Herb-Crusted Pork Chops with Roasted Carrots

herb pork chop

Easter dinner with my family has traditionally been a large, heavy meal consisting of a honey ham, mac and cheese, green bean casserole with cream-of-something, and banana pudding full of so much sugar that I’m still surprised my teeth didn’t fall out! Now that my husband and I are focusing on a healthier lifestyle, Easter dinner looks very different this year.

Instead of ham, I am using pork chops since they are so versatile. One of my favorite ways to prepare pork chops is to do a light mustard dressing and herb crust with almond meal and fresh herbs from my garden. It gives the pork a tangy, complex flavor while keeping it simple and healthy. If you are grilling this Easter, also check out my recipe for smoked honey dijon rack of pork!

I went to the farmer’s market this morning and picked up carrots from Johnson’s Backyard Garden and organic spinach as side dishes. Roasted or sautéed veggies with herbs and olive oil are perfect. If you need to dress up (disguise) vegetables for little ones or picky spouses, my Italian roasted brussels sprout recipe works great too.

What is your favorite Easter dinner recipe?

Herb-Crusted Pork Chops with Roasted Carrots

  • Servings: 4
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil or coconut oil cooking spray
  • 2 pounds of organic boneless pork chops
  • 1/4 cup of dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 2 tablespoons each of fresh thyme and rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 1 pound organic baby carrots
  • 1/8 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme for carrots (finely chopped)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish and cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. I use olive oil or coconut oil spray.

Mix dijon mustard, garlic, and honey together. Salt and pepper the pork chops and brush both sides with the mustard mixture.

Mix almond meal/flour, salt and pepper, and fresh thyme and rosemary together. Dip the mustard coated pork chops in the flour mixture and make sure to coat well. Set the pork chops aside for 10-20 minutes to allow the flour to adhere to the meat.

While the pork is resting, wash and trim ends of carrots. Place carrots in baking dish and add olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. Toss well to coat.

After the pork has rested, spray and heat a pan on the stovetop. To get a bit of a darker crust, lightly brown the pork chops and then put them in the oven. I find that the almond meal can get a bit soggy if I do not brown them first.

Once the pork chops are browned, place on a cookie sheet and bake them (along with the carrots) for approximately 30-35 minutes until done.

Enjoy and have a lovely Easter weekend!

pork chops with herbs

 

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Austin’s Friendliest Wine Bars

SXSW is here! As all of Austin’s guests arrive, downtown is transformed into a crazy web of people, events, and pop up eateries and bars. It is going to be a hell of a ride this year since I work for a company that participates in SXSW. If you are looking for a fun, friendly, and Austintacious wine experience  check out my favorite places to grab a glass!

My guide for the coolest and friendliest wine bars is based on different criteria than you typically find in other guides. These are places that I hang out at regularly (ok, A LOT) and love the energy, people, and the overall experience. I judge these places based on friendliness of staff, inviting/fun/quirky spaces, and a decent wine/food selection. Some do not have the most high end wine selection, but I don’t want them too. I enjoy the vibe and people so I pick places that represent all that makes Austin the best place to live in Texas. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

1. Max’s Wine Dive
Max’s Wine Dive located downtown is one of the best places to grab a glass of wine. Don’t sit at a table. Grab a chair at the bar before the dinner rush hits and the bartenders are more than happy to chat you through their wine list in addition to any speciality wines that may be open. I always ask about the ‘day old’ wines that have been opened they are selling at a reduced price. If you go on a Wednesday or Thursday evening prior to their weekly shipment there are usually really interesting wines open they will let you try as well. Who doesn’t like awesome wine for a great price?! Everyone that works there has always been super friendly and very knowledgable. Added bonus: Max’s Fried Chicken. 

Max's Wine

2. House Wine
House Wine is a fun, quirky wine bar located on Lamar and Josephine not too far from downtown. I’ve spent many a night in coffee houses so House Wine brought back the nostalgic feeling of the “early days” of Austin where you could sit on the patio for hours and read. It is a great place to hang out with your friends, significant other, or on your own if you need some quiet time. Cool and comfortable, HouseWine offers small plates of cheeses, olives, and desserts.  The last time I was there they had a cheese plate/bottle of wine special for $50. Great deal! Added bonus: Make-your-own-s’mores plate.

3. East End Wines
East End Wines is actually a wine store located in a historic home on Rosewood Ave in East Austin. With a vast array of wine to choose from you can find economical wines along with high end and rare wines. The great part about East End Wines is they go out of their way to help you pick the right bottle as well as introduce you to new wine. Very friendly and knowledgable (see a theme?) Because you are buying the bottle retail, you can afford to spend a little more and try something different. They also host free wine tastings on Friday afternoons  from 4pm-8pm. If you would like to enjoy the bottle on the patio (and try Raymond’s food truck), they will uncork the bottle (for a small fee) and provide the glasses. Added bonus: Three Little Pigs food truck. Best meatloaf and collard greens EVER!

