Monday, December 30, 2019

Slow Cooker Pork and Mushroom Risotto - Except don't use your slow cooker!

Ah risotto, my love...what a perfect dish. Warm, comforting, delicious, and best of all versatile. Risotto is one of those dishes you can clean out the fridge and make...these are the types of dishes I love!

Now risotto is not generally considered a main course...Italians usually eat it as a “primo piatto” or first course (after the antipasti but before the main course, “segundo piatto”). Primo piatto usually consists of some type of pasta, soup, or polenta, and rarely contains meat. But I love preparing risotto as a main course, both with and without meat, because a) I don’t often find myself cooking multi-course Italian feasts (although I have!) and b) I always want to eat an entree’s worth of it!

For this dish I wanted to incorporate braised pork with mushrooms and creamy risotto...doesn’t that combo sound delicious? There are plenty of “pork risotto” recipes on the internet, but most of them call for quick-cooking cuts like pork loin or chops. I was envisioning silky, tender braised pork and how well that would pair with perfectly al dente but creamy rice. Oh, and I wanted to use my slow-cooker. More on that in a minute....

Mise en Place
Ok, so I knew I wanted the pork...the mushrooms...the Arborio rice...what else? Well, onion and garlic of course...lemon...parmigiano reggiano...but what to make it POP?! Parsley?? Sure...but that’s still sort of boring. OHHHH...gremolata!! And fried pancetta! Bam. I’ve got my dish. Oh and I remembered I’ve got this fantastic mix of dried mushrooms in the pantry...that sure would help the mushroom flavor stand up to the long cooking time of the pork and infuse that flavor into the meat....yes!!!

Now let's get to the part about NOT actually using the slow cooker. I thought, what could be easier than risotto in the slow cooker? It only takes about 90 minutes to cook, you don't have to do all that stirring that you normally do...what could go wrong? Turns out, a lot. My risotto dish came out flavorful, delicious, comforting...but the consistency? It was NOT right. It was clumpy. It was sticky. It was NOT true risotto, which should glide easily from your spoon to your plate like a wave: "all'onda" as the Italians say. So here's my advice to you...cook your risotto the traditional way, in a pot, and just commit yourself to 30-45 minutes of stirring. It's worth it. You'll love it. Your friends and family will call you their hero.

My pictures here show my slow cooker because that's how I made it, but the instructions below tell you how to make the risotto in a pot on the stove. I recommend using a heavy pot like a dutch oven, but any large pot (not a small sauce pot) will do.

Braise your Pork
Fork Tender, Silky, Delicious!

If you want to make this recipe a little less "hands-on", you can braise the pork in your slow cooker or in your dutch oven (in the oven) and make your gremolata during the day, and then cook the risotto in the evening. No need to wash the dutch oven in can use it through all the steps and benefit from the fond and flavor you build up in it from start to finish.

ALSO!!! Scroll through to the bottom to see how you can use up your leftover Risotto!!!! BONUS!

Mushroom Risotto with Braised Pork, Crispy Pancetta, and Gremolata

Mushroom Risotto with Braised Pork, Crispy Pancetta, and Gremolata

Yield: 6-8
This recipe combines silky braised pork with mushroom risotto, topped with a citrusy gremolata and fried pancetta.


Braised Pork
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 1/4 C mixed dried mushrooms
  • 1/4 C dry Italian white wine
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 lbs pork shoulder/butt or blade steaks
  • 1 C chicken stock (homemade or no-sodium)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 C flat-leaf parsley (loosely packed, a large handful)
  • Reserved solids and liquid from braising pork (see instructions below)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms (aka baby bellas), sliced
  • 1 3/4 C Arborio rice (short grain, starchy)
  • 1/2 C dry Italian white wine
  • Chicken stock, amount depends on how much cooking liquid you have left over from pork (total should be 4 Cups)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated
  • 100 g thinly sliced pancetta
  • Lemon, cut into eighths


