Pepper Pork Chops

In December I tried Alton Brown’s Pepper Pork Chops in the slow cooker. I liked them (a fair amount, in fact) but never got around to writing about them, unfortunately.

Now that it’s January and I feel lacking in inspiration, I thought I would give them another try. After all, if I make a recipe I like, I really should blog about it, shouldn’t I?

Here’s my version – Continue reading Pepper Pork Chops

Soy and Cola Braised Pork Shoulder

Schnucks had boneless pork shoulders on sale for a while, so I stocked up. One of the things I wanted to do to one was make Soy and Cola Braised Pork Shoulder. I bought a bottle of full-sugar cola because I wanted to try this recipe – and if you cook with soda, you can’t use the diet stuff that I normally drink. You need the sugar/corn syrup from the soda for the recipe.

The recipe is simple. It says to use a bone-in pork butt, but I prefer boneless. You sear the pork roast in sesame oil. Remove it from the pot so you can add garlic and ginger, followed by the cola, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. You return the pork to the pot, put a lid on it, and braise it in the oven for about 2 hours, turning the pork roast occasionally so it all gets a chance to cook in the liquid.

At this point you remove the pork from the oven and from the pot. You strain off rendered fat, and simmer the remaining liquid to reduce it to about 2 cups (I guessed to reduce by half, which would probably be a little too much, now that I think about it).

Straining off rendered fat is difficult if you don’t have a specialty devise. I originally thought I could do it with a zipper bag… until that bag unsealed in the sink, draining away all our delicious sauce. That pork shoulder was delicious, but dry without the sauce. I tried the recipe a second time. This time, I cooked the food one day and refrigerated it overnight so the fat solidified and was easy to remove before reducing the sauce. Much better! I shredded the pork and returned it to the thickened sauce, then added some green onions to it.

Soy and Cola Braised Pork

This pork was delicious. It was sweet and salty, with tang from the vinegar. The green onions were nice in it, and I especially liked the way the pork and sauce mellowed when paired with the fresh taste of cucumber. I enjoyed the pork over rice, since the rice soaked up some of the sauce. This was an easy recipe; you need some time to make it, but it’s low-maintenance to make. I’d try it again, and maybe I’d try to adapt it for a slow cooker.

Homesick Texan Carnitas

Carnitas are delicious! That said, my experience with them at restaurants was hit-or-miss – sometimes they were good, and sometimes they weren’t. The delicious experiences stuck with me, though, so I was excited when Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted about Homesick Texan Carnitas.

This recipe appealed to me because it had a short list of ingredients, and the cooking was largely hands-off. Take a boneless pork shoulder/butt and cut it into pieces; the recipe says 2-inch pieces but I both trimmed fat from mine and cut mine smaller. Put in a pot and add orange juice, lime juice, cumin, garlic, and salt (my juice and garlic was bottled, not fresh); top with enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 2 hours. Next you’re supposed to turn up the heat, evaporate the liquid, and fry the pieces in rendered fat from the pork shoulder (which is a fatty cut).

I have a gas stove, so I didn’t turn down my heat enough. The meat is apparently all supposed to still be covered while it cooked, but all my liquid disappeared by two hours since my temperature was higher. At this point, I stirred the pork, not caring if the pieces fell apart. I didn’t get a good sear on any of the pork – in fact, stirring it probably prevented a sear from happening, so be gentle if you stir your pork. I made these twice, in fact, to try to get a better finish on the meat, but I made the same mistake twice – higher heat with faster cooking times, plus I stirred the pork.

Homesick Texan Carnitas, with salsa and slaw

I didn’t mind trying it twice, though, because it was delicious both times! Since pork shoulder is fatty, it’s a very forgiving cut. The carnitas were moist and tender from the long cooking time, even though the pork finished faster with higher heat. The pork had a great citrus flavor. I didn’t have any cilantro the second time I made these, and I really missed it. I preferred eating the carnitas with rice rather than tortillas; I’d ideally serve them with guacamole, cilantro, and a green salsa.

This is a good recipe, perfect for those weekend days where you have the time to cook a dish for a long time, but you don’t want to spend much time in the kitchen.

