Category Archives: Pork

Cold Day Pork Cassoulet

It has been cold. This should come as no shock to most, if not all of you. This of course means I have been making lots of soups, stews and chilies (Is that honestly the plural of chili? Spell check says so; must be true). Though, I have to admit that it hit 72 degrees in St. Louis the other day, but it is cold again now.

Look at that piggy goodness!

Look at that piggy goodness!

I have been rather busy recently keeping to a pretty rigorous exercise regimen and actually writing my dissertation. I have over 3 pages of that done! Small start I know, but every single word is one step closer to being finished. Anyway, with those two big time sucks, I have been using and abusing my slow cooker. I recently purchased a slow cooker cookbook with nothing but low-cal meals. On what I knew would be a particularly cold day, I decided to try out the pork cassoulet. This meal has pork three different ways: bacon, smoked pork sausage and pork tenderloin and it is somehow still low-cal! If you are like me, you get frequent desires for meat, you may choose to view that as a double entendre or not. But seriously, I will often feel an intense need for more protein in my diet often the day after some heavy weightlifting. This meal definitely satisfies that craving. It is incredibly hearty without making you feel heavy. The ingredients are actually pretty simple but it is full of flavor. And literally, after frying up a couple slices of bacon, you cut up the rest of the ingredients, bung ‘em all in the slow cooker, turn it on low and come back 5 hours later to the perfect post weightlifting winter meal. It goes great with some nice, crusty bread, though I served it with some leftover low-cal corn muffins (recipe to come). So, on your next cold day or perhaps for the Super Bowl, make a pork cassoulet. Ha! That rhymed, and it is only 249 calories per 1 cup serving!

And again!

And again!

Smoked Sausage Cassoulet
Adapted from Cooking Light: Slow Cooker Tonight

2 bacon slices
2 cups chopped onion (2 medium onions)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
4-5 garlic cloves minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper – I put in more because I love black pepper
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 lb lean bonless pork tenderloin trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 1 inch cubes
½ lb reduced fat smoked sausage cut into ½ inch cubes
8 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 teaspoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley


1. Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and place on towels to drain grease. When cool enough to handle crumble it up into little bits. Do NOT get rid of grease in pan.

2. Add onion, thyme, rosemary and garlic to the bacon drippings in pan and sauté until the onions are tender. Stir in bacon, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Bring to boil and remove from heat.

3. Place half the beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until chunky. Add remaining half of beans, pork and sausage with the mashed beans and stir to mix.

4. Place half of bean pork mixture in slow cooker, place half of tomato mixture on top of that, put the rest of the bean-pork mixture on top of that and then the rest of the tomato mixture.

5. Put the cover on the slow cooker, turn on low and let cook for 5 hours.

6. When ready to serve, sprinkle with one teaspoon Parmesan and one teaspoon parsley.

So delightful!

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Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Low-Cal, Main Dishes, Pork


Christmas #1, Dinner Part 1: Bad Ass Meatloaf

Yes, I know this is March, but I still have a ton of recipes from this past Christmas I want to share.

As a child multiple Christmases is sheer wrapping paper ripping heaven. As an adult multiple Christmases is sheer cooking, baking, gift wrapping hell. Well, maybe it isn’t that bad, but it does require organization and built-in time for stress relief. This year, I had five Christmases. I cooked a full on dinner for the first two, cookies for the third, breakfast for the fourth and a monster cake for the fifth. The first Christmas was a small one just between my boyfriend and I. When we do this, I go all out and make a ridiculously huge meal. This year’s menu was:

  1. Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with a Brown Sugar Glaze
  2. Root Gratin
  3. Dijon Braised Brussels sprouts
  4. Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits
  5. Pear-Vanilla Blueberry-Ginger Pie (the flavor was amazing, but the consistency was off, will post about this once I try it again and fix a few things)
The GORGEOUS meatloaf ready to go into the oven

Yeah, all this for just two people. I will post about each of these recipes in due time, but let’s start with the meatloaf. When I asked Aaron, what he wanted for Christmas dinner, he replied, “You know I have never had a meatloaf I actually liked.” I took that as a challenge! How do you make someone like meatloaf? 1. Wrap it in bacon. 2. Make sure it is moist because there is nothing worse than dry meatloaf. You might as well eat cardboard. My reference recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen (ATK). I love this site; hell, I would love to work for these people. I only made minor changes with some of the spices and doubled the glaze recipe (doubling included here), but other than that I kept true to ATK, and Aaron LOVED it. I demolished that challenge!

