Category Archives: Casserole

Chicken Pot Pie for Four or Forty, Seasoned to Taste

As one of the alternating lead cooks for my church’s monthly community dinners, I am always looking for relatively healthy and easy recipes to feed a crowd without breaking the budget. Usually I find and try a family-size recipe and multiply it up. However, in the case of what is now my go-to chicken or turkey pot pie recipe, it went the other way.

I actually used ingredients and proportions based on a few “feeding a crowd” pot pie recipes to come up with my “pot pie for forty” recipe. It was so good – and easy to make! – that I had requests for a version that would make just one 9” pie.

The recipe for 40 is at the end of this post, but here is the basic recipe for just one 9” pie. I will elaborate on variations after this first recipe.

Chicken (or Turkey)  Pot Pie   

  • ½ lb or 2 cups or so cooked chicken
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1.5 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, onions, green beans, corn)
  • 2 cups turkey or chicken broth *
  • 1 Tsp or less salt
  • 1 Tsp or more pepper
  • ¼ or more teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • Pie crust , just on top or also a bottom crust.

Preheat oven to 350 for biscuit topping,  425°F for pie crust. (While I actually can make a mean pie crust, I typically use Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. It works just fine.)

Melt Butter over low heat sauté onion and celery until tender.

Slowly add flour, mixing and stirring for a few minutes until well blended. Gradually add broth *(if using frozen vegetables, reduce broth by 1 cup) until sauce is thickened.
Note: liquid used can be increased or decreased to desired consistency

Add mixed vegetables.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.

*Layer poultry meat in bottom of pan or bottom crust

Pour vegetable sauce mix over chicken in pan or bottom crust

CRUST: Cover with top crust, makes slits in crust, and bake at 425 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning, if desired. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

BISCUIT: Place 1/4 cup “dollops” of dough mixture on top of entire pot pie, until mixture is gone. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes until biscuits are brown.

Parsley, Bell’s Seasoning, Penzeys Seasoned Salt, and Roasted Garlic Salt

Now, this recipe is tasty, but you can ramp things up easily. First, you can just add more bell seasoning. Or add a mix of your favorite Italian herbs along with the Bell’s Seasoning. Or go with a totally different spin and use just tarragon or another herb or spice or blend that you love with poultry.

I was inspired to write this blog post after posting this picture of the seasoning I used in my latest pot pie on Facebook.

Aaaaaaand…I just realized that I did not write down what amount of each seasoning I used, but from the picture, it looks like about a teaspoon each dried parsley and roasted garlic salt, and about a 1/2 teaspoon Bell’s Season and Penzeys Seasoned Salt.

I also popped in a bit more salt – maybe up to 1/2 teaspoon or more (it is up to the cook to add to taste) and also 10-12 grinds from the pepper mill. But again, you have to season to YOUR taste. If you don’t have roasted garlic salt, regular will do. And if no Penzeys Seasoned Salt (although I HIGHLY recommend that you get some!) you can click HERE to see what is in it and ad lib from there.

FYI – for my recent pie, I tossed in some leftover chunks of roasted potatoes, which worked well. To compensate for the additional veggie amount, I used 5 tablespoons each butter and flour to make more gravy. What I should NOT have done is use less chicken stock, even though directed to do so if using frozen veggies since the potatoes did their part and thickened things just a bit. But, otherwise, do use less stock if using frozen veggies.

One more super tip: To ensure super flavor without using a richly flavorful homemade stock, or seasoning beyond that used in the standard recipe, buy “next day” rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store ($3.99 each at the Market Basket in Reading MA) and you will be guaranteed a super tasty pie.

Have fun and enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie for Forty or More

This recipe works well in a 20.5 x 12.8 x 4” pan – a standard commercial kitchen size.

  • 4.5 or so lbs cooked chicken (16-18 cups)
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 10-12 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, onions, green beans, corn)
  • 3-4 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp or less salt
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 2 or so teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • Biscuit mix – see separate recipe, or three regular pie crusts or phyllo dough* as needed

Preheat oven to 350 if using the biscuit topping, 400 if pie crust.

