tasty tuesday: pan roasted pork tenderloin, barley and mushroom braise, roasted brussels, spinach, onions

Pork barley

Man, it feels like it has been a minute since I’ve been here. Since my last post, we’ve had lots of great food, from authentic Latin American fair to farm-to-table classics and the best of Charleston. Through all of that, I found some inspiration to make tonight’s dish, combining flavors and techniques I’ve experienced from both Sean Brock’s Husk and Hugh Acheson’s Five and Ten. But really, its not much more that good ingredients, nicely seasoned, and simply prepared. That combination goes a lot further than you make think.

I love pasta dishes. I can’t escape it. And for some reason pairing barley or farro with pork and Brussels just stuck out in my mind. It is very similar to a dish at Five and Ten I had about a year ago and it just popped in my head as a very memorable dish. It goes well with the mushrooms I had at Husk, braised with broth and greens. Fantastic all.

As this blog turns two, we thank you for staying with us and helping us grow. Let us know what else you want to see!

On to the food.

Pan roasted pork with braised barley and mushrooms, spinach and onions, roasted brussels

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of any fat and connective tissue
1 cup pearled barley
1 quart chicken stock
5 portabella mushrooms
1 sweet onion, chopped into thin slices, 1/4 finely chopped
2 tbsb butter
1/4 cup spinach
10 sage leaves
8 brussels sprouts, stems removed and halved.
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic
salt, pepper, white pepper
Olive oil to coat pan twice

Start with the barley. In a deep pan, melt butter over medium and add the grains of barley and two pinches of salt. Toast for 2 minutes. Add the fine onions and vinegar. Heat 4 minutes, or until vinegar is absorbed. Add 2 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium low and cover 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chop mushrooms into thin slices. Add to barley and add 1/2 the remaining stock and sage. Simmer additional 20 minutes, until barley is tender.

Season the pork with a heavy coating of salt, pepper and white pepper.

Heat a large pan to medium high and coat with olive oil. Heat oven to 300. Place the sprouts in the hot oil insides down and sear for 3 minutes. Turn and heat for 2 minutes. Place sprouts on a cookie sheet lined with foil and place in oven for 20 minutes.

In same large pan, add more oil to coat. Place the pork in the oil and sear 5 minutes per side (three sides). Reduce heat to low and cover pan for 2 minutes. Remove pork from pan.

In same pan, add more oil and remaining onions. Press garlic and add to onion. Add spinach and stir 1 minute. Add remaining stock and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove mixture from pan.

Cut the pork into very thin pieces. Return to pan with remaining pork and chicken stock mixtures. Baste with jus for 2 minutes, until pieces reach desired doneness.

Plate with spinach and onions in center of plate. Top with barley and mushroom mixture then pork. Place sprouts around the side and top with rogue brussels crispies and sage.


tasty tuesday: carnitas with rice, jalapeno lime agave jam, jicama salad paired with Terrapin Guano Loco

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Today we get to debut a new feature that will occur monthly on the blog. We are happy to announce that we are partnering with Peach State Ale Trail to feature a beer pairing on the blog. This month, the beer pairing is from Terrapin, one of the State’s flagship craft breweries and hailing from the place that should not be– Athens, GA. The beer is this:


I am proud to say it was not in fact bat poop and it was delicious. 

Not having had the beer, I had to trust the advice of Chris Tsavatewa and the internet. Playing off the chili pepper and sweetness, I decided to do a nice bright and somewhat light (in flavor if not calories) Mexican dish with some twists. I hope you enjoy!


4 country style ribs (Pork Butt Strips)
Rub of cumin, black pepper, salt, red pepper, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 bottle beer
1 cup water
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 bay leaves
1/4 onion

Carnitas are a classic Mexican dish similar to slow cooked bbq pork. The dish is braised in a combination of spice and a liquid that allows the pork to stew in its own fat. In other works, it is pork on pork and amazing. 

Begin by heating a deep pan to medium high and adding the oil. Rub the pork in the spice rub (each flavor to taste. I went heavy on black pepper) and sear on each side about 3 minutes per side. Remove the meat and then add the remaining ingredients and stir.

Preheat oven to 325. Bring the liquid to a simmer and add the meat to the liquid, making sure the top of the meat is exposed. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Flip at 30 minutes, cook at least an hour or until the meat pulls easily with a fork.

