Pork Verde Rice Bowls

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, buy one of my absolute favorite kitchen gadgets is my slow cooker. I recommend everyone get one. I got a really nice one a couple years ago for Christmas and I still just love it.
 

I tend to use it mostly in the Fall/Winter, even though you’d think it would get a lot of use in the Summer since you can cook lots of things without heating up your kitchen, but that just isn’t how it seems to work out. Maybe because Fall/Winter is more comfort food type weather and slow cookers are good for comfort food? Who knows.

Anyway, the other day I made these delish pork verde rice bowls. I know sometimes pork gets a bad rap when it comes to nutrition, but pork tenderloin is actually a very lean source of meat. It is super tender, low in fat, low in calories, and high in protein (per 3oz serving: 120 cal, 3g fat, 22g protein). It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals such as B6, B12, zinc, and iron. According the USDA, a 3oz serving of pork tenderloin is actually leaner than a skinless chicken thigh.

Now that you can eat pork guilt-free, here’s a yummy recipe that makes tons of leftovers.

 Pork Verde Rice Bowls

2 pound pork tenderloin (or if you have bad “amount” judgement, 4 pounds, hence all the leftovers)

1 jar salsa verde

½ yellow onion, diced

1 bag frozen corn

1 4oz can diced green chiles

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked rice for serving (brown or white, whatever you want)

Cheese, avocado, sour cream/plain greek yogurt for topping

 

In a slow cooker, add your tenderloin and cover with entire jar of salsa. Cook for 8 hours on low. When done, shred and let sit in the salsa juices to soak up some flavor. Add salt if needed.

 

In a skillet over medium heat, add a little olive oil, the onion, corn, green chiles, black beans, chili powder, cumin, and a little salt. Mix together and cook until completely warmed through and the corn is no longer frozen. Taste for salt and pepper.

 

In individual bowls, add some rice, then top with some pork and some of the corn mixture. Serve with whatever toppings you like.

 

Store the leftovers in the fridge and make more bowls, or wrap in a tortilla and make a burrito, wrap in a tortilla and top with enchilada sauce and cheese and bake for some yummy enchiladas, serve with eggs in the morning. The possibilities are pretty broad here.

Dish #15: Scallion Pancakes (China)

I love good Chinese food. (Secret confession: I like Panda Express too, so I guess I also love bad Chinese food…). On TV, people seem to always get Chinese take out that looks really good. Maybe it’s a New York thing because I haven’t found good Chinese take out here in L.A. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, I’m just saying I haven’t found it.
At home, I make stir frys frequently. Chow Mein and fried rice too. That’s the extent of my Chinese cooking. Those are easy. Most of the Chinese food I like, I can make relatively easily, but I discovered the dishes aren’t as authentic as I’d thought. They are very Americanized. Which is fine, but for the purposes of my little global project, I was going for something more authentic.
I’m going to be honest with you here: I did this entire meal all wrong. I didn’t read the instructions close enough before beginning and I didn’t allow myself enough time. I rushed through the whole recipe for both items I made and I think it made all the difference, but not in a good way.  Part of this blog, though, is sharing my kitchen adventures, good and bad (it wasn’t as bad as my Shish barak experiment, but still, not great).
First, I made Scallion pancakes (using this recipe riiiight here)
These were good. And very easy to make. I think letting the dough rest would have been a good idea, but I didn’t, because, you know, patience.
Scallion pancakes are a Chinese unleavened flatbread folded with sesame oil and minced scallions. They are different than a Western pancake because they are made with dough instead of batter. These are commonly found as a street food or even pre-made in the grocery stores.
I did like these and I would like to try to make them again, but more patiently this time. They are supposed to be really flaky, and I think patience is the key to that. Mine weren’t so flaky.  You know what would also be good? Actually having one from a Chinese restaurant. That way I know exactly what they are supposed to taste like. But, see my lament above: Where is the good Chinese food in L.A.? Anybody?
I also made Char Sui. Well, that was the intent anyway.  There is the restaurant down the street from me called Rutt’s. It’s actually Hawaiian, but there are lots of Asian influences in Hawaiian cuisine.  We always get the Hawaiian breakfast bowl, part of which includes Char Sui, which is basically Chinese roasted pork belly.
I found this recipe here and offer my biggest apologies to the author of this page because I royally messed this up.
1. The patience thing again.  I didn’t let the meat marinade nearly long enough (or at all).
2. I couldn’t find pork belly at my regular grocery store and I didn’t really have the opportunity to go search it out. I used pork tenderloin which really isn’t the same at all. It isn’t even from the same part of the pig!
3. I couldn’t find Chinese 5-spice powder. I figured I could go to Whole Foods or Bristol Farms, but since this is just a fun little project just for me, I didn’t really want to spend the extra money to do so.  I tried to make my own, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on Star Anise (which was really expensive). I had the other ingredients, so I just went with that.
I roasted the tenderloin with the sauce.  It was fine. It didn’t taste like much and I was really disappointed in myself. The tenderloin was cooked perfectly, though, which was a first for me. I don’t roast too many pork tenderloins because I tend to overcook them, but the texture of this one was perfect.
I think I will definitely try this again with actual pork belly. And more time.  If I can recreate those Rutt’s breakfast bowls at home, I will have a happy, happy household!

