Maple Brined Stuffed Pork Chops

Maple Brined Stuffed Pork ChopsIt’s A Small World
One of the strangest things about working at Piedmont Grocery is that no matter where you are or what you do you will run into someone who knows, shopped, or worked here. When I was on my honeymoon in Europe, I ran into one of our long-time customers. And, I can’t tell you how often it has happened when I traveled back East.

This past weekend, it happened again…

My sister and I share a love of cooking. And, if we can find a way to spend a day together, just the two of us, and do something food, cooking, or wine-related we’ll do it. The problem is we have taken pretty much every cooking class known to man and it can be hard to find classes that spark our interest. This is why when I found a butchering class that would teach us how to break down a pig into all of the different cuts we jumped at the chance. It helped that the chef teaching the class served for two years as the meat cutter for the French Laundry. (Anyone who worked under Thomas Keller for that length of time is someone I would like to meet and have a conversation with.)

The class was fantastic and we definitely learned a lot about the different cuts of pork. (And, that some of the best tasting cuts of pork are not necessarily the most well-known cuts.) After the class was finished we enjoyed some of the fruits of our labor in the form of fresh Bratwurst and some crispy-fried pork cutlets with applesauce. It was during this time that our chef shared some of his background and how he got where he is now.

That’s how we found out that he grew up in Oakland—off of Grand Ave..—and worked for Piedmont Grocery in the late 90s…

Maple Brined Stuffed Pork Chops
Adapted from Boulangerie on Food 52
Yields 4 Servings Read more…

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Sausage

Chicken Stew with White Beans and SausageSoup’s On!
The fact that the rest of the country is enduring record-breaking cold temperatures has inspired me to ramp up the soup making. Well, this, and the fact that it is the New Year and I can’t just go on eating the way I did through the holidays. I have found that soup is a satisfying way to fill you up with a lot of veggies without feeling like you haven’t eaten anything.

I have a number of go-to soups that I make all the time. This Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup one is a staple as is my Spanish Chickpea Stew with Kale and Salt Pork from our cookbook club. Chicken Noodle Soup with Dill is a no-brainer this time of year—as it seems everyone is catching a cold. and of course, it’s a favorite with the kids.

This is also the time of year where I find myself using dried beans in the slow cooker during the week, or filling the house with wonderful aromas on the weekend. Gam’s Navy Bean Soup Soup is perfect for cold winter evenings. But, a little spice can be welcome too in our Spicy Chicken and Rice Flu Chaser Soup or Thai Hot and Sour Chicken Soup.

If you are one of those who is part of the Instant Pot craze (or maybe you got one as a gift for Christmas) they are great for producing tasty, authentic-tasting Pho in half the time. Check out this article on Epicurious.

With the rain moving in this week (Finally!), it’s the perfect time to stock your freezer with healthy and hearty soups for the new year. For me, I am breaking out the crockpot this weekend and making this oldie but goodie…Chicken Stew with White Beans and Sausage .

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Sausage
Recipe adapted from of Slow Cooker Revolution
From America’s Test Kitchen
Serves 6 to 8

This Chicken Stew with White Beans and Sausage is inspired by a classic Tuscan white bean stew—we added sausage. Browing the chicken, sausage, and aromatics makes for a richer, deeper flavor. The abundance of spinach wilts down substantially.  Read more…

Amy’s Favorite Roast Chicken

Amy's Favoirte Roast Chicken RecipeThe Aftermath
We survived the holidays mostly intact. I say mostly because I don’t think anyone can consume that much cheese, beef, and heavy cream without some sort of adverse effects. I couldn’t bring myself to step on the scale this morning for fear it would laugh at me—I chose to live in ignorance. Even the dog gave me a You’ve got to be kidding me look when I filled her bowl.

It’s times like these when it becomes difficult to figure out what’s for dinner mainly because no one is really that hungry, (except my two boys…constantly). But, we gotta eat and whatever I make has to be easy and actually be good for you…preferably with a salad on the side.

