the Pence family cookbook

Recipes in Category “Main Course”


main course mexican pork


For the chile sauce:

  • 8 oz. red chile pods (e.g., red New Mexico)
  • 6 c. water
  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. salt

For the pulled pork:

  • 7-8 lb. pork butt or pork shoulder
  • 2 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. salt

For the masa:

  • 2 lb. lard
  • 2 tsp. baking powder, divided
  • 2 tbsp. salt, divided
  • 5 lb. masa
  • 2-3 c. broth (from above)
  • 1/2 c. red chile sauce (if making red chile pork tamales)

For the tamales:

  • 6 tbsp. flour
  • corn husks


Make the chile sauce:

Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.

Add the chiles to a large pot and add enough water so they are just covered. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. After 10 minutes turn the chiles over with tongs to make sure the chiles soften evenly. Drain cooked pods and allow time to cool down before blending. Discard water.

Fill blender with 3 cups of water, half of the cooled chile pods, 3 tablespoons flour, 2 cloves garlic, and half of the salt. Blend until smooth. Strain sauce through a fine sieve to remove skins and seeds; discard skins and seeds. Repeat blending and straining process with remaining water, pods, flour, garlic, and salt. If necessary, season with more salt.

Note: You can make a double batch of this sauce and keep some frozen.

Make the pulled pork:

Place pork, water, and salt in a slow cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours. Remove, cool, and shred. As you shred, set aside the fat that you remove, if any.

Combine the cooled broth from the pork and the leftover fat in a blender, and blend. Reserve for use when making the tamale masa and filling.

Note: This will also keep, covered, for 1 week in the fridge, or freeze.

Place 1 lb. lard in a large mixer and mix until fluffy, scraping the sides regularly. Add half the baking powder and half the salt, and mix.

Add half the masa, and mix. Slowly add half the broth and half the chile sauce (if using), and mix. At this point, the mixture should be the consistency of smooth peanut butter. If not, add some more broth. Test the masa by taking 1/2 tsp. and dropping it into a cup of warm water. If it floats, it’s ready. If it sinks, add a little more lard, beat for a minute, and test it again.

Repeat those steps for the other half of the ingredients. Cover the masa and set aside.

Make the filling:

Heat 6 tbsp. of the broth in a large skillet. Add flour and cook for at least 4 to 5 minutes. Add one batch of the red chile sauce (around 6 1/2 c.) and cook for 10 minutes. Add the pork and stir. Simmer for at least 10 minutes. Let cool before making tamales.

Make the tamales:

Soak the corn husks in water for an hour before using, and rinse well. Keep them in water while you work on the tamales.

Place the wide end of the husk in the palm of your hand, narrow end at the top. Starting at the middle of the husk, spread 2 tbsp. of masa with the back of a spoon in a rectangle or oval shape, using a downward motion toward the bottom edge. Do not spread to the ends; leave about a 2" border on the left and right sides.

Spoon 1 1/2 tbsp. of your filling down the center of the masa. Fold both sides to the center. Finish off by bringing the pointed end of the husk down toward the filled end. Make sure that closure is snug. Secure by tying a thin strip of corn husk around the tamal.

Use a deep pot or tamale steamer to steam tamales. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. To test if done, try taking off a corn husk; if they come off without sticking, the tamales are done.

Muy Bueno

Birria De Res

main course mexican beef stew chile untested


  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 5 guajillo chiles, seeded, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 5 pounds bone-in beef shoulder, cut into large pieces, or goat or lamb stew cuts on the bone
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons toasted white sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 cloves
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, quartered
  • Corn tortillas, warmed


Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare the chiles: Use tongs to place the poblano chiles directly over the open flame of a gas burner set to high. Cook the poblanos until totally charred all over, turning as needed, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap so the poblanos can steam. After 10 minutes, use your fingers to pull the blackened skins away from the poblanos, then remove the stems and seeds. Roughly chop the poblanos and set aside.

While the poblano chiles steam, place a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches to cook the guajillo chiles evenly in one layer, flatten the chile halves on the hot skillet and toast them for about 15 seconds, turning once. Put the chiles in a bowl and add 2 cups hot water to help soften them. Set aside.

Prepare the meat: Season the meat all over with the salt. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof pot over medium-high. Working in batches, sear the meat on all sides until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side, transferring the browned meat to a large bowl as you work.

After you’ve seared all the meat, add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Return all the meat to the pot.

Meanwhile, add the tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oregano, sesame seeds, cumin, cloves and a few grinds of black pepper to a blender, along with the chopped poblanos, toasted guajillos and the chile soaking liquid. Purée until smooth, scraping down the edges of the blender as needed.

Pour the blended mixture into the pot with the meat. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaves, along with about 4 to 6 cups of water, enough to amply cover the meat.

Cover and cook in the oven until the meat is fork-tender, about 2 hours.

Divide among bowls and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing on top, and a side of warm tortillas.


