Tag Archives: Pork

Grilled Herb Pork Chops, Edamame Risotto and Italian Broccolini

Bi-Polar or Sicilian?

If you are not italian and you go from complete euphoria to screaming mad in the blink of an eye, they call you “bi-polar” but in my family, we just call you “Sicilian”.  Not sure what I mean?  Let me explain;  any of the women in my family (thanks to our Sicilian genes) can be incredibly sweet, kind, giving and quite thoughtful.  However, quicker than the speed of light we can change on you, for what seems like no reason at all.  It usually happens when somebody else does something stupid or we have witnessed some sort of injustice or maybe we are just tired and cranky.  You wouldn’t think it if you saw us, but it’s true (at least from my dad’s side).  Take my Great Aunt Ida (pronounced “ee-da”), she once went into Termini’s Italian Bakery in South Philly to complain about a cake that was stale.  After a debate with the owner she was basically told, “oh well”.  If you have ever been to Termini’s you know that cakes, cookies and pies are lined up and down the aisle of the store.  Aunt Ida proceeded to leave the store yelling in Italian and knocking EVERY SINGLE BAKED GOOD off the tables on her way out – Bada Bing Bada Boom!  So be kind to those you meet, you never know – they could just be Sicilian.

Grilled Pork Chops:  I use a similar marinade (based on Ina Garten) whether I’m roasting pork tenderloin or grilling chops.  I use all the same ingredients for almost all my recipes.  None of the flavors are too overpowering which is important when cooking “the family meal”.

Put all the ingredients in a large Ziploc bag and marinate the pork chops in for 10 minutes or 10 hours!

  • Mix into Ziploc:  1/2 cup of olive oil with 2 cloves of garlic (or garlic paste or powder), 2 TSP of mustard
  • Sprinkle some rosemary and thyme (fresh or dried) into the bag with salt/pepper, and lemon juice (zest and/or fresh juice from one lemon OR 1/4 cup of bottled)
  • Add Pork Chops and marinate (if longer than 15 mins. put back into fridge).

Grill Tips:  Get the grill super hot to start (the meat won’t stick that way).  Put your meat on the grill at HIGH for a minute or two.  Turn the middle burner off or just turn all burners to MEDIUM.  Flip only ONE TIME.  Lower heat to Low/Medium until cooked through.  Remember if you can put pork chops on a plate and cover with tin foil, they will continue to cook.

Risotto w/Edamame:  This takes about 1/2 hour to make and you have to stay with the pot.  It’s worth the time but make sure you have it for this recipe.  Instead of edamame try peas or asparagus (whatever you have)!   I found this recipe a few years ago in Real Simple Magazine.

  • Cook 1/2 chopped onion in a little olive oil for 5 minutes until soft.  Add 2 cups of Arborio rice and stir.
  • Add 1 cup of white wine (I like to use Sauvignon Blanc) and stir/cook until liquid is absorbed.
  • Add 4 1/2 cups of chicken broth (adding less than 1 cup at a time – waiting until broth is absorbed before adding next cup).
  • Add a little lemon (zest or juice) and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Add edamame (buy it shelled for ease) and salt/pepper.
  • Sprinkle with cheese to serve.

Broccolini:  Broccolini is similar to broccoli rabe but not nearly as bitter. 

  • Wash and cut ends off broccolini.  Boil about 2 cups of water w/ a dash of salt.
  • Cook broccolini for about 5 mins. until tender but still firm. Drain.
  • Return to pot and add some fresh garlic, a drop of EV olive oil, salt/pepper (and a few red pepper flakes) and sauté for a few minutes.

What can the Kids Do?

  • Mix the marinade for the pork chops and shake the Ziploc bag (make sure it’s sealed properly)
  • Squeeze the edamame out of the shells (if you didn’t buy them shelled)
  • Add the broth to the risotto and stir.  Mia told me when the broth when was absorbed and it was time to add more.
  • Dinner Game:  Ask all but one to close their eyes.  One person takes a dish away or eats something off their plate and everyone has to guess “What’s Missing?”.
  • Picture of Edamame Plant:  http://archive.energyfarms.net/files/EdamamePlant.jpg

Salad:  Mix in whatever you have!

