Pork and Pesto Picnic Bites

pork bites

Woo-hoo for BBQ season! If there”s one thing we Simmer-ers love most about the weather getting warmer, it”s the opportunity to cook outdoors all day, every day, And as much as we like to do epic BBQ experiments, this time of year the weekends are filled with so many cookouts and picnics that sometimes we just don”t have the time to get super fancy-pants for every grill session.

When I had to make something super-quick for a BBQ/picnic party after work this week, I improvised with what I had on hand and came up with this winner, which took me about 20 minutes total.

I had one of these Smithfield Seasoned Pork Tenderloins in Teriyaki Marinade (I”ve previously cooked these up in the slow cooker and in the oven) but they can actually be quick and easy too, if you just slice up casino pa natet thin pieces of the pre-seasoned pork and throw it on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  Here”s what I did:

Pork and Pesto Picnic Bites

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Welcome Spring! (And Pork Season!)


Even though it was only like 58 degrees in New York this weekend, it’s still the closest thing we’ve seen to spring yet this year, which means most of us did a classic warm-weather overreact, heading outside for picnicking, playing, outdoor drinking etc…before realizing that it really isn’t THAT warm yet. For me, warm-ish weather got me thinking about summer cooking, which in my house means BBQ. And since I was pretty much legally required to go out and enjoy the weather, I needed something I could basically set and forget.

I decided to make slow-cooker pulled pork from my Smithfield rosemary and olive oil marinated pork sirloin, but instead of loading it up with a heavy, wintry sauce, I relied on only a fresh tomatoes and onions to bring the flavor here. I started with a layer of onions at the bottom of the slow cooker, placed the pork on top, and sliced tomatoes above it all, so that when the veggies broke down over the course of a few hours, they developed into a fresh (but still quite porky) sauce.

Of course, there’s not much at the farmers market yet to herald spring, so aside from the aseasonal tomatoes I snagged at Trader Joe’s, I had to make do mostly with winter vegetables. However, I took it as my last chance of the season to play around with turnips – IMO one of the most underrated veggies of all. But I didn’t want the turnips to break down into mushy stew, so I added them close to the end of the cooking time, just long enough to soak up all that porky goodness. I served it all with a slice of Serious Eats’ cast-iron cornbread recipe.

Yellow Tomato Pulled Pork with Cornbread and Pork-y Turnips

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Endless Pairings: Negra Modelo

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Mexican beer and fall-themed food. The perfect complement? Well, that’s what were determined to find out when Negra Modelo sent us a “pairing kit” to put it to the test. When presented with the opportunity to taste test, my answer is almost always yes. Negra Modelo sent us a box full of spices from The Spice House, two tulip glasses, a wooden cutting board, and a $50 Visa gift card to purchase the goods. Challenge accepted. Think of it as the at-home version of Chopped. Being seasonal food fans (mainly fall), we began planning a menu of fall foods that would highlight the spices (follow The Spice House recommendations) and pair well with a Vienna (dark) lager. Yes – a European beer style from Mexico. Here’s the menu:

  • Aged Cabot Cheese with apples, fig jam, balsamic glaze, and crostini
  • Spiced roasted brussels sprouts
  • Sweet potato puree with nutmeg and cinnamon
  • Ribeye steak with Quebec beef spice
  • Cornish Hen with bicentennial seasoning
  • Pork with bavarian style seasoning

We had a friend over and made a beer pairing tasting menu. Negra Modelo was served with the appetizer, followed by a taste of each protein with the sides. The beer and food was judged based on the flavor of each, whether the spices complemented the food, and if the beer paired well with each “course.” On to the tasting notes:

Negra Modelo (ABV: 5.4%)

Appearance: Dark caramel with a red hue

Aroma: Sweet scents with subtle scents of toast

Taste: Sweet malts give caramel flavor, biscuit flavor with light herbal and earthy tastes

Mouthfeel: Clean and crisp with lingering sweetness

Overall: A pleasant surprise, Negra Modelo provides more character than expected. While it is an InBev beer, I can forgive that if the brew offers some flavor. For a lager from Mexico, it offers the basic profile of a lager with extra sweetness of caramel and a toasty flavor as well. Tastes like it would pair well with fall foods. So here we go!

