Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

Pork and Mushroom Ragu over Polenta

Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

I think we can all agree that November = prime fall comfort food time. It’s also starting to turn into prime busy time with holiday prep, days that are shorter and darker (ugh), and trying to wrap up all sorts of projects before the end of the year. You know what this means: it’s slow cooker time. Aw yeah!

Slow cookers make everything easy, but Smithfield is taking fall cooking simplicity to the next level with their marinated pork. You seriously don’t have to do anything besides cook it, and you have a flavorful main dish ready for anything you want to pair with it! I made this tasty ragu with a marinated fresh pork tenderloin, so it’s a bit leaner than some other cuts of pork, but still packed with protein… it’s still so tender and it’s a great slightly lighter option in these pre-Thanksgiving days.

Pork tenderloin ragu over polenta

This recipe is simple comfort food at its finest, and you’re not going to feel weighed down by the cooking process or the dish itself. Score!

Pork Tenderloin and Mushroom Ragu over Polenta

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Stove Top is the Un-Potato: Stuffing Shepherd’s Pie

One of the first things I ever learned to cook was Stove Top stuffing. When my college roommate and I discovered Stove Top, we could not believe how easy it was to basically replicate the stuffing that our moms took so many hours making on Thanksgiving. Culinary skill-less as we were, even we could figure out how to boil water and butter in a dorm room hot pot, add stuffing mix, and fluff with a fork. Actually, I still haven’t figured out exactly what the last direction means, but I digress.

While I still make Stove Top for a late-night snack now and again, I’ve often wondered why it so rarely shows up as an ingredient, aside from the odd post-Thanksgiving stuffing pizza. But why not? I can think of many a meal that could stand to benefit from a tasty bread-and-butter mixture poured on top. First case in point: shepherd’s pie. While this is one of my childhood favorites, I barely make it myself because it’s such a pain to have to boil and mash potatoes before you even really get started cooking. Of course it’s great if you have leftover potatoes, but…I rarely find myself with leftover anything. So my newly invented version of shepherd’s pie subs out the potatoes and replaces them with a thick coating of stuffing. Give me one good reason why not.

Stove Top Stuffing Shepherd’s Pie

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Something “Good” is Happening


Guest blogger April Stamm is a chef and food writer whose work has appeared in a wide range of publications including Pastry Scoop, an online pastry magazine, and The Nibble, a gourmet product review and foodie information site. She is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and a member of Women Chefs and Restauranteurs.  More of her writing and ventures can be found at www.aprilstamm.com. Today, she tells us about an upcoming foodie event from ES sponsor Good Commons.

I was nervous.  Sure, we had known each other for years and were great friends, but we had never done this. What if we weren’t compatible? What if he went left and so did I—and we ended up colliding—sending carrot peels and chef knives soaring through the air?

But not to fear, my first guest chef gig at Good Commons, a private retreat center and vacation home in Vermont, was a delicious success. It was also one of the most restorative three days of my life. So, I’m jumping back in the kitchen with my friend and Good Commons’ resident chef, Matthew Wexler, to create some delicious farm-to-table meals for their Memorial Day Food, Wine & Rejuvenation Weekend.

It may sound crazy, but the body, mind, and soul-bolstering experience of Good Commons begins with the bus ride. No rushing through Grand Central, fighting the throngs of clueless tourists and aggressive Wall-Streeters. Instead we board “the Good bus”, a private jitney stocked with homemade snacks and artisanal cocktails created by an on-board mixologist.

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Good Commons Winter Food & Wine Expedition

shrimp Okemo

We’re pausing today for a brief word from our sponsor — the good folks up at Good Commons, a retreat center, vacation home and studio for the arts up in Plymouth, Vermont. They’ve got a foodie-licious event coming up January 15 – 18 that combines skiing and snowboarding on some of Vermont’s best slopes with a weekend of gourmet tasting menus back at Good Commons.

And the best news is that Good Commons is offering a special discount rate only for ES readers. Follow the link to get more info about the Winter Food & Wine Expedition, and to reserve at the ES rate ($50 off the package price).

Check it out!