*Layer chicken meat in bottom of pan.

Melt Butter over low heat in one or two big pots and sauté onion and celery until tender.

Slowly add flour, mixing and stirring for a few minutes until well blended. Gradually add broth (if using frozen vegetables, reduce broth by a 2-3 cups) until sauce is thickened.
Note: liquid used can be increased or decreased to desired consistency

Add mixed vegetables.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Pour vegetable sauce mix over chicken in pan.

Place 1/4 cup “dollops” of dough mixture on top of entire pot pie, until mixture is gone or use homemade or store bought pie crusts or phyllo dough*.
Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes until biscuits are brown or, if using pie crust, bake at 400.

*As of writing this, I have never used phyllo dough so can’t help you with the amount needed.

Wow, long post! But to end, here is the biscuit recipe I use for the crowd-size pot pie.

Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits      We need two batches of this recipe

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur’s white whole wheat organic flour) or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

2 cup milk (any kind)

In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well with whisk or fork.

Cut the ½ stick butter into little pea sized pieces and then mix the pieces into the flour mixture. OR use a pastry cutter.

Using a fork, try to mash the butter pieces as you mix it together with the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. It is okay if the outcome just looks like the same pea sized pieces of butter covered with flour.

Then pour in the milk and mix it all together. Knead the dough with your hands 8 to 10 times and then turn out onto a counter or cutting board if making biscuits or plop on the chicken pot pie.

Done! Thanks for reading. 🙂

Pork and Summer Squash Casserole over Rice: Family Size or For a Crowd

pork and squash casserole
We could not wait to eat before taking a picture.

Background: The Emmanuel Episcopal Church of Wakefield MA offers a Community Dinner each month from September to June in partnership with Wakefield’s Horizon House Clubhouse. Horizon House provides their kitchen and dining room, and we provide the food, either via cooking or catering.

I love to cook for a crowd, so I try to sign up as lead cook for at least a few dinners a year and always try to find recipes that are on the healthy side, if only “healthyish,” to steal Bon Apetit’s descriptor, and that might be a bit different from the usual fare.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but this casserole is SO easy, and SO tasty, and was such a hit at a recent Community Dinner, that I finally got myself to sit down and get this recipe on line.

This month I totally lucked out in finding this pork and summer squash recipe. Not only is it really tasty, it is really easy to make, whether you are opting for the family size or multiplying out for a crowd. Also, the summer squash and diced tomatoes fill it out so a relatively small amount of pork is needed to satisfy even hard core carnivores.

Here is the original recipe that says it serves four:

Pork and Squash Casserole

6 ounces ground pork (use seitan for vegans and vegetarians)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 ounces cremini* mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs (preferably whole-wheat)
1 14.5-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup low-fat small-curd cottage cheese
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend (5 ounces)
1 large yellow squash, halved crosswise and thinly sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

* I used shitake mushrooms when I tested it at home on my husband

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, breaking up the pork, until slightly browned, 2 minutes. Add the garlic, mushrooms, half of the scallions and 2 tablespoons panko; cook 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, half of the parsley and 1/3 cup water. Increase the heat to high; cook until slightly thickened, 3 minutes.
  2. Combine the cottage cheese, 3/4 cup Mexican cheese and the remaining parsley in a bowl. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons panko in a 9-inch-square baking dish. Top with half of the squash, overlapping slightly; season with salt. Top with two-thirds of the pork sauce and the cheese mixture. Add the remaining squash; season with salt. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons panko, pork sauce and 1/2 cup Mexican cheese.
  3. Cover with foil** and bake until the cheese melts and the squash is tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover and turn on the broiler;* broil until golden, 2 minutes. Top with the remaining scallions.

** Thinking that covering in foil would be a bother when making the crowd-size version, I opted, in my home test, to leave the casserole uncovered and just cooked it a bit longer so the cheesy top got a bit crusty in texture. It worked just fine. 🙂

NOTE: While the original recipe calls for cutting the squash in half and slicing longwise, as shown here, I found it works way better to slice is VERY thin rounds and layer across the area.

