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Honey Chipotle Pork Tacos with Pineapple-Jicama Salsa

Honey Chipotle Pork Tacos with Pineapple-Jicama Salsa

These juicy pork tacos are slowly braised in a dutch oven until the meat is fall-apart tender. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, onions, dried ancho chiles, brown sugar, your favorite dark beer and a healthy pour of honey give these tacos a unique spicy, yet sweet, flavor. Topped with pineapple-jicama salsa, pickled radish and avocado crema, this recipe is a new, fun twist for your next Taco Tuesday.

Does anyone not love tacos? If you don’t, then we probably can’t be friends (joking). Tacos have always been a staple in my weekly dinner routine and are also one of my favorite foods to experiment with. They’re so versatile because they can be made with just about any protein, vegetable, fruit or grain you can think of. The filling possibilities are endless and (almost) always delicious. 

This recipe was inspired by a recent lunch outing I had with one of my best friends. We both ordered these fajitas that were made with this super delicious honey chipotle sauce. After trying them, I instantly knew I wanted to try and recreate it at home. Only rather than fajitas, I’m doing tacos.

One thing I felt the fajitas at the restaurant were missing was acidity. Which is why I’m adding a simple pineapple-jicama salsa to my recipe. Not only does this salsa add a little acid to the tacos, but the pineapple complements the pork beautifully and the jicama adds a nice crunch.  Made with fresh pineapple, jicama, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, and a little lime juice, this salsa is also delicious served with chips. I’ve also used it on top of salads and grilled fish.

As for the meat, it couldn’t be easier. It all starts with seasoning a nice-sized pork roast (pork shoulder). The meat is generously rubbed with a mixture of ground coriander, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Once seasoned, it is seared on all sides in a screaming-hot dutch oven until browned all over. The best park about searing the pork is the brown sugar begins to caramelize so you get these crispy bits all over the outside of the pork.

Next, thinly sliced onions are sautéd in the same dutch oven used to sear the pork, along with garlic. Once the onions are translucent, the whole pan gets deglazed with dark beer. This allows all the yummy charred bits from searing the pork to release and become part of the braising liquid. After that, it’s time to add heat and spices. Chipotle peppers in adobo, dried ancho chiles, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves, oregano and a few other pantry staples get added, along with a little chicken stock, before placing the pork back into the dutch oven.

From here, you just cover the dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low, and let it cook for about 4 hours. While it cooks, the juices reduce and thicken. I check on the meat usually around the 2-hour mark. If it’s looking dry, I add another 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Once the meat is falling apart, the pork is removed and shredded with two forks.

Before adding the meat back into the dutch oven, however, the sauce gets finished up. All of the braising liquid, spices, peppers and herbs get added into a blender or food processor and puréed until smooth. Then, the purée gets returned to the dutch oven along with a healthy dose of honey and a little butter. Finally, the pork gets added back to the sauce and everything is tossed together until every inch of the pork is coated in the yummy sauce.

From here, it’s time to serve and assemble the tacos. In addition to the pineapple-jicama salsa, I top these tacos with a bit of pickled radish, fresh cilantro, avocado crema, and queso fresco. Because these tacos are pretty sweet, additional acidity from the pickled radish helps balance out the sweetness of the honey and brown sugar.

Also, I’d put these tacos in the medium to hot range when it comes to spice level. If you want to go milder, you can reduce the number of whole chipotle peppers or eliminate the peppers and use only the adobo sauce the peppers are canned in. The sauce alone typically packs quite a punch. Luckily, the avocado crema and queso fresco do wonders to cool off the heat of these tacos. Therefore, even if you go full blast with the peppers, these two toppings give the palette some relief.

I’ve tried these tacos on both flour tortillas and corn tortillas and both work wonderfully—choose whichever you prefer. My favorite tortillas are actually a hybrid of white corn and wheat by La Tortilla Factory. They hold up like traditional flour tortillas, but still, have that corn tortilla flavor that I love. They use to be hard to find, but I’m seeing them pretty much everywhere now. They’re linked here if you want to try and find them at a grocery store near you.

What are your favorite tacos? Do you prefer classic ground beef or are you enjoying the emergence of all these new, unique taco variations? Let me know in the comments below. I personally love all the creative combinations I’m seeing—both on social media and in restaurants. I’ve really become interested in Mexican cooking, in general lately so expect to see more in the coming months. Do you have any favorite blogs or cookbooks for authentic Mexican cooking? I’d love to hear your recommendations.