How to cook Mushroom Risotto with Braised Pork, Crispy Pancetta, and Gremolata

Braised Pork (using the slow cooker is okay for this part):
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a dutch oven, or in your slow cooker if it has a sauté function, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 more seconds.
  4. Stir in dried mushrooms well, then turn up heat and add wine. Simmer until wine is mostly evaporated.
  5. Season pork generously with salt and pepper (use less salt if your stock is already salted), and rub with paprika. Brown all sides of your pork, without crowding your pan if you have multiple pieces, about 3 minutes per side. Redistribute solids in pan and place pork on top, then pour chicken broth over everything.
  6. Bring liquid to a boil, then cover your pot and transfer to the oven (or transfer contents to your slow cooker, if using, and set to low). Cook pork until fork tender, 45 min - 1 hour in the oven or 3-4 hours in the slow cooker on low.
  7. Once pork is ready, remove meat from pot and shred with two forks. Set aside.
  8. Strain cooking liquid into fat separator or into a bowl using a fine mesh sieve. Set aside both the liquid and the solids, separately.
  9. DON'T BOTHER WASHING YOUR DUTCH OVEN! You can use it for making your risotto.
  1. Place all listed ingredients in a food processor and pulse until chopped and combined, but still chunky. You can also chop all of this together on a cutting board with a chef's knife for the same result.
  1. In previously used pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sliced fresh mushrooms, stir initially, and cook for 3 minutes without stirring. After 3 minutes, stir mushrooms with wooden spoon and scrape up browned bits in the bottom of your pan. Continue cooking mushrooms until tender, about 2 minutes more. Add reserved solids from braising pork and stir to combine everything.
  2. Lower heat to medium. Add rice to pot and stir well to coat grains. Toast for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high again, and add wine. Bring wine to a boil and cook until almost completely evaporated.
  4. Combine pork cooking liquid with enough chicken stock to equal 4 Cups. Lower heat to medium again. Add 1/2-1 Cup of liquid at a time, stirring well to incorporate all ingredients and to release the starch from the rice. When most of the liquid is absorbed, add more liquid and stir stir stir to continue releasing starch and helping rice to absorb liquid. Continue this pattern until your rice is completely tender, starchy, and your liquid is absorbed. You will use 3-4 Cups of liquid total, but if more is needed, use more.
  5. Once your rice is tender, take off the heat and stir in most of the grated cheese (leaving a little to garnish with). Cover to keep warm.
  6. Fry your slices of pancetta in a small non-stick skillet until crunchy.
  7. Put risotto onto individual plates or a large serving platter (not a bowl!!!) and sprinkle with a bit of shredded cheese. Top with desired amount of gremolata, then crumble prosciutto on top. Serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @chefalaina on instagram and hashtag it #theglobalfork
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Delicious braising liquid and more mushrooms that we'll use for our Risotto...

Beautiful, Simple, Fresh!

Toasting the Arborio Rice after sauteeing fresh mushrooms...
You can't forget the wine!

Combine braising liquid and stock = 4 Cups

Fried Pancetta seals the deal

Gorgeous and delicious!

So you've eaten your fabulous Italian meal and you have leftover Risotto...what to do?? Why, make Arancini of course! Arancini are rice balls coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Traditionally from Sicily, they were flavored with saffron (hence the name "little oranges" in Italian), but in your kitchen, anything goes. Arborio rice is best for arancini because it's already starchy and sticks well together.

Simply chop your leftover braised pork into fine pieces, and stir well into your leftover risotto. Add eggs (1 egg at a time) and breadcrumbs (1/3 Cup at a time) until your rice mixture sticks together well and can be formed into 1 1/2" balls. Coat rice balls with more breadcrumbs, then refrigerate for an hour. (You can refrigerate these for longer--up to overnight--but you'll need to roll them in more breadcrumbs before proceeding.)

Heat 1/2 inch vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the rice balls, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; season with salt. Serve as an appetizer topped with some gremolata, or alongside a crispy salad as a meal.

Frying your Arancini

Another delicious family meal, or something to impress your friends!

Saturday, March 30, 2019

"Grazing Streets" in Frankfurt

Many are familiar with the famous "Fressgaße" (loosely, "Grazing Street") in Frankfurt (actually Kalbächer Gasse and Große Bockenheimer Straße) as a spot that has been known for shopping and eating since the turn of the 20th century. But Frankfurt is an ever-expanding city that has a whole lot more than just one street of "grazing" to offer!

Since the weather has turned BEAUTIFUL and inviting us all to head out for a spring stroll, I thought I'd post today about three streets that have a lot to offer by way of food and casual shopping. There are SO MANY more than this, so please share your thoughts in the comments! I've included maps to help you find them...

