Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bacon and Charred Tomato Fettuccine

There are several ways to char the tomatoes for this dish, or you can cheat and buy a 28 ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes from the supermarket!

Stove top – place whole tomatoes in a dry frying pan or on a comal over medium heat until skins blister and darken, turning to get as much char on each tomato as possible.

Oven – cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and place on sheet pan.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in 350 oven for about 40 minutes until charred and caramelized.

BBQ – rub whole tomatoes with oil and place directly on grill grates over medium heat, turning until charred on all sides and skin is starting to slip off.

This will serve 4 people.


Bacon and Charred Tomato Fettuccine


7 Roma tomatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil (for charring in oven or on grill)

salt and pepper

1 lb bacon

500 grams fettuccine

1/2 cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving

fresh basil – for serving

Char tomatoes, place in bowl and when cool enough to handle, roughly chop and put back into bowl.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil and cook fettuccine according to package directions.

Meanwhile, chop bacon into roughly 1/2 inch pieces and fry, in large frying pan or pot, stirring frequently, until crispy.  Using slotted spoon, remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel to drain.  Pour out (and reserve) all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat from pan.

When pasta is about 1 minute away from being fully cooked, drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to bacon fat in pan, and bring to simmer over medium heat.  Add fettuccine, using tongs to toss pasta and coat all strands with the bacon fat.  You can add some of the bacon fat you drained off or additional pasta water at this point if pasta looks dry.  Add the tomatoes and any juices in the bowl and continue cook, tossing lightly for 1 minute.

Remove from heat, sprinkle Parmesan and toss again to combine.

Divide mixture among 4 bowls, garnish with fresh basil leaves.  Serve with additional Parmesan.

How To... · Main Courses · Pork

Brined Pork Chops

A nice juicy pork chop is such a treat, but getting it done to that juicy stage of perfection can be difficult.   Left on the heat even a moment too long results in a dry tasteless piece of meat.  Not the dinner you were looking forward to.

Marinating your chops overnight in a light brine can fix that.  the basic brine is water, salt and sugar.  You can use just that, or start experimenting with the flavours by adding spices.  Bay leaves, mustard seeds, black pepper, chili peppers, junior berries, herbs, garlic, onions… or just leave it plain.  Whatever strikes your fancy.

This marinade will work for all cuts of pork, and chicken as well.

You can marinate for as little as 4 hours if you are pressed for time, but I prefer a full 24 hours.  Remove from the brine, pat dry and grill or pan fry as usual.   You will be pleasantly surprised at the difference a little time in brine can make.

This brine is for 2 – 4 chops, but you can easily double it.


Brined Pork Chops

3 cups water

2 Tablespoons cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons (packed) brown sugar

1 Tablespoon kosher salt


Optional add-ins such as those listed below, but limited only by your imagination

1 clove garlic 

1 sprig fresh rosemary or thyme

black peppercorns

juniper berries

allspice berries

mustard seeds

Stir everything together until sugar and salt are dissolved.

Place pork chops in re-sealable plastic bag large enough to comfortably hold all the chops.  Toss in any herbs or spices you choose to use.

Carefully pour brine into bag.  Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag and seal closed.  Massage a little to be sure the liquid has reached all parts of the pork.

Put the bag in a bowl large enough to hold any leaks that may occur and refrigerate overnight.

Remove chops from the brine, pat dry and grill or pan fry as usual.


Beef · Main Courses · Pork

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

Oh, just try them.  You will like them.  Even though we are using Chipotle, the level of heat is very low.  For those not familiar with Mexican flavours, this is a good introduction.

I’ve taken these to pot lucks and returned home with an empty dish every time.

If you cant find dried chipotle, you can sub canned chipotle in adobo and skip the soaking step.