As always, thank you so much for visiting my little corner of the Internet. If you make these Honey Chipotle Pork Tacos with Pineapple-Jicama Salsa, please give the recipe a rating and tag me on social media—it’s @frydaeblog (#frydae) absolutely everywhere. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Honey Chipotle Pork Tacos with Pineapple Jicama Salsa

These juicy pork tacos are slowly braised in a dutch oven until the meat is fall-apart tender. Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, onions, dried ancho chiles, brown sugar, your favorite dark beer and a healthy pour of honey give these tacos a unique spicy, yet sweet, flavor. Topped with pineapple-jicama salsa, pickled radish and avocado crema, this recipe is a new, fun twist for your next Taco Tuesday.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless pork roast (pork shoulder)
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons brown sugar (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion (thinly sliced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 12 ounces dark beer
  • 2-5 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (about half of a 7oz can)
  • 1 dried ancho chile (seeds and stem removed)
  • 2 whole dried bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • corn or flour tortillas, queso fresco, lime wedges (for serving)

Pineapple-Jicama Salsa

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple (diced)
  • 3/4 cup jicama (diced)
  • 1-2 fresh jalapenos (diced)
  • 1/2 cup white onion (minced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
  • 1-2 limes (juiced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pickled Radishes

  • 1 bunch radishes (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Avocado Crema

  • 1 whole large avocado
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1-2 tablespoon milk

Instructions

  1. Honey Chipotle Pork

    Preheat a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, pat the pork roast dry and then rub generously, on all sides, with ground coriander seeds, salt, pepper and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar. Once the meat is seasoned and the dutch oven is preheated, drizzle a little olive oil into the pan. 

    Next, sear the pork on all sides, allowing it to char and caramelize before turning. Once the meat is browned on all sides, remove the pork from the pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low.

    Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan along with the thinly sliced onions. Saute until the onions are translucent—about 3-4 minutes—and then add the garlic. Cook for about 1 minute and then deglaze the pan with 12 ounces of dark beer.

    Bring to a simmer, then add the chipotle peppers, along with about half of the can's adobo sauce. Stir and then add the dried ancho chile, bay leaves, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper and onion powder. Combine and then pour 1/4 cup of chicken stock over everything. You want the braising liquid to come up about halfway on the meat and not completely cover the meat.

    Now, cover the dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat to your stovetop's lowest setting. Let the meat cook for 4 hours, or until it is easily shredded with two forks. Depending on the thickness of your meat you may need more or less time.

    When the meat is tender, turn off the heat. Remove the meat onto a cutting board and use two forks to shred. Set aside.

    Next, transfer the remaining contents of the dutch oven into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth and then return to the dutch oven. Mix the purée with 1/4 cup of honey and 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir until the butter is melted and then add the shredded pork. Toss the meat to coat it with the sauce and serve warm. 

    To assemble the tacos, add a little honey chipotle pork to the center of a corn or flour tortilla. Top with pineapple-jicama salsa, pickled radish, cilantro, queso fresco and avocado crema. Enjoy!

  1. Pineapple-Jicama Salsa

    In a bowl, combine diced pineapple, jicama, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Stir to combine and then add salt and lime juice. Stir, then cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. When ready, give everything a final toss and serve. This salsa is best eaten within 3 days.

  1. Pickled Radishes

    In a bowl, combine water, vinegar, salt and sugar. Stir and then pour over thinly sliced radishes. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. These radishes can last several weeks in the fridge if stored in an airtight container.

  1. Avocado Crema

    Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the avocado from the skin and place in blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the sour cream and stir until combined. Next, add the milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Crema should have a thin, almost pourable consistency. Imagine a thick avocado milkshake. Sorry if that doesn't sound tasty, but that's the consistency you're going for.

Easy Stovetop Coq Au Vin

Easy Stovetop Coq Au Vin

This easy, stovetop version of Coq Au Vin results in tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken in a luscious red wine sauce. Cooked with bacon, rainbow carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms and fresh herbs, this hearty meal is best served with mashed potatoes and crusty bread.

Would you believe me if I told you that, up until a few months ago, I had never tried coq au vin before? Now, I know half of you are reading this with mouths agape in incredulous shock. The other half of you are sitting there staring at your screens thinking coq au…WHAT?! Don’t worry, this is a judgement free zone.

While I had heard of coq au vin before, I had always been intimidated to cook it. My trepidation probably stems from the name being French. I just automatically assumed that it would be difficult, time-consuming and involve expensive, hard-to-find ingredients, so I just never made the effort. Well, as it turns out, I was wrong. On all fronts. Not only is coq au vin easy to make, but it’s made in a single pan and most of the ingredients are affordable pantry staples.