What would this perfect meal be? Roasted Chicken. There are few things more satisfying than a nice, juicy roasted chicken. Served with a fresh green salad on the side, it is the perfect meal to get back into the daily routine and to lighten things up.

Roasting a chicken is not difficult and there are hundreds of ways to do it. One of my favorites is this recipe for Bundt Pan Rotisserie Chicken that I shared back in March.

But, the easiest way is to rub it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and throw it in the oven for an hour or so. If you have the energy, you can also chop up your favorite herbs and rub it as well as some olive oil all over the chicken for some great flavor.

Below is the recipe for Amy’s Favorite Roast Chicken that I use the most because it is the most reliable and I can do multiple chickens. (See the point about my boys above.) Having a thermometer to check the temp is key so that you know the chicken is cooked through.

Amy’s Favorite Roast Chicken

Read more…

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dill

Chicken Noodle Soup with LeeksMiracle Cure
It’s kinda blowing my mind that Thanksgiving is only two weeks away. My kids are still in the process of sorting and swapping their Halloween candy, for cryin’ out loud. And now I gotta think turkey? It’s time to hit the ground running and start planning—but I am in denial.

To add another layer of difficulty to the season, 3/5 of my household is sick. And, I don’t mean some coughing and a few sneezes. I mean full-on hacking cough, fever, multiple days home from school, sinus pressure…you gotta be kidding me sick.

As you can imagine, turkey is the last thing on our minds. We’re all about the soup.
I have been told that whatever this plague is, it is has been going around and a number of people I know are dropping like flies. We are just the latest casualties. And as such, we have been consuming a lot of chicken noodle soup.

What is it about chicken noodle soup that makes it the only food you want to consume when sick? Is it the heat? Is it the salty broth? Whatever the reason, chicken noodle soup is pretty much the only thing keeping us going. It is the miracle cure. Though, I will say I think I have had my fill. Thankfully, we seem to be turning a corner in the sick ward. The fact that I showered this morning is a major victory!

Since it is the holiday season, my one recommendation to you as you start your preparations is to make a big batch of this stuff and put it in the freezer. Making your own stock is key, which is why this is great. Making it ahead is essential so you will have it if you need it. And if you don’t, you have a quick and easy dinner when paired with a gooey grilled cheese.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dill
Yields 4 servings

We definitely recommend making your own chicken stock, but if you really don’t have time, or are simply too sick, the next best thing is Kitchen Basics Soup Stock. Read more…

Killer Peruvian Chicken with Cilantro Sauce

Killer Peruvian Chicken with Cilantro SauceChicken. It is the workhorse of cooking. It is versatile, relatively cheap, and can be found in every cuisine around the world. The problem is that eating chicken day-in and day-out can be boring. That’s why when you find a chicken recipe that blows your socks off you gotta share.

I get a lot of cooking emails in my inbox. I look at most of them—but not all. Honestly, it depends on what’s in the subject line. If I’m curious, I open it. However, if there is one email I always open, it is anything I receive from NY Times Cooking. Nine times out of ten I will find something that I want to try.

About a week ago this gem was one of the What to Cook This Week recipes. It was touted as the only chicken recipe you will ever want to make—so of course, I was curious.

I made the marinade on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning before work I put whole chicken legs in a ziplock bag and put it in the fridge. When I came home, I took it out to warm up a bit, threw it in the oven and proceeded to blow my family’s taste buds.

Every single one of them said it was the best chicken I have ever made.

Since then, I have been telling everyone I know and now I am passing it along to y’all. Trust me you will thank me. One word of advice, you have to make the sauce. The chicken is good on its own but with the sauce, it’s out of this world.

I served this with some black beans and rice and some fried plantains but it would be just as good alongside a salad.

Killer Peruvian Chicken with Cilantro Sauce
Read more…