My friends and I all agree that it's important to have a "Marry Me" meal in our cooking repertoires. For Kiley, it's a chicken-fried steak/mashed potato/Brookville corn situation. For me, at least as far as I know, it was manicotti that brought my husband to the alter all those years ago. For Amber, it's Thai chicken soup.
Amber is so certain of the husband-catching qualities of this soup, I had to go ahead and try to make some for myself. Not because I'm in the business of catching husbands, but because if it is good enough for the eligible bachelors of Lawrence, it must be good enough for me.
I'm not sure if this is just like Amber's recipe, but it includes a lot of things I love. Also, it's a slow-cooker recipe, which Amber and I both love. And it's full of spicy, lime-y, cilantro-y goodness, which are all things that are directly in my wheelhouse.
It requires a bit of chopping, but beyond that it's a fantastic one-pot meal good enough for company and this makes it an extremely attractive main dish.
Easy Thai Chicken Soup
2 tablespoons panang curry (or whatever you like)
2 cans coconut milk (I use light)
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons peanut butter
4 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (or if you prefer dark meat, do 6 or 7 thighs)
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 cup shredded carrots (you can buy them pre-shredded in the bag; I recommend)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
1 cup frozen peas
1 fresh lime
Cilantro for garnish
Cooked white rice (I like jasmine for this)
Spicy stuff as needed — I like to jazz mine up with Sriracha
Mix the wet ingredients and spices together in the slow cooker bowl. Add the chicken and vegetables and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 to 7.
Serve over rice and garnish with lime, cilantro, and additional hot stuff.
I'm not going to lie. This was not the most beautiful meal I ever made. But it DOES NOT MATTER because it was epically delicious. So maybe you don't serve this to your new in-laws whom you want to impress with your Martha Stewart perfect skills. You serve this to your best friends and your husband who love delicious food and don't care that it doesn't look like modern art delicately arranged on the plate. This is a "hot, brown, and plenty of it" kind of meal.
It's also awesome because it is all in one pot. Specifically, a crockpot.
I love this kind of thing. I like smelling good food cooking all day and I like not fussing over it. I like how June Cleaver-ish I feel when my husband walks in after a long day of work and tells me the house smells amazing. It is so dang domestic I can barely stand myself.
Pork Chops and Broccoli Potatoes au Gratin
4 good-sized boneless pork chops
4 potatoes (I used yukon golds)
2 cups fresh broccoli
2 cups shredded smoked cheddar
4 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
First, salt and pepper your pork chops and sear them in oil. Get them nice and brown on the outside.
Lay them in the bottom of the crockpot and then slice your potatoes, as thinly as you can. I didn't take the time to peel mine and it was no matter at all.
Lay one layer of potatoes on top of the chops, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and toss one tablespoon of flour over the top. Cover with cheese, and repeat. When you are finished layering all the potatoes, pour the milk over the top of everything and cook on low for about five hours. Add the broccoli in (be sure to poke it down so it's submerged in liquid) and cook another hour or two.
The pork chops will likely fall apart when you dig into the pot to serve it, and that's okay. Just let the whole thing mix together in cheesy goodness. Like I said, this really isn't about presentation. It's just about hot, delicious comfort food. It's about smelling the smells and feeling like June Cleaver, but putting in about as minimal effort as you can for such a complete meal.
I like pork. I never met a pig product I didn't like. I am particularly partial to the pork loin, for it is lovely in its diverse applications. I don't ever pass up an opportunity to buy a pork loin when it is on sale, and I always plan to cook it in the crock pot over the weekend, but somehow I never do. Crock pots require a degree of thinking ahead that just doesn't agree with my fabulous and spontaneous lifestyle. Or, at least, with my ADD.
So, with my most recent pork purchase, I planned to slow cook a little barbacoa, but of course, I remembered this plan at about 4 in the afternoon on the day it was intended. Oops. Go ahead and consider this a crock pot recipe that I have already bastardized to go in the oven. I like to make a big mess of something on Saturdays so that there are leftovers for the rest of the week, particularly right now, when I could give birth at any moment. It's comforting to know there's food around. You'd think I was born in the depression, the way I'm stockpiling food.
Traditional pork barbacoa has chilis in adobo sauce, and I do love a good chili in adobo, but it is awfully spicy, and I like to make things my 3-year-old will eat these days. So, while this recipe has a kick, it's not too spicy for a delicate palate. If you love spicy, go ahead and blend in some chilis in adobo. You won't regret it.
Mr. Meat and Potatoes gave me a Soda Stream for Christmas, mostly to shut me up since I've been whining about wanting one since June. I want every single thing I drink to have bubbles in it. And now, since this most precious of gifts has been bestowed upon me, it does. I've been compulsively using it, and I like to incorporate it into my cooking as often as possible, so into the barbacoa went a liter of homemade Dr. Pepper. People, there isn't much that Dr. Pepper can't make better. And Dr. Pepper you made in your house? Righteous. I mean, you could use store-bought Dr. Pepper to fine results, I'm sure, but somehow making a fresh batch right there for my recipe seemed far superior.
Dr. Pepper Pork Barbacoa
For the sauce:
2 cups El Pato Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 liter (about 5 1/2 cups) Dr. Pepper (do not use diet)
1 tablespoon juice from pickled jalapenos
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
few shakes of crushed red pepper
3 pounds pork loin or pork butt
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil (I had some pepper-infused olive oil that I used for this to great results)
Begin by preheating your oven to 325 F.
Then salt and pepper your pork liberally and heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Toss the pork in the oil and brown thoroughly on all sides. Do not skimp on this step. Turn on your vent, because this could get rather smoky.
Meanwhile, mix up your sauce. I just stirred mine together but if you are using chilis in adobo you'll want to blend or food process it to make it all smooth and incorporated.
Just put everything except the Dr.Pepper in a bowl and stir. Pour the Dr. Pepper into the pot around the pork and then pour the tomato mixture over the pork to coat.
Cook at 325 F for about three hours.
I served mine with some jasmine rice and black beans, a la rice bowl with green onions and cilantro, but you could wrap it in a tortilla or even on a bun. Whatever makes your skirt fly up.
It makes a lot and will freeze nicely for later, say, when you are recovering from a cesarean section and cooking sounds like a torture akin to pulling out your arm hairs one by one.