Squash & Pork Stir-Fry

I’m sure you’ve rushed around the grocery store thinking you’ve purchased the necessary ingredients to throw together a “quick” weeknight meal. Right? I thought that was the case for me… When  I started to prepare this dish, I realized that I had ground pork instead of pork sausage and butternut instead of kabocha squash. I’m blaming holiday stress and distraction. (Well, truth be told, the squash was a conscious substitution- no fabulous kabocha to be found.) :/

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I doubled the recipe, used ground pork instead of pork sausage (oops!), seasoned accordingly, butternut instead of kabocha squash, and cashews instead of peanuts. I also omitted the sugar. I roasted the squash instead of steaming and sautéing it. We let the dish stand alone, but it would also be wonderful accompanied by rice. Delicious!

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 1 medium butternut or kabocha squash, cut into 1-inch pieces, approximately 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound (80 percent lean) ground pork
  • 1 tsp coarse salt, plus more for squash
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for squash
  • dash or two of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and sliced
  • 1 T finely grated peeled ginger root
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)
  • 4 tsp fish sauce
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • salted, roasted peanuts or cashews and chopped cilantro, for serving, as desired
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Toss squash with 1 T olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place squash on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, and paprika; cook, breaking into large pieces and stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, shallot, chiles, and ginger and cook, stirring often, just until softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add roasted squash, lime juice, fish sauce, and scallions; toss to combine.
  6. Serve stir-fry topped with nuts and cilantro, as desired.

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Mario Batali’s Chocolate Chicken Mole

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Mole is one of my favorite things in this world to eat. When we lived in Chicago, we would go to a restaurant that served a different type of mole every night of the week- heaven! When I saw Mario Batali make this mole on The Chew, I couldn’t wait to try it. Wonderful!! Yay! My family- especially my son- gobbled it up too. 🙂

The original recipe called for Mexican drinking chocolate, but, after an unsuccessful search for it, I substituted my favorite Trader Joe’s 72% cacao dark chocolate- perfect. According to Mario Batali, the burnt tortilla is very important for the resulting texture and smokiness of the sauce; I charred the corn tortilla on the open flame of my gas range. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs for convenience. The sesame seeds provided a contrasting texture in the otherwise smooth sauce. FABULOUS!!

  • 8 Bone-In Skin-On Chicken Thighs or 10-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 small White Onions (diced)
  • 3 Garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 cup Peanuts
  • 1/4 cup whole Almonds
  • 1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
  • 1 Corn Tortilla (charred and cut into 8 wedges)
  • 4 large Guajillo; New Mexico; or California Chiles (stems removed)
  • 3 large Dried Mulato or Ancho Chiles (stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 2 cups Chicken Stock
  • 3 ounces Mexican Drinking Chocolate or 72% cacao dark chocolate (grated)
  • Cilantro (leaves only; to garnish)
  • Lime Wedges (to garnish)
  • Brown Basmati Rice, for serving
  • Sour Cream, for serving, if desired
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken deeply on all sides and remove to a plate. Add the onions, garlic, and cinnamon to the pot and cook over medium-low for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the peanuts, almonds, sesame seeds, charred tortilla, and chiles. Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the contents of the bowl and steep for 5 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid, remove solids to a food processor, and pulse with just enough water to create a sauce-like paste.
  3. Pour the paste over the onion mixture, and add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken pieces and chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chocolate and simmer 2 more minutes. Serve with rice, sour cream, and fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges, if desired.

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