Slow-Cooker Pork with Brown Sugar & Balsamic Glaze

Since its publication in 2013, this simple slow-cooker pork tenderloin with brown sugar and balsamic glaze is the most-popular recipe in Food52 history. Of Food52’s nearly 50,000 recipes, it’s had the most page views of all time—not to mention the glowing comments and 100-plus reviews. The original recipe uses Traditional balsamic vinegar, but think you can have fun with this ingredient and substitute a one of our amazing flavored balsamic vinegars like Fig, Maple or Italian Espresso!


4 pounds pork shoulder (boneless pork butt)
4 cloves garlic, grated
2 teaspoons ground sage
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 bay leaves
1 cup water
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup Traditional, Fig, Maple or Espresso balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Bluegrass Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons mustard powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch


Put the pork shoulder, garlic, sage, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and water into a slow cooker and smoosh around with your hands. Cook on High for 4 hours. In a measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, mustard powder, and cornstarch. Add to the slow cooker and cook for another hour. Carve pork against the grain into individual portions and serve with roasted carrots or white rice

Spiced Watermelon Pork Chop

This is a fun recipe from our friends at Pickled Pink and it features their delicious Southern spiced watermelon pickles.

4 – 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch bone-in, center cut pork chops.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.
1 cup Pickled Pink Spiced Watermelon Pickles.
2 teaspoons paprika.
Salt & pepper to taste.


Heat an outdoor grill to high heat. Rub both sides of pork chops with the olive oil. In a small bowl mix together paprika, salt and pepper and rub the mixture onto both sides of the chops. Sear each side of the chop for 2 minutes over heated grill. Remove the pork chops to a spot with indirect heat to finish cooking. Reduce the burners to medium heat, close the lid and cook for about an additional 15 minutes more. The pork chops need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the chops rest for 5-10 minutes and then top each with 1/4 cup Pickled Pink Watermelon Pickles for a spicy, sweet taste!

Mushroom Toast with Spicy Leek Jam

This recipe was adapted from the food blog, Not Without Salt, and was originally developed  for a vegan dinner. However, using butter in this recipe is an option and our leek olive oil or butter olive oil are great vegan substitutes here**. 

Serves 4

Ingredients for the mushroom toast:

  • 3 TBS TAO leek olive oil or butter olive oil to make this recipe vegan**, or use unsalted butter 
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • TAO Pedro Ximenez sherry vinegar
  • 1 recipe Leek Jam (recipe below)
  • 2 Calabrian chilies, thinly sliced (or chili flake)
  • 4 thick slices of bread
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh dill or lemon thyme


Ingredients for the leek jam:


Directions for the mushroom toast:

  1. Add the leek or butter olive oil (or butter**) to a large skillet set over medium high heat. Cover the bottom of the skillet with the mushrooms and heat without stirring for around 2 or 3 minutes, which gives the mushrooms the opportunity to soften and cook before getting dark and carmelizing.

  2. Then, stir mushroom and let sit again to sear and caramelize. As soon as the mushrooms start to develop a deep bronze color, add the garlic and a sea salt. Continue to caramelize until dark and browned.

  3. Add the Pedro Jimenez sherry vinegar and chili pepper flakes and reduce down until the pan is dry. Taste and add more salt as needed.

  4. Toast the bread on a baking sheet with a bit more olive oil or butter and rub a raw garlic clove over the top of the toasted bread.

Directions for the leek jam:

  1. Add the leek or butter olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. Stir in the leeks, chopped garlic and a sea salt. Sauté until the leeks are wilted and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme (or lemon thyme or rosemary), chili flakes, vinegar and sugar and cook down until thickened and  the mixture has thickened to a jammy texture. Taste and adjust salt and/or chili pepper flakes as needed.

To serve:  Spread on the toast a couple of TBS of the leek jam and top with warm mushrooms. Garnish with freshly chopped dill, rosemary or lemon thyme. Best when served immediately, but still great if served at room temp.

Gremolata with Pasta

Gremolata is a dressing or garnish made with chopped parsley, garlic, and grated lemon zest (and sometimes mint), served as an accompaniment to meat, chicken or fish, or in this recipe, as the perfect match for pasta!

