Slow-cooked Pork in Northwest Mole Sauce

Image of a single serving of Pork served with baked polenta and mole It's been a busy month and I've been cooking up a storm. Now it's time to blog about some of this!
When friends from Washington were visiting, I made pork in mole (pronounced mo-lay) sauce but I had try it with a northwest spin. I've been working on my mole sauce for a long time but this one turned out nice and it was simpler than most I've tried. The slow-cooker takes a lot of the work out of it.

Mole sauce, while complex, isn't all that tough to make and it gets better with time. A quick check online will produce more recipes than I imagined but there are some ingredients that stay the same; nuts, chile peppers, and something sweet are the basic 3 but there's room for creativity every step of the way.
For this recipe I used Oregon hazelnuts instead of almonds (or peanuts) as the chief thickener. I used dates instead of raisins and sunflower seeds instead of sesame.

Even the pork was a northwest original. I chose fresh pork that's sustainably raised and fed with GMO-free feed. In this case, it came from Tails & Trotters, noted for finishing the feeding process with hazelnuts. How perfect is that? Many thanks to Mike Wooley, from Long's Meat Market, for working with me. Most butchers are used to questions about the quality of the meat, and they routinely work with the size of each piece (they had to fit in the slow cooker) but he didn't miss a beat when I told him that it needed it to be photogenic, too.

I gave this one a 'difficult' rating but it's not hard to do, just complex. There's a lot of tasting as you go and it helps to know what you like. If you've never made mole before, consider this one a worthwhile adventure in the kitchen.

Time: 1 hour prep 6-8 hours total
Yield: Serves 10
Level: Difficult


Easy Orzo Salad

Two servings of Orzo salad on salad plates and served outside.
Thanks to my aunt, Marian, who was glad to pass along her recipe for my blog. This is a favorite for potlucks and parties at her house.  She calls it "Frog's Eye Salad" and once you start mixing it you'll see why. No matter how hard you try to keep them separate, the peas find their way into the olives and, well, they look like cartoon frog eyes to me!

If you're trying to get a kid interested in cooking, this colorful salad is a good first choice. Depending on the age of the child, you may want to take over pasta cooking duty, but save saying, "frogs eyes" for the kid. 

With apologies to my aunt, I confess that I made some changes to her original. Since everything was in season, I had the opportunity to use fresh peas and heirloom tomatoes, but you can also use frozen peas and a juicy beefsteak tomato. As always, stick to locally grown organic vegetables. I didn't add the shrimp, since we were serving it with grilled prawns but I served crumbled feta cheese on the side.


Time: 1 hour
Level: Easy
Yield: Serves 10 - 12