How I Like to Make Ribs

In this food blog, I chronicle what I make, how I make it, and if I like it. I like sharing with anyone who reads this blog, but one major reason that I continue writing here is because it’s a great resource for me. If I want to make something, I almost always search for it on my blog. I can usually remember if I made something before, but I can’t always remember specifics.

Right now, I want to be sure to write down how I like to make ribs. I’ve made ribs a few times before, and overall, they’re pretty satisfying, but I’ve got a preferred way to make them.

1. I make them in the oven, from start to finish.
2. I make my own spice rub. BBQ sauce optional but tasty.

I know that die-hard bbq enthusiasts out there will say that ribs shouldn’t be made in the oven. I don’t care. It’s tough to grill when you don’t have a dedicated space for it. Also, there’s simply a lot of not-good barbecue out there at restaurants. How I make ribs is delicious, easy, and not that expensive.

The oven method I use for ribs came from Emeril’s Oven-BBQ Ribs recipe (blogged about here). However, it was a fuss to make his spice rub – first you make one spice blend, then mix part of it with other spices – and I really didn’t like it more than a spice rub I made last year. The original recipe for that rub is on [link no longer works]. I haven’t tried other spice rubs, but I’ve been pretty satisfied with this one.

BBQ Ribs Spice Rub

1.5 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons paprika (if you’re oven-roasting your ribs, I bet a little smoked paprika would be nice too)
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dry mustard

This rub is a little peppery, which I like. I grind this together, but you don’t need to if your ingredients are already ground. This yields enough rub for about 4 pounds of pork back ribs. Another nice thing about this blend: it’s easy to make a half batch.

Cut ribs into pieces so they fit easily into a baking pan. Rub spice blend on all sides of ribs. Line baking pan with foil long enough that you can wrap the foil around the ribs. Wrap up the ribs and seal the ends of the foil together, folding the foil over as if you were rolling up a paper bag. Bake at 300F for 2.5 – 3 hours.

Next, roll back the foil to expose the ribs. Brush the meaty sides with a little barbecue sauce; or not, if you don’t want to! Barbecue sauce gives the ribs a nice sheen, and will caramelize when you put the ribs back in the oven, but the ribs will still be tasty without sauce. Either way, bake the ribs for another 20 minutes. [I suppose you wouldn’t have to, but I like the texture this exposed baking gives the ribs.]

Oven Barbecued Ribs

One other thing I like about roasting ribs in the oven this way: very little prep. You prepare the spice rub, but you wouldn’t even have to do that if you had a rub on hand. Simply season the meat, wrap in foil, and let the oven do all the work.  And although it cooks for 3 hours, there’s very little hands on time.  That said, clean-up isn’t perfect; last time I made these, liquid seeped underneath the foil and made the foil stick to the pan. However, it’s nothing that a little dish soaking time won’t take care of.

Overall, this is an easy and tasty recipe for lazy, cool weekends. It’s something I’ve made several times, and foresee myself making often again this fall and winter.

Hot Tamales!

I grew up eating tamales from a can. We would usually top them with chili. [They’re a little bland on their own.] Tamales were one of my favorite foods as a kid, but I went a long time without eating them. After a long hiatus, I finally had Hormel tamales again, and they were still nostalgically satisfying with chili.

Since they were one of my favorite foods, I’ve tried ordering tamales in (Tex-Mex?) restaurants. They’re not a main draw on any menu, but they’re usually available as a single item a la carte or in a combo. I’ve usually been disappointed when I’ve tried them, because they’ve usually been dry. I enjoyed ones from Chevy’s. I love the ones at Rosa’s Cafe and Tortilla Factory, and I usually get some when I visit my parents, who live in Texas. Both of those places have tamales that are flavorful, and definitely not dry. The best tamales I ever had were from a vendor at a Metro subway stop in Mexico City. They were cheap, and they were the largest tamales ever – a square tamal the size of the palm of my hand, wrapped in a banana or plaintain leaf.

I’ve had frozen tamales as well – Trader Joe’s makes some tasty ones. They cost at least $2 for a package of 2. For some reason it seems like a lot to pay, but I suppose it’s not particularly surprising, because they’re pretty labor-intensive to make.

