ground pork

Thai Ground Pork Salad Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on June 27, 2013

Accidental Locavore Thai Ground Pork SaladEither the Accidental Locavore or my CSA, seems to be on a Thai/Asian theme lately.

This was a great use of some of the produce that was recently available.

With any Oriental dish, the list of ingredients looks long, and there’s some chopping involved, but once you get everything prepped, it’s quick to cook and finish.

This is adapted from Tasting Table and while they said it feeds 4, 2 greedy people finished it off pretty easily as a main course.

  • ¾ pound ground pork
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice, divided use
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 Thai red chile, seeded and finely chopped (substitute serranos, if you want and add more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
  • 3 Kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced (or use the zest of a lime)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped basil, plus more for garnish (use Thai basil if you have it)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped mint, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass (you can buy it pre-chopped in Asian groceries)
  • 1 head Boston or bibb lettuce, carefully separated into whole leaves
  • 3 radishes, cut into fine matchsticks
  • 2 scallions, sliced diagonally into ½” pieces
  • ¼ cup roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

In a medium bowl, pour ¼ cup of the lime juice over the pork. Set aside and let marinate for 15 minutes.

In another medium bowl (I used a 2-cup measuring cup), whisk together the rest of the lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, half the chopped shallots, chile, lime leaves, basil, mint and cilantro. Set aside.

In a large skillet, or wok, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer, about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the shallots and the lemongrass and cook until fragrant and golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add the pork (and lime juice), breaking it up with a spatula. Cook, stirring occasionally until the pork is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add ½ cup of the sauce and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and simmer until it’s slightly reduced, about 2-3 minutes.

Accidental Locavore Thai Pork Salad LettuceChoose about 8 of the best lettuce leaves (you want the ones that look most like little bowls) and line the bottoms of two bowls with them. Top with the pork mixture and drizzle the remaining sauce over it. Sprinkle with the radishes, scallions, peanuts, basil, cilantro, mint. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy!

Our verdict: Frank gave it his highest praise, “you can make this any time”, so you know it will go into the repertoire. It was really delicious- refreshing on a hot steamy day. I will judiciously use a little more Thai chile next time, probably adding more in at the end. If you had some leftover pork, you could cut it into thin strips and use that in place of the ground. Other than that, the only possible addition I might make, would be to add some rice or noodles if I wanted to stretch it. Try it and let me know what you think.




Accidental Locavore Pate

Not that the Accidental Locavore , or anyone, needed  a reason to make pâte, however the latest Charcutepalooza challenge is all about pâtes . And this time there were carnivores present!

In the past, one of the best pâtes, I’ve had was the pâte Grandmere from Bar Boulud. It’s not as coarse as a pâte de campagne, or a smooth as a mousse…as Goldilocks would say “it’s just right!” So, the Locavore was happy to find a recipe for it in our Charcutepalooza textbook, Charcuteriebut since I rarely just blindly follow the rules, I thought I’d “kick it up a notch.” My idea was to switch out the chicken livers for duck, thanks to our friends at d’Artagnan, and add a center medallion of some fois gras, lurking in my fridge.

Once I had it conceptualized, I’d need some reliable tasters so my friends Zhu Zhu and BJ got an email (you may remember Zhu Zhu from the crème frâiche challenge) to see if they’d be willing to give it a shot. This was also a strategic move, as Zhu Zhu was raving about a new mustard he’d just discovered, a perfect foil for the pate.

Accidental Locavore Duck LiversMaybe deciding to sauté the duck livers before breakfast wasn’t the best idea…besides having a grease splattered kitchen, the lingering aroma of liver somehow is not as enticing as bacon. However, it gave everything a chance to thoroughly chill before coming together.

After all the previous challenges, grinding the meats for the pâte was pretty easy. So easy, that when it was done, I ground some of the remaining pork shoulder and made my husband’s favorite, albondigas for dinner. Checked the mix for seasonings, and into a bain Marie (water bath — but doesn’t it sound better in French?) in the oven for about an hour. Pulled it out, weighted it down and it’s now ready for the tasting panel on Monday night.

Accidental Locavore Pate InlayFirst impression: there seemed to be a lot of fat in the terrine. Could it have broken in the cooking process? Or was it just that the fois gras inset melted? The taste and texture were good, not great. Some of the fois gras was lost and the texture of the terrine was a little crumbly. To the Locavore, it tasted strongly of liver and any taste of pork was drowned out by the liver flavor.  With a little of Zhu Zhu’s new mustard and a cornichon or two, it was fine.

For the future, the duck livers seemed a little strong, so I would cut down on them and add more of the ground pork. A little more brandy or cognac and possibly some more assertive herbs or green peppercorns would have made this more interesting. In the past, my go-to pâte recipe has been the one from Julia Child’s The Way to Cook and it’s always been delicious.

What’s your go-to pâte recipe?Accidental Locavore Pate Tasting



Recipe: Albondigas or Mexican Meatballs

by Anne Maxfield on March 15, 2010

Accidental Locavore AlbondigasThe Accidental Locavore has been making albondigas (Mexican meatballs)  for years.

While I used to keep trying different versions, this one, adapted from Rick Bayliss‘ “Mexican Everyday” is my favorite.

When my husband is in a bad mood, a plate of these cheer him right up! Bonus, they’re quick and easy. Serves 2 greedy people with some leftovers.

Albondigas al Chipotle

  • 3 slices bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves (divided use)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs, or 3/4 cup panko
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground pork
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice (fire-roasted are the best)
  • 1-2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, and 1-2 tablespoons of the canning sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • Lime and avocado for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450°.
In a food processor combine the bacon and 1 of the garlic cloves. Process until finely chopped.
Add the eggs, bread crumbs, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pulse to combine thoroughly.
Add the pork and mint. Pulse until everything is just combined, but not over-processed.
Form the meat into 16 two-inch balls, and space them out on a 13×9″ baking dish.
Bake about 15 minutes until lightly browned.
While the meatballs are cooking: Combine the tomatoes, their juice, chipotles, and the canning sauce, oregano, the 2 remaining garlic cloves cut in half, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor.
Process to a smooth puree. When the meatballs are lightly brown, pour the tomato puree over them, covering them evenly.
Bake until the sauce thickens about 15-20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

My verdict: I could make this once a week and my husband would be thrilled! I’ve made a lot of albondigas recipes, but this is the one I make over and over.
It’s also a forgiving recipe so don’t worry about messing it up if you tweak the ingredients.
What I’ve learned, is that it’s best to warm up the tomato sauce for a minute or two in the microwave, before pouring it over the meatballs. Because of the high heat, ceramic baking dishes have cracked and that prevents it.
Serve with wedges of lime and diced avocado to garnish. If you want them more soupy, you can add some chicken or beef broth to them with the tomato sauce.