You can use the gremolata on flatbreads and as a marinade to baked chicken and fish. Gremolata also makes a bright accompaniment to oysters and shrimp! Always serve with fresh lemon slices or wedges.

Note: To make a bright Gremolata marinade or salad dressing, combine the first 6 ingredients of this recipe and add ¼ cup of TAO Citrus Mint balsamic vinegar.

Serves 4 to 6


  • ½ cup minced parsley (leaves only)
  • 1 TBS fresh mint, minced (optional)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lemons – zested carefully to avoid the pith, plus the juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup TAO EVOO or TAO Milanese Gremolata olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb pasta


  • Mix the parsley, mint, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • Toss the gremolata and the pasta until thoroughly coated. Serve immediately with sliced lemon.

Cocoa-Rubbed Game Hens with Blistered Grapes


edible, Maine magazine
No. 2 – Fall 2017

  • 2 small Cornish gam hens
  • 2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons TAO EVOO
  • 8 shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons TAO balsamic:  Traditional, or Chocolate di Torino (for this recipe, we love the extra flavor profile when using our Chocolate di Torino balsamic, but both options are stellar)
  • 2 tablespoons honey, we use – and sell – Honey Feast
  • ¼-½ cup water
  • 1 large bunch of Concord or dark grapes, about 1 pound
  • 3-4 small sprigs of fresh rosemary



Heat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the game hens.

Mix the cocoa, five spice powder, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Place the hens in a shallow dish, and sift the rub mixture over them, rubbing into their skins all over.

Heat the olive oil in a wide, oven-proof skillet (cast iron is good) over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, place the birds breast side down in the pan setting aside the dish the the birds were in and any leftover rub. Sear the breast for 3 to 4 minutes and then loosen them with a spatula taking care not to tear the delicate skin and then flip.

Add the shallots to the pan and saute’ for another 4 or 5 minutes.

While birds and shallots cook, mix the balsamic vinegar, honey and water in the shallow dish the birds were in. Scrape any leftover spice rub into the liquid. When the shallots are lightly browned and blistered, add the vinegar/honey/rub mixture to the skillet, add the grapes and rosemary sprigs and then shake the pan to loosen the birds and deglaze the pan.

Immediately put the skillet in the hot oen and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the internal temperature of the thickest part reads 165 degrees. Remove the skillet from the oven.

Arrange the roasted birds and the grapes on on a platter. While they rest, place the skillet over a medium-high flame and reduce the drippings and the shallots to a jammy glaze. This will take about 5 minutes. Pour the glaze over the birds or serve it in a gravy dish, tableside.

Black Beluga Lentils Salad with Roasted Pumpkin

Serves: 4 as a side dish or double the recipe to use as a hearty main dish

Photo by Yelena Strokin, Cooking Melangery


Sort lentils, rinse with cold water and drain. In a medium pot with a lid, combine the black lentils, salt and water. Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until just tender but not soft (try it first, it should have a texture), about 25 minutes. Drain into a fine mesh colander and allow to cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a roasting pan or baking sheet, toss the cubed of pumpkin together with olive oil or butternut squash seed oil, a bit of salt and pepper and the dash of smoked paprika. Roast until tender and slightly caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Once roasted, allow to cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lentils, roasted pumpkin, diced tomatoes, parsley and garlic. Once combined, drizzle over the walnut oil and the lemon juice into the bowl. Combine well to make sure everything get dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. This salad is great at room temperature or even warm. You can keep it overnight in refrigerator and bring back to room temperature to serve.

Spiced Harvest Pumpkin Soup

6 medium carrots, shredded
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 tablespoons leek olive oilbutter olive oil or roasted butternut squash oil
1 medium apple, peeled and shredded
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (29 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups 2% milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Top with Stonybrook Pepitas

In a Dutch oven, saute the carrots, onion and celery in butter oil or butternut squash for 4 minutes. Add apple and garlic; cook 2 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender.
Stir in the pumpkin, broth, parsley and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add milk and cream. Cool slightly. In a blender, process soup in batches until smooth. Return all to pan and heat through. Garnish servings with pumpkin seeds and a drizzle of leek olive oilbutter olive oil or roasted butternut squash oil. Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

Stuffed Shells with Squash & Baked Burrata

Burrata, that fresh Italian mozzarella stuffed with cheese curds and cream everyone is obsessed with, is a quick trick to creating a rich, oozy, sauce-like effect without any effort. Once the stuffed shells are tucked inside the baking dish, tear the ball of burrata open over the top, letting its creamy interior spread over the pasta.

