Sous-Vide-Que Shoyu Pork Belly

I’m all about the jammy eggs.

Let’s talk about Pork Belly. The last 24 hours of my life have been devoted to a gorgeous hunk. A hunk of pig. If you’re in Texas, our lort and savior H‑E‑B, carries 4 lb. vacuum sealed pork belly for your worshipping needs. I love using my kitchen appliances while under the influence, so making a Sous-vide-que pork belly was right up my alley.

Ingredients for Sous Vide Marinade:

  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 – 4lb pork belly, skin on

This one is going to schvitz in the hot bath for 16 hours at 165 degrees. Be super careful when you take this baby out because the meat is going to try to fall apart on you, and we can’t have that. You can go straight to the smoker if you want, but I chilled Porky for a few hours in the morning while we prepped ingredients for ramen.

Sous vide food does not look appetizing before that final flare of heat.

I used the Kamado for the first time solo (sort of, hubby cleaned the ashes and lit it), and I’m hooked. There was something really soothing about manipulating the top dial for two hours while protecting my wine from the yearly influx of flies. We live on a sand-filled swamp that some contractor thought was a good idea to build on. Early summer is like The Birds but with 300 flies the size of your thumbnail dive-bombing you.

Smoke the belly over indirect heat at 225 degrees until the belly reaches 185 internally. If you go straight from the bath to the smoker this should take around 45 minutes. Since I chilled mine, it took around 2 hours.

True beauty.

Be super careful when you pull the pork belly from your smoker. I had to use a huge spatula to slide it off the grate. I also had to throw the Puppy into the yard and tell him to scream like Tippi Hedren to keep the flies away from me.

For the Shoyu ramen and marinated eggs I sort of followed this recipe on Delish. I halved the Tare marinade and simmered for an hour on the stove before chilling and using for the soft boiled eggs and ramen assembly. The Tare was super sweet, so I’m really glad I didn’t use it for the pork belly as the recipe suggested.

Overall, the ramen process itself was time consuming for not that great of a result, but that pork belly is life. Crack a bottle of your favorite red and get cooking.

– Lin

Kamado Roasted Chicken

Finger lickin’ good.

If your spouse pickups a Kamado Joe, you won’t have to cook ever again. That’s how it seems to be working out for me anyway.

I’ve been out of town or sick for the last three weeks and the Husband is killing it with his outdoor cooking. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but taking cold meds and drinking wine somehow cancels each other out. I feel it’s my duty to inform you, my lovely faithful followers.

Spatchcock that chicken and rub it down with the usual suspects:

  • 1 whole young chicken
  • Salt
  • Garlic pepper
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder

This bird needs to be roasted for 40 minutes (or until it’s up to temp) at 400 degrees. Sure, you could do it in an oven, but you could also just spend money on a fancy ceramic smoker that is internet famous and actually lives up to the hype.

We picked up a Kamado Joe Jr. a few weeks ago and we’re in love. (I told you we’re obsessive about kitchen appliances.) This little thing can get over 600 degrees and can be used as a pizza oven.

The lump charcoal you used with it is a bit more expensive, but it does seem to last forever. We tucked the baby Joe out by the griddle and pull our camp chairs up close to pet him while he cooks our spatchcocked chickens. I think he prefers it that way.

Joe jr. looking fiery.

To work this beauty, you have to lay the lump charcoal in the bottom and light. Open the bottom hatch and top hatch wide to allow enough air to bring the heat up and then slowly squeeze the bottom hatch to mostly closed. Use the top hatch to further adjust your temperature.

I was super concerned the first time we lit it, but controlling the temp is not difficult at all. This thing comes to temp and cooks foods super fast. Best chicken I’ve ever had!

Chicken Salad with a Twist

Test Kitchen Results: It needed chopped dates.

Last week, Husband and I went to Fredericksburg for an anniversary trip and while there we discovered we are actually food snobs, and also probably wine snobs. (I maintain that is a false accusation, very slanderous, very upsetting. I LOVE YOU BLACK BOX CAB.) All I’m saying is don’t visit Texas wine country looking for a foodie experience to go along with your wine. You’ll end up in a Sonic parking lot eating ice cream and complaining about the fake German food you suffered through.

On our wine tour I stumbled into my best meal of the weekend. Sweetbriar Rose is a bistro on 290 that is family-owned and serves jello shots for all of the bachelorette parties on the winery route. I had the chicken salad sandwich on homemade sourdough with pickled onions and it was the bomb dot com. If you’ve never had pickled red onions, I’m here to let you know that your life has been flavorless and boring up until right meow. There’s no such thing as too much vinegar in your life. If anyone tells you otherwise, cut them out of your life for being a negative influence.