1. Oederweg

Take the ubahn to Eschersheimer Tor and walk north along Oederweg and there are all sorts of great places...I have eaten at Vipho (Vietnamese), Kowloon City (Chinese/Dim Sum), Gokio Bros. (Korean Fried Chicken) and all three are excellent, but there are many other restaurants there (Tex-Mex, Burgers/Steaks, Indian Street Food...many looked good). If you just keep walking north on that street, there are cute shops and stuff too. We walked north and eventually walked West on side streets to get back to the Gruenebergweg Ubahn stop to head home, but you could keep walking north if you have time as it looks like there's lots of cute stuff.

2. Weissadlergasse

This cute (short) street is adjacent to my favorite sushi place in the city, SuperKato. There are several adorable cafes and restaurants on this street. I haven't been to any of those but I think there's one that sells a bunch of soups that looked really interesting called Souper! Die Suppenküche. There's also a Tex-Mex Cantina. To get here, you could go to several different ubahn stations and looks like the closest might be Willy-Brandt or Hauptwache (which isn't shown on this map screenshot but is just North, adjacent to the Goetheplatz). I like this area because there's lots of shopping (not just on Neuekraeme, which is that street that leads to the Roemer). One of my favorite places in all of Frankfurt is nearby...the Kleinmarkthalle. My Frankfurt universe rotates around Kleinmarkthalle. 🙂  Definitely worth a's a market but there are places to eat inside and even more upstairs, as well as a wine bar that's so much fun.

3. Kaisserstrasse

The area of this street that runs between Willy-Brandt Platz and the Hauptbahnhof has a lot of good restaurants and is fun to walk. They also hold a lot of markets on this street (closer to the Hauptbahnhof end) when the weather is warmer. On this street I have been to Urban Kitchen (reliable cuisine from all over the world), EatDoori (Indian Street Food), and Kabuki (Japanese Tepanyaki--very expensive, special occasion type of place but AMAZING FOOD AND EXPERIENCE). There are a lot of other places to eat on this street, and for shopping walk along Kaiserstrasse towards Willy-Brandt Platz (Northeast) and just continue walking until it turns into Rossmarktstrasse. You'll end up in the Hauptwache/Zeil area. Or you could follow Goetheplatz North to get to the "Rodeo Drive" of Frankfurt, Goethestrasse.

Happy Grazing, and enjoy the weather!!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Hello Again and Check me out on Facebook and Instagram!

Hello there!

If you've landed on this page after doing a quick Google search, took a quick look over it, and then thought "Well, shoot...this is just one of those neglected blogs that the owner never does anything with............"

You'd be pretty much right. BUT! That doesn't mean I'm not doing ANYTHING! Quite the's true that running The Global Fork catering company (not to mention my a foreign country...with a big international move coming up...) DOES keep me pretty busy and I've neglected posting here around much of that, nor have I been good at providing you with the cool tips and tricks that I enjoy sharing. However, I am much better at keeping in touch with all of you out there via Facebook and Instagram.

SO! Head on over to your lil' appies there on your phone and search for @TheGlobalFork on Facebook and @ChefAlaina on Instagram. (You should also be able to find me under The Global Fork on Insta.) There you'll get nearly daily updates on the goings-on over here in my kitchen...oh and in all the yum yum restaurants I'm able to frequent, as well...all across the world!

Speaking of restaurants, I've started putting together some restaurant guides that will be useful to you folks here in Frankfurt, so look for those COMING SOON!

And as always, please feel free to comment or message me with your burning questions, catering quote requests, etc. etc. etc.!


Monday, January 22, 2018

"Cooking in Germany" Tip - Potatoes!

