Monday, July 15, 2013

A “Chopped” Style dinner


I hope you enjoyed my recap on poutine last week.  I have at least one more recap on Montreal coming up, which I hope to share with you all later this week.  But first, dinner!


Tonight’s dinner looks atrocious, but I promise you it was tasty! And good for you too!

I came home tonight and threw together what J. calls a “Chopped”-style dinner.  “Chopped” is easily my favorite cooking reality TV show – it’s so addictive to watch! For those of you haven’t seen the show (where have you been?!), the show begins with four contestants and one is eliminated from each round by a panel of judges.  Each round is a course (appetizer, entrée, and dessert), and each course the contestants are given a “mystery basket” to prepare the course.  The mystery basket always has some hodgepodge of ingredients that don’t seem to go together, like easy cheese, “duck white kidneys,” brown bread in a can, or one episode, an emu egg.  (By the way, if you don’t know what duck white kidneys are… Google it, you’ll be surprised!)

Anyway, so I came home and found a hodgepodge of ingredients in the fridge that had to be used – half a bunch of wilting kale, a quarter of a browning avocado, and pork tenderloin.  So I threw them all together in a pan, along with garlic, some salsa and came together with this Mexican inspired “stir-fry.” It’s not the prettiest dish -- I would definitely get “chopped” for presentation, but it came out to be spicy and flavorful. 

Spicy Pork and Kale Stir Fry

Serves 2-3


  • 6 oz. lean pork tenderloin, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 bunch of kale (about 17 stems), stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini
  • 3/4 cup prepared salsa
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil

Seasonings to taste:

  • Cumin
  • onion powder
  • chili powder
  • red pepper flakes
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • a few dashes of hot sauce

Accompaniments :

  • Avocado
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream
  • Corn tortillas


Heat about 1 Tbs olive oil over medium heat.  Season pork with a little salt, pepper and cumin.  Add pork and cook until browned on all sides (about 1 minute on each side).  Remove heat from pan and set pork aside on a dish.

Add another Tbs of olive to the pan and bring it back to medium heat.  Add zucchini and cook for about 1 minute.  Add garlic (see note on cooking garlic*), and cook for about 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Push zucchini and garlic to the sides of the pan, forming a well.  Cook kale in the well, until wilted. Add seasonings to taste. Stir in cooked pork and salsa.  Cook for about another minute until heated through.  Serve with optional toppings or just eat it as is!


To avoid burning the garlic, I learned this method from Cooks Illustrated, which I have described here on the blog, but I finally took a picture.  Push the vegetables to the sides of the pan, forming an empty space in the middle of the pan.  Add 1/2 tsp of olive oil in the middle of the pan, and then add the garlic to the oil.  What you have will look like this:


Once the garlic has been cooking for about 30 seconds, stir to combine it with the vegetables. 

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