Asian Pulled Chicken and Pork with Homemade Hoisin Sauce

2014-04-26 20.09.14This pulled pork and chicken recipe came into existence starting with a recipe  I found online at the site http://www.justataste.com.  I thought it looked amazing and simple to make.  My only problem with the recipe is using a store bought hoisin sauce.  I searched for a way to make a homemade hoisin sauce to avoid any unknown or unnecessary ingredients.  With a little time I found a really easy looking recipe from Gwyneth Paltrwo that totally fit the bill.  This recipe however required red miso paste, which I have never used or even seen for sale at the grocery store before.  This then took me on a trip to the Asian Supermarket, aka, the coolest market ever.  Since this experience I have made several Asian inspired meals that I have never before attempted.  I’m looking forward to experimenting with ramen noodles more in the future.

This is my spin on the initial recipe, in my opinion a little healthier and more flavorful.  I served it the first time over rice with asparagus as pictured.  The next time I tried it both over salad greens and as a slider with coleslaw (check out summer coleslaw recipe in sides section).  All options were really great, I would even like to try the meat in a soft shell taco with coleslaw and fresh cilantro.  The hoisin sauce recipe is a little spiced up as well with red chili paste (another ingredient courtesy of the Asian supermarket).  The hoisin sauce recipe makes an entire cup, so the leftovers can be used in a stir fry or used as a barbecue sauce for ribs, chicken, pork, shrimp, etc.  Use the sauce up within one week, stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Ingredients:

Hoisin Sauce Ingredients:

1 Tbsp oil (I used avocado oil, but anything will do)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 cup red miso paste (I don’t know what this is exactly, I found a soybean paste and used that, but it was brown colored)
1 tsp red chili paste (I added this for a little heat)
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar (I used regular rice vinegar)

Pulled Chicken and Pork Ingredients:

3-4 pounds of meat (I used a combo of 1/2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and pork tenderloin)
5 slices of thick cut bacon
1/2 cup honey (I used a raw honey), heaping
1/2 cup of soy sauce (low sodium), heaping
1/3 cup blackberry jam
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup red pepper flakes
1 Serrano pepper, sliced thin (any hot pepper will do if you want to add more heat)
1 Tbsp corn starch
sesame seeds, green onions, or chives to garnish.

Directions:

1. Start by making the hoisin sauce first.  Heat oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat, add minced garlic and Chinese five-spice and cook until fragrant less than one minute.

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2. Whisk in remaining hoisin sauce ingredients and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens and is heated through.

3. This will make 1 cup of hoisin sauce, so you will have some remaining.

4. Leave a Tbsp of hoisin sauce in the pan and return heat to medium.  Add bacon and cook through.

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5. Add onion and garlic, cooking for a few minutes until onions are soft and garlic is fragrant.

6. Add honey, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, blackberry jam, red pepper flakes, and Serrano pepper.  Whisk to dissolve and heat through.

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7. In large crock pot line bottom with chicken and pork, pour heated mixture over top and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.

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8. When fully cooked, remove chicken and pork to shred with two forks.

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9. Thicken juices remaining in slow cooker with cornstarch as directed on cornstarch packaging.  Return shredded meat to slow cooker and stir to combine.  Continue to cook on low for 30 minutes before serving.

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10. Garnish with seeds, green onions, or chives served over a green salad, rice, or served on a bun with coleslaw.

Spicy Chicken and Orzo Soup (crock pot)

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With my husband sick last week I wanted to make a good but easy chicken noodle soup.  Using a whole chicken, I broke it down and cooked it all day in the slow cooker to develop a spicy homemade broth.  Adding orzo noodles at the end you can finish the meal with little effort.  The hardest part of this dish was breaking down the raw chicken, very different from carving a cooked bird.  I had never really done this before, but I have read about it in my cooking magazines.  Don’t let them fool you, it is a bit of a process.  For those of you who don’t like to handle raw chicken…this is not for you.  I unfortunately don’t have pictures of the process as I didn’t want to get raw chicken hands on my phone.

Here is a link to a brief tutorial.  http://www.marthastewart.com/967789/how-cook#973692

Now I cut mine a little differently because I didn’t watch the tutorial first, rather went from memory.  Using kitchen shears I cut the bird in half through the spine and finished separating right from left by then splitting the breasts.  With the two equal halves I cut off the legs and wings.

If you don’t want to deal with bones you can use boneless and skinless chicken breasts, but I’m not sure you will develop the same flavor in the broth without the bones and skin.

I decided to use the orzo noodles for a smoother consistency with the large pieces of chicken, but you can use a traditional egg noodle or whatever noodle you want.  The fun part of cooking with orzo is that on day two the noodles will soak up almost all of the broth making a thick casserole consistency for the leftovers.

