Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chard Wraps with Szechuan Pork

Chard is one of those versatile leafy greens that can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. And its large leaves make it a perfect candidate for wrapping something in—like spicy ground pork and vegetables with delicious Szechuan flavors.

Szechuan cuisine typically features bold, pungent flavors with plenty of heat and aromatic ingredients like garlic and ginger. Unlike other Asian sauces that are soy- or sesame-based, Szechuan sauces tend to be tomato based, particularly pureed tomatoes or simply tomato sauce. Another common ingredient in Szechuan sauces is sherry. If you don’t have sherry on hand, substitute a light-bodied white or red wine.

Note: Chard leaves are light and tender so they don’t need to be pre-cooked before rolling up (like cabbage leaves, for instance); however, they do have thick, tough bottom stems and ribs that need to be removed. Simply cut off the stem below the bottom of a leaf, then lay the leaf on a work surface and run a knife along the edges of the center rib about two inches up from the bottom. Press the remaining center rib against the work surface, gently crushing it to make it more pliable for rolling. When you’re ready to add the filling, pull together the separated pieces at the bottom of the leaf, overlapping them before placing the filling on top:

Cut off bottom stem and portion of center rib 
Crush remaining rib to soften 
Overlap the bottom pieces before filling
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • sea salt
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 3 red Thai chiles, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 8 large chard leaves, prepared as noted above
  • steamed white rice, for serving
Prepared Filling Ingredients
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the tomato sauce, sherry, vinegar, and sugar in a bowl and season with salt. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. Set aside.
Tomato Sauce Mixture 
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the peanut oil. Add the Thai chiles, garlic, scallions, carrot, and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until the carrot begins to soften, 5-6 minutes.
  2. Add the pork and season with salt. Cook, breaking up the meat, until just cooked through and the liquid is absorbed, 8-9 minutes.
  3. Add 2/3 cup of the reserved tomato sauce mixture. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes. Tip: Divide the pork mixture into 8 even sections to make judging the filling portions easier.
Chile Mixture Beginning to Cook 
Pork Added 
Pork with Tomato Sauce Mixture
Divide the cooked pork into 8 sections
  1. Lay a prepared chard leaf on a work surface with the bottom toward you. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the pork mixture onto the leaf 1 inch from the bottom. Roll up tightly, tucking in the sides as you go.
  2. Place the stuffed chard wrap seam-side down in an 11 X 7-inch baking dish and repeat with the remaining leaves and pork mixture, setting the wraps snuggly side by side in the dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce mixture over top.
  3. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven until the chard softens and the filling is hot, 10 minutes.
Spoon on Filling 
Roll up Tightly
Stuffed Chard 
Ready to Bake 
Baked Chard Wraps
Divide the rice among 4 plates. Place 2 chard wraps on top of each, spooning some of the tomato sauce from the dish overtop as well. Serve hot.

Chard Wraps with Szechuan Pork

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