The ‘meat’ of the matter or fowl or fish or crustacean aka ‘the star’ of the meal

Rack of Lamb

It doesn’t have to be a holiday or special occasion to serve up a rack of lamb.  An easy and delicious cut of meat to prepare and eat; it can be baked in the oven or prepared on the grill. Either way it will wow your guests or impress your other half.

Quality counts.  Lamb can be overly fatty if it is not raised right. Conventional sheep are fed a grain based diet and kept in pens.  Not natural. Not healthy.  Don’t eat it.

Sheep are herbivores.  That means they eat grass, clover, forbs and other pasture plants and are allowed to roam around.  Find a quality source; well worth the extra time and coin.

Ingredients

2-3 organic, grass fed racks of lamb
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Combine olive oil, honey, mustard and spices in a large ziploc bag.  Squeeze the air out of the bag and mix the honey in well by rubbing together with your hands.

Add the racks to the bag and marinate for 4 to 6 hours.  Before cooking allow the meat to set in the marinade at room temp for at least an hour.

In the oven:  in a large cast iron skillet sear the meat on both sides over medium high heat.  Place in a 350 degree preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.  15 minutes is generally rare, so cook longer if you prefer medium rare or medium.

On the grill:  my preferred way. . .

Especially when hubby is grilling.  Place the racks on the grill over direct heat.  Cover and cook for approximately 15 minutes for rare – medium rare.  Cook a little longer if you prefer your meat medium.  Let racks sit about 10 minutes for serving.

Serve with your choice of sides, enjoy!

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulders

Pork shoulder, also known as pork butt is full of flavor and while pulled pork with barbecue sauce is a staple in the warmer months come fall I’m ready to change up the flavor of this very versatile meat.  Pairing it with potatoes, carrots, onions and other root vegetables smothered in gravy makes it completely different yet equally delicious.

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Ingredients

2 small pastured pork shoulder/butts or 1 large (4-5 lb total)
1-2 tablespoons bacon grease or lard
6 carrots, cut in half
1 large onion cut into eights
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
4 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups beef stock
2-3 tablespoons non GMO cornstarch

Preparation

Let your meat sit at room temperature for at least one hour before cooking.

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Melt the bacon grease or lard over medium high heat.  Sear the pork on all sides.

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After browning place the meat in your roasting pan

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Surround with the onions, carrots and potatoes.  Sprinkle the garlic and sage over the meat and veggies and season with the salt and pepper.  Add in the beef broth.

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Roast at 300 degrees for approximately 3-4 hours or until fork tender.

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Remove the pork to a platter and keep warm.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the veggies to a bowl and keep warm while you make the gravy.

Place the pan juices in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Stir the cornstarch until dissolved in a couple of tablespoons of cold water.  When the juices begin a slow boil stir in the cornstarch mixture using a wire whisk.  Stir until bubbly and thickened about 1-2 minutes.

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Slice the pork (it will cut like butter) and serve with the veggies spooning the gravy over all.

Enjoy!

Chicken Wheels & Apples

When grocery shopping last weekend I was in awe at the array of apples available. Tis the season and everything just seems to taste better when it’s in season.  Which apple to choose and what to do with them?  I grabbed a bag of Granny Smith for eating and some Braeburns for cooking.

I’d been eating a lot of beef and pork so it was time to put some chicken on the menu and the thighs were just calling out to me from the meat case, and on sale today!  Add in some delightful fall spices along with a side of red cabbage for a incredibly sumptuous dinner.

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Ingredients

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 cups Braeburn apples, chopped (not peeled)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/4 fresh chopped sage
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

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Preheat oven to 475.  Chop apples and toss with lemon juice.  Combine with garlic, next 3 ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

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Butter a 13″ x 9″ pan and spread the apple mixture evenly.

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Sprinkle the chicken thighs with sea salt and pepper and arrange on top of the apple mixture.

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Bake at 475 for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and apples are tender. Remove the chicken and keep warm.  Mash the apples with a potato masher and serve with the chicken.

