Category Archives: Meat

Slow Cooker Cochinita Pibil (Mexican Slow-Roasted Pork)

Cochinita Pibil with Brown Rice

Cochinita Pibil with Brown Rice

Though my seven year stint as a vegetarian ended over a year ago now, I still feel inexperienced and unwise in the ways of cooking meat. So much of cooking is learned through experience (and a fair amount of trial and error), and I just haven’t had enough opportunities to  try different cooking methods for meat to really feel like I have any idea what I’m talking about. It’s a strange feeling, for someone who cooks as often as I do.

However, as I discovered when making this recipe, throwing a hunk of meat in the slow cooker is about as simple as it gets, and at the end, you are richly rewarded for your non-effort with the most tender, delicious stuff imaginable. It kind of feels like cheating. This recipe is extra-great as far as slow cooker recipes go (though my experience up until now has been limited to veg dishes) because the long cooking time gives the dish’s many spices and flavorings a chance to fuse into one seamless, incredible taste. Plus, it will make your house smell amazing! The first time I cooked this, I left it in the slow cooker while I went out to run some errands, and when I came home, I could smell the stuff from my apartment building’s front lobby.

This recipe is adapted from this crazy old Mexican cookbook from 1989 that a friend gave me – Mexican Cookery by Barbara Hansen. The book is full of hilarious, 80s-style, grandiosely-staged photos of Mexican dishes set on a table alongside elaborate candle holders bigger than a human head, and things like that, but everything I’ve cooked from it has been FANTASTIC. It’s out of print, but I highly recommend picking up a used copy on Amazon, if you’re into Mexican food.

This slow-cooker version of cochinita pibil yields a falling-apart tender meat that’s ideal for shredded pork tacos, though you can also serve it over rice, as shown in the photo. Either way, it’s ridiculously delicious, especially considering how little effort goes into making it!

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Slow-Cooker Cochinita Pibil (adapted from Mexican Cookery by Barbara Hansen)

  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder or leg (pork shoulder is also known, for some bizarre reason, as “Boston Butt”)
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced into thin strips
  • 2  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 good-sized, juicy orange, juiced, or 1/2 c. OJ from a carton (look for an orange that’s pliable when you squeeze it – it will likely be juicier and have less skin)
  • 1 lime, juiced, or 2 Tbsp. bottled lime juice (same)
  • 2 tsp. ground annatto (also known as “achiote” – look for this spice in Mexican grocery stores)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. water
  • Tortillas, taco shells, or rice, plus taco garnishes, for serving

Remove any bones from the pork, along with any large pieces of fat. Plop it in the slow cooker, followed by the onion slices and garlic. Mix the OJ, lime juice, all spices, vinegar, and water, and pour this mixture over the pork.

Slow cook on high for about 4 hours, or low for 7-8 hours. I recommend checking on it after about 3 hours (6 on low) to make sure that the liquid hasn’t all burned off, but if you’re not going to be home, add 1/4 c. water so that the pork doesn’t dry out.

It’s done when you poke the pork with a spoon and it falls apart. Lightly mash the pork to break it up into small pieces, and serve with tortillas or over rice, along with whatever typical taco garnishes you feel like.

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Cost of core ingredients: Naturally-raised pork is quite a bit cheaper at my co-op than grass-fed beef and the pricier chicken parts, so this does not make for an especially expensive meat dish.

  • 2 lbs. pork shoulder @ $3.49/lb.: $6.98
  • 1 onion: ~$1
  • 1 large orange: $1.72 (for a single orange, seriously? Yeow)
  • 1 lime: $0.40
  • ~1 lb. brown basmati rice, for serving, @ $2.59/lb.: ~$2.59

Total cost for four servings: $12.69, plus the cost of all spices, vinegar, and garnishes, if you have them. Not too shabby.