Chicken Salad:

  • 3 cups of chicken, I pulled a rotisserie chicken and dumped all of the meat into a bowl. Use the dark meat too, don’t be lame, this isn’t canned chicken salad.
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup mayo. Duke’s or bust.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil. This is a dressing so spring for the evoo.
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced. Or, a giant spoonful of that pre-minced pickled garlic if you don’t care about measuring things, and we don’t.
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp salt

If you pull the chicken from a rotisserie, make sure you’re just pulling off giant chunks. Nobody likes shredded chicken salad. That’s for trash chicken that wasn’t good enough to be served in chunks.

In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients listed after the chicken. Use a whisk and give it some elbow grease so it all comes together nicely. Drink enough wine that you don’t cringe at how gross the mayo looks while doing so. Repeat after me, fat is flavor.

Mayo under a whisk is like black magic.

Mix that black magic into the chicken and let it chill in the refrigerator while you experiment with tortilla chips and pickled onions.

Super Quick Pickled Onions:

  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt

Here’s the secret to not having to boil your vinegar mix for quick pickled onions: Use honey instead of sugar, the end. All you have to do is throw all of this into a shallow dish, press the onions down, and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Air Fryer Tortilla Chips:

  • 12 street taco corn tortillas. These teeny things were bought on accident, but I now can’t live without them.
  • 1/2 tsp hot Mexican style chili powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Cut the little street taco tortillas in half. Mix the last three ingredients in a bowl and then brush on both sides of the tortillas. 350 for 7 minutes in an air fryer. I did two batches so they didn’t stick to each other.

Look how cute they are. HEB is my whole life some days.

Build a sandwich base with badass Rosemary sourdough and butter lettuce and extra mayo for your chicken salad. Taste test and realize it really needed 1/2 cup of chopped dates to lift it that little bit extra. Baby sister said the chicken salad didn’t need the dates, but I’m here to tell you that it 100% does.

And who are you going to trust? Some girl that doesn’t comment on her sister’s blog, or me?

-Lin

Chicken with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Some days heavy cream is my whole life.

This meal sort of just happened because I had heavy cream, parmesan, and a lemon languishing in my refrigerator earlier this week. The lemon cried when I pulled the asparagus out, and the heavy cream threatened to turn right then and there if I didn’t stop ignoring it. The parmesan was quietly resigned to its fate, so it was really the only ingredient that deserved my attention.

The cream sauce was so good that we stood around the pan after dinner and ate it with a spoon. I know it’s a hit because we’ve already talked about cooking it again and I think chicken breast is trash meat.

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil
  • S&P
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat the avocado oil over medium heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, the garlic powder, and the Italian seasoning. Cook the chicken breasts through. I have a great instant-read thermometer that was under $20 and gets whipped out on the regular. You need one, get it.

In the same pan, lower the heat and add the minced garlic. Let it start to brown (do not let it burn, burnt garlic is trash and ruins everything) and then add the heavy cream. Your mix can simmer, but never boil. Lower the heat after 5 minutes and melt in the Parmesan cheese. Parmesan takes a while to melt into the sauce properly, so settle in with a spoon and a bev. Once the cheese is incorporated, turn off the heat and squeeze in the juice from that sad lemon you’ve had sitting in your fridge for too long.

The only thing that could improve this meal is a crusty baguette to drag through that sauce.

– Lin

Sous Vide Ribeye

I really love steak. Like, I really really love it. If I could get away with it I would cook it every night. Flat iron, sirloin, strip, t-bone, flank, filet… all great, but nothing tops a ribeye. Fat is flavor, you know? In fact, I love my husband extra because he’s willing to give me the eye from his ribeye.

You’re going to need a sous vide machine for this one. I can’t recommend this gadget enough since it’s basically idiot-proof. As long as you don’t mess up your vacuum seal, and you stick with tried and true recipes, you really can’t mess meat up with this thing. Sous vide is not a quick cook, so it’s usually not a weeknight meal. I like to pull it out on the weekends and let the steaks go for a few hours. In a few weeks we’ll do a 24 hour sous vide brisket and see what this baby can really do to some meat before we smoke it.

