Monday, March 29, 2010

Herb-a-licious

When you’re cutting down on fat, carbs, or sodium in your diet, you NEED to replace it with something else. Otherwise you’ll end up eating a boring piece of grilled chicken and steamed vegetables every night. Snooze. After two nights of that diet, I’d be at Burger King next in line for a Whopper with cheese. That scenario is completely unnecessary. When you’re cooking at home, try replacing your sauces and gravies with spices and herbs. You can add a ton of flavor to your food without having to hide the taste of the boring grilled chicken under a heavy, fattening topping.

I’ll admit. I’m new to herbs. When I was little, my mom used to spice up her white rice with rosemary. Hey, she had the right idea, but those sprigs of rosemary were huge! To a little kid, it looked like entire pine trees had fallen into my dinner. So, I thought to myself, maybe I’m missing something here, I’ll just dive in a give it a try. But, they tasted like pine trees too! Has Mom completely lost her mind and started stretching our dinner with weeds from the yard? Every time that bowl of rice came out, my brother and I would beg for ours “without sticks!”

I’m still not into rosemary. But, I’ve gotten over my herb-phobia and found a few that I really enjoy. The best part about it is that in diet lingo, they’re FREE. Zero calories, zero fat, zero salt. You could eat an entire bunch of parsley if you were so inclined. Go ahead and herb-up your food with reckless abandon!

My example here is an Herb-Crusted Pork Roast with Sautéed Cabbage and Apples on the side. Basically, this is that same chicken and veggie from before; a piece of meat with a veggie on the side. But look at how much more interesting the meal can be when you add a few spice and herbs. I thought the spice combination sounded strange. Cinnamon and cumin in the spice rub and cilantro in the crust? But, the flavors really did work well together. The cilantro-based crust added a lot of flavor to the dish. Plus, the technique of crusting the meat kept the pork nice and juicy. I would definitely invest in a digital instant read thermometer for roasts. Super dry pork is just terrible.

The cabbage side dish was a nice accompaniment. I don’t usually like fennel seed. But, when you crush it up into a fine powder it’s very subtle. I added quite a big splash of the vinegar. I like things sour. Next time I think I’ll cut the apples into big chunks rather than slices so they don’t wither away. A nice bite of apple with the cabbage would have added something. Overall, I really enjoyed this meal. It was hearty and filling with tons of bold flavors. A solid replacement for that dreaded chicken cutlet.

* Get cooking. Let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? I’m interested in hearing your feedback and suggestions.


Pork on Foodista

3 comments:

  1. Okay, no fair picking on your dear "old" mom. Yes, in my early culinary days, I did use "sticks" (dried rosemary) in many of my dishes. But today I use fresh rosemary - a world of difference - a milder taste and no dried parts to get stuck in your throat. This herb crust looks really good - a never thought to put a crust on pork - I definitely will try it! Linda (Mom)

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  2. Awe, we love you Linda--there isn't any denying it. (Here's a secret--we all pray for a special invite to your Super Bowl Party every year due to your talent in the kitchen.) But I have to say, the 'sticks' line made me crack up. Trish, you are the best. (And, I'll see you Thursday.) love ya!

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  3. THIS is a great recipe and it presents well, too! Colorful for a rustic dish. The cabbage DOES sound like a nice compliment--esp w/ the larger apples. I would make this dish for guests!

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