There are two different types of potatoes (Kartoffeln) most commonly found in German grocery stores, labeled “mehligkochende” and “festkochende”.
Festkochende Kartoffeln are high moisture potatoes, most similar to American Yukon Gold or chef’s potatoes, and are best for boiling, steaming, braising and stewing (whenever you’re using moisture to cook). The point here is that these potatoes already contain a lot of moisture, so they have a nice even consistency, but they don't fall apart when you cook them in liquid. This is important when you're making soups and stews, as the potatoes will retain their shape and not fall apart, so that your soup is not murky with chunks of potatoes everywhere. They're also great for potato salads for the same reason. These types of potatoes also boast great flavor.
Mehligkochende Kartoffeln are high starch potatoes, most similar to American russet potatoes, and are best for baking, puréeing, and frying. After the potato is cooked, it still maintains a relatively dry interior, so it's very easy to flake it or mash it. For American mashed potatoes, you definitely want that consistency as opposed to wallpaper paste! These starchy, drier potatoes are also great for frying because they spatter much less and, due to less moisture inside, brown even better.

Here's another tip regarding mashed potatoes! If you love making mashed potatoes and do it a lot (or are willing to purchase a useful piece of equipment to make it easier), I highly recommend buying a food mill. This is a light-weight, non-electric, handheld tool that generally comes with 2-3 blade sizes and works for effortlessly making the fluffiest mashed potatoes, but also is great for making your own applesauce, tomato sauce, pureed soups, etc. The beauty of the food mill is, not only do you get a quick, even mill/grate of whatever you're putting through it, but you also get rid of skins and seeds, eliminating the need to peel your potatoes, apples, tomatoes, etc. before cooking them and milling them. This is particularly useful for potatoes as you can help maintain the starches inside if you cook them with the skin on instead of peeling before you boil.

If you're looking for a better selection of potatoes here in Germany, check out the Sunflower Gartenshop...they have an incredible selection of all sorts of types of potatoes that would be fun to try, not to mention other gourmet grocery items and a HUGE garden store with anything you could dream of. Look out for a future blog post on all that they have to offer!

Have a question or need some help cooking here in Germany? Comment below or shoot me an email at!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Welcome "Heute" Readers!

Hello "Heute" readers and welcome to The Global Fork! I'm excited you've come to check out my blog after reading my article in this week's newsletter. I hope it was helpful to you! Here's a link to my original blog post which inspired this week's article.

First, I want to let you know that I run a small catering company here on the Siedlung. Please reach out to me for a free quote for any of your catering needs...I can help with something as small as dessert, cake, or pie for a small family get-together to a cocktail party for 100 people and everywhere in between. I'd really love to help make your event special for you and your guests through my love of food. Just click on the Catering and Consulting tab (or right there!) and fill out my **Catering Proposal Request** with detail of your event and I'll get back to you quickly with ideas and a quote.

Second, my blog is also here to help you through your tour in Germany and to answer all those ingredients and cooking questions you may have. You can either leave a comment on the blog with your questions or email me at

Now, down to the nitty gritty of why you really came to my probably want those Thanksgiving recipes! I've written a lot about Thanksgiving on this blog over the years so feel free to search around, but I'll include here recipe cards for Turkey brine, my gravy, and a very traditional turkey stuffing.

Thanks again for visiting, happy cooking, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Yield: Approx. 6 Servings

Turkey Gravy

Even if you don't like to admit it, you love gravy. Especially on Thanksgiving. Here's a method I have used in the past with great'll basically want to drink it straight (but don't)...


  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 package turkey giblets from inside your turkey, or you can use turkey wings/legs/bones or even chicken giblets, bones, wings, etc.
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 C dry white wine
  • 4 C turkey or chicken broth or stock (low or no sodium if purchased, or homemade)
  • bay leaf and thyme sprigs
  • drippings from pan in which you've roasted your turkey (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp Madeira, Cognac or Sherry (optional)


  1. Make your roux (please reference my blog post on roux): Melt butter in a saute pan over low heat. Whisk in flour and increase heat to medium-low. Cook roux, stirring often, until it reaches a medium brown color and has a nutty aroma. Let roux cool. (This step is important to avoiding lumpy gravy later!)
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large oven-proof saute pan, heat canola oil in oven until smoking. Add turkey or chicken pieces. Roast in the oven until golden brown, turning occasionally. Remove pan from oven and remove turkey or chicken pieces.
  3. Transfer pot to stovetop and place over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot to the hot pan. Stir to crape up fond (the golden brown bits) from bottom of pan, and cook, stirring often, until soft and golden brown.
  4. Add dry white wine and reduce until almost dry. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Temper roux into broth (this is important for avoiding lumps; more info in my Roux blog post) and bring back to a simmer. Add bay leaf and thyme sprigs and let simmer gently for 15 minutes. Strain gravy through a fine mesh sieve and discard mirepoix (onion/carrot/celery) and herbs. 
  5. Add pan drippings (straining if necessary) and Madeira or Sherry. Allow to simmer 5 minutes longer and serve hot.
Created using The Recipes Generator