A good piece of beef doesn’t need much more than salt and pepper, so you won’t see any crazy marinades here. Meat rubs/marinades are for cheap cuts and nothing will change my mind about it. A little cayenne, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, etc., are all good additions to a steak, but don’t get wild if you shelled out for the good beef. Let that meat speak for itself.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ribeye steaks
  • S&P
  • Steak Seasoning, (Just order the Texjoy already!)

Special Gear:

  • Sous Vide Machine, I have an Anova and I love it. The phone app is also awesome.
  • A container that holds enough water to keep your sous vide happy and has a snug lid. My machine informs me loudly with flashing red lights when it isn’t happy with me.
  • Vacuum sealer
  • Vacuum bags

Season and vacuum seal your steaks separately. You can put them both in the bag, but we usually only slice up one steak between two of us. I put the extra finished steak (still in the bag) in the fridge overnight and it only take a few minutes for the circulator to heat it back up the next day before searing. You’ll have just enough time to prep some veggies.

I generally prefer my steaks to be medium-rare or rare, but when I sous vide ribeye I cook them at 137o for 2-3 hours. I frequent r/sousvide over on and refused to go above 132o for the longest time against their advice, but they were right, 137o just gives ribeye a really great texture. When you pull your steak out of the circulator it’s going to look sad and grey.

Like this. It looks like this.

Cut open the bag, drain the juices, (some folks save the juices from all of their cooks, but I’m not keeping a bag of meat juices hanging around, ok?) and pat the steak dry. You don’t want any visible moisture left on the exterior when it hits the pan.

To sear, heat 2 tbsp of butter over medium to medium-high heat for several minutes. Brown the steak on both sides for 1-2 minutes. Slice it up and serve with some sad sauce-less carrots and don’t forget to steal the fat from your spouse’s steak. You did all of the work, so you get the treats.

– Lin

Sad Baby Carrots: air fryer for 18 minutes at 380o. Salt, pepper, and Penzey’s Fox Point seasoning blend.

Smothered Pork Medallions

The Ultimate Comfort Food.

Sure, I’m supposed to be dieting for my sisters wedding, but sometimes you just need gravy. I picked this recipe up from one of our best friends on a weekend trip. After clearing my plate, I hovered over his pressure cooker and ate hunks of pork chop directly from the pot, it’s that damn good. I love my instant pot, and still use it for this recipe when I have thick-cut pork chops, but I also like eating the freshly browned pork tenderloin when pulled from the pan to “rest” (in my mouth) before I make gravy.

This recipe is for those nights when you need something warm and homey. The ranch seasoning picks the gravy up and makes it something truly special. It’s also easy af and nearly impossible to mess up, which makes it a perfect recipe. We generally eat it over rice, but it’s equally as good with pasta or mashed potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork tenderloins, sliced and smashed flat with your hand
  • Seasoned salt, Lawry’s mix is good
  • Garlic pepper
  • 1 tsp Better than Bouillon, beef flavor
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  • 1 packet brown gravy mix
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup

Season the tenderloin slices with seasoned salt and garlic pepper. Brown the slices over medium-medium high in a little oil and set aside to rest. This is going to take multiple batches, so don’t feel bad about having an adult bev while you snack on the first set of freshly browned bits of pork heaven.

The first batch is for snacking.

In the same pork-browned pan, stir together 1-1/2 cups of water, the spoonful of Better than Bouillon, and the two packet mixes. Stir vigorously for a few seconds before turning the heat down to simmer and let the gravy start to thicken. Add the cream of chicken soup and stir until melted. Dump the pork back into the pan and make sure every piece is covered in gravy.

We’ve tried this on most carbs and it’s good on everything. You could spoon this gravy over a steamed package of that sad frozen cauliflower rice and it would be amazing. This stuff is comfort food at its finest.

Comfort food is one of those things I love asking people about because it varies so widely across cultures and homes. I have a podcast in mind for the future and I think that comfort food and the foods you grew up on will be what it revolves around. Home foods are so personal and certain things can really only be cooked by one’s mother. I still fail at recreating my MIL’s chicken and rice and I’ve watched her cook it in person. B says I need more pepper, but I suppose we’ll see next time.

– Lin

Bang-Bang Chicken Egg Rolls

Banging delicious.

After the laziness of Monday night it felt like time for something extra, and I mean extra delicious. I’m obsessed with Asian food and Asian fusion dishes, but the Husband and the Biggin are not fans of some of the flavors. The Puppy doesn’t let food sit in his mouth long enough to taste, so he’ll eat anything I offer to him (including non-food items such as mud, insects, and Nerf bullets). Since we’re split on taste buds, I generally cook slightly different meals when I have a craving for something the rest of the family won’t go for.