I’ve been talking about tamales for a little bit, but what are they? They’re simply a cornmeal dough stuffed with a filling and wrapped in a corn husk. I get the impression that most people haven’t tried them. I could be wrong. However, I know I think my husband hadn’t tried one until he met me. I’ve also never seen my friends try them at Mexican restaurants.

It’s been a long-standing dream of mine to make tamales. I finally decided this year that I needed to try it. I wanted to make pork tamales. I kept putting it off because I wanted to try an authentic recipe if I was going to take the time to make them. Eventually I decided to make Alton Brown’s recipe for Hot Tamales. Its authenticity is debatable, but Alton Brown knows how to make good food, so I was sure the recipe would turn out.

Hot Tamales

This recipe took me all Sunday afternoon to make, so it’s certainly not a process for the faint of heart. You have to make the pork filling, make the masa, soak the corn husks, assemble, and cook.

I started soaking corn husks before I began to cook anything. I actually had some pork already cooked and frozen, so I thawed that to use. It turned out that I had twice as much pork as I needed, so I doubled the spice mixture. I knew I’d need the cooking liquid, so I heated up water to speed up the thawing of my pork. You’re supposed to put half of the spice mixture in the liquid, but I wasn’t making a double-batch of liquid. I added a third of the spice mixture to the liquid, meaning that the water had more spice than it was probably supposed to. I simmered the pork briefly, then let it cool. I sauteed onion, garlic, and jalapeno, added the remaining spice mixture, and stirred in the shredded pork.

While the pork mixture cooled, I made the masa. I only made a single batch of masa to start, even though I had twice as much pork. I used half cornmeal and half fine cornmeal that I happened to have. I mixed it with baking powder and salt. Instead of using my hands, I cut in shortening (in place of lard) with a pastry cutter, which worked just fine. I added about 3 cups of liquid to the cornmeal and mixed it together. I didn’t have any trouble getting the dough to the right consistency, moist but not wet.

Once the corn husks, masa, and pork mixture were ready, it was time to assemble the tamales. I had a little trouble following the directions in the recipe, and I had trouble getting started. Luckily Alton Brown has an excellent video showing how to roll tamales.

Once I took a look at the video, I got back to rolling tamales. I honestly cannot explain how to roll the tamales – the best way to figure it out is to watch the video. It went much more quickly after I did that.

I didn’t have twine to bind the tamales together in bundles, so I put my 8-quart stock pot on its side so I could stack the tamales in it. They fit snugly. I made a second half-batch with the remaining corn husks and (some of the pork), and cooked them similarly in a much smaller pot.

I poured the reserved liquid that I used for the pork back into the pan, making sure to not pour it on top of the tamales. I misread the directions and boiled them for 12 minutes (whereas the directions said to bring to a boil, which would take 12 minutes). I reduced the heat to low and simmered them, uncovered, for at least an hour and a half. I thought they were a little dry, so I put the lid back on them and simmered them for a little longer to try to make them softer.

Hot Tamales – what was left after eating them for 10 meals

These tamales had a great spicy flavor. They were very satisfying. Some of them were more moist than others, and I’m not sure what the difference was. I liked the moist ones better than the drier ones. These are better than any tamales I’ve ever bought. I ate 4 tamales for lunch just about every day for a week, and I didn’t get tired of them. I poured a little water over them in my container to help steam them as I microwaved them, and to make them a little softer and less dry. After eating them for 10 meals, I decided it was time to freeze whatever was left. I double-wrapped them in plastic wrap in bundles of 4, and put them in freezer bags.

Tamales took a huge amount of time to make. It easily ate up the majority of my Sunday afternoon. It would have been a little better if I’d made Alex help me roll the tamales, as that was about an hour’s worth of work that would be best if divided among multiple people. That said, cornmeal and pork are not pricey, so this was an inexpensive recipe to make for the quantity of food you get. A single batch yields between 48 and 60, so it’s great if you have a lot of people to feed, or if you’re willing to eat tamales forever like I am. I wouldn’t make this recipe often, but I really enjoyed the final product. They’re also supposed to freeze well, so I can have weeks worth of lunches. I think I’ll try this recipe again.

