Can-Do Cooks: Pasta Sauce with Pork

Quite honestly this might be the easiest, and most perfectly light meaty pasta sauce I have ever made.  The beauty of this recipe is that you can either cook it on the stove top or in a slow cooker.  I prefer to use my $20 slow cooker for this recipe, because I can prepare the recipe in the morning with minimal fuss, set the slow cooker temperature to low and leave it to cook for 6-8 hours.  Couldn’t be easier.

My favorite tomatoes for this recipe

This recipe was originally published in the New York Times, but I’ve made a couple of changes which, in my opinion, give a better result.

If you can find them at your grocery store, I highly recommend using the brand of crushed tomatoes shown at right.  They cost a little more, but the quality and taste is far superior to other brands, in my humble opinion. (Note: this is not a paid product placement!)

Serve this sauce with a thick spaghetti or fusilli.  Absolutely delicious!

SPAGHETTI WITH PORK LOIN SAUCE (ADAPTED)

(Original Recipe Source: New York Times)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 inch-thick slice of pancetta (about 4 ounces), finely diced

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

2 fresh or 1 dry bay leaf, finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary)

1 pound (1 to 2) bone-in pork loin rib chops

1 1/4 cups dry red wine

28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes

Salt and Pepper to taste

16 ounces thick spaghetti

Grated pecorino Romano cheese, for serving.

 

1. Place a large heavy casserole or frypan over medium heat. Add olive oil and pancetta, and sauté until pancetta begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, and rosemary. Sauté until the onion is translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Increase heat to medium-high. Push onion mixture aside and add pork chop(s). Brown lightly on all sides, also stirring the onions to prevent burning. Add wine and use a wooden spatula to mix everything together, scraping the pan. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with a spatula. Season with salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer until meat is almost falling off the bone, about 1 1/2 hours.

Alternatively, after preparing recipe on stove top, place all cooked ingredients in slow cooker.  Set slow cooker temperature to low and slow cook for 6-8 hours.

3. Remove pork, cool slightly, finely shred the meat, return it to the casserole and discard the bone. Over medium-high heat reduce sauce slightly, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and keep warm.

4. While the sauce is reducing, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook just until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well. Return spaghetti to the pot and add the sauce. Stir well. Serve with grated pecorino passed separately.

Yield: About 4 cups (4 to 6 servings).

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Can-Do Cooks: Perfect Whole Wheat Pizza

I’m the Can-Do Cook who’s constantly searching for the “best” recipe for everything that I like to cook, so I’m always trawling cooking websites and food blogs to try to find that perfect blend of ingredients.  I’m also interested in healthier ways of eating and trying new and better takes on those favorite comfort foods.

The perfect thin and crispy pizza crust is something that I’ve always longed for. And even better? A whole wheat version that doesn’t require a day to rise or a ton of physical exertion in the mixing and kneading.  Well readers, I’ve found it, and it’s become a favorite weekend dinner in my house.  It doesn’t even need a special pizza pan, and in fact, I often just use a cookie sheet smeared with a bit of olive oil and the pizza crust always comes out thin and crispy. You can even substitute the white flour and whole-wheat flour measurements for 3 1/2 cups unbleached white whole-wheat flour. For best results, I like the King Arthur Flour brand.  Enjoy!

AMAZING WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA CRUST

(Original source:  www.Allrecipes.com)

INGREDIENTS:

1 teaspoon white sugar

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

2. Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

3. When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.

5. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.

Give it a try and do let me know what you think.

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