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under Cuisines, Gluten-free, Latin American, Meat, Paleo, Recipes

The Farmers Market Files: Italian Sausage and Kale Stew (or Soup)

Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

This is a great fall stew that I threw together after going a little crazy at the farmers market one weekend (did I mention I got a job?) and ending up with more stuff than I could fit in my (albeit small) refrigerator. I bought one bunch of kale that was so large, it took up almost an entire shelf in my fridge all by itself. I needed to act, and fast. So I made up a recipe that used a little bit of everything I had on hand, plus ALL of my kale, and the results were so fabulous that I did it all 0ver again the next week, enormous bunch of kale and all.

I was tempted to call this “Kale Stew, With Some Other Stuff” when I first tried it, because it does contain quite a bit of kale. However, the other ingredients ultimately hold their own, making this a great recipe for really packing away (or getting rid of, depending on your perspective) the veggies without feeling like you’re eating rabbit food. Plus, did I mention that it’s delicious? My significant other, who isn’t nearly as enthralled with veggies as I am, ate second helpings both times I made this, and insisted on taking leftovers for lunch the next day as well. (However, if eating enormous helpings of kale doesn’t sound like your thing, you can easily turn this stew into a less kale-centric soup by doubling the broth and halving the kale.)

Serve this with a hearty loaf of bread, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic meal for a cool fall evening!

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Italian Sausage and Kale Stew

  • 1 1/2 lbs. hot Italian sausage (I thought chicken sausage worked especially well in this dish)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 parsnips, if you can find them, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium-sized leek, white/light green and dark parts separated, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized waxy potatoes, eyes removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie broth (or 8, if you’d rather make soup)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel, or 1 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 supermarket-sized bunches kale (or only 1 for the soup version), tough inner rib removed, cut into ~1-inch-thick slices
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Remove the Italian sausages from their casings by slicing each lengthwise and removing the inner meat. Discard the casings. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large soup pot, and sauté the sausage meat, using a spoon or spatula to break it up into smaller pieces. Once the meat has browned, after about 5 minutes, add the onion, celery, carrots, parsnips, leek bottoms, and potatoes, and sauté for another 10 minutes.

Add the broth, along with the dark green leek tops, nutmeg, and fennel. Turn up the heat and bring the soup to a simmer. Once it is simmering, add the sliced kale. If you’re using two full bunches of kale, it will probably be pretty hard to stir the kale in at this point, so cover the pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes; this will steam the kale, which will start to reduce its volume somewhat. After 5 minutes, take a stab at stirring the kale into the rest of the stew. Cover, and cook for another 10 minutes.

The stew is done once the kale is cooked and the potatoes are beginning to fall apart. Add salt (if your broth contained salt, you might not need much) and pepper to taste, and serve.

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Cost of core ingredients: Since I only buy organic, naturally-raised, hormone-free, etc. etc. etc. meats, the 1 1/2 lbs. of Italian sausage in this recipe cost a pretty penny, making this dish the most expensive per serving of all the recipes I’ve blogged about to date. Still, at less than $3/serving, this slight indulgence definitely didn’t throw off my food budget for the week.

  • 1 large onion: ~$1
  • 2 farmers market carrots: $0.50?
  • 2 farmers market parsnips: $0.50?
  • 1 farmers market leek: $0.50?
  • 2 farmers market potatoes: $0.75?
  • 1 ENORMOUS bunch farmers market kale: $2 (this would be far more expensive if I bought it at my food co-op)
  • 1.5 lbs. chicken Italian sausage a@ $5.99/lb. = $8.99

Total cost for five servings: $14.24, plus the cost of small amounts of olive oil, celery, Better than Bullion (LOVE that stuff), spices, salt, and pepper.

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under European, Gluten-free, Meat, Recipes, Soups, Stews, Veggies

Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya

*Note: This recipe is easily made vegetarian/vegan by substituting seitan, tempeh, or even just more beans, for the chorizo, and sautéing the veggies in olive oil at the beginning.

Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya

Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya with brown rice

I know I said I wasn’t going to post until after the end of the semester, but this recipe is too good not to share. I am devouring a bowl of it as I write this.