That's right two people ate half a meatloaf, it was that good.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar – Ketchup Glaze
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen – I can’t give you the direct link since it is a membership only recipe.


Brown Sugar – Ketchup Glaze
1 cup ketchup or chili sauce – I chose ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons cider vinegar or white vinegar

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium cloves garlic – I loved crushed garlic, but it can be minced as well
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ cup whole milk or plain yogurt
1 pound ground beef chuck
½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground veal
24 Ritz-like crackers crushed up (basically the round butter crackers) – you may need more
½ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
6 – 8 ounces bacon , thin sliced (8 to 12 slices, depending on loaf shape)


1. For the glaze: Mix all ingredients in small saucepan; set aside.

2. For the Meatloaf: Heat oven to 350°. Heat oil in medium skillet. Add onion and garlic; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing remaining ingredients.

3. Mix eggs with thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, pepper sauce, and milk or yogurt. Add egg mixture to meat in large bowl along with crackers, parsley, and cooked onion and garlic; mix with fork until evenly blended and meat mixture does not stick to bowl. (If mixture sticks, add additional milk or yogurt, a couple tablespoons at a time until mix no longer sticks. If the mixture is too wet and falls apart on you, add more crackers)

4. Turn meat mixture onto work surface. With wet hands, pat mixture into approximately 9-by-5-inch loaf shape. Place on foil-lined (for easy cleanup) shallow baking pan. Brush with half the glaze, then arrange bacon slices, crosswise, over loaf, overlapping slightly and tucking only bacon tip ends under loaf, (see illustration 1, below).

5. Bake loaf until bacon is crisp and loaf registers 160 degrees, about 1 hour. Cool at least 20 minutes. Simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly. Slice meat loaf and serve with extra glaze passed separately.

One last shot, yes from above, these pictures were taken before I had slightly more than zero knowledge about photography.

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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Beef, Main Dishes, Pork


Asian Cuisine Exposure Therapy Part III: Pork Pot Stickers

Every New Year’s Eve for many years my family would go to a Chinese restaurant called New Peking. This place is amazing; best almond chicken you can get. We wouldn’t just go there on New Year’s, but New Year’s meant we got to order pot stickers. There is something so delightful about hot little pork dumplings (that sounds a little inappropriate, but I am going with it) served with a fantastic spicy sauce that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. That, and for me and my family, it was a once in a year experience…until now. Thanks to my exposure therapy, I can make and have pot stickers whenever I want!

The finished product...yes the same picture from the egg roll post.

As with the eggrolls and Kung Pao chicken, I went to Use Real Butter for a recipe. I followed this one almost exactly, actually, which is rare for me. I added some garlic (of course) and I made little adjustments here and there for the dipping sauce. I love spicy, but my boyfriend does not, so I have to temper myself with some of the ingredients. Making your own dough is a little time consuming and you need to be patient with rolling them out. Next time I make these, I will make a concerted effort to roll the rounds out thinner. But other than that I was delighted with these pot stickers and eating them felt like New Year’s Eve.

Ingredients, ASSEMBLE!

Pork Pot Stickers
Adapted from Use Real Butter


Pork Filling
1 lb ground pork – I am sure you can replace this with chicken or turkey
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 cup ginger root, minced
2 tbsps minced garlic
3 tbsps soy sauce
2 tbsps sesame oil
2 tbsps corn starch

Note: You will want to double this for the amount of filling listed – I just tend to use leftover pork filling for soup meatballs. A single batch of dough will yield about 40 dumplings depending on size you make each one.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
flour for work surface

Dipping Sauce
2 parts soy sauce
1 part red wine vinegar
A few drops of sesame oil
Chili garlic paste – adjust this to your desired spice level
1 tbsp minced ginger
1-2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsps minced green onion
1 tsp sugar

See, they assembled!

And then mingled!

Assembly Instructions:

1. Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Make the dough:

  • In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.
  • Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes.
  • Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders.
  • On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges, this was harder than it sounded for me.

3. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, sealing the edge along one side using a fork.

Ready to be tucked in

4. To pan fry:

  • Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden.
  • Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low.
  • Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

5. For Dipping Sauce: combine all ingredients and mix well with a fork or whisk

6. Serve immediately with dipping sauce

Alternate Cooking Instructions:

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface and steam for about 6 minutes.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

Also see my Kung Pao Chicken and Veggie Egg Rolls for a complete meal!

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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Appetizers, Chinese, Pork