Yield: Enough for approx. 16-lb Turkey

Turkey Brine

I always brine my turkey, resulting in the most delicious, moist meat that all my guests rave about. I started brining after working at Williams-Sonoma and using their brine mix. Lea created this recipe, modeling it off the same brine mix and I've adapted it here to my standard practices. Click here for Lea's blog:


Dry Ingredients
  • 2 Cups kosher salt
  • 1/2 Cup star anise
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 3 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • 2 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp juniper berries
Fresh Ingredients
  • Peel of 1 fresh orange
  • Juice of 1 fresh orange
  • 1/4 - 1/2 Cup honey or brown sugar
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 fresh sprig rosemary, leaves removed


  1. When ready to brine your turkey, add the mixture of dry ingredients and fresh ingredients in a large stockpot with one gallon of water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove pot from heat, add one gallon of cold water to the pot, and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Set up your brining bag inside your roasting dish, refrigerator drawer (removed from fridge) or other sturdy container. Remove inner packet of giblet, neck, etc. from your turkey. Place your turkey in the bag, breast side down, and pour cool brine ingredients into the bag on top of the turkey.
  4. Close bag tightly by twisting and using rubber bands around the neck of the closure. You want to try to seal the bag in a way that the brine liquid touches all parts of the bird.
  5. Brine for 24-72 hours, depending on size of bird and amount of sodium added to bird during plant processing. (Take a look at the label; if your bird has already been treated with salt water it doesn’t need to brine as long.)
  6. When ready to roast, remove turkey from brining bag and brush off any solid brine ingredients from skin of turkey. Season, baste and roast as you normally would.
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Yield: 8-10 servings

Traditional Turkey Stuffing

"Stuffing" is traditionally the term used for bread stuffing that you put inside your turkey while it bakes, while "dressing" is traditionally the term used for bread stuffing baked outside of the bird. Old habits die hard, though, so I refer to it all as stuffing. I do not recommend putting this stuffing into the bird while it cooks as that is generally considered unsafe, given that it is difficult for the stuffing (which will have raw turkey juices incorporated) to reach the appropriate temperature (165 degrees F) by the time the turkey reaches the appropriate temperature and needs to be taken out of the oven. Make this recipe your own by adding any additional ingredients you like, such as cooked italian sausage, apples or even nuts.


  • 2 onions, small diced (or processed in the food processor)
  • 4 stalks celery, including some leaves, small diced (or processed in the food processor)
  • 1 stick of butter (8 Tbsp)
  • 1-2 Tbsp bacon grease (can be rendered from cooking about 1/4 lb bacon)
  • 1 1/2 lb (24 oz) cubes of bread or extremely coarse bread crumbs, based on your preference (either from a box/bag, like Pepperidge Farm brand, or made yourself from loaf French bread)
  • 5 Tbsp dried sage
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 C butter (4 Tbsp)
  • 1/4 C chicken broth (either homemade or store-bought)
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • Kosher Salt, if needed


  1. Dice or process the onions and celery.  Melt bacon grease and 1 stick butter in a large sauté pan, then add vegetables and sauté until tender.  (These tasks can be done ahead of time and the cooked vegetables can be stored in the fridge.)
  2. If using fresh bread, cut into desired size (some people like large chunks of bread in their stuffing while others prefer extremely course bread crumbs) and allow to dry overnight or bake in a 350 degree F oven until crispy.
  3. When ready to assemble dish, in a large bowl mix dried bread with vegetables (they do not need to be reheated).  Add sage and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  4. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, or in the microwave, heat 1/4 C butter together with chicken broth and 4 chicken bouillon cubes.  Whisk to make sure all the bouillon dissolves.  (Using bouillon cubes instead of more chicken broth allows you to have a concentrated flavor without a lot of liquid.)  Mix butter/chicken broth mixture into bread mixture.  It should not be too wet; add more bread crumbs if needed. 
  5. Transfer to an oven safe casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes.  Serve hot.
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