Monday, March 17, 2014

Roasted Garlic Red Lead

As much as I pride myself on being Irish, their culinary masterpieces do not compare to the Italian’s. So as I prepare to marry an Italian man, I am starting to take my Italian cooking skills up a notch. 

On yet again another snow day, I decide that there is no better time than now to put a big pot of garlicky, pasta sauce on the stove. I immediately started daydreaming that I was back in Italy with a bottle of Chianti and a big bowl of pasta in front of me.

… and then I woke up and was back in New Jersey with a foot of snow outside my window. But at least the house still smelled good!

This is a foolproof recipe that is a mix of recipes I’ve seen on the Internet combined with family recipes. As an ode to my Irish grandmother, who's pasta sauce is the only kind my grandfather will eat, I will call this recipe “Roasted Garlic Red Lead”.  If you find yourself with a few hours to kill, and want fill up a few mason jars of pasta sauce to give to your family (or just save for later), then this is the recipe for you!

Roasted Garlic Red Lead
1 and ½ quarts (2 quart sized mason jars filled ¾ of the way)

2 (28-ounce) cans of San Marzano tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1 can tomato paste
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp hot sauce
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Pinch of sugar
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 heads of roasted garlic

  1. In a medium sized sauce pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft and golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add minced garlic and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomato pasta, salt, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, and seasonings, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the cans of San Marzano tomatoes, stirring well to combine, then bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the roasted garlic, squishing the cloves from the peels. Try to break apart some of the cloves with your wooden spoon.
  7. Continue to simmer for 30-45 minutes until the flavors have come together.
  8. If you want a smoother sauce, mix with an Immersion blender for a few pulses to break up some of the tomato and garlic chunks.

Pineapple Pork Chops

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge pork chop lover. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have it much as a kid, or maybe it’s just because I never seem to be able to cook it to the correct internal temperature in the amount of time to recipe calls for. Either way… I usually avoid cooking it.

But on one of the numerous snow days, we’ve had this winter (you’ll see this pattern in the last few/next recipes I’ve posted), I caught an episode of “The Kitchen” – a culinary infused talk show on the Food Network, and was very intrigued by this recipe. I liked all the flavors they talked about; it seemed easy enough to do; and I didn’t have to venture out into the snow to pick up the ingredients. #winning

If you are a novice pork handler, this recipe is for you. It was a great (and cheap) weeknight meal with a great summery taste for a wintery day. 

Pineapple Pork Chops
Serves 4

4, boneless pork chops, about ½ inch thick
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons thyme
2 tbsp olive oil, + 1 tsp
1 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
One Spanish onion, sliced thin (the recipe calls for Pearl Onions)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper

  1. Sprinkle pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the minced garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, rosemary and thyme.
  3. Rub the mixture on both of the pork chops. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Sear the pork chops on each side until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium, add the pineapple juice, wine and onions.
  7. Cover and simmer until the pork chops and onions are cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  8. Transfer the pork chops and onions to a serving platter and cover to keep warm.
  9. In a small bowl, mash the butter and flour together to make a paste.
  10. Whisk the paste into the liquid and cook for about a minute, until the sauce thickens.
  11. Drizzle it over the pork chops and your starch just before serving.