Albondigas, White Rice and Corn with Poblanos

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

For the meatballs

8oz ground pork

8 oz lean ground beef

1 onion, minced

1 cup fresh white bread crumbs

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

Oil for frying

For the sauce

1 chipotle chili, seeds and stem removed

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 cup beef stock

14 oz can chopped tomatoes

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

Make the Meatballs

Combine the first 10 ingredients (everything but the oil). Mix together well then roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

Place in single layer on baking sheet and chill while you prepare the sauce.

Make the Sauce

If using dried Chipotle Chili:  Soak the dried chilli in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon canola oil in saucepan over medium heat, and fry the the onion and garlic 5 – 6 minutes until onion is soft.  Remove chili from soaking liquid, reserving the soaking liquid.

Chop the chili and add to onions and garlic.  If using chipotles in adobo, fish at least one or maybe 2 chilis out of the adobo sauce, roughly chop them and add to the onion/garlic mixture.

Cook for 1 minute, stirring.

Increase heat to high, Add beef stock, tomatoes, tomato paste and soaking liquid.   Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to boil, lower heat and simmer partially covered, while you cook the meatballs.

Cook the Meatballs

Heat oil in frying pan and fry meatballs in batches, turning occasionally to brown on all sides.  They will not necessarily be cooked thru and this is okay.  You just want to get a sear and some colour on them right now.

As you remove the meatballs from the frying pan, transfer directly to the sauce in the pot.  Once all meatballs have been fried, continue to simmer in sauce, stirring every once in a while, for about 10 minutes to cook meatballs thru.  Be gentle!  Stir too roughly and you will break up all those meatballs you just worked so hard to make!

Serve with plain white rice on the side.





Main Courses · Pork · Soups and Stews

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

What can I say, flavours from this part of the world fascinate us!

Considering how quickly this dish comes together, we were surprised at how much flavour it has.  It is a great weeknight dish.

If you have pickled ginger on hand, be sure to include it.  It adds a nice spark of flavour to the finished dish.

Thai Noodle Bowl with Ground Pork

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger (be sure to peel it before mincing)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 red onion, finely diced, divided

1 lb lean ground pork

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 teaspoon Sambal Olek** (or to taste)

salt & pepper

1 cup water

4 cups chicken stock or broth

1 bunch fresh spinach, tough stems removed and leaves chopped or torn

6 oz rice noodles


1/4 cup finely chopped pickled ginger (optional)

chopped salted peanuts

fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped


Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

Add the fresh ginger, garlic and all but 2 Tablespoons red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the ground pork, turmeric, chili-garlic sauce, 1 teaspoon salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper.  Cook the meat, breaking up most of the lumps, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup water, the chicken broth and spinach (the pot will be very full, but the spinach will wilt quickly). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the broth has reduced slightly and the spinach is tender, about  minutes. Taste and season with more salt & pepper if needed.

Meanwhile, in separate pot, cook rice noodles according to package directions, stirring to separate the noodles.   Drain noodles well, shake dry and divide among 4 bowls.

Ladle pork-broth mixture over noodles.  Top with peanuts, cilantro, pickled ginger and the reserved red onion.

Serves 4


** COOKS NOTES :   Sambal Olek- a chili garlic paste found in most supermarkets



Main Courses · Pork

Vietnamese-Style Pork Chops with Fresh Herb Salad

Vietnamese Style Pork Chops

This is a great way to add flavour to those “fast-fry” pork chops.  You can either assemble the salad on a large platter and arrange the chops on top to serve it ‘family-style’ or you can arrange individual plates.  Either way looks impressive.

You can marinate the chops for as little as an hour, but for maximum flavour an overnight marinade works better.

Serves 4


Vietnamese-Style Pork Chops with Fresh Herb Salad


Chops and Marinade

1 large shallot, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar

1/4 cup fish sauce

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

4 x 1/4 to 1/2″ thick bone-in pork chops




2 ripe nectarines thinly sliced

1 cubanelle or aneheim pepper, seeds removed, thinly sliced

3 cups leaf lettuce, torn

1/2 cup cilantro, leaves & tender stems only

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

2 Tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar


Sesame seeds – for serving

2 green onions, thinly sliced, on the diagonal- for serving

lime wedges – for serving


Place shallot, garlic brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, oil and pepper in blender and mix until smooth.  Pour into large zip lock bag.  Add pork chops and massage bag to be sure all coated with marinade.  Place bag in bowl (in case of leaks) and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare grill for medium high heat (or preheat your grill pan on the stove).