Wine and Food

4. Red Room Lounge
Red Room Lounge has been around for about a year and a half now and used to be the best kept secret downtown. However, I think the secret is out because the last time I was there it was packed! Red Room Lounge is a cool, laid back, basement lounge with a diverse wine selection at all price points. I like that I can enjoy a less expensive, but still high quality, bottle of wine or I can splurge and order something luxurious. With a somewhat obscure entrance and a basement descent, you may think you stepped into Prohibition era bar. That is why it is one of my favorite places in town. I can sit for an hour, have a wonderful glass of wine, and breath. Added bonus: Bill Elsey, one of Austin’s hottest, award winning sommeliers, is usually around to walk you through the wine list.

Red Room Wine

5. Uncorked
Uncorked was one of the first wine bars I started visiting when Austin’s food and wine scene was still young. Located on East 7th Street just off I-35 in a historic house, Uncorked offers great food, wine, and a view that is one of the best in town. I have consumed many a glass of wine on that patio while I waited out Austin’s crazy evening traffic!  You can order wine flights, glasses, or bottles from a country specific wine list. Tentative wine orderers are put at ease using the winedex tasting guide. Each wine has a series of symbols that describe the type, body, and style. If you have any questions or hesitations they go out of their way to explain the wines and let you try a sample before you order.  The local cheese and charcuterie boards as well as the truffled mushroom risotto are also wonderful. Added bonus: The amazing patio!

UnCorked Wine

Prime Rib with Guinness Au Jus and Parmesan Fries

Prime rib

Hello friends! I’ve been on a blog break the last few months, but I’ve missed posting for you all! Trying to keep up with a new job, home life, and the holidays was just too much, but now I’m ready to get back to baking, cooking, traveling, and blogging 🙂 It is almost “prime” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) patio season so I plan to be out reporting on Austin’s wonderful food scene and creating more dishes for you at home!

I wanted my first post back to be a tribute to Irish cooking since we are gearing up for a trip to Ireland and Scotland in April. I am looking forward to reporting back on all our travel and culinary adventures. We will be taking several local food tours and I will be on the lookout for local farmer’s markets. And of course, beer and whiskey tastings!

I usually cook a big Sunday dinner and last week prime rib sounded so good. And Guinness. And fries. Can you tell I was hungry? I thought I would try adding a can of Guinness to make an interesting au jus and it turned out great. The parmesan fries complemented the dish nicely as they were not too heavy and added a crunchy/salty element.

(The recipe below is adjusted to our tastes since we like rare meat, but you can certainly add more cooking time or different spices. Also, please bear with the photos. They are not the greatest!)

Prime Rib with Guinness Au Jus and Parmesan Fries

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 150 minutes

Ingredients: Prime Rib

  • 5 lbs prime rib roast
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons ground thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can Guinness Stout
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped

Parmesan Fries

  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

1. Ask the butcher to cut a small (5-10 lb), bone in, trussed, prime rib. You can usually order choice or prime meat. I went with choice since the dish wasn’t for guests.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees. Bring beef to room temperature and rub with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme. Use as much salt and pepper as you are comfortable using, but I add a lot.

3. Place beef in a deep roasting pan and pour a bottle or can of Guinness over the meat. Add the onion, carrot, (you can also add celery if you like) and a can of beef broth to the pan. There are several different ways to roast prime rib. I prefer to roast on high heat and then turn the oven off to allow the residual heat to finish cooking the meat since I like mine more rare. It really depends on your preferred method, but you can also roast on high heat for 10 minutes and then turn the oven on low for 30 minutes.

4. At 500 degrees, roast the beef 7 minutes per pound of meat. For a 5 pound prime rib, roast 35 minutes. Turn the oven off and let sit for 2 hours. Do not open the oven door. Check the internal temp for 135 degrees after two hours. If the meat looks too rare, heat the oven back to 300 degrees and cook in 5 minute increments to keep checking the temperature. Sometimes it takes a few rounds to figure out the best method with your oven.

5. To prepare the potato, cut into small wedges and place in a large bowl. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, oregano, cheese, and olive oil to potato wedges and mix well. Spread the wedges evenly on a baking sheet.

6. Cook potatoes at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Unless you have two ovens, it will have to wait until the beef is finished. I let the potatoes cook while the beef was resting.

7. When the beef has finished roasting, remove from the pan and let rest on a cutting board. While beef is resting and potatoes are cooking, strain and pour the au jus into a pan. Heat on low to warm up the au jus when ready to serve. If you need more juice, add some beef broth.

8.When ready to carve the beef, cut the trusses and remove the rib bone from the meat. The butcher usually cuts most of it away so finishing the job is very easy.