Jalapeno Lime Agave Jam:

2 red jalapenos, seeded and ribbed
1 green jalapeno, seeded and ribbed
1 tomatillo, peeled
4 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
Juice of 2 1/2 limes
1/2 lime zest
1 tsp black pepper
1tsp salt
1/4 cup agave nectar

Heat a grill pan to medium high. Grill the peppers, tomatillo, and garlic until browned on each side. Squeeze the lime juice into the bowl of a food processor. Add the peppers, tomatillo, garlic, zest, onion and spices. Process until finely chopped. 

Pour mixture into sauce pan over medium heat. Add agave and stir until simmering. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. 

Serve over mexican rice (1 packagege vigo saffron rice cooked to the instructions on the package)

Jicama Tomato salad. 

Jicama is a potato-like tuber with the texture of a carrot. It is fine to eat raw or in a slaw, unlike a potato. It has a sweet flavor which makes it perfect for salad and slaws and has a nice crunch. 

1/2 Jicama root
5 campari tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp cumin

1/8 cup olive oil
1 tbsp blood orange olive oil
1/2 tsp cilantro leaves
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp agave
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime

Peel the tough outer layer of the jicama and grate with a large cheese grater. Add the tomatoes and toss with the cumin. 

Mix the dressing ingredients in a deep container with a lid and shake. Pour over the jicama mix and toss. 

These flavors are many layered, classic mexican flavors. The dish maintains a great brightness throughout and has great sweet a spicy notes. This made it a great compliment to the Gauno Loco which, as an ale that has the appearance and texture of a sweet stout, has a nice balance similar to a Mole sauce. You can really taste the sweet notes of the beer combined with the bright lime and hot peppers in the dish. The heat of the dish melts away in the chocolate milk like beer with a kick. The beer certainly makes up for the lightness of the dish, which is why I recommend this paired with food instead of as a stand alone. It is not for day drinking for sure!

I highly recommend both. 

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tasty tuesday: smothered pork chop with shiitakes, quick-fry okra, cauliflower and potato mash, and pickled cucumber

photo(9)This Tasty Tuesday, I took a challenge: pork chops.  I cannot tell a lie–I typically avoid pork chops on menus as I look at them with a skeptical eye.  Will the kitchen overcook them?  Will they taste like chewy tires?  Put simply, they’re usually not that appealing to me.  In recent years, however, I’ve stolen bites of Alex’s pork chops at Downtown Grill, and I have been impressed with every one.  I think my new appreciation for pork chops stems from a simple difference in preparation: the avoidance of cooking them well done.

My friend Steven Fulbright, a fellow Hugh Acheson acolyte, asked me yesterday if I’d ever made Hugh’s recipe for smothered pork chops with chanterelles from A New Turn in the South.  When I told him I hadn’t, he raved about how great they were, so I knew that I had to try them out.  What I ended up with was a take on Hugh’s simple, yet elegant dish, both out of creativity and necessity–I couldn’t find chanterelles at the Fresh Market, so I selected shiitakes instead.  I changed up a few other things, but the simple cooking directions for the meat in Hugh’s recipe made these pork chops, in my humble opinion, pretty darn great.  Seared on the outside and cooked through to medium on the inside, these bone-in chops are simple to make and saved by the accuracy of a meat thermometer.  If you don’t have one, you can buy an inexpensive one at the grocery store or at your local kitchen store–Maconites, go to Robinson Home, of course!

The simple olive oil, salt, and pepper combination on the pork chop allows the meat to shine on its own merit.  The addition of the thin mushroom gravy adds an earthiness to the dish.  The pork chop is set upon a half-and-half mash of baked cauliflower, yukon gold potatoes, and garlic, and some quick-fry okra adds a crispiness to the smooth mash.  The pickled cucumber adds just a touch of sour to cut the creaminess of the mash and stands up nicely to the smooth flavor of the gravy.

Moral of the story: if you think you don’t like pork chops, try, try, again.

