Tag Archives: lettuce wraps

Crock Pot Thai Pork Wraps

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As we head into kids’ spring sports seasons, crock-pot meals make a more frequent appearance in our house. I especially like this one in the spring and summer, because it is not a heavy meal like many crock pot meals tend to be.

Cooked and shredded pork in a slightly spicy peanut sauce, topped with crisp, cool cucumber slices and lettuce. Sprinkle with some chopped peanuts and an Asian dressing, and roll the whole thing up in a tortilla (or use whole lettuce leaves for a twist on the traditional lettuce wrap).

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You can use either pork tenderloins or a cheaper pork loin. After cooking in the crock pot all day, both will turn out super tender. Simply put the pork in your crock pot. Combine sauce ingredients (except peanut butter) and pour over pork. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until pork is tender enough to shred.

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Remove the pork roast from the crock pot and shred with forks. Stir some peanut butter (either creamy or chunky) into the sauce in the crock pot. Return pork to crock pot and mix into sauce. Stir in some Thai basil (cilantro also adds a nice flavor, if you don’t have Thai basil).

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I grew Thai basil in our garden last year and loved it! I brought some inside in the fall and have been trying to nurture it along during the winter. I am excited to plant outside again soon!

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DSC02840-1I serve this in warmed tortillas with lettuce, chopped peanuts, sliced cucumbers and an Asian dressing (which is completely optional; the wraps are flavorful enough that you don’t need additional dressing, but the slightly sour vinegar taste does add a nice flavor).

For the cucumber, I use a seedless cucumber and slice it into wide julienned strips. Peel and slice cucumber in half crosswise (giving you 2 cylinders). Cut in half again lengthwise. Slice each piece lengthwise into very thin strips (they should resemble long rectangles, not half-circles).

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This in our favorite Asian dressing. It is found in the supermarket in the produce section by the sushi. You could also use any Asian ginger or sesame/tahini based dressing, as well.

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The flavorful, tender pork topped by the crunchy peanuts and cool, crisp cucumbers and lettuce make for a great texture combination. And the convenience of preparing it early in the day is definitely a plus on hectic weeknights.

 

RECIPE:

Crock Pot Thai Pork Wraps

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2-3 lb pork loin roast (or pork tenderloins)
¼ cup soy sauce
2 Tbs lemon juice
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup peanut butter
2-3 Tbs chopped fresh Thai basil or cilantro

Tortillas (or use iceberg/Bibb lettuce for lettuce wraps)
Chopped lettuce
Julienned cucumbers
Finely chopped peanuts
Asian dressing (we like the Miso flavored dressing, found in the produce section by the sushi in our grocery store, but any ginger or sesame/tahini based dressing would be good)

Place pork roast in crock pot. Combine soy sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Pour over roast. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours (about half that on high). Remove pork and skim excess fat. Stir in peanut butter. Shred pork and return to crock pot. Turn crock pot to high and cook for 5-10 minutes uncovered (longer if pork is too liquidy). Stir in Thai basil or cilantro just before serving.

Chop lettuce. Finely chop peanuts. Julienne cucumbers: Peel and slice cucumber in half crosswise (giving you 2 cylinders). Cut in half again lengthwise. Slice each piece lengthwise into very thin strips (they should resemble long rectangles, not half-circles).

To serve: Place pork in tortillas. Top with lettuce, cucumbers, peanuts and dressing.

**These are also good eaten as lettuce wraps; just use iceberg or Bibb lettuce instead of tortillas.

 

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Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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Having lived as a family in Japan for 6 years, we have developed quite a taste for Asian food. When asked about their favorite foods, four out of five of our kids will choose an Asian dish (Big A will go with meatloaf first).  When we feel brave enough to venture out as a family for dinner, the top three choices are always Chinese, Japanese and Indian. Little J thinks I should serve more sushi at home (but she won’t touch a piece of cooked fish).

So I am again grateful for Costco, that sells soy sauce by the gallon and sticky rice in 25 lb bags.

My Asian-inspired cooking is by no means, however, authentic. Using standard flavors like soy sauce, ginger and garlic (and chili paste – this is my favorite ingredient!), I throw together a wide range of dishes- often giving the answer of “stir-fry” to the ever-present question of “What’s for dinner, Mom?”

This dish is a little different than the standard stir-fry, but has become very popular lately as it is served in several chain Chinese restaurants. Often made with finely diced chicken, I use ground turkey as a base. I don’t have the time to dice chicken that fine! And ground turkey can be a very economical meat to cook with.

These lettuce wraps are basically a well-seasoned filling of ground turkey, served in a piece of lettuce topped with ground peanuts and additional sauce. You can add hot steamed rice to your wraps, or eat it on the side.

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Start by browning and draining your ground turkey. Add finely chopped onions, either green onions that have been sliced, or red/yellow onions that have been finely chopped (I use a food processor).

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Add your seasonings and some finely chopped water chestnuts; simmer 10-15 minutes. Stir in some sesame oil and chopped cilantro and your filling is done.

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DSC01887We like these with some additional sauce to add at the table. The sauce is a slightly thickened soy sauce-based sauce with as much “spice” as your family likes.

This is one of the few recipes that I use Chinese mustard in, but I really like the taste that it adds to the sauce. Always looking for a way to save a few pennies and also save room in my fridge (how do those condiment shelves fill up so quickly?), I save the little hot mustard packs that come with take-out Chinese (we always end up with more than we use).

Also, a word on chili paste. There are several different kinds of chili paste on the market, and you can experiment to find which ones you like the most. The two that I use for cooking most are a concentrated chili paste called Sambal Oelek or a garlic-chili paste. The main provider of these (outside of an Asian market) is Huy Fong Foods, and they can be found in most grocery stores. We like our food on the spicy side, so adjust the chili paste to your family’s taste.

RECIPE:

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

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3 lb lean ground turkey
1 bunch green onions (or 1 yellow/red onion), finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 can water chestnuts, minced
½ cup soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1-2 Tbs chili paste (or chili-garlic sauce)
2 Tbs sesame oil
½ bunch cilantro, chopped

SAUCE:
¾ cup water
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tsp sugar (or 5 drops liquid stevia)
1-2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp rice vinegar
1-2 tsp chili paste (or chili-garlic sauce)
¼ – ½ tsp hot Chinese mustard
½ tsp sesame oil

Iceberg, Bibb, or Butter Lettuce
1 cup chopped peanuts

Brown turkey in large skillet; drain. Add onions, garlic and ginger; cook 3-4 minutes. Stir in water chestnuts, soy sauce, vinegar and chili paste. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Stir in cilantro and sesame oil.

Combine sauce ingredients (except sesame oil) in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook until clear and just barely thickened. Stir in sesame oil. Sauce will thicken a little more as it cools, but it should not be thick.

Serve turkey mixture in lettuce leaves with sauce and chopped peanuts. Serve with rice, if desired.

**For a less-intense flavor, layer hot steamed rice in lettuce leaves with meat mixture. You can also adjust the amount of chili paste to make it more or less spicy.

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