Caramel Pork

Tonight for dinner I made Caramel Pork. This meal was quick, easy, and delicious, so I wanted to be sure to write about it while it was still fresh in my mind.

Before I roasted a pork loin yesterday, I cubed about a pound of it and set it aside for tonight’s dinner. I mention this specifically because it’s one thing I didn’t have to do tonight. I also think it’s a very efficient way to get cubed pork for dinner, as long as you don’t mind eating pork two nights in a row; you only get your hands dirty once this way. I also think it’s cheaper to buy the bigger roast and cut a pound or two off of it to cook later, rather than buy the meat specifically for the meal. I wish I’d started doing this year ago.

Before I started cooking the pork, I made a simple Asian broccoli slaw. I used the seasonings and proportions from the Radish-Squash Slaw (that was supposed to pair with the Caramel Pork, although the recipes aren’t linked online), but just tossed the dressing with a bag of broccoli slaw mix. I hate shredding vegetables, so this was money well spent. I didn’t have cilantro to add.

Once the slaw was made, I started on the pork. It’s made in three steps; first you cook the pork (about 5 minutes), then you add garlic and onion (about 2 minutes), and then you add the rest of the ingredients and cook for another 5 minutes while the liquid reduces. I had time to cut up the onion while the pork cooked, and just had time to grate ginger while the onion and garlic cooked with the pork.  I used half broth and half water, and full-sodium soy sauce. I omitted anchovies, and didn’t serve with lime. I didn’t make the rice as suggested, but just served the pork with a few green peas and a little Japanese rice I already had cooked.

Caramel Pork

This was a pretty good meal. The pork was sweet and a little spicy. The rice and slaw helped to balance the spiciness of the pork, which built up as you ate it. The sauce was good with the rice. I noticed the taste of the sesame oil most while I ate the slaw, but Alex mostly thought it seemed tart (from the vinegar). I don’t particularly like vinegar, personally, but it wasn’t overwhelming in this. It could have used the cilantro, and maybe a little ginger or red pepper if I was serving it on its own.

One of the best parts of making the pork was that the last 5 minutes of cooking time are hands-off; it builds in a little time to clean the kitchen before dinner! The entire meal was very quick to make (thanks to little cutting, using precooked rice, dicing the pork the day before, and using bagged slaw mix), and Alex and I both found it to be pretty satisfying. I’d definitely make this again.

Meals, meals, and more meals

Although I’m lumping these several recipes together in this post, I didn’t actually make them together. I just realized that I hadn’t blogged about any recipes since last weekend, and I want to get a couple more out there while I’m thinking about it.

I hadn’t planned to let so much time lapse between blog posts. I’ve still been cooking at home – quite a bit, actually – and I’ve made several new recipes. I just haven’t written about them.

Frankly, I know that a lot of the things I made last year weren’t that exciting. Some were variations on other dishes I’d made. Some I made primarily just so that I’d have a source to site on this blog. I’m still looking through blogs and cooking websites and magazines and finding recipes to make – it’s a habit I can’t (and don’t necessarily need to) break. I don’t necessarily feel the need to recommend everything I make, but I do feel like it’s worth having feedback out there on recipes if someone wants to look for it. That said, I’m trying to resist the urge to write about the recipes unless there’s something really worth saying about them.

So, I made 3 recipes this past week (4 weeknights). I made a few recipes the week before that as well. So here’s a dinner round-up!


I made Pork and Wild Rice Soup a little while ago. Since Alex isn’t eating many carbs, this was my own exclusive meal. I cooked my beans for the soup in the crockpot rather than use canned; and I soaked regular brown and wild rice since that’s what I had, and I knew they wouldn’t cook in 15 minutes otherwise. The result of these changes? My beans disintegrated (after they cooked a little too long in an untimed slow cooker), yielding a murky broth instead of the original clear; and I still had to cook the soup longer, by 15-20 minutes or more, to get the rice to be done, even though I’d soaked it.

