Trish's Pork Belly

Trish Hooper is one of our most faithful members and brings the added value of teaching us enhancements of how to cook our meats.

"Basic out of the original JV recipe book -- Bruce Herzog recipe for Pork Belly but I keep experimenting. This one used onions (fennel too expensive for my taste, used to pull it up free in CA, grew wild and the best), lots of garlic, soy sauce rubbed into fat top; 1.5 hrs into roasting, brush with with a little honey.  Finish with some coarse grain mustard made from the drippings. What you do when you don't have a grill, LOL. " 

Thank you, Trish! Really like the way you scored the meat and brushing it with honey is a must-try for me.

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Christmas Lamb

Let’s discuss cooking the leg or shoulder roast of lamb, the latter being slightly more tender than the former. It’s all good. But first, make your Christmas dinner a super-special occasion this year. Maybe you do that regardless of a reminder? If not, put out your best tableware, cloths and candles. Dress up a bit above normal. Express appreciation for the bounty of your table and your life together, engage your children and emphasize the things you are grateful for. These things will make it a Christmas to remember for your family.


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. thyme or rosemary
  • ¼ tsp. powdered ginger


  1. Mix all ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl.
  2. Rub olive oil on the lamb. Then rub the seasoning mix onto the lamb.
  3. Check the chart from the American Lamb Board for the appropriate cooking time.

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Italian Meatballs

I buy my pasta sauce at the grocery. It's good stuff and avoids the necessity of hours in making the sauce. I like the brands that have an italian momma on the label.

Modified from the original recipe found on


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated locatelli cheese; hold back some for garnish.


  • Whip eggs in a large bowl. Add beef to whipped eggs and incorporate by hand.
  • Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl then add to bowl with eggs and beef in stages to get a consistent distribution in the meat.
  • Roll meatballs to about the size of a golf ball. (wet your hands to prevent the meat from sticking to them while rolling the meat balls).
  • Drop raw meatballs into large (I use a stock pot) pot of sauce.
  • OPTIONAL - Move oven rack to middle slot and place meatballs on a sheet pan and broil in the oven for 10 minutes, turning them over halfway through.
  • Simmer meatballs in sauce for about 3 hours.
  • Serve hot and sprinkle with the cheese you hopefully remembered to hold back.

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Rancho Gordo Cassoulet


  • 1 lb RG Cassoulet beans
  • 1 pound slab fresh pastured Berkshire pork belly, cut into 2 pieces
  • large turnip unless you can get young ones, then get 8 of those. cut into chunks
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • Bunch, green onions, sliced
  • 4 carrots, cut into nice thick pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • Bulb of garlic, smashed
  • Brown mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt, pepper and Provence seasonings


The Mirepoix

In a large preferably iron skillet or Dutch oven, add a 1/2 stick of your best salted butter. Adding a bit of smashed garlic, saute the mushrooms until darkened. Set mushrooms aside.
In the butter, saute turnips and carrots, sprinkling with brown sugar. Cook on medium high heat so that a brown edge develops. Set aside.
Add all other vegetables including garlic to skillet and saute until slightly softened but still crisp. (Remember, this will all cook in the beans as well so you want to have everything with some life left in it to undergo the bean cooking process.)

The Beans

In a stock pot, add the beans and cover with water per package instructions. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, add all of the sauteed vegetables (except the mushrooms) and pork belly, reduce to simmer and cook uncovered until beans are almost as soft as you would want them for eating. Stir as little as possible but make sure nothing is caking on the bottom. Add reserved mushrooms at that point. Add a bit of water as needed in the cooking process.

The Finish

Before going into the oven, and using a metal serving spoon, smash the beans against the side of the pot to release even more flavor from the beans. NOT all of them, just the one layer that is against the sides of the pot. (I was taught this wonderful secret to better beans by a Mexican lady selling charro beans from her stand near the Alamo in San Antonio. If you don't know where that is, I can't help you.)
Now put your pot into a 425 preheated oven. When your beans are crusted on top, it's ready.

The Serve

Set the pot on the table with bowls and utensils and let the diners serve from the pot the way the french do it! If you wish, pull the pork belly onto a separate cutting board and let them slice off a chunk to go back into their beans.

Serve with a great bread, butter and cheap red wine. Candles in a darkened room never hurt either.

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Italian Pork Pie with Zucchini Crust

Recipe adapted by Elizabeth Boudreaux.



  • 2 cups zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder


  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1 pound JVF ground pork
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced


  • Pine nuts
  • Parmesan
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Mix all crust ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon mixture into a greased 9-inch pie dish. Press against sides and bottom to form crust.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add JVF ground pork and garlic. Brown, then drain any liquid left in pan.
  4. Add tomato paste and herbs; mix. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Spoon onto crust.
  5. Bake 20 minutes.
  6. Add optional toppings. Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes.

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Sweet Pepper Pork Nachos

Recipe for Success - VegOut 2017 Challenge

This recipe is a modified version of the Skinnytaste Bell Pepper Nachos.