Dish #2: Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)

Swedish food was definitely something I wanted to make sure to include on this foodie journey. My Great-Great-Grandfather, Charles Strom, was born in Sweden in 1880, so it is quite literally in my blood. My husband’s Great-Great-Grandfather, Sven Lundberg, was also born in Sweden in 1857, so you see why we would be interested in exploring the culture. (thanks, Ancestry.com!)

Most cultures have some sort of take on the meatball. Swedish meatballs became very popular in the US when Scandinavians settled here and brought their delicious recipes with them.  The Swedish meatball itself is thought to have been brought to Sweden by King Charles XII after his exile in Istanbul.

In my research, I’ve discovered that there are many ways to make these meatballs. Breadcrumbs, soaked bread. All beef, a mix of beef, pork and sometimes veal. Just salt and pepper, a variety of spices. Mostly it is served with potatoes and cream sauce with Lingonberries, but sometimes it is served with egg noodles. The point is, it seems to be more of a method as opposed to a fast and hard recipe. After reading up many different takes, I went ahead and just made up my own recipe and I have to say that it was delicious!

First, my Lingonberry Tale: It is hard to find Lingonberries in SoCal. It is easier to find Lingonberry preserves, but still not easy and I didn’t feel like driving 16 miles down the 405 to the closest IKEA. I found them at Ralph’s near my work. I thought to myself, “Great! I’ll pick them up after I get back from my trip!” I went today and they were gone. Moral of the story: If you see them, pick them up! I ended up using cranberries because all the websites I looked at say that is the next closest match.

Swedish Meatballs with Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

Meatballs
1 pound each ground beef and ground pork
2 pieces white bread
milk
half a yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon All-Spice
Flour (for dredging)

Gravy
6T butter
6T flour
1 10.5oz can beef broth
milk

In a bowl, break up the bread in a bowl and put just enough milk for the bread to soak up. It shouldn’t take much. In the same bowl, add the meats. Mix well. Add in onions and garlic. You can chop and dice if you want, but I just ran them across a grater because I don’t like big chunks of onion. It made for a nice texture in the meatball. Add in the egg, salt and pepper to taste (just a heavy pinch or two), and All-Spice. Use your hands and mix it all together.

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Form the balls. You can make them big or small, just make sure they are all roughly the same size. Dredge in flour.

Melt butter over medium-high heat and put the meatballs in the skillet. Let them cook for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Don’t crowd the pan. I had to do mine in two batches.

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The dusting of flour gives it a nice crunch on the outside. I love the texture!

The dusting of flour gives it a nice crunch on the outside. I love the texture!

After the balls are done, set them aside. Use the same skillet to make the gravy. I had to wipe mine out a bit and add fresh butter because the butter started to burn. Mix together the butter and flour until it gets clumpy like wet sand. Add the beef broth slowly, stirring with each addition. Add enough milk to get the consistency of a sauce. Keep stirring until it is all incorporated.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a side of lingonberry perserves. A bite of the meatball with a little of the berry is really quite tasty.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!