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Endless Pairings: Emeril’s Chophouse


While it’s clear we that love craft beer here at ES, we do not play favorites. Which is why we took advantage of an opportunity to attend a four-course wine pairing dinner at Emeril’s Chophouse at Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA.  The event was based on South American Wines (from Chile) and some fall-themed foods. My expectations for this event were pretty simple – learn more about wine (how it’s made, how to choose a wine for particular meals, what’s so special about Chilean wine?), have some great food that I couldn’t have otherwise, and taste wine that truly complements the food I’m eating with the wine. Rather than boring you with my oh-so-important and attention-worthy opinions of every course, I’ll give you the cliff notes version.

First, let’s talk about my educational expectations. Whenever I go to these kinds of events, I want to leave knowing more than I did when I first arrived. The woman in charge of the “educational” aspect of the event was a very well-versed representative from Southern Wine. She did a great job of explaining why she chose Chilean Wines for this event (it is under-represented and often under-rated) and giving a good run-down of the people that made the wine. Something that I appreciated was learning about what the winemakers intended for the wine, what kind of grapes they picked, and why they picked a particular region. For instance, when drinking my favorite wine of the night (Ritual Pinot Noir) I learned that the grapes are pressed with the berries still in a bunch. When this occurs, more pronounced tanin flavors come through in the wine (which is something that I look for in a dry red).  The one thing that was missing from the education aspect of the event was that she really did not discuss why she chose the particular wine for each course. Like I said – she gave great information about the wines, but not as much about why the wine was chosen for the courses.

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From Grains, to Beer, to…Sausage?

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25 year-old Nolan Thevenet (yes—younger than most of us bums) decided that his time at Drexel University was done after drawing up so many plans for a farm that his sketchbooks were costing as much as his tuition (no exaggeration). Nolan called up his mom and told her that he was starting a farm on their 40+ acre property. IN THE WOODS. Nolan’s lineage is not one of farmers or shepherds, but he determined that he could learn the farming way through books, visits with other farmers, and, of course, Google. The result? A three-year-old livestock farm with over 60 goats, over 50 pigs, and over 50 chickens.  Oh, and AWESOME beer brats. What makes them so awesome is not just the fact that they are free range pigs (in the forest) but also that they are fed spent grains from Weyerbacher brewery. (Spent grains = leftover grains after the boil to make beer)

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Cooking with Jager: BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders

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Alright, summer is now officially on and it’s one week til Independence Day which, let’s face it, means you’re not getting an ounce of work down over the next two weeks. Yep, the next 10 days are officially reserved for browsing pinterest at your desk, “working” while actually surfing sites like www.weluvbingo.com, and of course, deciding what you’re going to grill for the 4th. May we present our first suggestion: a pulled pork slider recipe that proves  Jägermeister is good for something other than getting the party started.

Jägermeister BBQ’d Pulled Pork Sliders with Jicama-Avocado Slaw

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The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 7. Pork, It’s What’s for Breakfast

Part of me really has a hard time looking at someone straight in the eye after they tell me they don’t eat bacon and not laugh….”

This is what my friend told me he added to his online dating profile after meeting too many women who didn’t eat meat. I don’t know what’s worse; the fact that these women exist or that he kept meeting them. Regardless, I found a place he should probably take women on dates.

I walked into Imig’s Kitchen and Bar in the Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club expecting run-of-the-mill breakfast that you so often get in a hotel restaurant, even if it was in San Diego. I was pretty tired and haphazardly ordered the braised pork and applewood smoked bacon hash (above), which the menu told me contained the hash, plus poached eggs, chile de arbol, and hollandaise on a crispy corn tortilla. My lovely dining companion, BS, went with the breakfast sammy: grilled country bread, eggs over easy, arugula, avocado, prosciutto, oven roasted tomatoes, fontina and chive pesto:

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