  • Mix tomato, red onion, celery, cucumber and yellow pepper.  I had some leftover mozzarella cheese too!
  • Toss with fresh basil, salt/pepper, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Did You Know?

  • The Arabs brought rice to Sicily and Spain.
  • Arborio rice is used because is has the ability to absorb liquids without over-cooking.
  • Broccolini is often called baby broccoli but it is actually a mixture of regular broccoli and chinese kale.
  • Broccoli Rabe is different from Broccolini.  Broccoli Rabe can be bitter but broccolini is very sweet.

Cavatelli with Sunday Gravy and Pork/Sausage

Getting to the “Root” of Food

Do your kids know where their food comes from?  If the answer is “the grocery store”, think again.  I recently made up a game with the kids where one person named a food and the rest had to determine how it was made or grown.  To my disappointment, they actually did not realize that Rice Krispies were, at one time, actually rice.  Although we were all a bit stumped when Mac asked “how do they make Soy Milk from edamame?”.  I’ll have to get back to you on that one….

Sunday Gravy:  Don’t be intimidated when italians tell you they make their gravy themselves, you can too.  Now, this recipe doesn’t start with fresh tomatoes because frankly, we just don’t have time.  However, I guarantee you will enjoy it!

  • Get a big sturdy pot (I use my grandmother’s and if it could talk….) and heat up some fresh garlic in some olive oil (don’t brown it).
  • Chop 1/2 an ONION very well and grate a CARROT (for sweetness) into the pot and add a drop more olive oil.
  • If you want:  I like to add a drop of tomato paste that I keep in a tube in the fridge, I hate to waste a can just for a tablespoon or so.
  • Cook mixture for about ten minutes or until it is soft.
  • Add two cans of CRUSHED TOMATOES (I like San Mazano or Tuttarosa).  You can use peeled tomatoes and crush them in your hands too. 
  • Add salt, pepper and basil to taste (a sprinkle of crushed red pepper will not be too hot but adds flavor too).
  • If you have a BAY LEAF, drop it in but don’t eat it!
  • Bring to boil and then reduce heat and cook it on LOW for 30 minutes or 6 hours!

Note:  My grandmother made her gravy with tomato paste and water instead of canned tomatoes but it took a lot longer to cook.

PORK CHOPS/SAUSAGEI didn’t have any ground turkey or beef for meatballs, but I found some pork chops in the freezer.
Defrost the pork chops (or sausage) partly in the microwave, then if you leave them on your granite counter on Saran wrap, they will defrost the rest of the way very quickly.

  • Cut into 3 pieces and brown the pork chops or sausage in a frying pan (cast iron if you have it) with a drop of oil
  • Pour meat into the gravy to finish cooking (cook all the way if you are not cooking your sauce at least an hour)
  • Variation:  try taking the sausage out of the casing and frying it like taco meat.  Then, pour into gravy – fabulous!

My favorite is CAVATELLI or in my family, “GUV-A-DEEL”.  Although my grandmother would call any/all types of pasta , “macaroni”!

I flipped to a cooking show in italian today and watched as the chef put literally a FIST full of salt in his pasta water prior to boiling.  I may not have understood what he was saying, but I got the picture – load up on the salt in the water, it does actually make the water boil more quickly!

  • Always use a large pot of water and add, of course, salt
  • Cook according to directions – be sure not to overcook
  • Add a little gravy and grated cheese and stir and serve

Veggies:  Make a salad or serve some baby carrots on the side.

How Can the Kids Help?

  • Help use the “chopper” to chop onions (we wear swim goggles to avoid crying)
  • Grate the carrot into the sauce
  • Learn to use the can opener to open cans of tomato
  • Add spices to the tomato sauce
  • Test the pasta to see if done
  • Make the salad
  • As always, get the drinks and set the table

Did You Know?

  • Americans were the first to serve spaghetti WITH meatballs.  Italians always served their meat and pasta separately.
  • The rich in the 1500’s believed tomatoes were poisonous.  Their fancy plates/utensils were made of pewter and foods high in acid content (tomatoes) would cause the lead to leach out into the food causing lead poisoning and death.  The poor ate off wood plates so they had no aversion to tomatoes whatsoever.