By Cristen Clark, Food & Swine
Chain restaurant lettuce wraps are one of my favorite things to order when we dine out. With this recipe, I can make them at home in less than 30 minutes! My twist on this favorite is making the filling mixture with ground pork. Ground pork is one of my favorite kitchen staples. It is inexpensive, tasty and versatile. I use it in so many recipes: chili, tacos, spaghetti and meatballs and more. Asian flavors are so complimentary to any pork dish, and this party-favorite is no exception.
I’ve found that when hosting parties at our house, people would prefer an evening of “grazing” as opposed to a sit down meal. I try to feature a variety of foods so there’s something for everyone. Finger foods are great, as are foods skewered or served with a toothpick. These lettuce wraps come together quickly and can be eaten easily because they are wrapped like a taco. The ginger, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and garlic, give them lots of flavor. I tout this as a wonderful appetizer, but don’t skip over this recipe for a delicious weeknight meal either! Serve this mixture over a bed of rice for a delicious entrée too.
While seasonal changes bring parties and fun gatherings, it also brings upon a new set of chores. As a pig farmer this time of year, there’s nothing more important than seeing that our pigs are tended to and comfortable. Where we are located here in Iowa, winter has officially set in. We’ve recently had temperatures below zero, ice, snow and wind that pierces your face. It is important that our kids help us care for the animals, but I’m not sure what’s more labor intensive: getting the kids bundled up to trudge through the snow and wind to get to the barn, or the chores themselves. You should know, the barn is about 70 degrees, so once we get out there, the kids shed their winter gear so they can check the pigs out.
Once chores are done, we get to dress the kids back up again in their layers of winter gear to go back to the house. I’ve often thought it would be easier to leave them in the barn until the next round of chores. (Haha, kidding, sort of.) Once we make it back to the house, all of the clothes are washed, dried and ready for the next day of chores. We only wear clean clothes into the barns, because pigs can be susceptible to germs, and we take every effort we can to protect them.
While winter comes with some annoying extra layers and additional work for all of us, remember to appreciate the moments of togetherness and chances to gather around the holidays. I love this recipe for Ground Pork Lettuce Wraps because it is delicious, fresh, and suitable for any occasion. Don’t be afraid to double the batch if you are having a party, your guests will be delighted!
Ground Pork Lettuce Wraps
Makes 8 lettuce wraps
1 TBSP olive oil
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 TBSP rice wine vinegar
4 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP peanut butter
1 1/2 TBSP honey
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 small can of chopped water chestnuts
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
For Serving and Garnish:
Iceberg (1 head) or Bibb (2 heads) Lettuce pieces, washed and dried
Rice noodles (crunchy, found near soy sauce at grocery store)
Additional green onions, chopped
Bring a skillet to medium high heat, add olive oil and ground pork. Cook pork until browned, stirring frequently, drain and return to skillet.
Add onions to skillet, stir around for 2 minutes. Add rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey and garlic to skillet. Stir well and cook for 3-4 minutes, to cook onions throughout.
Add water chestnuts and green onions, stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat.
*If mixture appears a bit dry, simply add 1 TBSP water and simmer for a few seconds to loosen sauce.
Serve 1/4-1/3 cup of mixture in a lettuce leaf cup, sprinkle on sesame seeds, rice noodles and additional soy sauce if desired.
Cristen Clark is an Iowa farmer, wife and mother of two. She started the blog Food & Swine to share contest-winning recipes, stories of her growing family, and snapshots of daily life on an Iowa farm. She enjoys grain harvest, coaching softball, caring for newborn baby piglets, and baking pies. She prefers two eggs over-hard and two strips of bacon for breakfast every morning with her husband Mike and children Halle and Barrett.