Tag Archives: salad

Cookout Co-Pilot: Broccoli-Apple Salad

3 Sep

With summer cookout season winding down, I joined fellow Forkfuller Lindsay and an assemblage of Madison’s W.A.S.T.E.D. crew for a wine tasting themed on pairings with grilled meats and veggies (Verdict: anything from Torrontes to Brut Rose Cava to Shiraz hits the spot with heat and meat).   The grillables – including t-bone steaks, chicken breasts, pork chops (YUM!) and a host of veggie-friendly items – were graciously provided by the host, so we guests were tasked with summery sides.  Lindsay brought an amazing heirloom tomato salad with a creamy dressing spiked with blue cheese while others notable sides included a spinach salad, carrot-ginger salad, and creamy white-bean hummus.

Earlier this summer, I took my first crack at a broccoli slaw/salad similar to what I detail below (minus the apples) and was smitten by its sweet-savory, creamy-crunchy dichotomy.  Granny Smith apples bring extra crunch and a hint of sweet/tartness to the party while the addition of dried cranberries and walnuts act as a hat-tip to the comforting dishes the impending cool weather brings to my table.

Broccoli-Apple Salad

Ingredient Rundown:

  • 3 heads of broccoli, broken down into small florets, stems peeled and diced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 2 strips of bacon, minced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • dollop of dijon mustard
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • dashes of tarragon, thyme, garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

How I did it:

  • Heat minced bacon in large skillet over medium heat until fat begins to render out.  Add broccoli florets, stems, and minced onion, season with salt, and heat for 4-5 minutes until broccoli just starts to soften around the edges.  Remove to large mixing or serving/storage bowl to cool.
  • Mix in diced apple, dried cranberries, and chopped walnuts.
  • To prepare dressing, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and spices and whisk until smooth.
  • Add dressing with broccoli-apple mixture and stir until well-incorporated.  Refrigerate until cool and serve with your favorite flame-charred meats or un-meats.

Check out this post and lots of other fantastic foodie content at Forkful of News.


Curry Favor and Bury Flavor with Brine

26 Jul

I never liked pork chops much growing up. All-too-often overcooked to within an inch of their lives, I couldn’t understand why my parents loved them so much. But flash forward to present day and you’ll know that I adore all things pig, including the humble chop. Why the change of heart? What if I told you a simple bath in salty water and a gentle hand with a hot pan was all that stood between you and the juiciest pork chop you ever ate? Would that be something you might be interested in?

Brining, or the simple process of marinating a food in a salty liquid solution, is perhaps the simplest, most fool-proof means of keeping even the leanest cuts of meat flavorful and juicy, provided you don’t overcook them. The science is a little dense, but the gist is that the high salt content of the brine serves to alter the chemistry of the cells in the meat to the point where they want to hold onto as much moisture as possible. This makes for good eating.

The brine can also act, as any marinade does, to saturate the target with intense flavors impossible by simple surface seasoning. Toss in any spices you would normally use as a rub and watch those flavors penetrate every corner of your meat.

The second key to succulent swine is to take it easy with the heat.  The practice of using uncooked scrap meat as animal feed, coupled with lax meat-handling conditions from farm to table in years past lead to outbreaks of trichinosis, a pig parasite that causes intestinal maladies in most and severe reactions and even death in an unlucky few. While undercooked meat is nothing to joke around about, pork can take on a sear just like a quality steak and a little pink in the middle isn’t a bad thing. Buy fresh or keep frozen and out of the Danger Zone of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit and most meat should be safe to sear. (Editor’s Note: Buying from a farm you trust can also help alleviate concerns.)

Brined pork chops have become one of my favorite cool-weather comfort foods, paired with braised root vegetables or earthy risottos, they make for comfort food of epic proportions.  A recent curry craving had me wondering how the bright flavors of the East might make for a more season-appropriate application of a Fall/Winter stand-by. A quick couscous salad later and I had my answer: great success!

Curry-Brined Pork Chop with Couscous Salad

Ingredient Rundown:

  • bone-in pork chops


  • water
  • ice
  • kosher salt
  • brown sugar
  • sweet curry powder
  • garam masala
  • cracked black pepper

Couscous Salad

  • Cooked couscous
  • finely chopped vegetables (I used red and green bell pepper, onion, carrot, tomato, garlic and cilantro)
  • lime juice
  • olive oil
  • white vinegar
  • curry powder
  • garam masala
  • powdered ginger
  • Sriracha or other hot chili sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

How I do it:

Add about 2 cups to a quart of water (depending on how many chops you’re brining) to small pot and heat until nearly boiling. Add a few teaspoons of salt until the water takes on a seawater-like salinity. Add sugar and remaining spices and stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Add ice until brine is cooled to room temperature.

Place pork chops in brine in a sealed storage container or zip-top bag and marinate in refrigerator for 8-24 hours. Obviously, they will take on more salt and curry flavor with longer brining. I have found that 12 hours is a safe bet for a flavorful, yet not over-salted chop.