Smothered Pork Chop with Shiitakes, Quick-Fry Okra, Cauliflower and Potato Mash, and Pickled Cucumber

Serves 2

2 bone-in, thick cut pork chops (about 6-8 oz. each)

1/2 head cauliflower

2 small yukon gold potatoes

5 garlic cloves

3 Tbsp. olive oil (2 Tbsp. for chops, 1 Tbsp. for cauliflower and potatoes)

2 cups fresh okra, sliced lengthwise

1/3 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese

3 green onions, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. butter (1 Tbsp. for gravy, 1 Tbsp. for mash)

2 Tbsp. half and half, separated

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 cup chicken stock

1 Tbsp. flour

1 tsp. fresh thyme

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

handful of pickled cucumbers slices, cut into 1/4 inch vertical slices (I thinly sliced up one cucumber on Sunday and threw the slices in a pickle jar with leftover pickle juice–easiest thing ever.  The crispness of the cucumber is still intact!)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Rough chop the cauliflower and potatoes into golf ball-sized pieces.  In a small bowl, add the cauliflower, potatoes, unpeeled garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix to combine.  Wrap the veggie mixture in a makeshift aluminum foil pouch, place the pouch on a cookie sheet, and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.  In a food processor, add the baked potato and cauliflower pieces.  Also add the garlic, but be sure to squeeze the cloves out of the garlic paper before adding them to the bowl of the food processor.  Next, add 1 Tbsp. butter, the pecorino cheese, 1 Tbsp. half and half, green onions, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the bowl.  Pulse until desired consistency is reached; set aside.

Raise the heat in the oven to 400 F.  Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp. olive oil.  While the oil is heating, lightly salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops.  Sear the pork chops on both sides (about 4 minutes each), then place the pork chops on a raised roasting pan and let finish in the oven for about 7-10 minutes.  To check to see if they’re done, place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thicker pork chop, right near the bone.  When the temperature reaches 150 F, you know that they’re at medium.  Take the out of the oven and let them rest for 5 minutes.

While the chops are in the oven, add the sliced okra to the remaining olive oil you seared the pork chops in.  Stirring occasionally, let the okra cook up for about 10 minutes, browning on the edges.

During this time, melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a medium pan over medium-high heat.  When the butter starts to bubble, add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Next, add the flour and stir to combine, then slowly whisk in the chicken stock.  Turn the heat down to low and let reduce for about 4 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the thyme, 1 Tbsp. half and half, and lemon juice.

To assemble: add about 1 cup of cauliflower potato mash to the plate.  Lean the pork chop on the mash, then arrange some okra around the pork chop.  Add your desired amount of mushroom gravy to the top of the chop, then sprinkle some of the picked cucumber on the top.  Enjoy!

wildcard wednesday: hot tamales, Mississippi Delta style


OK, so as soon as Alex declared April’s Wildcard Wednesday theme to be the Mississippi Delta, we knew that one of us had to try tamales.  If you’ve ever been to the region, you know that catfish is king, but hot tamales are also a delicious roadside treat.  Many barbecue joints in the Delta also sell hot tamales, and even though many of us might only associate this foodstuff with Mexican food, you should also know that its an integral part of Mississippi Delta food culture.  You can read more about this strange and wonderful connection at the Southern Foodways Alliance website.

A few words on tamales: they’re not difficult to make, but it is an undertaking an time-consuming.  They’re also delicious and totally worth it.

I made these on a Wednesday afternoon (that continued into that evening…) while Alex was at a meeting, but when I make them again, I’m going to make sure that we’re both home or that I invite over a few friends to help with the process.  I also broke a rule I usually live by: never serve dinner guests something you’ve never made before.  Our friends Frank and Heather Pendergast came over for a tamale supper last Wednesday, and the company was grand!  I think the tamales were pretty grand, too.

Mississippi Delta Hot Tamales

Makes 2 dozen

24 corn husks (available at Mexican food stores–Macon people, go to El Carnaval on Pio Nono Ave.)

4 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into large cubes (about 1.5 inch x 1.5 inch)

1 Tbsp. cumin

2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. salt

1 Tbsp. paprika

1 jalapeno, quartered

1/4 cup canola oil

1 Tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. cumin

4 cups masa mix (finely ground cornmeal, available at most grocery stores)

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

3/4 cup lard (yes, I said lard–it’s worth it in this recipe!)

4 cups meat broth (from cooking the pork)

First, place the corn husks in a clean sink and fill up with warm water; let sit for about two hours.