I did not serve my test version over rice and it worked well an an entrée served solo, and is a great choice if you want a low carb meal, However, as you will see below, I opted to serve it over rice when cooking for the crowd.

Here is the recipe to use if you are cooking for 35-40 and serving just the casserole, or, for 50 if you opt to serve it over rice.

Pork and Squash Casserole for a Crowd*

4 pounds ground pork
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 clove garlic, chopped
2 pounds mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
20 scallions, chopped
4 cups panko breadcrumbs (preferably whole-wheat)
116 ounces** of no-salt-added diced tomatoes
2 cups chopped fresh parsley
6 cups low-fat small-curd cottage cheese
3 or more pounds (never too much cheese!) shredded Mexican cheese blend
6 pounds yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds
As many tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil as needed to sauté. ***

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork, 2 teaspoons salt and ½ to 1 teaspoon of pepper. Cook, breaking up the pork, until slightly browned, 5-10 minutes as needed.
Add the garlic, mushrooms, half of the scallions and 1cup panko; cook another 5 or so minutes.
Add the tomatoes, half of the parsley and 1 1/2 cups**** water. Increase the heat to high; cook until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes.
Combine the cottage cheese, two thirds of the Mexican cheese and the remaining parsley in a bowl.
Sprinkle 1 1/2 cup panko in a 9-inch-square baking dish.
Top with half of the squash, overlapping slightly; season with salt.
Top with two-thirds of the pork sauce and the all the cheese mixture. Add the remaining squash; season with salt.
Add the remaining 1 ½ cup panko, pork sauce and remaining Mexican cheese.
Bake until the cheese melts and forms a crust and the squash is tender, about 40 or more minutes. To hold until serving, put oven at 180-200 degrees. Top with the remaining scallions, if desired, before serving.
* My test batch would have made five, not four servings, so I multiplied the original recipe by 8 to make 40 servings. In addition, although using 6 oz of ground pork worked perfectly well in my home test batch, I used 8 oz per 5 servings as my baseline for the crowd size and got 8×8=48/16 oz per pound, so four pounds of pork.
** four 26 oz cans and one 14.5 oz can will do it.
*** We split the pork between to 14 inch pans and went from there.
**** Multiplying the original amount of water by 8 was way too much. Cornstarch came to our rescue. 🙂

Last but not least, to stretch the meal in case we got more guests than we expected, I opted to make a batch of rice to go with the meal. I used converted rice because brown rice can be a tough sell with some crowds, but at least converted rice has more nutrients than white rice. Also, the recipe called for converted rice, although it noted it would work for brown rice – just cook brown rice longer. Since the recipe was for 50 servings, I went with it as is.

Rice for 50

NOTE: Some recipes say to rinse the converted rice first, others say not to so as to not lose nutrients. I went with the latter advice as it said the same on the package of Uncle Ben’s converted rice that I used.

3 1/2 lbs. converted rice
2 tbsp. sea salt
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 qt. boiling water

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place rice in a 12x20x2 1/2″ pan.
Boil 4 qt. of water in a large pot and add 2 tbsp. of sea salt. Make sure the salt dissolves fully.
Add 2 tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil to your water and pour the mixture over your converted rice slowly so that the rice remains even throughout the pan.
Cover your pan with aluminum foil. Tighten the foil along the edges of the pan to prevent the water from evaporating too quickly during the cooking process.
Open your oven once it has reached 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place your pan in the center. Set your oven timer to 60 minutes.
Remove the pan from oven after an hour and place it on top of your stove to allow it to cool for five to 10 minutes.
Remove the aluminum foil and use a fork to fluff your rice before serving it.

That’s it! We also served a simple salad of romaine hearts, cherry tomatoes, sliced English cucumber, and grated carrot, tossed with a modest amount of Italian dressing. AND Applesauce Cake with quick and easy cream cheese frosting. Click HERE for the family and crowd size for dessert.

I plan to add more of the recipes I have used when cooking for our community dinners, so always check back!

More Zucchini? Grate!