Spicy Cashew Shrimp

main course chinese shrimp


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup cashews, dry roasted
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce, such as Huy Foy brand, divided
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (from 1 large orange)
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds, plus more for serving
  • 1 pound peeled, deveined medium (41-50 count) shrimp, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/4 cup fine white cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine black pepper
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
  • Steamed white rice, for serving
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for serving


In a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the cashews and 1 tablespoon of the chili sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Move the cashews to a plate, and sprinkle with the orange zest and sesame seeds. Toss to distribute the zest and seeds.

Pat the shrimp dry. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and pepper until combined. Toss the shrimp with the seasoned cornmeal to coat. Shake off any excess flour before cooking.

Line a platter with a paper towel or a kitchen towel. In the same skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot, about 1 minute. Drop a bit of cornmeal into the oil: If it sizzles vigorously, the oil is hot enough. Working in batches, fry the shrimp until golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes on each side, adjusting the heat and adding more oil, as needed. Transfer the cooked shrimp to the prepared platter when they are done.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and remaining 1 tablespoon of chili sauce until well combined.

When all of the shrimp are fried, reduce the heat to low. Return the cooked shrimp to the skillet and pour the sauce mixture over. Toss the shrimp with the sauce and simmer until the sauce thickens and coats the shrimp, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Serve the shrimp over steamed rice, topped with cashews, scallions and more sesame seeds, if desired.


Ginger-Soy Steak

main course untested steak


  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb. sirloin tips, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • 1 firm pear, quartered, cored and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds


In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, ginger, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the sesame oil, garlic and 1 teaspoon pepper until the sugar dissolves. Add the beef and stir to coat. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, combine the vinegar, the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in the cucumber and pear. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat the broiler with an oven rack about 4 inches from the heat. Remove the beef from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Place the pieces on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Cook until 125° at the center for medium-rare, 7 to 10 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 10 minutes.

Drain the cucumber mixture and transfer to a large platter, arranging it on one side. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Arrange the steak opposite the salad.


Lamb Ribs

main course lamb


  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 lg. cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 3 lb. lamb ribs (2 racks)
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper


Combine the first five ingredients in a blender, and pulse on high for 1 minute until the sauce is smooth and pale yellow.

Preheat the oven to 300 F. Pour half of the sauce over the ribs and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes (or refrigerate overnight).

Season the racks with salt and pepper and wrap individually with foil. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake for three hours. Remove the foil and flip the ribs. Add extra sauce and increase the temperature to 400 F. Roast for 30 minutes, rest for at least 15 minutes, and serve with extra sauce.

Frayed Apron

Pan Seared Duck Breast with Orange Pan Sauce

main course duck


  • 4 duck breasts, 4 to 5 ounces (112 to 140g) each
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (4 fluid ounces; 120ml)
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock or store-bought stock combined with 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin (12 fluid ounces; 360ml)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces; 60g)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) freshly squeezed orange juice from 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


With a sharp knife, gently score duck breast skin in a tight crosshatch pattern, keeping the scores 1/8 inch apart. If you prefer a little fat left on the breasts after cooking, just barely score the skin; to render more fat, score more deeply, taking care not to expose the flesh.

Season duck breasts with salt, heavily on the skin side and lightly on the flesh side.

Place duck breasts, skin side down, in a large, cold sauté pan. Place pan over low to medium-low heat. To keep the edges from curling up, press duck breasts down with the help of a smaller sauté pan. After about 5 minutes, the fat should begin to gently bubble. If the fat is either silent or spitting, adjust heat accordingly. Maintain the gentle bubble of fat, pouring out excess rendered fat throughout the cooking process, until much of the fat has rendered, skin is golden brown, and duck’s internal temperature is 125°F (52°C), about 15 minutes.

Increase heat to medium and further brown skin if needed, about 1 minute, before flipping and cooking on the flesh side. For medium-rare meat, cook until breast registers 130°F (54°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 1 to 2 minutes. Continue cooking until duck registers 140°F (60°C) for medium or 155°F (68°F) for well-done. Remove duck from pan and set aside to rest.

For the Pan Sauce: Over high heat, deglaze sauté pan with white wine. Scrape up any brown bits stuck to pan and let wine reduce until pan is almost dry and only 1 to 2 tablespoons remain, about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and let reduce by half, until sauce is sticky and rich, about 2 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and swirl in butter until melted and evenly incorporated. Season sauce with orange juice and zest, salt, and black pepper. Serve with duck breast.

Serious Eats

Heirloom Tomato Tart

main course side dish tomato cheese pie


  • 2 sleeves Ritz crackers (about 7.5 ounces or 1 3/4 cup crushed crackers)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos, drained and diced
  • 3 or 4 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves and minced chives, to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Flaky sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Add crackers to bowl of food processor. Process until crackers are a fine crumb. Add Parmesan cheese, melted butter, egg white and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Process until evenly combined and mixture holds together when pressed between fingers. If it doesn’t hold together, add an additional tablespoon of melted butter.

  3. Tightly press mixture into bottom and sides of 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Tip: If the crust is not packed tightly, it will crumble when sliced. Use the back of a measuring cup to help really pack it down, as seen here.

  4. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside and cool completely. Then place in fridge for one hour to help crust set.

  5. Meanwhile, add tomato slices to paper towel-lined plate. Season with kosher salt and let sit for a few minutes to remove excess moisture.

