Grilled Pork Chops w/ Blueberry-Chipotle SauceA few weeks ago, the good folks at D’Artagnan sent me another box of goodies to do some recipe development with. I always look forward to their little “care packages”, as I have a hard time finding good quality butchered meats here on the Shore. So when I received these gorgeous Berkshire bone-in porkchops, I was ecstatic. I’d never worked with chops that were so gorgeous before!

Needless to say, I wanted to “do them up” right. I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper and grilled them. I wanted a little fruity kick to pair with them, so I made a simple sauce out of fresh blueberries, brown sugar, and some chipotle peppers.

The sweet and spicy combo was the perfect accent for the meaty chops. I served it all over a bed of cinnamon-spiked mashed sweet potatoes, which is something that one of my favorite restaurants (Bill’s, for you locals) on the island serves with their pork chops…and again, it was the perfect compliment to the other flavors.

With a fresh green veggie on the side, it’s a great hearty summer meal – lighter than your traditional meat and potatoes. Easy, yet certainly impressive enough to serve to company.

Big thanks to D’Artagnan for the hookup! The chops were so tender, juicy, and flavorful. If you too have a problem finding quality meats in your area, head over and check out the selection they have available for delivery. I’ve really been impressed with every single item I’ve tried so far!

Pork Chops with Blueberry-Chipotle Sauce

4 bone-in (1-inch thick) pork chops
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

For the Blueberry-Chipotle sauce:
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp chipotle in adobo, chopped

For the Cinnamon-Spiked Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp half & half
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
kosher salt

Add the quartered sweet potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Boil over medium-high heat until potatoes are tender – about 15 minutes. Drain, and place back in the pot. Add the butter, brown sugar, half & half, and cinnamon. Mash until smooth and well combined. Season to taste with salt. Cover and set aside.

Prepare the sauce by combining all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once blueberries begin to soften and burst, reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer until it’s reduced by about half.

While sauce is reducing, grill the chops. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Season chops with salt and pepper well on both sides. Grill chops for about 3 minutes on each side, internal temperature should reach 140. Remove to a platter and tent with aluminum foil.

To serve, lay down a bed of the sweet potatoes. Followed by a chop. Then spoon over some of the blueberry-chipotle sauce. Serve immediately.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the good folks at D’Artagnan. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mexican Chorizo and Corn ChowderA few weeks ago a huge box of goodies arrived on my door sent by the good folks at V&V Supremo. They specialize in Mexican products – chorizo, cheeses, cremas ans sour creams. I have a hard time finding good, authentic Mexican ingredients here in my rural area, so it was a real treat to have so many yummy ingredients at the ready!

I’ve long wanted to make a spin on my Southwestern Potato & Corn Chowder using chorizo for a Mexican twist. So, that’s pretty much what I did. The flavor from the chorizo just melts down into every bite of the soup. Chunks of tender potato and crunchy corn make for a filling soup that fills you up, but doesn’t weigh you down. I used some quesco fresco to crumble on top, and a little fresh cilantro. It was amazing!

I’ll definitely be stocking up on more of their chorizo next time I’m doing a stock-up trip in the big city. It’s great to have around for so many applications, and has so much more flavor than traditional sausage…that isn’t spicy either – just intensely flavored. If you’ve never used chorizo in your kitchen before, this soup is a great place to start! Make this one soon, guys – it’s a winner!

Disclaimer: I was provided with products courtesy of V&V Supremo. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Soprano's Sunday Gravy

I’ve talked before about my love of all things mafioso. While I was always a fan of the classics like Goodfellas and The Godfather trilogy, it was really The Sopranos that really cemented that love. One of my favorite cookbooks is The Sopranos Family Cookbook. Every single recipe I’ve tried from it has been wonderful. The first one that I ever made from it’s pages is this recipe for Sunday gravy…

Italians call a meaty sauce that’s been simmered all day a “gravy”. This one is made with the addition of country pork ribs, sausage, and veal – which I leave out (I just can’t get past the baby cow thing). Now, if you’ve never added pork to your red sauce – with all due respect, but you’ve sorely been missing out. It adds such a wonderful richness and complexity that is unparalleled. Sausage is great, but the pork ribs are really where it’s at.

It’s wonderful simply tossed with pasta, or if you want to doll it up even more you can add mozzarella cheese and mini-meatballs to make Ziti al Forno. No matter what you do with it, you can’t go wrong with this sauce. It’s really a staple. Do yourself a favor and make it soon, you won’t regret it! Bada-bing.

Source: adapted from The Sopranos Family Cookbook

Chili con Carne

Chili is one of those dishes that everyone has their own special recipe for, which they swear by as being the best. Mine is no different! Meaty, spicy, and filling – it’s one of the things my boys most look forward to in the colder months. There’s nothing better than a pot of chili bubbling away on the stove on a lazy football Sunday!

I like to start with a mix of lean ground beef and a roll of hot pork sausage, plenty of beans, chunks of chopped tomatoes, and some tomato paste to thicken it up a bit. Then, some beer. It adds so much great flavor to the chili, and I’m always looking for an excuse to cook with the stuff. But, you could certainly use beef broth for your cooking liquid as well.

A couple hours simmering on the stove and you’ve got a delicious and hearty meal that’s always a family favorite. Leftovers are good for days, and great to re-invent into so many applications (Frito pie or chili dogs, anyone?). And, it’s great for a group too. A low maintenance meal for the cook, and guests can have tons of fun topping their bowls of chili with different ingredients – scallions, cilantro, sour cream, cheeses, jalapenos, guacamole, tomatoes or pico de gallo, poblano-corn salsa…the possibilities are endless!

Also, the possibilities are endless when it comes to the ingredients in the chili itself. I love to switch it up using a chuck roast instead of the ground beef and sausage. Or, using black and pinto beans in place of the kidneys. It’s so easy to make your own! So, if you’re still looking for that one perfect chili recipe, give this one a try! It’s our favorite, and it might just become yours too.

Chili con Carne

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground sirloin
1 lb bulk roll hot sausage (like Jimmy Deen)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
6 Tbsp chili powder
3 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz) can light kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can dark kidney beans
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz) can or bottle beer (your favorite is fine)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef and sausage until browned well. Remove from pan into a bowl. Drain most of the rendered fat from the pan.

Throw onions into the pan and cook until onions are softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the tomato paste and spices, and cook for about 3 minutes – until the tomato paste darkens in color. Add in the beef and sausage, tomatoes, beans, and beer. If it looks like it needs a little more liquid, add a splash of water.

Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours. You could also cook up to this point, then place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. Serve with your favorite toppings.