There’s no place like home. Of course, for most of last year it seemed like there was no place but home. Like so many others, I eventually grew bored of life within the same four walls. I called my malaise “The New Homesickness.” To combat my illness, I reorganized closets, cabinets and drawers. I installed new faucets. At one point I even swapped the furniture in my dining room with the furniture in my living room (even moving a baby grand piano!) just to switch things up.
I grew bored of my meal rotation, too. I’ve written thousands of recipes in the course of my career, but 2020 made me realize that when I’m home, I tend to make the same 20–30 dinners, or some variation of them, year-round. That was all the more noticeable when I was eating those same meals in the same room with the same people for months on end. At some point last fall, I had to switch up the menu, too.
Some changes were smaller than others. I started using bucatini in my spaghetti recipe, topping it with a creamy dollop of herbed ricotta instead of grated Parmesan. I added sautéed kale to my lemon chicken orzo. I made tostadas instead of tacos and strawberry swirl cake instead of chocolate. I traded my classic grilled pizza for deep dish and even attempted my first pulao (it was delicious).
A few of these culinary exercises were hits with my home team. Others were tolerated as temporary trades. Somewhat surprisingly, a brand-new recipe for curried pork with salted cabbage earned a permanent place on our mealtime roster. As we inch ever closer to returning to the way things once were, I’m happy for the “new normal” here at home—new dishes, eaten in what was once the living room (because, let’s face it, I am not moving that piano again).
CURRIED PORK WITH SALTED CABBAGE
- 1 medium head Napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- ½ tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp. Kowalski’s extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. Kowalski’s naturally raised ground pork
- 2 Fresno chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 6–7 garlic cloves, to taste, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp. ginger puree
- 2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 ¼ cups evaporated milk
- 4 tsp. brown sugar
- freshly ground Kowalski’s black peppercorns, to taste
- steamed basmati rice, for serving
- lime wedges, thinly sliced green onion and cilantro leaves, for garnish
In a medium mixing bowl, toss cabbage with ½ tsp. salt, vinegar and sesame oil; set aside (cabbage will slightly wilt while curry cooks). Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pork to pan; cook and crumble until well-browned but not completely cooked through (about four minutes). Reduce heat to medium; add chiles, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Cook until peppers and garlic are slightly softened and fragrant (about two minutes). Add milk and sugar; bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (about five minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve curry mixture over warm rice with cabbage on the side. Garnish dish with limes, green onion and cilantro.
Rachael Perron is the culinary and brand director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications; kowalskis.com