  6. Mix together softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder, apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk until evenly combined.

  7. Stir in cheddar cheese and pimentos. Check for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

  8. Spread pimento cheese mixture evenly on bottom of chilled tart crust.

  9. Top with sliced tomatoes. Garnish with chives, basil leaves and flaky sea salt. Serve immediately.


Quiche aux chicons, noix de pécan et emmental

main course vegetarian endive belgian untested


  • 3 œufs
  • 650 g de chicons
  • 1/2 citron
  • 80 g de noix de pécan
  • 1 pâte brisée
  • 100 g d’emmental râpé
  • 25 cl de crème fraîche light à 20 % de mg
  • 1 càs huile d’olive
  • 4 brins de persil
  • 1 c à c de curry Madras (facultatif)
  • Poivre & Sel


Emincez les chicons, mettez-les dans une grande poêle contenant l’huile d’olive et arrosez-les d’un trait de jus de citron. Couvrez et laissez suer 10 min à feu doux. Poivrez, salez, retirez le couvercle et faites revenir 5 min à bon feu, jusqu’à évaporation de toute l’eau rendue.

Pendant ce temps, préchauffez le four sur th. 6 -180 °C. Faites griller légèrement les noix de pécan à sec, dans une poêle anti-adhésive. Hachez-les grossièrement.

Garnissez un grand moule à tarte avec la pâte brisée. Battez les œufs avec la crème dans un saladier. Ajoutez l’emmental râpé, les ¾ des noix de pécan et les chicons ; mélangez et rectifiez l’assaisonnement (ajoutez éventuellement le curry, selon vos goûts). Versez le tout dans le fond de tarte et faites cuire 20 min au four. Démoulez et déposez la quiche avec son papier de cuisson directement sur la grille du four. Poursuivez la cuisson 10 min supplémentaires.

Saupoudrez avec le persil haché et le reste des noix de pécan. Servez chaud, accompagné d’une salade.


Moules au chorizo et aux poivrons

main course mussels untested


  • 4 kg de moules de Zélande
  • 200 g de chorizo extra (doux ou piquant)
  • 2 poivrons verts
  • 2 oignons
  • 4 brins de thym
  • 2,5 dl de vin blanc sec
  • 4 c. à s. d’huile d’olive
  • 4 c. à c. d’origan séché
  • Poivre et sel


Rincez plusieurs fois les moules à l’eau froide ; grattez-les si nécessaire.

Émincez les oignons en fines rondelles et taillez les poivrons épépinés en petites lamelles. Retirez la peau du chorizo et taillez-le en petits dés. Faites revenir ces derniers avec l’huile d’olive dans les casseroles à moules, d’abord à feu doux, puis à feu vif pour les rissoler. Retirez-les avec une écumoire pour laisser le gras dans les casseroles. Faites-y revenir 5 min à feu doux les oignons, les poivrons, du poivre, le thym et l’origan. Ajoutez les moules et le vin blanc, couvrez et faites chauffer +/- 5 min à feu vif, en secouant les casseroles de temps en temps, jusqu’à ce que toutes les moules soient ouvertes. Ajoutez les dés de chorizo et mélangez.


Tarte salée aux asperges, jambon et ricotta

main course side dish asparagus ham


  • 5 tranches de jambon cuit
  • 3 gros œufs
  • 1 kg (2 bottes) d’asperges blanches
  • 3 oignons jeunes
  • 1 paquet de 10 carrés de pâte feuilletée surgelée (450g)
  • 1 càs bombée de farine
  • 250g de ricotta
  • poivre et sel


Préchauffez le four à 1809 C et sortez-en la grille. Sur une grande feuille papier cuisson, formez un grand rectangle (environ 36x24cm) en rassemblant 6 carrés de pâte feuilletée (préablement déglelés): mouillez légèrement les côtés et faites-les se chevaucher sur environ 1 cm. Appuyez avec les dents d’une fourchette pour les souder. Badigeonnez les bords du grand rectangle avec 1 oeuf battu. Taillez chacun des carrés de pâte restants en 6 bandelettes et déposez-les sur les bords pour former un cadre. Badigeonnez à nouveau d’oeuf battu et ajoutez une 2e couche de bandelettes. Badigeonnez-les d’oeuf battu, piquez bien tout le fond de tarte à la fourchette et faites glisser le tout (tarte + papier) sur la grille du four. Faites cuire 12 min.

Pendant ce temps, supprimez la base dure des asperges et pelez-les. Faites-les cuire environ 8 min à l’eau bouillante salée (elles doivent être « al dente »). Rincez-les à l’eau froide et séchez-les.

Mélangez la farine et l’oeuf battu restant au fouet, puis ajoutes les 2 autres oeufs et la ricotta; melangez bien et rectifiez l’assasionnement.

Garnissez le fond de tarte avec 4 tranches de jambon. Recouvrez avec les 3/4 de la crème, enfoncez-y les asperges en rangs bien serrés, puis nappez avec le reste de la crème. Poivrez et faites dorer 20 min au four.

Émincez finement les oignons jeunes et la tranche de jambon restante. Parsemez-en la tarte et servez chaud. Accompagnez d’une salade.