Sunday, September 2, 2007

Lion's Head Stew

I didn't cook last night. We had some friends over to watch college football in the afternoon, which is always a vicious cycle for me. I like football okay, but I don't love it. I mostly just enjoy the novelty of it being socially acceptable to drink in the middle of the day (on my couch no less!), and I think it's cute to watch my husband and male friends get all excited about the games. After a while I get bored, which leads to more drinking. Then it's dinner time, and I'm too drunk to trust myself with a knife in the kitchen. We ordered pizza instead!

Even though this is a Chinese dish, Wei didn't teach it to me. Rachael Ray did. Yup, 365: No Repeats strikes again!

Does this look familiar?

Maybe a little like salisbury steak? Yeah, I'm not sure why I picked two balls-of-ground-meat recipes in a row. In actuality, they are very different. These oversized pork meatballs are braised with cabbage in a light broth and served with rice. Don't buy lean ground pork for this--the meatballs need a little fat to stay moist.

Peanut, corn or vegetable oil
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 pounds ground pork
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 medium head of napa cabbage, chopped into thin strips

Get a pot of rice started first.

Drizzle about a teaspoon of oil in a small skillet and warm over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms are soft, about 4 minutes. Season with some salt, and remove to a large bowl.

Add the pork, soy sauce, egg, a teaspoon of cornstarch, and a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper to the bowl with the mushrooms and garlic. Stir to combine. Put a large, deep sided skillet or wok on high heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Form the pork mixture into 8 or 10 meatballs, and add to the skillet when the oil is hot. Brown for 2 minutes on each side, then drain on a plate covered in paper towels.

In a deep soup pot, heat the chicken broth to a boil. Add half of the cabbage to the bottom of the pot, then add the meatballs. Finish with a layer of the remaining cabbage. The pot should be filled to the top at this point. Clamp a lid on top and let simmer for 10 minutes, when the cabbage will be wilted into the liquid. Remove a ladleful of the broth into a small bowl or coffee mug and dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in it, then stir it into the pot. Simmer with the lid off for a minute or two to thicken the broth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve over the rice.

Rating: This is awesome
I'm a big fan of using cabbage; it's a vegetable that people seem to forget about a lot. It's so cheap, tasty, and packed with vitamins. It's perfect in this dish, paired with the flavorful pork.

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