Next, place the cubes of pork, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, paprika, and jalapeno in a large, heavy pot and fill with water until it covered the pork.  Bring to a boil, then place the lid on the pot, turn the heat down to low, and cook for about 2 hours.  After the 2 hours time is up, remove the pork from the water and let cool for about 10 minutes.  When the pork has cooled slightly, shred the meat with your hands (this should be relatively easy).  In a large pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat and add the chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and cumin to the oil and stir.  Add the shredded pork and cook for about 8 minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside.

Next, mix the masa, baking powder, salt, and lard with your hands until the mixture is evenly combined.  Add about 1/2 cup of the meat broth at a time until the dough resembled a mashed potato consistency.

Next is assembly.  Take a soaked corn husk and place the thin edge toward you and the wide edge at the top of your assembly space.  Take about 1/4 cup of the masa dough and thinly spread it in the middle of the husk.  Next, take about 1 Tbsp. of the pork and place it down the middle of the dough, then gently (think sushi here) roll the corn husk so that the masa mix forms a protective layer around the meat, then tuck the thin edge under and keep the top open.


This takes a while, but once you have all of the tamales assembled, place them open-side up in a large pot so that there are enough tamales for them to stand up with the support of the other tamales.  Being careful to not spill water into the tamales, fill the pot with water up to the part of the corn husks where the masa ends.  Bring to a boil, then place the lid on the pot, turn the heat down to low, and cook for a little over an hour.

In the Mississippi tradition, I served these tamales with some slaw and beans, the quintessential barbecue sides.  Enjoy!


tasty tuesday: bbq pizza with caramelized red onion


Leftovers never looked so good.  Alex made ribs on Sunday and, since he always makes enough food for a small army, we had leftovers even after feeding eight people for our True Detective TV group.  When thinking of a way to reuse this foodstuff, I thought about BBQ chicken pizza, but instead of chicken, we’re taking it to the next level with the meat from pork ribs.  This is manly stuff, people.

You could certainly use BBQ pulled pork here or shred some baked chicken and mix in some BBQ sauce.  You could also skip caramelizing the onions and just use raw red onion, but I think that the caramelized onion stands up to the high oven temperature, plus I personally don’t love raw red onion (I know, I’m weird).

I served this with a super simple green salad with some sliced radish and lemon vinaigrette.

BBQ Pizza with Caramelized Red Onion

1/2 cup water

1 packet active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used 1 part whole wheat flour and 2 parts white flour)

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for finishing

1 1/2 cups BBQ pork or chicken, shredded

1 red onion, sliced into half moons and caramelized (simmered in butter for about an hour)

8 oz. part-skim mozzarella, 1/4-inch slices, then cut each slice in half

1 tsp. cornmeal

some type of green garnish (I used pea shoots, but you could use arugula, parsley, spinach, or cilantro)

For the crust: Heat the oven to 225 F for 5 minutes, then turn it off.  During this time, pour the water and yeast into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer and let sit for 5 minutes.  When the time is up, add the flour and salt and mix on medium speed with the dough hook until the dough forms into a ball.  Turn the speed down to low and mix for 5 more minutes.  Take the dough ball out of the mixing bowl, coat the bowl with the olive oil, place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the warm oven for 30 minutes.  Take out when time is up.

To assemble the pizza: Heat the oven to 500 F or as high as it will go. When the dough is ready, roll it out on flat surfaced that has been sprinkled with flour.  Take out a cookie sheet and sprinkle the cornmeal on the surface, then place the rolled out, oval-shaped dough onto the cookie sheet.  Tuck the edges over about a 1/2 inch to form the outside crust.  Sprinkle the shredded parmesan on the dough, then layer the BBQ pork, then the onions, then the cheese on top.  Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble.  When the pizza is ready, take it out of the oven and simply slide the pizza onto a cutting board (this should be easy because of the cornmeal).  Let cool for at least 5 minutes and top with something green–herbs or leafy greens will do.  Slice it up and enjoy!

lunchbox life: kale, ham, and cannellini bean soup


Yes, this is another soup recipe.  I can’t help myself.  Today was a dreary, overcast day that was calling for a big pot of warmth and deliciousness.  Plus, we had leftover turkey parts from our Turkey Party, so I make my own turkey stock and wanted to put it to good use!