  • olive oil spray
  • 1 lb JVF ground pork
  • 1 can black or pinto beans, drained
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 onion, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 21 mini rainbow peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1 cup sharp shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced thin (optional)
  • chopped avocados
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a large baking try with parchment or aluminum foil. Lightly spray with oil.
  2. Spray oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add onion, garlic and cilantro and sauté about 2 minutes, add ground pork, beans, salt, garlic powder, cumin and cook meat for 4 to 5 minutes until meat is completely cooked through. Add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and chicken broth, mix well and simmer on medium for about 5 minutes, remove from heat.
  4. Meanwhile, blanch peppers in boiling water to slightly soften before baking.
  5. Arrange mini peppers in a single layer, cut-side up close together.
  6. Fill each with cooked pork mixture, top with shredded cheese and jalapenos.
  7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  8. Remove from oven and top with cilantro and avocado. Serve immediately.

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Greek Meatballs

From soon-to-be-new-dad John Henry Boudreaux (a.k.a. Baby Boy):

For those of you who don't know, my wife is pregnant with our first child! All very exciting. But there is something I am quickly realizing as the non-pregnant person in this relationship - WE ARE SUPERFLUOUS! It's amazing one of us is literally growing a person and for the other it is Tuesday. 
That separation between import of roles is dramatic and so I do the one thing I can do - COOK! My lady loves dishes that keep it simple. Steak should taste like steak, fish fish, asparagus asparagus. In general, I agree, but when cooking 3 meals a day, every day you want some variety. What's the solution? Meatballs!
Meatballs are a cook's laboratory where one can celebrate the meat while still adding some dynamic flavors and profiles. From the rich, garlicky ball that loves a marinara sauce to the light, airy one that floats in a miso soup, the meatball is delicious, diverse, and deserving of our attention. Think about meatballs when burgers feel played out or you have some left over pork or beef ground.


  • 1 part ground JVF pork
  • 1 part ground JVF beef (or just one or the other)
  • BIG glop of full fat, greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup finely chopped scallion
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped or minced (best if you sweat them in olive oil before adding but not necessary)
  • Salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Big scoop of panko* I use panko for this rather than bread crumbs as it lightens the density and adds some nice flavor


  1. Combine all ingredients. Make into golf ball sized balls.
  2. Heat olive oil in iron skillet (Go buy a cast iron skillet, pan and dutch oven if you don't own one. This isn't merely a suggestion - these are cheap, they take a whipping, and they last a lifetime+. Mom and Dad are still using a skillet from Mom's grandmother's boarding house).
  3. Sear and crust one side of the ball.
  4. Rotate ball 180 degrees and immediately place in 400 degree oven, reduce to 350 degrees, to finish (about 15 min.)
  5. Let sit for 10 minutes. 
  6. Serve

These delectable discoids go great dipped in Tzatziki sauce, placed on top of couscous, or made into a Gyro with kalamata olives and hummus. Try them out and let us know what works and what doesn't. Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Garlic Soup

We are soup lovers. Whether that be soup as a starting course or as the main entree, soup gives you the opportunity to deliciously expand your meal's variety of nutrients. We are also garlic lovers. Garlic is touted as one of the great medicinal vegs of all time. When our daughter was being taught piano by a young Polish immigrant who was also a fine vocalist, she showed up one day with a bad sore throat and sniffles. Since she was scheduled to sing that evening, but was in no shape to do so, she asked Honi for as much fresh garlic as could be spared. After peeling and slicing the garlic, she put it between 2 slices of bread and ate while giving Elizabeth her piano lesson. By the time she left, her voice was clear and strong, her sniffles gone. And that , my friends, is why we believe some garlic a day keeps the doctor away.

So try this garlic soup brought to you by the Catholic order of the Society of Jesus.

Serves 6

You will need these ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 stick salted butter
  • 1 large bulb garlic (but I easily double that. See my prep suggestion below)
  • 3-4 slices of your favorite bread, lightly toasted.
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups homemade beef stock or 3 (10&1/2 oz cans) beef broth
  • 6 egg yolks, beaten
  • salt and white pepper to taste


  1. Put 1 or 2 bulbs garlic, separated into cloves but unpeeled, into your food processor or blender. Cover cloves with water. Mince. Strain, saving the water to use as instead of the cup of water mentioned in the ingredients.
  2. After you have separated the garlic-infused water from the minced garlic, save the minced garlic and its stock separately. (Don't worry about the peels, those are nutrient-packed too and will dissolve nicely in the cooking)
  3. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet and add the minced garlic. Careful not to burn it. When the aroma of garlic begins to emanate from the skillet, remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and reserve. 
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and dip the bread in the hot oil/butter, coating both sides. Return skillet to heat and toast until bread is golden and crisp. Reserve.
  5. Combine the garlic, its water and stock to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes at a very light simmer. Strain and reserve the broth.
  6. Add egg yolks to 2 cups of the broth a stir in vigorously. Away from the heat, beat the egg mixture into the remaining broth. Season with salt and pepper. Reheat but do not boil. Place bread in bowl and ladle soup over the bread.

I like to garnish with chopped parsley and green onion before serving. Adds some color and nutrients. Parmesan cheese, anyone? Why Not!

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