For those of you who have never heard of coq au vin, it’s a traditional French stew made with chicken braised in red wine with assorted vegetables and fresh herbs. It doesn’t sound like anything special, but for those of you who have eaten (or made) coq au vin before, you know that it’s much more than just a chicken stew.

I don’t know how to describe it, but something magical happens while coq au vin cooks. The fat from the chicken renders into the red wine along with all the other flavors and turns the sauce into this insanely rich, velvety concoction. It’s amazing. I just love how something so delicious is created from a few simple, everyday ingredients.

My version of coq au vin simplifies the classic recipe even further by eliminating the need to finish cooking the dish in the oven. Time is really the only factor working against the traditional recipe. Typically, once all the ingredients are combined on the stovetop, the dish is covered and transferred to a low oven for 2-3 hours. If you’re a purist, you may scoff at cutting corners in traditional French cooking, but I wanted to turn coq au vin into an accessible weeknight meal that anyone could enjoy.

For this reason, I also eliminated cognac which is typical of traditional coq au vin recipes. Again, I wanted to make this version of coq au vin as easy and accessible as possible. For me, brandy isn’t something I keep on hand so it was a natural omission. However, if you do have brandy in your pantry, you can totally add a few tablespoons to this recipe. Add it to the pan when you mix in the tomato paste and let it cook down for a 1-2 minutes before you add the wine. It will add a nice added layer of flavor to the recipe.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to start at the beginning, and it all begins with bacon. Yes, I forgot to mention earlier that coq au vin usually starts (and ends) with bacon. In a large cast iron skillet with a cover or dutch oven, cook four slices of bacon until crispy. Remove from pan, roughly chop and set aside.

While the bacon cooks, pat dry your chicken legs and thighs and season with salt, pepper and dried rosemary. I also love to use Jacobsen Rosemary Salt for this recipe when I have it on hand. Seriously, if you’ve never tried their salts before they are game-changers.

Next, the chicken gets seared over medium-high heat in the bacon fat. It’s a beautiful thing. Let it cook on all sides until the skin is nice and crispy. Then, the chicken is removed and mushrooms, peeled pearl onions and chopped rainbow carrots get added to the pan. Cook the vegetables for 5 to 8 minutes until they begin to char and soften. I like to keep all my veggies whole or in large chunks to ensure they don’t get too mushy when they’re later braised in the red wine with the chicken. 

Then, stir in garlic, tomato paste, fresh thyme and rosemary before adding the chicken back to the pan. Finally, a healthy pour of red wine goes over everything before the pan is covered. From here you just turn down your stovetop to it’s lowest setting and let everything hang out for an hour. Serious magic will happen in this hour—trust me.

When the hour is up, uncover the pan and marvel and all the deliciousness within. Before serving, check that your chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F and that your vegetables are fork tender. To preserve the rustic look of this dish, I like to serve it right from the pan. When ready to serve, sprinkle everything with fresh parsley and thyme along with the reserved chopped bacon.

Pro tip: serve this coq au vin with mashed potatoes and crusty bread. It gives you not one, but two vessels for soaking up even more of this delicious sauce.

Have you tried (or made) coq au vin before? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you try out this recipe, be sure to give it a rating and tag me on social media. It’s @frydaeblog or #frydae absolutely everywhere. As always, thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you enjoy. Happy Frydae!

Easy Stovetop Coq Au Vin

This easy, stovetop version of Coq Au Vin results in tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken in a luscious red wine sauce. Cooked with bacon, rainbow carrots, pearl onions, mushrooms and fresh herbs, this hearty meal is best served with mashed potatoes and crusty bread.

Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 2 pounds chicken thighs and legs (skin-on)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (chopped)
  • 1.5 cups pearl onions (peeled, skins removed)
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms
  • 1.5 cups rainbow carrots (whole or chopped into large chunks)
  • 1 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 3 ounces tomato paste (half of a can)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • fresh parsley (garnish)

Instructions

  1. In a large cast iron skillet, with a cover, or dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-low heat until crispy. Remove from pan, roughly chop and set aside. Reserve bacon fat.

    Next, pat dry chicken legs and thighs and season with salt, pepper and rosemary. Turn-up the heat to medium-high and sear the chicken in the reserved bacon drippings on all sides. Cook until skin is golden and crispy—about 2-3 minutes per side.

    Remove chicken and add prepared vegetables to pan. Saute vegetables in bacon and chicken drippings until they begin to char and soften—about 5-8 minutes.

    Add garlic and tomato paste to the pan and stir to combine. Then, replace chicken to the pan along with fresh thyme and rosemary.

    Pour red wine over chicken and vegetables, reduce heat to your burner's lowest setting and cover with a lid. Cook for one hour.