Prepare couscous salad by cooking couscous as directed (usually by bringing twice as much water as couscous to a boil with a pinch of salt and splash of olive oil, adding couscous and removing from heat to steam for about 5 minutes, fluffing with a fork).  I added a generous dash of maharaja curry powder with the water as to permeate the couscous as it cooked.

In a mixing bowl, prepare dressing by whisking together lime juice, splash of vinegar, Sriracha, spices, salt, cilantro and olive oil. Add vegetables, stir to combine, cover, and place in refrigerator to chill. Flavor will intensify the longer it chills.

When ready to cook, remove pork chops from brine and pat off excess liquid.  Season with a rub of cracked pepper, curry and garam masala. I sprayed each side of the chops with olive oil and added them to a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Depending on thickness of chops, 3-5 minutes per side should do the trick.  Don’t be afraid of a little pink in the middle.

Plate with couscous salad and serve.

Wine O’clock: Catalpa Pinot Noir 2007

17 Feb

Another day, another Barriques e-mail special washing away the haze of a shift spent catering to the eclectic masses of Middleton, WI.  The smooth subtlety of pinot noir is just what I need to scrub away the coffee grounds, scone crumbs and spent tea leaves acquired over eight-plus hours behind the bar.  Serenity now.

Wine: Catalpa Pinot Noir 2007

Vitals: 14.0% abv; Region – Alto Tupungato, Mendoza, Argentina ; Aged 12 months on new French oak; Ageing potential – 8 years

Company Line: “Bright red ruby color. Aromas of blueberry and gooseberry jam, with hints of caramel and chocolate.  In the mouth, it is elegant and well-balanced, with smooth tannins and intense red fruit notes.  Great with soft cheeses, poultry and lamb.”

My take: deep garnet red in the glass with some floaty bits that stick to the side of the glass.  Blueberry and eucalyptus dominate the nose with a ribbon of milk chocolate upon deeper inspection.  Cherry and plum skins come to the front of the palate, which is pleasantly powdery as a result.  The overall impression is of a dark cherry truffle coated in dark cocoa powder.  Paired naturally with a salad of Granny Smith apples, walnuts, bleu cheese and blueberry vinaigrette.  A wine that added refinement to a day that desperately needed it.  And a steal at $11.99 (some $6 off retail).

New Brew: New Glarus Unplugged Cran-bic Ale

13 Nov


New Glarus Unplugged Cran-bic Ale

Cuz who doesn't love a pun?

The middle of November brings a timely new addition to the venerable New Glarus Unplugged line of experimental beers.  Dan Carey has always had a way with fruit, his Raspberry Tart, Wisconsin Belgian Red, Apple Ale, Cherry Stout, and Enigma all standout offerings showing a deft hand at masterfully blending fruit into solid beer bases that serve as a stage for showcasing the fresh seasonal fruits.  The newest addition to Dan’s fruity family is the Unplugged Cran-bic Ale.  Sounds like a perfect addition to finer Thanksgiving menus across the great state of Wisconsin.

Beer: New Glarus Unplugged Cran-bic Ale

Style: Fruit lambic

Vitals: 6.0% abv, “Sparkling and bright this is a Wisconsin original created for you in the traditional method employed by the Lambic Brewers of Belgium including five months of outdoor resting in oak barrels. Indigenous yeast and cranberries from the “wilds” of Wisconsin flawlessly pair to dance on your palette. You have discovered a rare and delightful treasure to be served cold in a fluted glass.”

My take: Pours a crystal clear shade of burnt amber (perhaps you were expecting cranberry red?) under a short-lived and loosely packed foamy white head.  Nose is dominated by the fruit, with a brown sugar and spice malty depth.  Primarily sweet on the palate, this is certainly not a super-dry lambic in the Belgian tradition.  The balanced tartness and crisp malt backbone falls somewhere between the Belgian Red and Apple Ale for me.  Often, Dan’s barrel-aged beers are very oak-forward, but the wood takes a backseat here.  What he has created is an immanently-drinkable ale that balances the sweet, sour and tart profiles of the fruit masterfully.  It also served as a perfect “dessert” for a light dinner salad of mixed greens from my CSA bonus box, dried cranberries, walnuts, feta, and a quick balsamic vinaigrette I whipped up on the spot.

"House" salad

Bonus Recipe!: Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredient Rollcall:

  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Dijon mustard
  • dash of salt, sugar, cracked pepper, herbes de Provence

How I do it:

  1. Pour vinegar (~2 tablespoons for 1-2 portions), mustard (~1 teaspoon), and seasoning in small mixing bowl.
  2. Begin whisking and slowly drizzle an equal amount of olive oil into vinegar mixture until well-blended and emulsified.
  3. That’s it.  Make your own dressing.  It’s so freaking easy.
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