Rachel here: Had John and I not already decided to make this little union of ours official under the eyes of the law before I first developed this recipe, I would be completely convinced that he married me for this meal. I imagine that when I am having one of my more, shall we say, difficult days that John thinks of this meal and it helps him get through my raging, take-no-prisoners, psychotic pregnant hormones. I was proud of it the first time I made it because I developed the whole thing myself (a personal first, I think). Then, when I put it on the dinner table and John began to dig in, I became exceedingly proud as he looked up at me between mouthfuls and said, “You really do love me, after all. This is the first time you’ve really fed me right.” Of course, this is an exaggerated statement (John is nothing if not an appreciative partner); however, the sentiment that I had really hit the nail on the head made me beam. Like, my face hurt. It was awesome.
Anyway, since that fateful evening when I finally did right by my man I haven’t made this recipe a second time (the accompanying sides, which I will post about later in the week, feature a lot of bacon…enough that neither of us would feel good eating this with regularity and enough that eating it is incredibly satisfying). This go around I did a few things differently (I made more pork for one thing since we were supposed to have company for dinner, though illness intervened in that plan, and I also used ham hock instead of bacon for the sides) and I feel like the recipe worked just as well. Anyway, give it a try and let me know what you think.
Falling Off the Bone Pork
feeds 2 to 4 depending on how many chops you use
2-5 pork chops (depending on size and how many people you’re looking to feed)
1-2 large white or yellow onions, sliced (more onion for more pork)
1+ cup of apricot jam (to your taste)
3 c. dark and hoppy beer (I used Rogue’s Mocha Porter)
2 T. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Season your pork chops in olive oil, garlic powder, chili powder and salt and pepper. Place them in the biggest pan you have over medium-high heat, browning both sides (approximately 4 minutes per side). Place the sliced onion on top of the chops. Combine 3 cups of beer with your cup of apricot jam to taste and pour into pan. Add white wine vinegar (if your beer doesn’t have much bite to it, you might want to add more vinegar). Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for at least 2 hours, until the meat falls off the bone (if you’re not sure if the meat is falling off the bone, it isn’t…this is one of those awesomely obvious moments in cooking).
Tune in Wednesday and Friday to learn about the rest of what I do for this meal (including cornbread, which isn’t pictured below)…
Janet here: Or if pork isn’t your fancy (it may be “the other white meat” but it isn’t according to my food lexicon so I don’t “do” pork) instead try this barbecue pulled chicken.
I had never made this before and, frankly, I think I missed out on a couple of decades of serving dinner to some picky kids who would have loved this. Oh well, maybe I can win points with grandchildren or lure my nearly-adult children back for a dinner if this is on the menu.
I got this recipe from my new favorite chef, Ellie Krieger (I’ll be back, Ina!) whose recipes I clearly will be copying for quite a while since I have two of her cookbooks (see post on her muffins from So Easy, which are great!) and have yet to make a bad recipe. This recipe is perfect when you have had a rough day at work or with the kids and want something really easy. Unlike Rachel’s pulled pork, which seems pretty labor intensive to me, this recipe relies on picking up a rotisserie chicken! Love that! The sauce is made from scratch, though, so this completely counts as a home-cooked meal, again referring to that personal food lexicon. Click here and enjoy!
Janet here: The first muffins I remember making were bran muffins when I was a newlywed. New to cooking fulltime for someone besides myself, I embraced cooking and the planning of meals as if it was my job. (It wasn’t, or more accurately, it was only one of my jobs.) I read women’s magazines voraciously, ripping out recipes and thinking about the next perfect meal.
That marriage ended up being a starter marriage, doomed to flop like a failed souffle. But I brought away from the relationship many invaluable lessons, including a realization of how much I love cooking and in particular cooking for someone else. I never knew how much that meant to me until I lived it daily in that relationship. It was just one of the many lessons I could only have learned in that moment and in that way, so I remain grateful.