My friend Elizabeth just left two of the most gorgeous zucchini squashes on my porch. Between the two they weigh in at close to 7 pounds. The ruler is there for scale.  Elizabeth did send me a picture in which she used her glasses to give an idea as to the size of these babies, but WOW. These are some big zucchinis!  And, I can report that their flavor is just as big.  Yum, even just chomping a raw slice.  Thank you, Elizabeth!

So, now what? My first step was to do some online research to see if one can successfully freeze spiraled zucchini since I recently acquired that magic machine and love it. The good news is, yes!  Click HERE for a link to a page giving instructions for such. I will be doing this will at least a pound or two of these suckers.  🙂 Disclaimer: I have not tried this technique yet and other websites claim that zuke noodles don’t reheat well, but I am willing to give it a try.

But, in the meantime, I have all this zucchini and it is so hot out today (over 90 F) that I don’t want to cook.  Tomorrow I will do one of my favorite easy ways to prepare any type of summer squash: Slice and sprinkle with with Penzeys Italian Herb Mix before steaming until just soft. My husband, Mr. tons of butter and salt man, loves it like this WITHOUT adding any butter or salt!!!!

But, I digress. I said “grate” in the title and I found two recipes that use grated zuke that look fabulous, and also found a number of sites that say freezing grated zuke works just fine. So, I grated enough zuke to make this recipe by Julia Child and then prepped and froze it. I am also going to try THIS recipe that also uses shredded zucchini in the next few days since I have plenty of zucchini. 🙂

So, here is what I did based on what a few different sites suggested: I weighed out 2 pounds of zucchini, cut it into food processor-sized pieces for grating, and grated away.

I then spread the results out over two cookie sheets, sprinkled and tossed a bit with 1/2  tsp or so of salt over both trays, let it sit for a few minutes, and then, in 4 batches, put the shredded zuke onto a clean kitchen towel, pulled it closed, and squeeze out the liquid.

I ended up with two 12 ounce bags to pop in the freezer.  I’ll find out how it works when defrosted for use in one or both of the above recipes calling for grated zucchini.  And, if I try either or both with freshly grated zucchini in the meantime, I’ll keep you updated. It will be great!

Ready for the freezer!

Easy Salsa Chicken Tortilla Casserole Featuring Pam’s Salsa

I started doing the cooking demos at the Wakefield Farmers Market last season (summer of 2016) and continued doing them for most of the subsequent Melrose-Wakefield Winter Farmers Market season as well. While the major goal has been to highlight veggies and fruits from our produce farmers, I do like to
incorporate the offerings of other vendors when I can. (Due to Board of Health safety constraints, I have to stick to vegetarian/ non PHF (potentially hazardous foods) ingredients in the demos, which means I can’t share just any recipe at the market if I want to offer samples.) While salsa is indeed vegetarian,  I have yet to use Pam’s Salsa in a cooking demo. To make up for that, I found the perfect way to highlight this amazing fresh and delicious salsa in a recipe that is quick and easy, suitable for even the most busy household.

Easy Salsa Chicken Tortilla
Casserole Featuring Pam’s Salsa

1 – 1 ¼ pound boneless skinless chicken breast
1 pint Pam’s Salsa, separated if using a 1.5 quart slow cooker
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup or so:
chopped onion
chopped bell pepper
grated carrot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup tomato plain tomato sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
6 flour tortillas (10 inch)
6 ounces shredded cheese, Mexican blend if available

Put chicken and 1 cup (or the entire pint if using a 3.5 quart slow cooker) salsa in a slow cooker and cook 6-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.
Preheat oven to 350°. In a 10” fry or sauté pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions, garlic, carrot, and bell pepper until just starting to get soft.
Stir the hot sauce into the tomato sauce and add to the veggies, along with remaining salsa if applicable.
Use two forks to shred the salsa-cooked chicken and mix into to the veggie-sauce mix.
Place two tortillas, overlapping as necessary, in the bottom of a greased 13×9-inch baking dish.
Cover with half the chicken mixture and one-third of the cheese. Add another layer of two tortillas, the other half of the chicken mixture, and another third of the cheese.
Place the remaining two tortillas on top and cover with the remaining third of the cheese.
Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until bubbly and a bit browned.