The boys had Cajun grilled chicken strips (same seasonings and pan as the egg rolls) and macaroni and cheese for dinner, so it it wasn’t much of a hassle. I scaled down ingredients to make myself a personal serving of egg rolls, but the instructions below are for around 12 egg rolls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins
  • S&P
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 12 egg roll wrappers
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage mix, I chopped mine up more finely
  • 12 slices of pepper jack cheese

Season the tenderloins with S&P and Cajun seasoning. I prefer to remove the tendons because they gross me the hell out. Shove the tenderloins around a hot skillet and let them brown until cooked through. Chop them up.

Mix the mayo, sriracha, rice vinegar, and sugar together in a small mixing bowl. Stir in the cabbage and chopped chicken.

Place an egg roll wrapper on a flat surface in front of you (point down), and center a piece of cheese on it. Spoon on 2 tablespoons of the chicken and cabbage mix. This isn’t YouTube, but I’ll try to upload a video on how to roll egg rolls next week. It’s really super easy, and people are impressed when you get to tell them the egg rolls are homemade.

Either brush some oil onto the egg rolls or use spray oil. Air fry at 350o for 6 minutes. Flip the egg rolls and cook for 6 more minutes.

Bang-bang sauce is good enough to keep in the fridge as a handy condiment. It’s particularly good as a burger sauce with some sweet chili sauce and lime juice added to the mix. We’ll give that a whirl next week with some home fries. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the rest of the egg roll wrappers, but we’ll figure that out next time I decide to drink a few GWC’s, won’t we? GWC’s are an unholy mix of one can of White Claw (your choice of flavor) and a shot of whatever gin you have languishing in your freezer. It’s like a ghetto low carb French 75 and it’s delicious.

– Lin

Bacon, Egg, and Alouette Sandwich

Monday nights are rough, ok?

Look, I’m not going to pretend that I love Mondays or Monday nights. I’m tired, we go back to work/school, and by the time I walk through the door all I want is a glass of wine and a corkscrew lobotomy.

Monday also means I’ve likely not hit the store in a week and will forget to put in a pickup order until the only available time is 8 pm. We all suffer for my lack of organization, but the Biggin suffers the most. You’ve never heard of a child more tortured and abused than this child that has to eat breakfast for dinner. My GOD, can you imagine the horror?

He doesn’t like bacon, and this bread is weird, and only the eggs are edible.

I do make perfect fried eggs.

A Sort of Sandwich, for one:

  • 2 slices of thick cut bacon
  • 1 egg
  • Alouette Garlic and Herbs spreadable cheese
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • A hunk of baguette, sliced in half

Over-Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, ends nipped and sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Ranch seasoning from a packet mix, we’ll say 1 tsp

I like to cut my slices of bacon in half. They fit in the frying pan better and cook more evenly. I also prefer my bacon sort of floppy and half cooked. To each their own.

I obviously cooked enough bacon for 4 people and then used the whole pan of grease for my eggs. Fried eggs aren’t good in butter, don’t use butter, use grease. Salt and pepper your eggs, we aren’t animals.

If you’ve always been too much of a snob to try Alouette spreadable cheese, then I’m here to take you down a peg or three. It’s delicious. LSH and I occasionally eat nothing but some hunks of baguette with the Garlic and Herbs cheese for dinner. It’s perfect when the kids are away for a night and nobody wants to wash a pan.

The Brussels sprouts go into the air fryer for 8 minutes at 400. These sprouts are over-roasted, not oven-roasted. The outer layer gets completely browned and the ranch seasoning gives them a little kick.

You don’t have to make elaborate meals every night of the week, but you also don’t have to eat the same boring thing over and over. There is always enough in my pantry and refrigerator to put something interesting together in 15-20 minutes. The kids might complain, but who told them they were allowed opinions? Not me.

– Lin

Teppanyaki Steak & Fried Rice

Griddled goodness.

We use our Blackstone Griddle twice a week, at least. I talked the Husband into buying us one before the Great Ice Storm of 2021™️ blew in. We luckily didn’t lose power, but I spent a lot of time outside making fried rice just to get away from everyone. I have perfected this stuff, and it’s GOOD.