Let me tell you why this soup is a win-win: it tastes great, and it’s going to get your system in a good place before the onslaught of creamed-cheesy-doughy-dressing-holiday cocktail-too many desserts that will most certainly come next week.  If you read the blog, you know that I worship at the throne of leafy greens (swiss chard, spinach, collards, etc.), and the queen of the pack is hearty kale.  The soup has a great combo–greens and beans–that will help get your system “moving.”  Too much?  My close friends know that I think fiber ingestion is a virtue, and while it will certainly keep your system moving, it will also keep you fuller longer throughout the afternoon.

I used ham for some protein here because I’m a little turkey-ed out from our party this weekend, but you could certainly use turkey or chicken if you don’t eat pork.

Kale, Ham, and Cannellini Bean Soup

8 cups homemade turkey stock (you could certainly use storebought chicken stock–I just had this on hand)

2 bunches of kale

2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans

3/4 lb. thick sliced ham, diced

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. dried sage

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried fennel seeds, crushed

1 tsp. oregano

Pour the turkey or chicken stock into a large stockpot and heat to medium-high heat.  Add the beans to the pot.  Tear the kale off of the stems into bite-sized pieces and put them into the pot, then add the ham and the spices.  Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let the soup simmer for about an hour.

tasty tuesday: fall stew with chorizo, kale, lentils, and acorn squash


Happy Halloween!  It’s Thursday, but this crazy week has me posting this week’s tasty tuesday on a Thursday.  I think that this one is well worth the wait, though.

Tuesday was the busiest day I’ve had at work in quite some time.  Everything I worked on was good and productive, but I was totally worn out by the end of the school day.  I even forgot to each lunch!  I know that, for some people, this happens all of the time, but let me tell you something: it takes a ridiculously busy day for me to forget to eat.  After a hectic day, I headed to Kroger with a tasty tuesday assignment looming with no idea what I would make.

Then, I saw an acorn squash.  She was right in the corner betwixt a butternut and a spaghetti when I snatched her up and decided I’d been inspired.  Next, I grabbed some trusty kale and thought, “What will I do with this? Pasta, perhaps?  A baked bread pudding, maybe?  Nah…I’m going to chop everything up in a pot, add some chicken stock, and let it simmer for good while.”

…and that’s precisely what I did.  I picked up a few stalks of celery, a carrot, and did a mental checklist for the herbs and spices I had at home.  Stew was on the horizon.  But what protein would round out this meal?  A less hungry head (and stomach) would have led me to a sensible ground turkey or lean ground beef, but instead, I found a package of chorizo.  Oh yeahhh.

On my way to the checkout, I spotted a can of crispy fried onions, the kind you find atop holiday green bean casserole.  YES, I thought.  This is the crunch factor that I’m looking for, plus it will get me in the mood for my favorite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving.

So I went home, browned some meat, chopped some things, added some stock, brought it to a boil, turned it to simmer, then went to my Pure Barre class.  When I came back, Alex was drinking a pumpkin beer, so I dipped us up some soup, cracked open a pumpkin beer for myself, plopped down on the sofa, and sat still for the first time that day.  My my, how delightful and rewarding it was.

Fall Stew with Chorizo, Kale, and Acorn Squash

1 lb. chorizo

1 acorn squash

1 bunch of kale

2 celery stalks

1 carrot

5 cloves of garlic

2 containers of chicken stock (48 oz. each)

1/2 cup green lentils

1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds

1 tsp. crushed dry thyme

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

optional, but encouraged: crispy fried onions as a topper

In a large pot, brown the chorizo over medium-high heat.  While the chorizo is cooking, dice the celery and carrot, then put them in the pot.  Next, remove the skin from the acorn squash and cut into bite-size pieces, then add to the pot.  Smash the garlic cloves, give them a rough chop, then add them to the pot.  Add the chicken stock, herbs, and spices, then turn the heat to high.  Next, add the lentils to the pot. One leaf at a time, tear small pieces of kale off of each leaf and place them in the pot.  The pieces don’t have to be exact, but aim for a 1 inch by 1 inch square.  Bring the stew to a boil, then place the lid on the pot and let simmer for at least one hour.  Immediately before serving, top each bowl with about 1/4 cup of crispy fried onions.