    After one hour, remove the lid and check the internal temperature of chicken. It should register at 165°F and vegetables should be fork tender.

    When ready to serve, sprinkle with reserved chopped bacon, parsley and additional fresh thyme. Serve with mashed potatoes and crusty bread. Enjoy!

Reuben Lasagna

Reuben Lasagna

Combining two classic recipes into one, this delightfully unique Reuben Lasagna is made with layers of tender corned beef, tangy sauerkraut, aged Swiss cheese, al dente pasta sheets and 1000 island ricotta caraway cream. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy this lasagna with a pint of your favorite Irish Stout.

One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to create recipes that merge two very different recipes into one. Whenever I’m eating I’m always thinking, “oh, I bet this could be made into a pizza, burger, pasta salad or taco and be amazing!”

That’s how this week’s recipe came about. A few years ago I was planning a dinner for my Dad’s birthday which happens to be close to St. Patrick’s Day. I wanted to create something special for him that combined a few of his favorite foods.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my dad is fairly predictable when it comes to food. When we go out to eat, my Mom and I can usually look at the menu and put bets on what he’s going to order. However, it’s gotten to the point where my dad has caught onto our little game and started trying new things just to prove us wrong. I know, we’re all super mature!

Two menu items that my dad always seems to gravitate towards are lasagna and reuben sandwiches. So I decided I wanted to figure out a way to blend these two family-favorites together.

At first, the task seemed a little daunting but I soon realized how naturally a reuben’s ingredients could be incorporated into the layers of lasagna.

As for the corned beef I want to start fist with a little PSA. Please for the love of God don’t use sliced, process deli corned beef for this recipe. It just won’t work the same way. Don’t do it. No. Just Stop. Don’t. You’ve been warned.

I would have inserted a video clip of sad forlorn roasted corned beef briskets in meat cages with Sarah McLachlan singing to reinforce my point in this post. Unfortunately, this blog doesn’t have the production budget to get the rights to her music though. Hopefully, my words are all that’s needed for you to put the deli meat down and go for the real beef.

I love to use leftover corned beef for this recipe. It’s a great way to use it up the remnants of your St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage plus it makes the prep work a lot faster.

However, on days where I’m making this lasagna, in its entirety, from scratch, I like to start the corned beef in the morning and let it cook all day in a slow cooker. That way, by dinnertime, it’s falling apart and just waiting—ready for me to assemble the lasagna.

My slow cooker corned beef is easy. Just add the meat to your crockpot with the seasoning packet. Next, add diced onion,  a little Dijon mustard, a bay leaf and enough Guinness to almost cover the meat. Then, let it cook for 4-6 hours on high—or until it easily shreds with two forks.

One piece of this Reuben Lasagna that I struggled with was how to ensure there was still plenty of moisture in it after baking. Traditional lasagna gets a lot of its moisture from both the meat sauce and ricotta. Therefore, I didn’t want to completely abandon those elements.

This is where 1000 island dressing comes in. The lasagna gets a healthy splash of 1000 island to not only the cooked corned beef but it also gets infused into the ricotta cheese. This allows for the corned beef to stay moist once it’s baked and also maintain that essential creamy ricotta layer everyone loves.

While we’re on the topic of ricotta, I also add a generous amount of caraway seeds to this layer.  I think this addition really gives this recipe the iconic rye flavor it needed to truly be considered a Reuben Lasagna.

Last, let’s talk cheese. To mellow out the strong flavor of aged Swiss cheese, I decided to go with a blend of Swiss, mozzarella and Parmesan. This blend maintains the classic lasagna flavors of sharp parmesan and melty mozzarella but incorporates the pungent Swiss cheese flavor found in every great reuben sandwich.

When assembling the lasagna, follow the classic order of ingredients. Meat sauce, noodles, ricotta, cheese, veggies (sauerkraut in this case), meat sauce and repeat—ending with a final layer of corned beef. Then, top everything, of course, with lots and lots of cheese. This lasagna smells amazing in the oven and the cheese gets nice and bubbly.

If you’re a lover of lasagna and a lover of reuben sandwiches this recipe will likely become one of your new favorites. It was certainly a hit with my dad on his birthday.

I think what I love most about this recipe is that it’s a new take on two classic recipes. It’s something old and something new at the same time.

Recipes like these are always great reminders that boredom shouldn’t be possible when it comes to food. If you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, cycling through the same old recipes, try blending them together in a new way. You might be surprised and find a hidden gem in the process. Or you might fail—but that’s what takeout is for. Right?