The best part about this meal is that it is very cheap to make a large quantity of food.  Whole chickens are inexpensive compared to buying the pieces separately.  I paid $5 for the whole chicken and about $3-4 for the rest of the ingredients (except spices that I had on hand).  After we had this for dinner I put the rest into mason jars for lunch, it made enough for 2 of us for the entire week.  Less processed and way less sodium than the canned stuff!

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Ingredients:

1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds), broken down into pieces.
1 large onion, diced
6 large carrots, peeled and diced
6 stalks of celery, diced
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 dried chili pepper (Optional for heat)
4-5 sprigs of thyme, stems removed
1 bay leaf
1 lb orzo noodles, uncooked.
water
salt and pepper to taste (be generous, at least 1-2 tsp of salt and pepper each)

Directions:

1. Break down your chicken as instructed above.

2. Layer the crock pot with onions, celery, carrots and top with chicken.

3. Season with salt and pepper generously, add garlic, thyme, chili pepper and bay leaf.

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4. Fill the crock pot with cold water.  Cook on high for 2 hours then cook on low for 4 hours.

5. At least 30 minutes before serving add orzo noodles and stir gently.

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6. To serve ladle out noodles and vegetables with a whole piece of chicken per person.  The chicken will literally fall off the bone in your bowl, so you can grab end and it will come out clean with little effort.

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7. For storage remove the rest of the pieces of chicken and separate meat from bones, stir to mix well (you can do this immediately if you don’t want to serve the chicken pieces whole).

Enjoy!

 

Whole Sage Chicken and Stock (slow cooker)

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Starting with a small roaster chicken, an easy weeknight meal can be made in the slow cooker while you are away at work.  I found this recipe online a few years ago, so easy and inexpensive to make.  The best part is that this chicken is super moist and the flavors can be unique based on the spices you want to use.  I used dried sage, onion, and garlic for tonight’s chicken.  I am including two options for stock with this post as well.  The quick stock is nice but unnecessary for basting during cooking, the chicken will be delicious if you leave it alone all day.  I used this quick stock to make a butternut squash soup to have as a side to the chicken, yum!  If you have the time and patience, you can make a true slow cooked stock in the slow cooker after you eat the chicken.

Ingredients:

– 1 small roasting chicken 4-6 lbs
– 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
-1 medium yellow onion, half sliced in rings and half diced.
– 2 Tbsp of dried sage
– salt and pepper to taste

Quick Stock:

– chicken neck and organs (that are usually neatly cleaned and packed in chicken).
-1/2 onion, diced
-2-3 cloves of garlic, sliced
-1 bay leaf
– 1 tsp dried sage
-1 tsp ground pepper
-1 tsp salt (more to taste)
-4 cups of water

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Directions:

1. Line bottom of crock pot with sliced onion and 1/2 of the sliced garlic.

2. Remove organs and neck from chicken (reserve for stock), rinse with water and pat dry.

3. Season inside of chicken with salt, pepper, and 1/2 the sage.  Fill with diced onions and 1/3 of garlic.

4. Place chicken breast side up on top of onion bed.  Season with salt, pepper, remaining sage and garlic.

5. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until fully cooked.  (Optional if home while cooking) Baste chicken with a small amount (1/8 cup) of quick broth after 1 hour.  Then baste every hour after with juice on bottom of crock pot.

6. Carefully remove chicken when fully cooked from crock pot and carve.

Quick Broth:

1. Place reserved chicken neck and organs in medium sauce pan.

2. Add garlic, onions, seasonings, and water.

3. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for at least 45 minutes, up to 2 hours if able.

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Slow cooker Broth:

If you have the ability, after eating the chicken reserve the bones and return to crock pot with residual juices from cooking and sliced onions on bottom of pot.  Fill crock pot with water to cover bones and cook on low for 8 hours.

Strain and store in refrigerator until ready to use for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

Butternut Ham Soup

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After making a ham last weekend I had another ham bone to utilize in a dish.  Instead of making split pea soup or red beans and rice, I wanted to make a fall soup without beans involved.  It took a lot of research to find a recipe that did not involve beans in some way, and when I finally found a reasonable recipe (vegetable ham soup on Cooks.com) I make a few changes including incorporating a butternut squash I had sitting around.  I also made this soup in the crock pot instead of on the stovetop to get as much benefit of the ham bone as possible.

Ingredients:

-1-2 Tbsp of olive oil or butter
-1 large onion, chopped
-6 carrots, peeled and diced
-4 stalks of celery, chopped
-3 cloves of garlic, minced
-10 cups of chicken stock
-4-5 sprigs of thyme
-1 Tbsp chopped parsley
-1 bay leaf
-1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
-3 cups chopped ham
-1 meaty ham bone
-ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat oil or butter in heavy pot over medium heat.  Cook onion, garlic, carrots, and celery for 10-15 minutes.