This griddle is uhhmazing and Im obsessed with it. I think that it’s the best cooking appliance I’ve picked up so far, and I have A LOT of cooking appliances. You can cook breakfast, lunch, or dinner on a single flat surface for a crowd, and then scrape it clean in under a minute. Cleanup is extra easy since they make these little aluminum pans that fit into the drip tray.

True genius.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs sirloin steak
  • 6 tbsp butter, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • Salt
  • Garlic Pepper
  • Yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cups of jasmine rice, cooked and cooled
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Heat your griddle over medium high on your left side and medium to medium low on your right side. Put down 2 tablespoons of butter on the cooler side and start your chopped onion to softening. Season with salt and pepper blend. You’ll want to use griddle spatulas and a scraper so you can pretend you’re at a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant while you poorly flip the onions around. The kids won’t be impressed, but you’ll feel accomplished.

Note: I season every new ingredient dropped on the griddle with salt and garlic pepper for this meal. Lawry’s makes a great garlic pepper blend that’s easy to find, but I’m currently using Penzey’s Florida pepper mix because it’s good on literally everything and I’m addicted.

Get yourself one of those cute condiment squeeze bottles for your avocado oil and lay a few lines across the hot side of the griddle. Drop your sirloins on when the oil heats and season them up.

The onions should be quickly softening and browning by now so add your rice into the pile and spread it out with your spatula. Season with salt and pepper mix, and add 2 tablespoons of butter to melt in. Shake 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of sesame oil across the rice (the sesame oil is super fragrant so go easy). Mix the rice up well and let it sit to crisp up.

Squirt a little oil down for the eggs and crack them onto the griddle. Salt and pepper them and let them cook up sunny-side. Check your steaks and flip them if they are ready for it, and season the other side of your meat. Your eggs should be almost ready at this point (I like my yolks jammy) and you can slide them on top of the rice mix. Use your spatula to start chopping the eggs into the rice and mixing everything up. When the eggs are finished cooking and the rice seems crispy, scrape it all into a large bowl.

Grab a knife and slice the sirloins into small pieces on the griddle. Add the last two tablespoons of soy sauce and butter. Do that fun double spatula thing with the sirloin and flip everything around to mix it up. Add to the top of your rice and dish it all out.

The kids go nuts for fried rice and while I don’t use a lot of extra veggies in mine, they’re at the very least getting some extra protein from the eggs. If I have enough wine next week I’ll have LSH record me “showing off” my griddle fried rice and spatula skills.

-Lin

Instant Pot French Dip Sandwiches

In which my pressure cooker gets the better of me and I time my dishes so poorly that I give up on finishing touches.

Sad, cold fries next to an unbuttered, untoasted roll.

You may remember a brief reminder during my Easy AF Spaghetti and Meatballs post that I’m not perfect. Shocking, I know. I really exude competency and prowess in all things I do. Maybe we can blame the wine this time? Bota Box still hasn’t reached out regarding that sponsorship and Black Box customer service claims they have a C&D in the mail, certified with return receipt.

There are times things just don’t happen in the kitchen. We work, we’re tired, the kids are wild, the dog is eating something off the floor, and there is a new Marvel show that really needs watching. I had a bad kitchen night yesterday. Things just didn’t work out between us, and I’m leaving the stove for the griddle tomorrow.

Even with cold fries and unmelted cheese on my pitifully untoasted hoagie roll, this French dip beef and gravy was good. The soy and Worcestershire marry and work their flavor all the way through the chuck. I pulled that sandwich apart and soaked it in gravy after taking that very sad school cafeteria looking picture. Better luck next time!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs chuck roast, cut into 2-3 inch chunks.
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp each of S&P
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 8 oz mushroom, sliced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • Pinch of dried herbs, such as rosemary or thyme.
  • Butter
  • Sandwich rolls or a hunk of baguette

Put your instant pot on sauté and heat the avocado oil. Use the S&P on your chuck chunks and brown all sides. Add your onion and mushrooms without caring about crowding the pan, because you’re really just done with this whole kitchen experience even though we just started. We should have ordered pizza.

Add the Worcestershire/soy sauces, the garlic, the broth, and your chosen herbs. Cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. By the time your pot comes to pressure, you’ll have already cooked your fries.

Shred the cooked beef with two forks and pile it on your sandwich, but be better than I am about those finishing touches. Butter and toast that bun and melt the cheese under the broiler. Serve your sandwich with a cute little cup of gravy to dip with. Or, lose your mind like me and ladle it over the sandwich and attack with a fork. Your choice.

– Lin