Let me know if you try out this Reuben Lasagna recipe for St. Patrick’s Day. You can leave me a comment below or tag me on social media. It’s @frydaeblog absolutely everywhere or #frydae.

I hope everyone has a safe and delicious St. Patty’s Day. Thanks for visiting!

Reuben Lasagna

Combining two classic recipes into one, this delightfully unique Reuben lasagna is made with layers of tender corned beef, tangy sauerkraut, aged Swiss cheese, al dente pasta sheets and 1000 island ricotta caraway cream.

Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine American, Irish, Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 2.5 pounds shredded, fully-cooked corned beef (see recipe notes below)
  • 1 (16-ounce) box lasagna noodles (cooked al dente)
  • 16 ounces sauerkraut (drained)
  • 2.5 cups swiss cheese (grated)
  • 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated and divided)
  • 14 ounces 1000 island dressing (divided)
  • 2 eggs
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons caraway seeds (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (plus more for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    While the oven preheats, grease a deep 9x13 rectangular baking pan or casserole dish. Set aside.

    Next, combine corned beef with 1 1/2 cups of thousand island dressing in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

    Then, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk two eggs. Add ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup 1000 island dressing and stir until fully combined. Season with salt, pepper, caraway seeds and parsley and mix until everything is blended. Set mixture aside.

    Finally, in a small bowl, mix together grated swiss, mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheeses to create a three-cheese blend. Set aside.

    Now, take your prepared casserole dish and start assembling the lasagna. Note that you'll likely have about 3-4 layers of each filling so do your best to divvy up your ingredients to ensure relatively even layers.

    Begin with a layer of the corned beef mixture. Then lay down a layer of cooked lasagna noodles to completely cover the meat layer. Next, spread a little of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle with grated cheeses and top with an even layer of sauerkraut.

    Repeat the order of ingredients two more times, ending with a layer of the corned beef mixture. Top the lasagna with any of the remaining cheese blend. Or, by all means, grate a little more, if you have it, for an extra cheesy top layer.

    Tightly cover your baking pan with tin foil and place lasagna into your preheated oven. Bake to 30 minutes and then uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Lasagna is ready when cheese is melted, bubbling and starting to turn golden.

    Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. To serve, garnish with additional caraway seeds and chopped fresh parsley and cut into squares. Enjoy.

Notes


For an easy corned beef slow cooker recipe:

 

  • 2.5 pounds corned beef (with seasoning packet)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 12-16 ounces Guinness (or other dark beer)

Place corned beef into your crockpot along with its seasoning packet. Next, add onion, dijon mustard, bay leaf and enough Guinness to almost cover the meat. Then, let it cook for 4-6 hours on high—or until it easily shreds with two forks.

 

 

Jameson Irish Whiskey Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Guinness Chocolate Espresso Buttercream

Jameson Irish Whiskey Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Guinness Chocolate Espresso Buttercream

Jameson Irish Whiskey salted caramel cupcakes topped with decadent Guinness chocolate espresso buttercream and drizzled with whiskey salted caramel. Leprechaun-approved, these boozy cupcakes will be a hit at your next St. Patty’s day party.

Chocolate. Caramel. Whiskey. Guinness. Do I have your attention? Today, I’m sharing these sweet, decadent cupcakes to get you in the St. Patty’s Day spirit. I’m not Irish, so like a lot of people, I’m all about the food and beer when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day. The corned beef, the cabbage, pints of Guinness and shamrock shakes (obviously)—all so delicious!

However, one St. Patrick’s Day tradition I’ve never been super into are the parades. Go ahead and boo me, but I’m not wrong. St. Patricks Day Parades (in Wisconsin, at least) are the worst! Let me explain why.

My logic is threefold:

  • Number One: March in Wisconsin is COLD! You’re literally signing up to stand outside in near-freezing temperatures for usually several hours to watch what’s essentially slow-moving traffic.
  • Number Two: People pelt you with hard candy. Usually, I wouldn’t complain about having sweets tossed my way but has anyone else noticed how only the worst candy is thrown at parades? St. Patrick’s Day parades are basically where all the rejected Valentine’s Day candy goes to die.
  • Number Three: Risk of clown encounter—or as I like to call it R.O.C.E. I’m mortally terrified of clowns. So even though you’re more likely to see a leprechaun than a clown at a St. Patrick’s Day parade, I just have a blanket policy to try and avoid all occasions where clowns may be present.

Am I I being unreasonable? Perhaps. Irrational? Totally. Sarcastic? Maybe a little. But we all have our quirks. So let’s move on and talk about these cupcakes. After all, you’re not here to hear me talk about my cynical parade opinions and irrational fear of clowns—that’s what I pay a therapist for. Again, sarcasm. Except for the bit about clowns. I hate clowns.