My interest in healthy cooking began at this time — becoming a vegetarian was one of the many personal changes I made as a result of that relationship collapse — and so bran muffins became one of my first forays into fiber. I found this recipe in Ellie Krieger’s new cookbook, So Easy, a book you’ll be hearing more about because it’s amazing. I had to adapt it a bit; I used dates instead of figs because I live in a place where figs, apparently, are considered too weird to actually stock in the local grocery store. Pathetic really, but I think the result is still mighty tasty. What’s your favorite kind of muffin?
Fig (or Date) Bran Muffins
makes about 12 muffins
1 1/2 cups bran cereal, (I used All-Bran)
1 cup low-fat milk
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used all-purpose flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup natural applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1 cup chopped dried figs, plus 3 whole dried figs thinly sliced
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the cereal and milk. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
Add the applesauce, honey, oil, molasses and egg to the cereal mixture and stir until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the chopped figs (dates). Spoon the batter into the pan and top each muffin with a fig slice. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. (Who knew?)
Bake for about 20 mnutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool.
Rachel here: Ok, so I find bran muffins oddly satisfying and delicious (I say oddly because ummm…really?…bran and muffin sound like opposites on the yumminess scale, but so it goes) and am currently feeling a little jealous that my mom thought to make them. This is not, however, because I am not gaga for the muffins I made for this post. The other thing about my mom’s bran muffins is that they led to her writing a bit about her first marriage, a marriage I have been intrigued by since I first found out about it (I was in 4th grade and I remember making my mom do a mathematical breakdown of the time between her first marriage and her marriage to my dad to prove to me that he was my real dad). I think it’s the idea of my mom being a different person, really, that grabs my attention and curiosity. I have so many tangible ideas about her as partnered with my dad that picturing her partnered with this man who I have barely seen a picture of (and who has a VERY unique name, particularly to my 4th grade mind) sort of invites me to conjure my mother as a person in a set of parameters that I can only imagine, a person with different ideas about herself and what she wants. I’m not really sure where I’m going with this, other than to say that I got really excited when I started reading about this first marriage and, in the process, realized that I should really explore that more with my mom because it’s obviously something that remains sort of fascinating to me 15 or so years after first finding out about it. Like, who was that woman? But anyway, back to my muffins.
These muffins are seriously good. I modified the recipe slightly from the original (in The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox) and suspect that both versions are equally awesome. The only warning that I’ll give is that these muffins should probably be made in a setting with more than two mouths to feed, because the number of mouths around will consume these muffins quickly (and two mouths means six muffins a piece and that’s just a sort of obscene amount of breakfast sugar, although there is a really good flavor balance between the cake and toppings components). Anyway, these are certainly polar opposites to my mom’s bran muffins, but I (we) hope you enjoy them both.
Clementine Coffee Cake Muffins with Almond Streusel
1 c. almonds, chopped
1/2 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 T. ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn. kosher salt
3 T. unsalted butter, melted
8 T. unsalted butter, very soft (plus extra for greasing the muffin tins if you’re not using liners)
Finely grated zest of 3 clementines
1 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c. plus 2 T. sour cream
1/2 tspn. pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tspn. baking powder
1/2 tspn. kosher salt
First, make the streusel. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Chop your almonds and then spread them on a baking sheet to toast, about five minutes. In a medium bowl, combine the nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and 1/4 tspn. kosher salt, mixing well (so that sugar is completely broken up). Stir in the butter. Set aside.
Next, make the muffin batter. Butter or line your muffin tin. Combine the 8 T. butter, clementine zest and granulated sugar, beating until fluffy (about 5 minutes on medium speed with the paddle attachment of your electric mixer). While mixing, add the egg, then the sour cream and the vanilla. In a small bowl, sift and whisk together the flour, baking powder and 1/2 tspn. of kosher salt. Beating the wet mixture at a low speed, add in the flour mixture until just combined.
Pour the muffin batter into the muffin tin and then top each with a generous amount of the streusel. I pushed mine down a little to really maximize the streusel opportunity. Bake, rotating halfway through, for about 25 minutes (muffins will spring back to your touch). Remove and let stand for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack (this might be the hardest part of the entire recipe because everything smells and looks soooo good at this point). Dig in.