Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps

During the week we sometimes don’t get around to eating dinner until around 9PM. I’m a fan of eating larger meals earlier in the day and having the meal size taper off as the day dwindles down. I also try not to leave about 3 hours between dinner and bedtime. However, with our late dinners and early bedtime, this can get challenging. So I try to have light dinners with as much vegetables as possible. Lettuce wraps are great for light dinners. While I especially love them in the summertime, I make them all year round. Usually I use ground turkey or thinly cut chicken breast meat that has been stir fried. This time, I actually wanted to make these Asian inspired meatballs first. And then I had to figure a way to eat them without covering up their flavor. Lettuce wraps seemed perfect.


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, garlic, shallot, chili flakes, fish sauce, soy sauce and black pepper.
  2. Let marinate for about 30 minutes.
  3. Make the dipping sauce while the meat is marinating.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or foil.
  5. Make the meatballs by wetting your hands and scoop out enough meat to make a scant golf-ball sized (or about 1.5″ diameter) meatball.
  6. Roll into a ball and place on the baking sheet.
  7. Repeat until the mixture is used up.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. To serve, take a piece of lettuce, add a meatball and some of the condiments and dipping sauce.

Cook’s Notes

Make sure your hands are wet as you are forming the meatballs because the water will help prevent the meat from sticking to your hands.

Red Wine Marinated Pork Chops with Sautéed Pear and Apples

A confluence of various events led to the creation of this dish.

  • Event 1: It seems like whenever we get the customary bottle of wine as the thank-you-for-having-us-over-for-dinner gift, it’s more often than not red and dry – Cabs. Nothing against Cabs, I just don’t prefer drinking them. Just so you know (for future gifiting reference), I’d much rather drink wines like Malbec. But going back to the bottle of Cab on my counter – red wines make for great marinades and sauces. It’s still a bit too warm for boeuf bourguignon (and I’m not a huge beef person anyhow). But red wines also work very well with pork.
  • Event 2: Oh, pork! I don’t think I’ve ever posted a pork recipe before. *Ideas are brewing…* What do I have in my fridge? Oh, dijon mustard! That works well with pork and red wine!
  • Event 3: But I just can’t eat a piece of pork for dinner. How do I round out this dish? Mmm, not really in the mood for sauerkraut. What’s in season? Pears! Pear season starts in late fall and this fruit pairs well in savory dishes, especially with…pork!

So as you can see, it seemed like I was destined to make this dish for dinner. Since this was a last minute decision, I only got to marinade the meat for about 2 hours. However, if you’re planning ahead you can marinade the pork overnight to really get the flavors into the meat.


  1. Mix together the marinade ingredients into a non-reactive container or ziploc bag.
  2. Add in the pork chops and marinade at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  3. In a skillet over high heat, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering.
  4. Add the marinated pork chops to the skillet and cook turning once, about 7 minutes.
  5. Remove pork chops from skillet and transfer to a plate. Keep warm.
  6. Add the pear and apple slices to the skillet.
  7. Cook on medium-high heat until softened and golden, about 4-6 minutes depending on thinness.
  8. Serve pork chops with the sautéed pear and apple slices.

Cook’s Notes

When you cook the pork chops, don’t let the pan get too dry. If it starts to get a bit dry, add in some of the leftover marinade to the skillet. This will allow for enough sauce for you to cook the pear and apple slices in.

When I made the dish, I cut the pear and apple slices a bit thick, as you can see in the first picture. I also only cooked them for about 4 minutes. I prefer a bit of a bite to the fruit to contrast with the chewy pork texture. However, if you want your slices to be pretty soft, slice them thinner and cook them for longer.

The measurements for the marinade are rough estimates.  I really just dumped the ingredients together; I used a dinner spoon and scooped out mustard. So proportion the marinade ingredients to your liking. If you don’t like dijon mustard, switch it out for regular or honey mustard. If you don’t like or can’t find ground sage, thyme also works.

I used an Anjou pear and a Fuji apple. But any type of pear will work well. I chose Fuji because it’s pretty crisp. I would stay away from Red and Golden Delicious apples since they are texturally mealy and won’t stand up well to cooking. And if you don’t like pears and apples – the pork will also work with sauerkraut!