A side of red cabbage sauteed in bacon grease with a few onions rounded out the meal wonderfully. Enjoy!

Chicken & Yellow Rice

I’ve been making this dish for years but for some reason it tasted the best it ever has last night.  I had to ask myself why; I did two things different than I usually do.  I used a whole chicken leaving the skin on and fried it in bacon grease.  Who knew…

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Ingredients

1 whole pastured chicken, cut into pieces (reserve the backs and neck for future stock making)
2 tablespoons bacon fat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup organic basmati rice
1 3/4 -2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup sliced green olives
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat the over to 375 degrees. Cut the chicken into pieces reserving the backs and necks for future stock making.  Season the pieces with salt and pepper.  Melt the bacon fat in a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Fry the chicken skin side down, about 6 minutes or until nice and golden.  Turn and fry about 3 minutes.  Remove to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onions for about 3-4 minutes, add the garlic and the peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes more or until just tender.  Stir in the rice and stir until just coated.  Add the stock and turmeric and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.  Put the chicken back in the pan along with any juices and nestle within the rice mixture.

Put the lid on the pan and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, stir in the peas and olives; cover with the lid and let set for 5 minutes to heat them through.

Cajun Lobster Pasta

I had a pound of lobster meat in my freezer that I didn’t quite know what to do with.  I also had some time to finally cook being it was a holiday weekend and three days long.  Saturday morning had me pulling it out to thaw and seeking some inspiration from the internet.

This delicious Cajun Lobster Pasta from Food52 sounded amazing and it was. . .

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It tasted like something you’d be served at a five star restaurant and the beauty of it was it didn’t take much time at all to whip up. The changes I made to the original recipe were minimal based on ingredients I had on hand, personal preference and to make it gluten free

Ingredients

3 strips of nitrate/nitrite free bacon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
3/4 cup chicken stock*
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 pound lobster, raw
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons non GMO cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
Sea salt to taste
*include any reserved lobster ‘juice’ for a total of 3/4 liquid

I used DeBoles gluten free spaghetti (cooked according to package directions)

Preparation

Fry up the bacon in a large cast iron skillet until crisp; remove to paper towel to drain reserving about a tablespoon of bacon fat.  Crumble the bacon and set aside.

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Add the bell pepper and cook on medium heat for about two to threes minutes or until it begins to soften.  Add the garlic and green onions and cook a minute longer.  Add in the lobster and stir fry until just barely opaque.  Drain off any liquid that accumulates.  Add enough chicken stock to that to equal 3/4 cup. (You may use all chicken stock but I feel the lobster ‘juice’ added additional flavor).

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Add the broth to the mixture along with the spices.  Allow the mixture to heat back up and come to barely a boil.  Add in the cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water and cook stirring constantly for one minute or until thickened. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream.

Serve your finished lobster over the fresh cooked pasta with a few pinches of parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of chopped green onions over the top.

Cheddar & Bacon Stuffed Pork Chops

When I saw the size of the pork chops that came with my latest meat order I knew they were meant for stuffing.  And while we love my original recipe for bleu cheese stuffed chops I decided a little variation would be a good thing.  The addition of cheddar and bacon certainly did not disappoint.

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Ingredients

2 very large pastured pork chops or 4 small – medium chops
2 slices crumbled bacon
1/3 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Fry the bacon until crisp, drain and crumble.  Set aside.

Prepare the chops: cut a horizontal slit in the fatty side of the chop until you have a nice roomy pocket.

Mix the carrots, cheese, almonds, crumbled bacon, green onions and Worcestershire sauce together in a small bowl. Stuff chops equally, secure with toothpicks and tie with kitchen string.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

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Grill or broil until desire doneness.  The large thick chops took about 9 minutes per side.  Thinner chops take 6-7 minutes per side.  I like my pork cooked ‘medium’ or just a tad pink. They will continue to cook slightly as they set so be careful to not overcook.

Serve with your favorite sides!