I debated for a long time if I wanted to do a chocolate-based cupcake with caramel frosting or the other way around. I’ve got to say, I’m so glad I went in the direction of a caramel-flavored cupcake with chocolate frosting for several reasons. The main reason being that I find chocolate cupcakes can easily get overpowered when you have an intensely sweet or full-flavor frosting. Since caramel frostings are typically on the sweeter side, I find that you often only taste the sugary caramel and the chocolate cupcake can get a little lost.

These cupcakes really give you the best of both worlds. The cupcakes have a subtle caramel flavor that comes from incorporating brown sugar and butter into the batter, rather than oil and granulated sugar like most traditional cupcake recipes. The caramel flavor gets further amplified through the addition of caramel-flavored baking chips and a little salted caramel filling made with Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Then, the caramel flavor is paired and balanced with an intense chocolate buttercream. For the buttercream, I opted to use cocoa powder exclusively rather than melted chocolate. I find that using cocoa powder exclusively yields a deeper, more intense chocolate flavor. Cocoa powder is after all the purest form of chocolate. Since it’s primarily comprised of cocoa solids rather than cocoa butter it allows the chocolate flavor to really shine through since it doesn’t have any of the extra fat, sugar, or milk dulling it down. This rich chocolate buttercream is made even better with the addition of Guinness Extra Stout and a shot of espresso (or extra strong coffee).

These cupcakes are moist, fluffy and decadent. I like to make them even more over-the-top by drizzling each with more whiskey caramel. Like I said, because the chocolate frosting is so intense, you really can’t go overboard with too much caramel on these cupcakes. 

If you’re worried about these being too boozy, don’t worry. I don’t think the whiskey or beer is too overpowering. There’s just enough to let some of their flavors come through. Alternatively, if you prefer you’re cupcakes booze-free or want to make these for younger mouths, you can, of course, leave the booze out altogether too. You’ll just need to swap in a different liquid—additional milk would probably suffice. 

Whether you’re planning to hit the parade scene this year with a green beer in hand or will be staying in the warm, clown-less safety of your own home with your friends and family, like me,  I hope you all have a fun, tasty and safe St. Patrick’s Day! Let me know if you’ve got something special planned in the comments below. Do you have any fun St. Patty’s Day traditions?

Last, as always, if you try out these cupcakes, please give the recipe a rating and tag me on Instagram (@frydaeblog or #frydae). Thanks for visiting!

Jameson Irish Whiskey Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Guinness Chocolate Espresso Buttercream

Jameson Irish Whiskey salted caramel cupcakes topped with decadent Guinness chocolate espresso buttercream and drizzled with whiskey salted caramel. Leprechaun-approved, these boozy cupcakes will be a hit at your St. Patty's day festivities.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Irish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 250 grams cake flour (about 2 cups)
  • 210 grams dark brown sugar (about 1 cup)
  • 95 grams granulated sugar (about 1/2 cup)
  • 113 grams unsalted butter (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup caramel baking chips
  • 1 tablespoon Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup Guinness Extra Stout
  • 1 ounce brewed espresso (or strong coffee)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Whiskey Salted Caramel Cupcakes

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Meanwhile, in a stand mixer, cream together sugars and butter, on medium, for 2-3 minutes. Once butter and sugars are fluffy, add eggs, one at a time, and blend until smooth on your mixer's lowest setting.

    Next, add vanilla extract, whiskey, and buttermilk. Start by mixing on your mixer's lowest speed and then, as the batter starts to come together, turn up to medium and blend until smooth.

    In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then, gradually add to the wet ingredients on your mixer's lowest setting. Mix until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated and the batter is smooth. Take care to not overmix. The batter will look light, fluffy and mousse-like.

    Next, fill each cup of a lined (or greased) muffin tin 1/2 full with batter. These cupcakes will rise quite a bit so you don't want to overfill the muffin cups. 

    Before baking, sprinkle each muffin cup with a few caramel chips. I like to add them to the batter this way rather than folding them into the batter. It helps ensure the chips don't all just sink to the bottom of the cupcakes. Instead, the batter rises over them so they get encapsulated in the center of each cupcake.

    Bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. I find that baking the cupcakes first for a few minutes at a higher temperature helps them achieve a better, more consistent rise.

    Cupcakes are done baking when they're golden and a toothpick comes out clean when poked in the center. Remove promptly and let cool on a wire rack.

  1. Chocolate Guinness Espresso Buttercream

    In a stand mixer, add softened, room-temperature butter. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium until butter is fluffy—about 5 minutes.

