. Cook about 8 minutes, until softened.

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Add the garlic and the cayenne pepper, oregano, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook 1-2 minutes, until fragrant and yummy-smelling.

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Add the ground pork and use your spoon to break it up. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally.

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Once the meat is browned, pour in the canned tomatoes and the stock. Toss in a bay leaf for good measure. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.

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After 45 minutes have gone by, add the cilantro, corn, and beans, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

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Taste for seasoning and your chili is good to go! Now dress it up. And make it look beautiful, for heaven’s sake! You’re worth it.

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Sausage and Onion Tart.

I struggle with making my own pastries. It’s so much easier to just buy a pre-made pastry, but I’m one of those people who gets weirded out by any product whose ingredients include things I wouldn’t add if I were making it myself. For example, “distilled monoglycerides” and “soybean oils colored with beta carotene” would never make it into my homemade pastry crust, but they are ingredients in Pepperidge Farm’s frozen puff pastry sheets. Just yuck. So I’ve been on a little journey to learn to make a decent pastry. The added bonus, of course, is that after I make the pastry, I get to use it in a recipe! Here’s one of my favorites so far: an easy pastry crust with simple toppings that makes a great little French lunch tart. Inspired by Laura Calder.

INGREDIENTS:

for pastry crust:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tbsp) cold butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
splash of water

for tart:
about 1/2 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 small onion, sliced thin
4-5 uncooked breakfast sausages, sliced small (or  use bacon instead)
salt, pepper, and chopped parsley to taste

DIRECTIONS

First, the pastry crust. In a food processor, blitz flours and butter until well-combined.

Then add egg yolks, salt, and a small splash of water to help it hold together, and pulse lightly until just combined. Turn out onto wax paper, mold into a ball, wrap tightly in paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Remove chilled dough from fridge and let it warm up for about 5 minutes. On a floured surface, roll it out into a sort of free-form oval shape. Now it gets a bit tricky: carefully transfer to a baking sheet. It’s okay if it falls apart a little bit; I always have to put it back together a bit once it’s onto the pan. No need to be fancy! Just let it be. Par-bake your pastry crust for about 5 minutes, until the edges start to brown. Then remove from oven.

Let the crust cool for 5 minutes. Scoop the yogurt or sour cream onto the crust and carefully spread it out, right to the edges. I like to use my fingers to do this because the crust is so tender, it can fall apart easily. Then strew the onions, sausage, and seasonings over the crust and put it back in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until onions are browning at the edges and sausage is cooked. Let is cool a bit before serving and enjoy!

Braised Cabbage with Pork.

This recipe for тушёная капуста, or braised cabbage, is one of the tastiest recipes I’ve had in a long time. I first tried it when I was making cabbage filling for a batch of pirozhki (recipe to come later!), and it was so good that I ate about half the bowl before I had a chance to use it as stuffing! Healthy, yummy, and substantial, this cabbage and meat dish is a fabulous one-pot dinner with huge flavor.

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INGREDIENTS
3/4 pound of pork (or chicken), cubed
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and grated
3/4 cup sour cream, divided
1 medium head of cabbage, shredded
2 tsp salt
1 cup canned crushed tomato
1 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp Mrs. Dash
2 bay leaves
olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large pot and brown the pork until cooked through. Remove from pot and place in a large bowl with the shredded cabbage.

 In the same pot where you browned the pork, saute carrot and onion until softened.
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Remove from heat and mix in 2 tbsp sour cream. Then add this to the bow with the cabbage.

Heat a bit more olive oil in the pot and transfer in the cabbage mixture, along with the crushed tomato, the rest of the sour cream, and the salt, brown sugar, pepper, cumin, Mrs. Dash, and bay leaves.

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Stir well and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook on medium heat, stirring regularly, until the cabbage is softened–about 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and enjoy piping hot! Приятного аппетита!