Top with sour cream and or whatever toppings suit your fancy.  And, of course, add anything else such as black olives, chunks of fresh tomatoes, more hot sauce, more cheese, or substitute enchilada sauce or adapt however will make this perfect for you.

NOTES: I used a 1.5-quart slow cooker. If using a 3.5-quart slow cooker, put the whole pint of salsa into the slow cooker with the chicken rather than adding the other cup to the chicken mix after sautéing with the veggies and tomato sauce.

Using Pam’s Salsa makes this so deliciously easy with the perfect “so fresh” taste. But, in a pinch, use one cup of a regular salsa of your choice and add a cup of frozen corn to replace the 2nd cup of salsa – or use your imagination. My suggestion is based on the Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken recipe I found HERE. (Scroll down a bit once you get to the page.) But, Pam’s Salsa really made this recipe pop, that’s for sure!

Makes six servings.

Skillet Tamale Pie: Great as is, but with endless possibilities!

I was on the Cook’s Illustrated website looking for equipment reviews of skillets and this recipe for Skillet Tamale Pie came up in the process.  Since I am always looking for meals that are quick to prepare and hold well on warm in the oven, I made sure to put this on my “Try soon” list.  And try it soon I did.  🙂

tamale pie

Back for seconds already!

For a change, I followed the recipe exactly as written except for using whole-wheat flour instead of all-purpose (refined/white) flour since, as happens most of the time, I had no white flour on hand.

To access the recipe on the America’s Test Kitchen Cook’s Illustrated site, you need to be a subscriber, but I’ll copy it here with the understanding that this is a sample to encourage you to become a subscriber yourself. 🙂 While I am copying things, (hopefully within fair-use limits!) I am going to be lazy also repeat the instructions verbatim.  The picture are really mine, though.  <grin>

Tamale Filling

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion , minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 pound ground sirloin (lean)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans , drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
  • 3 ounces cheddar cheese , shredded (1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • Ground black pepper

Cornbread Topping

  • 3/4cup unbleached all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal (3 3/4 ounces)
  •  3tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
For the tamale filling: Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, chili powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the ground sirloin, beans, and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

Stir the cheddar and cilantro into the filling and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the cornbread topping: Meanwhile, whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until uniform. Stir in the butter until just combined.
One more caveat from the original recipe – I used an instant buttermilk powered that you keep in the fridge, so I mixed the powder with the dry ingredients and mixed  just the water to reconstitute with the egg.

Close up to show texture and consistency

Dollop the cornbread batter evenly over the filling and spread into an even layer. Bake until the cornbread is cooked through in the center, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve.

Dolloped and ready for the oven

Done!

One more caveat from the original recipe – I used an instant buttermilk powered that you keep in the fridge, so I mixed the powder with the dry ingredients and mixed  just the water to reconstitute with the egg.

This dish is truly a winner! Not only was it really tasty, it was really easy to make. And, even better, it lends itself to all sorts of variations.  Instead of the ground beef, you can use any kind of ground meat or poultry, cube or shred pultry, beef, or pork, use up leftover cook meats, or go vegetarian with more beans, tofu, or lots of extra vegetables.  And, with meat or not, you can add  or substitute corn, green beens, bell pepper, or whatever other veggies strike your fancy.

And, I suppose, you could have a topping of tortillas or corn chips and cheese rather than the corn bread, but that would be vering off into a different, albeit also tasty recipe.

One last point in favor of this dish is that this holds well in the oven on warm, so if you are not sure of the dinner hour, you can make it early and it will be ready when you are. BUT, if you do that, beware of the hot handle on the fry pan and be sure to take precautions if your memory is anything like mine.

And leave that potholder on there!

Enjoy…safely.  <grin>

Pork, Sweet Potato, and Cabbage Casserole on Soba Noodles

I have not posted for ages, but I was determined to document this concoction since it is  an experiment that worked.  🙂   Yes, I did start with a recipe, but I  adapted it so as to use up a few leftovers from my New Year’s Day open house, as well as some pork that was in the freezer,  some stray sweet potatoes, and a shallot.  In addition, as noted toward the end, it can also be easily adapted to fit a vegetarian diet.