While grill is heating, toss all salad ingredients except the vinegar together in a large bowl and set aside.

Remove pork chops from marinade.  Let the excess drip back into the bag.  Grill, turning once, until lightly charred on both sides and cooked through.  It should take about 2 -3 minutes per side to fully cook the chops.

Remove from grill and keep warm.  Sprinkle the rice vinegar over the salad greens, toss to combine and arrange on platter or individual plates.

Top greens with pork chops, sprinkle with sesame seeds and additional scallions. Scatter lime wedges over.  Serve and enjoy.


The original version of this recipe can be found at Epicurious




Main Courses · Pork

Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks

Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks, Asian Cucumber Salad, Grilled Yellow Pepper and Scallions with White Rice


Gochujang Marinated Pork Shoulder Steaks

8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed

1   2” piece ginger, peeled, sliced

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)

1/4 cup sweet mirin (Japanese rice wine)

2 Tablespoons  vegetable oil, plus more for the grill

1/4 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pound pork shoulder steak (pork butt) about 1/2” thick


Toss everything but the pork in a blender and puree until smooth.

Put the steak in a large resealable plastic bag and pour half of marinade over steak, coating all sides well.  Refrigerate, flipping bag every once in awhile, at least 2 hours; overnight is better.   Keep the remaining marinade in a small bowl, covered, in the refrigerator.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. Remove pork from marinade and grill over direct heat, turning occasionally, and basting with reserved marinade.   If you have difficulty with flare-ups,  move pork to a cooler area away from direct heat.

Cook to desired doneness, about 12 – 15  minutes for well done.

Transfer pork to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.  Slice into quarters and serve.

DO AHEAD: Pork can be marinated 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.


Main Courses · Pork

Pork Chops with Mango Chutney

I  have never seen a chutney that actually looked nice.  Photographing this was a bit of a challenge.  The colour of this chutney isn’t all that exciting or appealing, but chutneys should be enjoyed for their flavour, not their good looks.   I used dark demerara sugar for this.   Maybe a light brown sugar would give it a nicer colour.  Really, though, once you taste it, you won’t care what colour it is.


Mango chutney with smoked pork chop and sauteed zucchini and peppers
Pork Chop with Mango Chutney

Pork Chops with Mango Chutney

1 1/2  Tablespoons canola oil (divided)

1 small onion, minced

1 large clove garlic, minced

IMG_2712 2
Mango Chutney

2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and    minced

1/4 small red bell pepper, diced

1 teaspoon mild curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)

1/4 cup water

2 cups diced mango (about 3 large)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2  1″ thick bone-in pork chops

salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over low heat.  Add the onions and sweat them until soft.   Do not brown.  Once onions are soft and translucent, add the ginger, garlic and bell pepper and cook, stirring 1 to 2 minutes.   Add the curry powder and cardamom  (if using) and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.    Stir in the mango and  water and cook for another minute or 2, stirring to prevent sticking.

Add vinegar, sugar, and cranberries to pot.   Stir to combine, increase heat to medium and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is gone, but mixture is still “sloppy”.   Remove from heat, transfer to serving bowl and allow to cool several minutes.

Meanwhile,  heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon canola oil over medium high heat in frying pan.  Season pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper.  Add to pan and sear both sides, then reduce heat to low, partially cover and continue cooking until done.  (a thermometer inserted into centre of the chop should read 160F).    Tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes to complete the cooking process.  (temp should rise to 170F while meat is resting).

Plate, spoon chutney over top and serve alongside brown rice and fresh veggies.

COOKS NOTES – I used a mild yellow curry powder, but a hotter curry might be nice in here too.