    Next, slowly add the cocoa powder and powder sugar. Mix on low until well-incorporated. Then, add Guinness, espresso and vanilla. Mix on low until smooth. Finally, add the milk a few tablespoons at a time (up to 1/4 cup) until buttercream reaches desired consistency. I used the full 1/4 cup of milk, but if you want a heavier, thicker frosting add less.

    Once the buttercream is completely mixed, transfer to a pastry bag and refrigerate until you're ready to decorate the cupcakes. I find this buttercream pipes better when it's a little cooler than room temperature. Therefore, letting it chill in the fridge for a few minutes while your cupcakes and caramel sauce cool is beneficial.

  1. Whiskey Salted Caramel

    In a saucepan over high heat, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and continue to stir frequently until the mixture darkens to a warm, amber color and registers at 345 degrees on a thermometer. Usually, this takes about 10-15 minutes. Once the right color and temperature have been reached, remove from heat and stir in butter, heavy cream, whiskey, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and let cool completely. The caramel will thicken slightly as it cools.

  1. Decorating & Assembly

    Once cupcakes and caramel have completely cooled, hollow out the center of each cupcake. I typically just poke each with the end of a wooden spoon. Then, carefully spoon a little caramel sauce into the middle of each cupcake.

    Then, with your preferred pastry tip, add a generous amount of buttercream to each cupcake and drizzle each with more whiskey salted caramel sauce.

Instant Pot Cabernet-Braised Pot Roast Rigatoni

Instant Pot Cabernet-Braised Pot Roast Rigatoni

A simple, flavorful (almost) one-pot dinner made in the Instant Pot. Tender beef pot roast is seared and then braised in cabernet sauvignon red wine along with your favorite pasta sauce and fresh herbs. Once cooked, the meat is shredded and served over cooked rigatoni pasta with burrata, crushed red pepper flakes, parmesan and fresh basil.

Sometimes you just need a simple, easy recipe that gives you a hearty, flavorful meal without a lot of work. This week, I’m sharing one of my absolute favorite no-fuss recipes. It’s a cabernet-braised pot roast rigatoni made right in your Instant Pot. To be honest it took me a while to hop on the Instant Pot bandwagon. I just wasn’t convinced that I needed yet another gadget in my kitchen. But, after having one now for about six months, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite kitchen items.

Now, I will say that I feel like the Instant Pot is a tad misleading—or at least a lot of the recipes and cooking videos are. I remember when the Instant Pot first started getting a lot of attention on social media—showing you how you can have a delicious meal cooked in what seemed like as little as 6 minutes. Let’s just say that the age-old saying of “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is” definitely holds true in this instance also.

If you’ve used an Instant Pot before you probably already know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t used an Instant Pot before, then I’m about to reveal a major spoiler alert. You see, there are these two little secret pockets of time that most recipes fail to mention and add a surprising amount of time. Now, it goes without saying that as a pressure cooker, the Instant Pot needs time to both build pressure inside and release it once the cooking time has elapsed. That part is expected. What I think most people don’t realize is just how long that process actually takes.

I’ve timed my pressure cooker now on multiple occasions to see how long it takes for it to fully pressurize and then depressurize. I want to say on average both take a minimum of ten minutes—adding at least 20 minutes of “cooking time” to any recipe. These times vary depending on which setting I’m using and whether I let the machine naturally depressurize or if I do a quick release. But I’d say 20 minutes is a pretty safe average.

With all that being said, despite its deceptive name, I do really love this machine and appreciate having another means of cooking in my kitchen. I’ve just come to realize that some recipes make more sense than others. For me, I save the Instant Pot for roasts, bone-in chicken and recipes that typically require hours in a slow cooker or oven. I love that it makes these time-consuming meals accessible on busy weeknights when I still want to make something super flavorful but don’t necessarily have the time to dedicate to something more laborious.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one of my new favorites for the Instant Pot. This recipe gives you a fall-apart-tender pot roast infused with rich tomato and red wine flavor in about 2 hours (including that pesky pressurization time). I know, 2 hours isn’t quick but the active prep/cooking time is less than 20 minutes and the Instant Pot does the rest of the work for you. So it’s really a hands-off, no-fuss recipe.

It all started at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago. I’ve always seen their marinated roasts and chickens in their meat department but for some reason never bought one until now. I ended up bringing home their Cabernet Pot Roast. My original intention was to simply roast it in the oven and serve it with mashed potatoes the next day. However, when the next day came, time slipped away from me. I found myself staring at this uncooked hunk of meat at 4:30pm knowing there’s no way I could roast it properly and have it on the table before 7:30pm.