Here is what I had: a pork sirloin mini roast (1.17 lbs) that I sliced an inch or a bit under thick, apple chutney that I had made but forgotten to put out on New Year’s Day, chopped cabbage that I had forgotten to add to the sweet and sour beef soup I made for and served on New Year’s Day, and two sweet potatoes and a shallot that I had on hand.

ingredients

The major ingredients

Here is the link to original recipe from which I was working:
Pork Chop Casserole Recipe with Sweet Potatoes

Obviously, I was not using chops, and this recipe calls for more than 1 lb or so of meat; also, it does not specify boned or bone-in. Given I had a smaller amount of meat, it worked out fine that I had only two small sweet potatoes, and I used about two cups of Apple Chutney (Click HERE for the recipe – it is buried in the pulled pork recipe but it is worth deciphering it out, so to speak) to replace the OJ, brown sugar, and spices.

I also did everything in an ovenproof skillet.  Note to self: Do Not forget to use a pot holder when taking the skillet out of the oven…)

Anyway, I started by lightly browning the pork in a bit of olive oil to help seal in moisture in the pork and to give a nice flavor base for the rest of the ingredients.

In the middle of browning the pork

After removing the pork and setting it aside, I added a bit more olive oil and lightly sauteed thinly sliced shallot and a few stems of fresh thyme until the shallot was soft and the thyme quite fragrant.

getting stated with the shallot and fresh thyme

I then removed the shallot and thyme, added yet a bit more olive oil, and put the onion (one medium, sliced) in the pan.

Next, the onions

Once the onion was starting to get soft, I added about 3 cups of chopped savoy cabbage. (I am sure any type of cabbage would do – in fact, the red kind would make for a REALLY colorful dish!)

Then, add the cabbage to the onions

Once the cabbage cooked down a bit (after maybe 5 minutes or so), I stirred in the sliced sweet potato and the pork, including the juices, and then arranged the shallot and thyme on top. Finally, I put the lid on the pan, and into the oven preheated to 350 degrees it went.

Ready for the oven!

sensual close-up shot 🙂

After 50 minutes, the potatoes were just tender and the meat was still moist, so I put the pan with the cover on it back in the oven on the “keep warm” setting (170 dgrees) since we were not quite ready to eat. If I had wanted to serve sooner, I probably would have put it back in at the 350 degrees for another 5-10 minutes.

Finished!

If I had had more sweet potatoes on hand, or a few white potatoes to add to the mix, this could very well have been a one-dish meal.  Or, I could have added some extra liquid and rice, or cooked rice separately and serve the pork and veggies over it. But, since it was a cold and stormy night, I thought soba noodles, made from the hearty buckwheat (often cited as good food for cold weather) would be the perfect match.  And, it was!

on a bed of soba noodles

This turned out to be quite tasty.  Upon reading the reviews of the original recipe, I think that it would fine as written, but both the original and my version would benefit from the sauce being thickened a bit, perhaps with cornstarch, and, in my version, I think a little more sweetness to counter the tart chutney would be nice.  But overall, I think the dish works well as written, as adapted by me, and as a base for further adaptations.  One note about the soba noodles:  They do not expand as much as regular pasta, so you may not have as much leftover as you would have thought.

leftovers!

If you don’t care to eat meat, this recipe can easily be adapted to suit a vegetarian diet.  If you want a concentrated protein source to serve as does the pork, then I  think tempeh would work wonderfully with this recipe. Tofu and seitan may work, also, albeit the textures of tofu and the usual tamari-based flavor of seitan would give a  different slant. This recipe could also inspire the creation of a rice, sweet potato, and cabbage (or other vegetable) casserole. Or, add edamame to replace the pork and still serve over the soba.

So, that’s it for now.  I really need to get back to blogging here on a more regular basis.  I have drafts and photos of various dishes and meals that I hope to document on this blog one of these days, but one the one ingredient I seem to always be low on is time, something for which thyme is no substitute…  <grin>