Pork

Brussels Sprouts

 

“I don’t even know what you’d do with it,” said the friend that offered me a food processor. One of the topics at the lunchroom table that afternoon was gambling, and I’d mentioned that I was waiting to see if I would win a sweepstakes that was giving away stand mixers. She was suprised that I don’t own one yet and that I don’t have a food processor either. Then she remembered that she had one in a box on her give-away shelf that she would be glad to let me have.

So, I had to do some research to see if I would really want a gadget that would take up space in my kitchen. What would I do with a food processor that I couldn’t do with a chef’s knife and/or a blender?

Google helped me come up with this list: potato latkes, yucca pizza dough, carrot salad, hummus, pesto, curry paste, date truffles, tzatziki, tomato sauce, and shaved brussels sprouts.

I was convinced enough to accept her offer.

I already had chickpeas, garlic, and olive oil, so hummus wouldn’t be a problem. Potatoes and onions for latkes? check! The shaved Brussels sprouts with cranberries recipe was tempting enough for me scribble “Brussels sprouts” down on my list of things to look for at the South Philly “Italian” market that weekend.

Saturday. After I’d taken the produce out of all the little bags from the market and put them away, I decided to take a look at the food processor. The cardboard pieces and bubble wrap were still wrapped around the pieces. But when I had taken everything out of the box, there was no metal blade. Perhaps they’d come up with a way for the plastic disc to to the work? No. So I re-wrapped the pieces and returned them to the puzzle box.

Thankfully, I had only purchased enough Brussels sprouts to make a test batch. With the  sharp blade of my 21-year-old chef knife, making shreds out of the miniature cabbages wasn’t too difficult. I even decided to slice a root of ginger to make my own crystalized ginger for the recipe.

shredded brussels sprouts craisins red onion

There were recipes for either cold or warm shredded sprouts. Rather than make a sort of coleslaw, I decided to braise the ingredients (in chicken broth) then add butter, salt, and pepper. The next evening I warmed the shredded Brussels sprouts with some pieces of leftover pork. Potato-and-Cheddar-cheese perogies were a satisfactory compliment to our meal.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts & Pierogies

Categories: Brussels sprouts, Food and drink, Pork, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Rush a Pig

 

Pork chops were on sale, so even though I didn’t have meat on my grocery list, I brought a package home with me.  Since there were six huge chops I separated them into zipper-seal bags and put them into the freezer. One morning I left two of the pork chops in the refrigerator so that they would thaw in time for dinner. A few recipes claim that you can prepare tasty pork chops in just ten minutes with only salt and pepper for seasoning, so I decided to see if it would work.

However, when my husband emailed me to see if he could help get anything ready for our evening meal, I googled to see if there were any interesting marinades. Ideas for “Summer pork” included fruity combinations as well as mustard-soy-worchestershire mixtures.  Joel mixed together the ingredients in a list that I emailed to him and when I got home from the office the pork had been absorbing the flavors for about an hour.  All I had to do was heat our stove-top griddle and throw the chops on.

Maybe I wasn’t patient enough. The pork chop did not want to let go of the griddle after cooking for five minutes on one side. I put a cover over the meat to see if capturing some moisture would help it release; no luck.  Eventually, I was able to force the pork chop off and flip it over, but when we cut into our pieces the flavor had not penetrated the meat. Also, it took several days of soaking and scrubbing to get the bits of burnt-on pork off my griddle.

Pork chops take two.

The next weekend, our grocery store’s flyer was advertising their “buy theirs get ours free” offer. One of the items was barbeque sauce. If you purchased a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce they would give you a bottle of the grocery store brand for free. They hoped that you would compare the two and notice that their version was just as good as the “real” name brand product.  Sweet Baby Ray’s has quite a few interesting-sounding flavors to choose from, but I stuck with the classic regular one.

At first, I thought that I would just throw the rest of my frozen pork chops into the crockpot and let them cook until they were tender enough to shred for pulled pork sandwiches. I couldn’t remember if you were supposed to put the barbeque sauce in the whole time you were cooking the meat or if you were to wait and just mix it in at the end. So, I looked it up.

While looking, I ran across a recipe that cooked potatoes along with the meat. Cooking two-thirds of your meal in one slow cooker sounded like a good idea to me. The author(ess) suggested greasing the inside of the crockpot and layering sliced potatoes, sliced onion, pork chops and bacon. Barbecue sauce goes between the layers. You let these ingredients cook on the high setting for 4 hours. Then you are to add cheese for the last 10 minutes. I decided to keep things simple and leave out the bacon and cheese.

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The moisture from the pork drops to the bottom of the slow cooker, mixes with the barbeque sauce, and boils the potatoes. The liquid was a bit runny after the first 4 hours of cooking. But we didn’t eat it until the next day, and when I reheated the mixture it had thickened enough that I didn’t need to add any roux or cornstarch.  A bag of steamed peas added some color to the plate.

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We enjoyed the meal, but next time I might let the meat cook a bit longer, because I like fall-off-the-bone tender pork.

Categories: Food and drink, Pork, Potato, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Technical Challenge

mu-shu-pork

Sometimes when I’m trying out a new recipe, I have only a vague idea of how it is supposed to turn out. Because I only have a photograph of the final product, my mind doesn’t always trust the instructions when my eyes watch the ingredients changing into different shapes and textures along the way.

This weekend I had chosen to attempt Mu-Shu pork with curry-scented pancakes. One of my coworkers had pointed out the entree on the menu of a local Chinese restaurant, and a few days later I had found the recipes in an old Martha Stewart magazine.

After lining up all the ingredients to make sure I had everything necessary, I read the recipe for the pancakes. I had to go through the instructions several times, because it sounded like there were unnecessary steps. If it was a pancake you would think that you could just make a liquid batter. However, the instrucions said to form what sounded like a tortilla, brush one side with sesame oil, then put a second flattened disk of dough on top of the first. My dough was almost too wet, so I added enough flour that I could handle it.

While my fingers fought the sticky dough, I reflected on technical challenges that amateur bakers in the GBBO episodes face. The contestants are given a minimal amount of time to bake a (usually) unfamiliar product with just a list of ingredients and very basic instructions. My time limit was self-imposed rather than one given by a television show judge, though. Somehow the doubled-up disks made their way to the frying pan, and I could even peel them apart later when the pork-and-vegetable filling and the balsamic-plum sauce were ready.

If I choose to prepare Mu-Shu pork in the future, I think I’ll look at some other recipes to see if other cooks follow the same method for curry-scented pancakes, or if the sandwich method is something that can be improved upon.

Can you think of any reason not to just make a pour batter or a single layer tortilla instead?

 

Categories: Bread, Food and drink, Pork | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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