Since abandoning vegetarianism back in October, I’ve had a hard time finding recipes that call for small amounts of meat, rather than recipes that feature meat as the main focus of the dish, which seems to be mostly what’s out there. Meat is expensive – especially naturally-raised meats (which are healthier and much better for the environment, but cost about three times as much as “conventional” meats) – so I figured that recipes using meat as an accent would be a great way to eat some meat without breaking the bank. But you definitely have to hunt for recipes like these, and a number of the ones I’ve tried have been disappointing to boot.

There’s a cookbook, Mostly Meatless by Joy Manning, that is supposed to provide exactly the types of recipes I’m looking for, but I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet. Plus, I tend to be skeptical of cookbooks that target a foodie audience, as they’re frequently filled with finicky, time-consuming recipes that, frankly, I have no patience for. So my most recent experiment has been to take really yummy, really solid vegetarian or vegan recipes and add some meat, either as a substitute for another ingredient, or as a flat-out addition.

This recipe for Jambalaya is adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. I’m sure these two ladies would be appalled that I’ve taken their vegan masterpiece and added pork, but…well, pork is tasty. The original recipe calls for seitan – generally considered a meat substitute – which made it way too easy to just use pork instead and call it amazing. (And incidentally, naturally-raised pork chorizo comes in at $2 less per lb. than seitan at my food co-op – meat substitutes are the most expensive food of all.) However, the recipe also contains a big, hearty amount of beans, which makes it a good way to get a lot of protein without relying exclusively on meat.

This recipe is totally a meal in itself- a big bowl of this and you’re good to go.

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Bean and Chorizo Jambalaya (adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero)

  • 1 1/2 c. or 3/4 lb. kidney beans, washed and soaked, OR 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 lb. chorizo
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped/minced
  • 3 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 c. cooking sherry or vegetable/chicken broth, water + bullion stuff, etc.
  • 1 1/2 c. or 3/4 lb. rice (brown or white), washed
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 3 more c. vegetable/chicken broth, water + bullion, etc.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If you are cooking your beans from scratch, get those cooking: Cook soaked beans in a regular pot for an hour or so, or in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes.

Remove the chorizo from its casings by slicing each lengthwise and removing the inner meat. Discard the casings. Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the chorizo, and use a wooden spoon or whatever you’ve got to break it up into chunks, similar to ground beef. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chorizo has browned on the outside, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic, and continue to cook over medium until the vegetables are very soft, about 12-14 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Use the cooking sherry or 1/2 cup broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan, and use a wooden spoon to scrape stuck bits off the bottom and sides. Add the rice, stir, and let cook for a further 4 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, beans (drained of their cooking liquid, though you can reserve this if you want), bay leaf, and all the herbs/spices. Add the 3 cups of broth, bullion stuff, etc. (if you are using bullion, I recommend adding 3 cups of kidney bean cooking water instead of plain water), and bring to a simmer.

If you are using white rice, you will need to cook this for about 30 minutes; brown rice will take 55-60. Give it a stir every 10-15 minutes or so. When the rice is done, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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Cost of core ingredients: Meat is pricey, and adds to the cost of this dish considerably. However, when all is said and done, this really isn’t bad for 6 servings of food. Ingredients are primarily organic and were all purchased at my food co-op.

  • 1 lb. naturally-raised pork chorizo @ $5.99/lb. = $5.99
  • 3/4 lbs. kidney beans @ $2.19/lb. = $1.64
  • 1 green bell pepper: $1.09
  • 1 large onion: ~$1.20
  • 3/4 lbs. brown basmati rice @ $2.29/lb. = $1.72
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes: $2.50

Total for at least 6 servings: $14.14 + the cost of small amounts of celery, garlic, tomato paste, cooking sherry, broth/bullion, and all herbs/spices.

Bon Appétit!

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Filed under Beans, Fusion, Gluten-free, Meat, Recipes, Rice, Stews, Vegan-adaptable, Vegetarian-adaptable