9. Slice prime rib as you like it. I prefer a small to medium cut as I try to keep my portions to about 4 ounces, but it is up to you!

10. Serve with parmesan fries, Guinness au jus, and beer (Guinness not required if you prefer a glass of wine like me!)

Prime Rib prep

I am really looking forward to trying some of the interesting culinary treats of Ireland. Do you have a favorite dish or restaurant? If so, please forward! 🙂

Mettle Celebration

Mettle

met·tle

/ˈmetl/
Noun

The ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.

To celebrate the end of my first week at the new gig in a spirited and resilient way, the hubs and I decided to try a new restaurant called Mettle. True to the definition of the word, Mettle offered an exciting and creative menu, friendly staff, and a great wine selection.

Mettle Restaurant

Mettle is located at the very end of East 6th Street. It appears that the restaurant is part of a converted warehouse or industrial building. It is one of many establishments that is housed in this space. The fun play on the name, Mettle (Metal), is consistent with industrial decor. Mettle incorporates  minimalistic dining elements with local artistic pieces. I love the glass sculpture in the main dining room!

Mettle’s menu is classically based, but with a modern spin: tomato salad, beef tongue tacos, duck breast and star anise spaghetti, and steak with potato chip gratin. Food MelodyOut of the selections at the table, I thought the deconstructed beef tongue tacos were outstanding! Served with homemade tortillas, fresh escabeche, crème fraiche, and salsa verde, it was visually appealing and fun to eat. Tender, melt-in-your-mouth goodness! Beef Tongue TacosThe dessert menu was minimalistic by design (and indecipherable) with only a short description of ingredients. Our wait person was ready for questions and described each dessert in detail. I decided to order the macadamia, coconut, coffee, lime and my husband ordered the birch, sweet cream, hazelnut. They were both beautifully presented, but the birch and hazelnut dessert was wonderful. It tasted like a root beer float!DessertWe shared the meal with a bottle of 2009 Chateau Aney (which was very satisfying with a heavy meal), but they also offer a full menu of signature cocktails. The Mexican 86 was delicious! I didn’t think tequila and rose champagne would go together, but it works. I can’t wait to try the Rainey St. Mule on my next visit!

I thought the food at Mettle was well worth the visit. It can be expensive if you order drinks, apps, and a main course, but you do get a lot for the money. I would suggest you arrive early (before 7pm) as the restaurant fills up fast and it can be quite loud. Mettle also has a great patio so I foresee happy hours outside when the cooler weather arrives!

What is your recommended restaurant in East Austin? Drop me a line and let me know where you like to hang out!

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom risottoHi there! Long time, no blog! Life got a little crazy with leaving one job, interviewing, and getting ready for a new one. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things.

I managed to sneak in some time to make my famous wild mushroom risotto last week. It isn’t healthy in any way, but risotto is my ultimate comfort food (just ignore the butter). Totally worth it when you are craving a heavy meal though. Enjoy with fresh bread and a bottle of Bordeaux (or your favorite wine)!

Do you have a favorite risotto recipe? If so, please share!

Wild Mushroom Risotto

  • Servings: 6
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small shallot or 1/2 cup of onion
  • 1 package fresh baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 package dried oyster mushrooms
  • 1 package dried wood ear mushrooms
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups risotto
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 can chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Truffle salt or oil

Directions:

Bring six cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and soak dried oyster and wood ear mushrooms for 20 minutes to reconstitute.

While mushrooms are soaking, mince garlic and shallot (or onion).

Melt stick of butter over medium heat. Add bella mushrooms, shallot, salt, and pepper. Cook down for 10 minutes until mushrooms and shallot are tender. Add garlic. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add two cups of risotto to the mushroom mixture and stir to coat risotto. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes to “toast” the risotto. Keep a close eye and stir frequently to prevent burning.

As the risotto starts to toast the pan will start to dry out. Add 1/4 cup of white wine to deglaze. Cook for 3 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to pull the reconstituted mushrooms from the liquid and add to pan. Save the mushroom broth!

Reduce heat to medium.

Add one to two soup ladles of the mushroom broth at a time to the risotto. Cook the risotto until the liquid is incorporated and add more broth. Stir constantly. Once the mushroom broth is consumed, switch to a chicken or vegetable broth.

Continue adding broth and cooking down until risotto is tender and creamy in texture. This can take up to 30-45 minutes. Just keep stirring and checking the texture. Once done, stir in one cup of Parmesan cheese.

Add salt and pepper to taste. If you like truffles, add several teaspoons of truffle salt, a light drizzle of truffle oil, or freshly shaved truffles.

Notes:

I use the dried mushrooms because that is what is available in my grocery store. However, you can use any fresh wild mushrooms. You would need to increase the amount of broth to about three cans.

I usually go through the entire mushroom liquid and one can of broth before my risotto is done.