The flavor of this soup was pretty good, and it went well with chips. The rices really didn’t do much for me, though, and I was suffering from soup burnout after eating (the similarly-themed) Mexican Chicken-Hominy Soup for a few days before making this.


I didn’t realize this until I looked it up just now, but Salisbury steak was actually invented by an American; I always assumed it was British and named after a place, not a person. Now and then when I was growing up, we would have Salisbury steak for dinner. This was always a convenient, frozen entree that would serve the entire family. I don’t remember ever liking this. This makes sense, when you know my tastes. Salisbury steak is basically just seasoned hamburger patties in gravy, and while I like hamburgers just fine, I find gravy to be relatively boring. The texture of the meat in lots of frozen entrees can be a little off, as well, and I also am very picky about texture (a major reason why I don’t eat eggs, even when they’re delicious like in flan).

The December issue of Cooking Light had a Salisbury Steak recipe, and I decided to try it for two reasons. First, it sounded likeable (quick sauce/gravy made with wine; just onion and seasoning in the hamburgers), and second, it didn’t have many carbs so Alex would be able to eat it, especially if I ended up not liking it. This was simple and quick. After cooking the hamburgers and removing from the pan, I sauteed mushrooms and made the quick sauce. I substituted .25 cups water for the same amount of broth since I was using bouillon cubes, but this didn’t hurt the flavor at all.

Salisbury Steak

I should have made the patties smaller and more steak-shaped, but that’s mostly an aesthetic issue. This tasted good. If Salisbury steak had tasted this good when I was a kid, I would have enjoyed it. Of course, the delicious part of this was the gravy. The hamburger itself was fine, but nothing particularly special. I wouldn’t make this often, but it’s nice to know there’s a version of the dish out there that I liked.


Alex may be eating a lot of meat, but I still enjoy my vegetables and having vegetarian meals. I kept the ingredients to make Chickpeas and Spinach with Smoky Paprika on hand. Spinach was the trickiest, but I decided that I would use frozen spinach in place of the fresh. I made a few other substitutions to the recipe in addition, so it may not be the most faithful representation of the original recipe. I did buy fire-roasted tomatoes, which had a nice flavor. I thought that 4 cups of onion was excessive, so I used 2. I used water in place of vegetable broth. I used frozen spinach, and added red wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar. This recipe was originally called an appetizer, but I thought it sounded like it would make a nice meal. I ate it for 3 meals, each one with a toasted ciabatta roll.

Chickpeas and Spinach with Smoky Paprika

This was pretty good. Since I used frozen spinach, it ended up being more of a chickpea and tomato dish than a chickpea and spinach dish. I’m very glad I used only half of the onions it called for. It did go well with toasted bread, but it was pretty good on its own too. The smoked paprika smelled so good as it went in, and gave the dish a nice flavor; it’s definitely worth spending money on to use in vegetarian dishes. I might make this again sometime.


Tonight I made Sizzled Shrimp for dinner. Yes, it’s another appetizer that I decided to have for dinner. I wanted to make something low-carb, since shrimp is pretty good for Alex’s diet. Otherwise, though, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with the shrimp; I’d originally thought I’d try a healthy shrimp scampi. But, I came across this recipe, and decided I wanted to eat garlic bread with it rather than pasta. Shrimp is really fast to cook. This couldn’t have taken more than 15 minutes. Honestly, I think it only took 7 – the exact amount of time it takes for me to make garlic bread the way I like it in the toaster oven.

Sizzled Shrimp

These were also pretty good. The classic combination of garlic, pepper, lemon, and white wine goes well with many things, and shrimp is definitely among them. I was a little surprised that there was so much liquid with the shrimp – I guess I expected a little more of it to cook off than it did. It would have been good with a single serving of pasta. This was tasty and easy, though, and I might make it again.


I think that pretty much wraps up everything I’ve eaten in the past week or two. Nothing particularly exciting, but I think it was all healthy and relatively tasty!

Simple Oven-BBQ Ribs

Over the holidays, I ended up seeing a series of travel food tv shows all featuring MEAT. While I enjoy a variety of foods, and enjoy a lot of vegetarian soups and stews and the like, the shows were pretty convincing. I wanted big steaks, brisket, and ribs.

