Category Archives: Meat

Rainy Day Comfort

I was perusing my favorite cookbook of the moment, One Pot of the Day published by Williams-Sonoma, when my eye fell on a recipe for meatloaf.  Normally, I wouldn’t consider making meatloaf in spring, since I view it as one of those cozy meals that’s best served when it’s cold and unpleasant outside.

But despite the fact that it is now May, we just haven’t truly reached spring weather yet here in Chicago.  Meatloaf is the perfect meal for this weather.

This particular meatloaf is a little bit lighter than most, because I adapted the recipe by using a proportion of about 3/4 ground pork to 1/4 ground beef instead of 1 pound ground beef and 1 pound ground veal called for by One Pot of the Day.  The flavor also has been enhanced by lemon zest and fresh herbs.

First I cut up four slices of white bread into small cubes and soaked them in a cup of milk.

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While the bread was soaking, I chopped up dill, Italian parsley, and prosciutto.  I grated a  lemon and about a half cup of Parmesan cheese.

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Using my hands – okay, I know it is slightly disgusting, but using your hands is the only way to properly mix ground meat – I mixed in the herbs, lemon zest, and prosciutto.

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I gently squeezed the milk from the soaking bread and added the bread to the ground meat mixture.  I formed all into a loaf shape and topped it off with sliced red onion and more Parmesan cheese.

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While the meatloaf was cooking I roasted some red potatoes and steamed some green beans. The result was a really tasty meal that hit the spot on a spring day that hadn’t yet sprung.

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In fact, it was so delicious I somehow forgot to take a picture of the final meal.  You’ll have to give it a try to see how good it is. Enjoy!

Meatloaf

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 4 slices of white bread
1 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1/4 pound ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
sliced red onion

Preheat oven to 375º.  Cut the white bread into small cubes and soak in milk for 10 minutes.  Mix the ground meat with the eggs, prosciutto, cheese, herbs, and lemon zest.  Add salt and pepper.  Squeeze the milk from the bread and add to the mixture.  Form into a loaf shape.  Top with slices of red onion.  Bake at 375º for one hour.  

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Pantry Pork Chops

There comes a time when I want to make a quick meal without too much thought.  I had one of those the other day.  In a situation like that I rely on my well-stocked pantry, which for me also includes my freezer.  So, I turned to one of my standby pantry meals:  baked pork chops with a bread-crumb topping.

As this would be a meal for just my husband and me – the girls ate earlier – I defrosted two bone-in pork chops.  Then I mixed together about one tablespoon of Dijon mustard and two tablespoons of apricot jam.  I consider both ingredients integral to a well-stocked kitchen, as the two in combination create a sweet-and-spicy flavor that is infinitely versatile:  I’ve slathered the mixture on all manner of chicken and pork.

I put the pork chops on a jelly-roll pan covered with aluminum foil to prevent any jam spills from sticking to the pan, then spread each one with a thin layer of the mustard-jam mixture.

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Finally, I sprinkled a layer of bread crumbs on top of the pork chops and drizzled them with olive oil.  I seasoned the bread crumbs with course salt, freshly ground pepper and fresh thyme.  If I don’t have fresh herbs then I use dried thyme, basil, and parsley.

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I always keep a bag of fresh bread crumbs in the freezer.  I make my own crumbs from leftover bread – French bread is especially good for this.  I chop the bread in a food processor and store the crumbs in a Ziplock bag.  I’m always adding to the bag, and so my supply never seems to run out.

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I baked the pork chops at 400 degrees for about half an hour until they were cooked through and the bread crumbs were crispy.  So easy and so good!

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Pantry Pork Chops

4 bone-in pork chops

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons apricot jam 

3/4 cup coarse bread crumbs

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 teaspoon fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a shallow pan with aluminum foil and place the pork chops on it.  Mix the Dijon mustard and apricot jam together in a small bowl.  Evenly spread the mixture over each pork chop.  Sprinkle the chops with bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the chops are cooked through and the bread crumbs are crispy.  Serves four.

Serves 4

Skirt Steak with Parsley Sauce

When I was a girl back home in Maine, steak was was considered a luxury.  We rarely had it; maybe once a month at the most.

Now when I say steak, I don’t mean sirloin.  Rather, the steak of choice in our house was what is known as shoulder steak in most of the country.  In New England – and a few other parts of the country – it is called London broil.  It is a very economical cut of beef for feeding a family when you have a limited budget and hankering for red meat.  It can be a little tough, but when it is marinated and sliced very thin it is quite delicious.

When I moved to the Midwest, I discovered all sorts of cuts of beef that I never saw when I lived in Maine.  I started trying them out to see which were best.  After I purchased a skirt steak, I realized I could stop looking.  Skirt steak is a very long, thin piece of meat that is big on flavor and gentle on the pocketbook.  It makes a great family meal.

When I prepared skirt steak for my family the other night, I cut it in thirds so it would fit in a 12-inch pan.  Then I drizzled it with a little olive oil and seasoned it with ground pepper and salt.

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When I cook skirt steak, I either fire up the grill or cook it on top of the stove in a cast-iron pan.  Grilling is easier, because searing meat can splatter and be a bit messy in the kitchen. However, when the weather is bad or it is winter, the only option is to cook inside.

First, I heated my cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it was smoking hot.  I put a little olive oil in the pan, and seared the meat on each side for about 2-3 minutes, turning it with tongs.  I seared each piece of steak separately, setting aside the cooked portions and covering them with foil to keep warm.

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Keep in mind that it doesn’t take long to cook skirt steak, as it is very thin.  Essentially, you want to create a crunchy outer crust on the meat while maintaining a juicy interior.  Personally, I like steak that is medium-rare (pink inside), but if you prefer it medium or well done, then just sear it a couple more minutes on each side.

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While skirt steak is delicious, I think it requires some kind of accompaniment.  Served alone, it can taste a little greasy and be boring.  So, I like to either serve it as a fajita dish (more on that at another time) or, as here, with a parsley and garlic sauce.

I found the following parsley recipe on Martha Stewart’s website.  It’s basically a riff on chimichurri sauce, which is traditionally served with steak in Argentina.

First, I rinsed a bunch of flat-leaf Italian parsley in cold water and chopped off all the stems.  I peeled two cloves of garlic and chopped them up in a food processor, then added the parsley (about 3 cups total), a quarter cup of Extra Virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt, 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, and a light sprinkling of red chili flakes to the food processor.  The recipe calls for fresh oregano leaves, which I never seem to have.  If you do have some, then add 3 tablespoons; if you don’t, the recipe tastes delicious without.

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I processed the mixture until it was pureed.  When done, the resulting sauce looked a lot like pesto.

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Typically when most people think of parsley it is as a garnish to a meal; as such it is not particularly flavorful.

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In this recipe, you can actually taste the parsley – it has a really fresh flavor.  This, in combination with the garlic and vinegar, makes a sauce that is a wonderful complement to skirt steak.

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Enjoy!

Skirt Steak

1 1/2 pounds of skirt steak
coarse salt and pepper
olive oil

Cut the steak into thirds.  Heat a cast-iron or other heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat until it is smoking.  Drizzle the steak with olive oil and sear it on each side about 2-3 minutes.  Sear each piece separately, covering the cooked pieces with foil.  Slice thinly to serve.  Serves 4

Parsley-Garlic Sauce

3 cups fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes
coarse salt

Wash the parsley and remove stems.  Peel garlic and chop in a food processor.  Add parsley, vinegar, olive oil, chili flakes, and a sprinkling of salt.  Process until fully pureed.  Serve with skirt steak.