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2. Add squash, ham, and black pepper to vegetables.  Stir to warm.  Add chicken broth, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and ham bone.

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3. When warm, put in crock pot on low for 4-6 hours.

4. Remove thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and ham bone before serving.

Enjoy!

Split Pea Soup

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After making a bone in ham, the next natural meal is split pea soup.  Making the soup in the crock pot makes for an easy weekday meal.  I found this recipe online a year ago from Whole Foods, very simple and flavorful.  I prepped everything the night before so starting the slow cooker in the morning would be as easy as can be.

Ingredients:

-1 (16oz) package of dried green split peas, rinsed

-1 meaty ham bone

-2 cups of diced ham

-1 cup sliced carrots

-1 cup chopped yellow onion.

-2 ribs celery plus leaves, chopped.

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 bay leaf

-1/4 cup fresh parsley

-salt and pepper to taste

-6 cups chicken broth.

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(Everything prepped to go in the refrigerator for morning)

Directions: 

1. Layer in crock pot in this order, do not mix or stir.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

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2. After the soup has cooked remove the bone letting meat fall off into the soup, remove bay leaf and stir well.

Enjoy!

Wine Cooked Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes

The slow cooker is not to be under rated.  Making the main dish in the slow cooker allows for time to make sides, such as a soup and dessert for a complete gourmet meal.  I have a recipe from a good friend of mine that involves baking pork chops in white wine and chicken broth, the flavor in that dish is something I really love this time of year.  I used some of the basics from that dish to make this crock pot meal.

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Ingredients:

– 2 lbs of pork tenderloin

– 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin

– 1 tsp red pepper flakes

– 1 Tbsp fresh thyme, center stem removed

– 1 Tbsp butter

– 1 sprigs fresh thyme, whole

– 3/4 cup of white wine (I used a bottle of Chardonnay, which I don’t traditionally like for drinking but it works magic in this dish)

– 1 1/2 cups chicken broth

– 1 red onion, sliced into rings

– 2-3 large sweet potatoes

– Salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

1. In a large skillet on medium heat, melt butter.  Add garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes  stirring until fragrant.

2. Add pork tenderloin to skillet and brown on all sides.

3. Line the bottom of the crock pot with half of the onion rings, place pork with all of the pieces of garlic, thyme, and pepper flakes on top and fill in the edges of the pot with potatoes.

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4. Top with the rest of the onion and thyme sprigs and pour in the wine and broth.

5. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

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The smell of this cooking was out of this world, something about cooking with wine perhaps.  The pork did not get a chance to rest, as when I pulled it out of the pot it was falling apart, so the moisture escaped to a degree.  I also cooked it for 6 hours, I think it would have been better to stop cooking at 4 hours.  Pour the extra juice from the pot over the pork when serving, if you are feeling ambitious you can make a gravy.  It was also spectacular tossed in with the “Curry Butternut Squash Soup”, the flavors compliment each other well.

Enjoy!

Bean-free Chili

Football Sunday calls for good food with minimal effort.  For the first football Sunday of the season we decided to make a bean-free chili in the crock pot.  My husband happens to love chili, unfortunately, the beans do not love him.  This bean free version adds extra peppers for spice and makes both of us happy.

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Ingredients:

– 1 lb ground turkey

– 1 lb ground beef

– 1 lb spicy sausage

– 1 28 oz can of tomato puree

– 2 16 oz cans of diced tomatoes

-1 can tomato paste

-1 onion, diced

– 1 green pepper, diced

– 1 red pepper, diced

– 2 jalapeno peppers, diced

-1 poblano pepper, diced

– 1 cup celery, chopped

– 1 tsp cayenne powder

– 3 tsp cumin

– 6 Tsp chili powder

– 1 Tbsp crushed garlic

– 1 tsp dried oregano

– 1 bottle beer (we used Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest )

– 2-3 dashes of Frank’s Red Hot

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Directions: 

1. In a large pot (or in our case the lining of our crock pot is stove-top and oven safe) brown all the meat breaking into small crumbles.  Drain grease when fully cooked.

2. Add the diced onion, peppers, and celery to the meat and mix, cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.

3. Add all of the seasoning (I use heaping proportions of the spices, not level measurements) to the meat and pepper mixture, cook for a few minutes until fragrant.

4. Add the cans of tomatoes, beer, Franks, and tomato paste, mix fully.

5. Transfer the chili into your crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

2013-09-08 13.34.47To serve I made a jalapeno corn bake (recipe to come) and coleslaw for the side.  I like a little avocado on top of my chili, or we eat it with tortilla chips.  We aren’t big on the sour cream and cheese route, but add whatever you like to this spicy chili.  As with all chili, it’s even better the next day!2013-09-08 19.32.45