It’s a little too cold in central Illinois to grill. Our grill lives in the garage since we don’t have a patio, so we only pull it out for cookouts in the summer. It’s a hassle to drag it out in windy, freezing weather; I don’t man the grill, and I don’t have the heart to tell my husband to go outside to check on the grill. I also can’t imagine Alex dragging the grill through the snow. I knew that I’d be able to cook ribs in the oven, so I looked around for a fool-proof recipe.

I made Simple Oven-BBQ Ribs. It had good reviews on Food Network, so I hoped it would work well for me as well. Alex is doing a low-carb diet, so I wasn’t going to be able to put barbecue sauce on the ribs (that he would eat); I was hoping that this rub would be flavorful enough without having too many carbohydrates in it.

Side note – when I think about cooking things Alex can eat right now, I generally think of spices as not having any carbs. While they have negligible amounts of carbs in moderate amounts – the quarter teaspoon of pepper you might sprinkle on your food would have .25 carbs – ribs use a lot of spice rub. I didn’t crunch any numbers for Alex on this recipe; I just hoped that it wouldn’t be carby.

I had 3 pieces in the package I bought at the grocery store, so I assumed they were half-racks (I don’t know too much about ribs), and made 75% of the recipe. This was a good assumption. The spice rub recipe at the bottom of the page made a ton, and I knew we wouldn’t want that much, so I quartered it. I misread a measuring spoon or two so I got too much salt in the rub; when I mixed the 4.5 tablespoons of rub with the celery salt, black pepper, and salt, I decreased the salt. I actually only used a half teaspoon of ground celery seed (not salt), and may have added the heaping 1 teaspoon of salt that 75% of the recipe called for.

My focus wasn’t on what went into the rub, though – the cooking method was actually what I had looked for most. I lined a 15-inch pan with foil long enough to wrap over the top to cover the ribs. The pan was the perfect size for the 3 half-racks of ribs I had. I put the ribs in the pan (fat-side up) and coated them with the spice rub. I folded the foil over the ribs – the ends met on top so I rolled them up to seal them. I sealed in the edges of the foil as well. I roasted the ribs in a 300F oven for about 3 hours before I opened the foil to brush barbecue sauce on a part of my ribs. I baked them for another 20 minutes uncovered.

Simple Oven- Ribs

The ribs were amazingly tender. I could just pull the meat right off of the bone. This oven-roasting method worked incredibly well. The only downside was that they didn’t taste grilled. The spice rub was good, but I like the barbecue rub I made last year more. The oven-roasted ribs were salty and a little spicy (what Alex calls tasty-spicy), but they didn’t really taste barbecuey like I prefer, even where I had barbecue sauce. I’ll definitely cook ribs like this again, but I don’t think I’ll make the spice rub again.

362: Fennel-Crusted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Pears

A few years ago, Alex asked all of our friends to give me recipes for my birthday. Best present ever!

However, it’s taken me a little while to start making them. My friend Allison gave me five, and this is just the second one I’ve made. (Sorry! I’ll get to them, though!) I decided to make Fennel-Crusted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Pears for my family. I don’t actually like leftover pork loin – something about reheating the pork seems to make it taste overcooked to me. I decided that making it for 5 people would be better than making it for just me and Alex, and forcing Alex to eat all of the leftovers (although he wouldn’t mind). To make it for 5 people, I increased the recipe by half.

Fennel-Roasted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Pears

Prep was pretty simple. I bought 3 pounds of pork tenderloin, 3 red onions, and 5 Bosc pears. My family had a bag of Russet potatoes, so I guessed that 7 small-to-medium potatoes would be enough. I cut the potatoes into 8ths. I prepared the vegetables first, tossing them with salt, pepper, and olive oil, since I wanted to just coat everything in the roasting pan before I put the pork loin in it. Then I coated the pork with a mixture of fennel seeds, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and put it in the pan. My pork tenderloin actually was 2 pieces, which I put in the pan side-by-side and touching, although I wished later that I had separated them out. I put the meat thermometer in one of them and let the food roast until the meat reached 160F. This happened in about 70 or so minutes, since each pork tenderloin weighed about 1.4 pounds.