I’m a big proponent of the “use what you have” philosophy. I find that 9/10 times when I think I have nothing to cook in my house that there’s actually something delicious to make using ingredients I have on hand. That’s how this recipe came about. Realizing a traditional roast wasn’t in the cards that night, I went into my pantry and saw that I had onions, tomato paste, spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes and garlic. I also had a bottle of red wine I had opened the night before as well as some fresh herbs that I had purchased for a different recipe. Now, I figured I would be able to scrape together something halfway decent using these simple pantry staples, I was just surprised by how good it actually was when it all came together.

The Cabernet Pot Roast just falls apart and gets insanely tender in the Instant Pot—absorbing all the great flavors from the ingredients. The cabernet wine adds depth and richness to the sauce while the basil and rosemary give a subtle woodsy fragrance to this simple sauce. Even the seemingly insignificant parmesan rind takes the sauce to the next level—providing an extra umami kick of savory flavor.

You can really use any pasta you want with this meat sauce. I find that choosing a pasta shape that’s a little sturdier and hearty like a rigatoni, pappardelle or penne work best though with the heavier chunks of beef. I went with rigatoni because it has lots of nice crevices for the sauce to ooze into so you get lots of flavor in every bite.

When serving, top each bowl with parmesan, fresh basil and some crushed red pepper flakes for a little heat. I also add a generous piece of burrata cheese too. The burrata’s creamy filling goes insanely well with this sauce—so good!

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you could totally make this recipe in a slow cooker also. You’ll just need 6-8 hours to let the meat slowly cook to reach the same level of fall-apart goodness. I’ve included instructions in the footnotes of the recipe card for how you can make this yummy dish in slow cooker if you’d like to go that route instead.

What about you? Were you also deceived by the Instant Pot’s not-so-instant reality? If you make this Instant Pot Cabernet-Braised Pot Roast Rigatoni, please give the recipe a rating and leave me a comment below. You can also tag me on Instagram (@frydaeblog or #frydae) and let me know what you think! It’s so fun to see these recipes come to life in your kitchens.

Have a wonderful “Frydae” everyone!

Instant Pot Cabernet-Braised Pot Roast Rigatoni

A simple, flavorful (almost) one-pot dinner made in the Instant Pot. Tender beef pot roast is seared and then braised in cabernet along with your favorite pasta sauce. Once cooked, the meat is shredded and served over cooked rigatoni pasta with burrata, crushed red pepper flakes, parmesan and fresh basil.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 2 pound Trader Joe's Cabernet Pot Roast (or chuck roast)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon (or other dry red wine)
  • 24 ounces favorite pasta sauce (I used Classico Tomato & Basil)
  • 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary (chopped)
  • 1 parmesan rind (about 2 inches)
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta (cooked al dente)
  • 8 ounces burrata
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Turn on the Instant Pot and set it to the sauté setting. Then, heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.

    Meanwhile, remove the pot roast from its packaging and pat dry to remove any excess moisture. When the oil is hot, add the pot roast to the Instant Pot and sear the meat on all sides. When all sides of the meat are brown, remove and set aside.

    Next, add the diced onions and garlic and sauté until translucent and fragrant—about 2-3 minutes.

    Deglaze the bottom of the Instant Pot by adding 1/2 cup of wine. Stir, scraping up any charred bits on the bottom, and then let the wine reduce for 1 minute.

    Now, add the pasta sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, rosemary, basil and the parmesan rind. Stir and then return the meat to the Instant Pot. 

    Next, turn off the saute function and then cover the Instant Pot with its lid. Turn the lid's valve to the sealing position and then cook for 75 minutes using the Instant Pot's "pressure cook" function set to high pressure.

    Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni pasta al dente according to the package directions. Drain, drizzle with a little olive oil and set aside until ready to serve.

    After 75 minutes, release the pressure using the Instant Pot's quick release valve. Once the pin has dropped, open the pressure cooker and carefully remove the meat. Shred the pot roast into medium pieces using two forks and then return the meat to the pot. Stir and then gently fold in the cooked rigatoni pasta.

    To serve, garnish each bowl of pasta with a generous piece of burrata, crushed red pepper flakes, fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

Recipe Video

Notes


To make this recipe in a slow cooker:

Sear the beef in a heavy-bottom pan on your stove top over medium-high heat. Once seared, transfer the meat to a slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients (except the rigatoni pasta) on top of the meat. Let the meat cook on low for 6-8 hours. Periodically turn the meat and stir the sauce every few hours. The meat will be done when it starts to fall apart in the crock pot. Shred the meat, stir in the cooked rigatoni pasta and serve directed above with burrata, parmesan, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh basil.

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