Here, the shells are stuffed with a lemony ricotta and butternut squash filling—our new favorite way to use everyone’s favorite fall vegetable.

1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 teaspoons Butternut Squash Oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

One 12-ounce package jumbo pasta shells

1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped and smashed

3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (juice of ½ lemon)

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

Two 8-ounce or four 4-ounce burrata balls


1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.

2. Place the squash onto the prepared sheet tray and season the flesh with the butternut squash oil and salt. Turn them so that they’re cut-side down and roast until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 7 to 10 minutes, then scoop the flesh into a medium bowl and set aside. Lower the oven to 375°. Yields about 3 cups. Make ahead: The squash and can be roasted and stored in fridge for up to 2 days.

3. While the squash is roasting, boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the jumbo shells to the water and cook until barely al dente, 9 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold running water for 1 minute.

4. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, ¾ cup of the Parmesan, the egg, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and zest, oregano and cooled roasted squash. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Fill each cooked pasta shell with 1½ tablespoons of filling and snuggle the shells into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

5. Tear the burrata over the pasta, letting the curds and cream fall over and around the shells. Top with remaining Parmesan and bake until golden brown and bubbling, 30 minutes. Serve.

What’s for Dinner?: Chicken Tagine with Cheese Polenta

A spicy and simple chicken dish that will have your taste buds tingling.

Recipe created by Chef Maria Rivera of Sobremesa.

What’s for Dinner?: Romesco Summer Pasta with Pepitas

A light and smoky pasta dish, made with Serious Foodie Romesco Finishing Sauce.

Recipe created by Chef Maria Rivera of Sobremesa.

Summer Recipe: Japanese Pineapple Passion Fruit Chicken
Tangy-Sweet Lemon Chicken

Yield: 6 servings
• 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
• 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts
• 3 tablespoons TAO lemon olive oil
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 3 lemons, halved
• 1 orange, quartered
• 1 cup pitted dates or prunes
• 3 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 3/4 cup dry white wine
• 3 bay leaves
• 6 fresh thyme sprigs
• 1 cup unsalted chicken cooking stock
• 4 1/2 teaspoons TAO butter olive oil

Optional Serve with lemon pasta (stringozzi lemone)
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Sprinkle pepper and 1 1/2 tsp. salt evenly over chicken. Cook 3 chicken breasts, skin side down, in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot TAO lemon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat 4 minutes or until skin is golden brown and crisp. Remove chicken from Dutch oven; wipe Dutch oven clean with paper towels. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp. oil and 3 chicken breasts; reserve 2 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven.
2. Sprinkle sugar over cut sides of lemon halves and orange quarters. Cook fruit, cut sides down, in hot drippings in Dutch oven over medium-high heat about 5 minutes or until fruit browns and sugar melts and begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 3 more minutes. Add dates and next 3 ingredients; sauté 3 minutes.
3. Increase heat to high, and stir in wine. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring to loosen browned bits from bottom of Dutch oven. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until almost all liquid has evaporated. Stir in bay leaves and next 2 ingredients. Nestle chicken in date mixture. Place a piece of parchment paper directly on chicken, and cover Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid.
4. Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until chicken is tender. Let chicken stand, covered, in Dutch oven at room temperature 30 minutes. Discard parchment paper. Transfer chicken to a platter; cover to keep warm.
5. Skim any fat from surface of cooking liquid. Pour cooking liquid through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a saucepan. Reserve lemons and oranges; discard remaining solids. Bring sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add TAO butter olive oil and whisk until sauce is smooth. Garnish chicken with reserved lemons and oranges, and serve with sauce and side of our lemon pasta (stringozzi lemone)

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