Fennel-Crusted Pork Loin with Potatoes and Pears

This was pretty good. The vegetables and fruit didn’t become as soft as I thought they should, but the pork was incredibly tender. It’s possible that I’ve been overcooking pork loin my entire life. The fennel went well with the pork and garlic. The pork wasn’t really “crusted,” probably because the pan was a bit too full. I normally don’t like sweet and savory, but the pears weren’t too sweet for this dish. I found the recipe to be a little salty, so I’d probably only use half of the salt called for next time. I also think that this recipe could use much less olive oil. The onion was the least favorite thing in this dish, so I would probably only use half of the onion next time, or break up the onion pieces (rather than keeping them in quarters) so that they caramelize more. I liked this dish, as did my family. I’d make it again.

293: Spiced Maple Sausage Patties with 294: Hash Browns

I’d thought about making sausage patties before, and I just happened across a recipe one day. I had a package of ground pork in the freezer, so I decided to make Spiced Maple Sausage Patties for breakfast for one Sunday morning. I tried to make Hash Browns (#294) to go with them.


Before I get into the more involved process of making the sausage, let me tell you about the hash browns and where I went wrong with them. They did not turn out to my liking. It was from my Betty Crocker cookbook, and it should have been simple. The recipe took 4 cups of shredded potatoes, 2 tablespoons onion, salt, and pepper. I was supposed to shred the potatoes, rinse them, and pat them dry. Toss with onion, and spread in an oiled non-stick skillet and fry for a little while (10 or 15 minutes). Drizzle with oil, cut the potatoes into 4 wedges, and flip to cook the other side. Sounds simple, right?

I thought so too. However, I started by shredding potatoes on Saturday but I did not store them in water in the fridge. They were very discolored by the time I cooked them. Discoloring is only an issue with appearance, so I cooked them anyway. However, I still didn’t rinse them and pat them dry. I just mixed them with the onion and put them in the pan. My pan is a little old and not very non-stick, so the hash browns came apart when I tried to flip them. While I was making them, I decided that I probably wouldn’t have liked the hash browns very much anyway, even if they’d turned out well. I like my fried potatoes well done – browned edges are my favorite parts. There would have been a lot of non-crispy potatoes with these hash browns. I ended up adding lots of extra pepper and stirring around the potatoes to try to get them a little extra done. I might try a different hash browns recipe at some point – something a little more interesting, and that I cook in a different pan. I’ll also be sure to rinse the potatoes if it calls for it (maybe it gets rid of excess starch?) and will store my pre-shredded potatoes in water.


This sausage patties had to be prepared the night before you wanted to eat. I only had a pound of ground pork but the recipe called for 1.75 pounds, so I had to make 4/7s of the recipe. I chose a not-particularly-precise method of scaling down the recipe – I decided to put in half the seasoning, plus about another third of that half (a third more of what I’d already measured). I didn’t mind if I had a little too much seasoning in the pork as long as all the spices were balanced.

After I thawed my pork, I realized that it was reduced-fat pork. I decided to make the recipe anyway. I ground a quarter of a large yellow onion since I didn’t have small onions. I didn’t have fresh herbs, but generally the way to substitute dried herbs for fresh is to use a teaspoon of dried herbs per tablespoon of fresh herbs. Thus, I used 1 teaspoon dried sage and a half teaspoon dried thyme for my half recipe of sausage. I mixed everything together and made 10 sausage patties, which I refrigerated overnight.

The next morning I heated a skillet and partially cooked them in 2 batches. I put them in the oven to finish cooking, as the recipe instructed.

Maple Spiced Sausage Patties

These were pretty good. Although it was reduced-fat pork, the sausage was still plenty juicy, although perhaps not sausage-like because of that; they were more like sausage-flavored pork. It was not as spicy as what I normally buy in the store, and not nearly as salty. I didn’t care too much for the flavor of the allspice, so I might leave that out if I make it again. The maple flavor was definitely there but not overwhelming. I wouldn’t call this one of my favorite recipes, but I’m glad I gave it a try.