Pork

Pork & Bok Choy Stir Fry

Posted in Noodles, Pork on February 2nd, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

I’m going to admit I’ve always been a little intimidated by bok choy. I think it’s because I don’t really care for the stalky parts of vegetables. While the adult part of my mind says “get over it and just eat it”, the other adult part of my mind says the advantage of being a grown-up is getting to be picky when you want to be.

I picked baby bok choy for the Pork & Bok Choy Stir Fry since it seemed less intimidating, although I’m still not sure if that was the right choice for leafy-to-stalk ratio.

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces soba or rice noodles
  • 3/4-1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound bok choy (about 1 medium head), trimmed and cut into long, thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chile-garlic sauce

I am trying to make a real effort right now to up the amount of vegetables in my meals and cut back on the noodles and meat. This works well in a stir-fry where you still feel like you’re filling up on good food but the proportions are healthier. I like to buy my pork tenderloins at Uwajimaya because they come in more reasonable (smaller) sizes. Before I discovered them there I never knew what people did with those HUGE things they sell in the regular grocery stores. Even then, I only used half and set the other half aside for the next night’s dinner.

Directions:

  • Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

It’s nice to cook noodles more “naturally” feeling, in boiling water. I’m still not quite comfortable with the soaking rice noodles for pad thai even though they keep coming out fine in the end.

  • Meanwhile, slice pork into thin rounds; cut each round into matchsticks. Whisk water, rice wine (or sherry), soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl.

I really want to know who came up with this idea that food needs be cut into “matchsticks”. Carrots.. meat… it’s as bad as trying to “cube” a non-geometric piece of chicken. Just slice it up and it’ll be fine! I found it easier to cut lengthwise along the “grain” than to cut rounds myself.

  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat…

Again I’m confused about why a Dutch oven for this recipe. My favorite stir-fry pan made more sense. Cook veggies, then meat.

  • Whisk the cornstarch mixture again, add it to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve the pork and vegetables over the noodles.

A major bonus about this recipe, it made great leftovers, maybe even one of those better-the-second-day recipes. I keep finding myself wanting to make it again just for that next-day lunch.

Shake ‘n Bake style

Posted in Pork on January 30th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

Sad but true, the best pork chops I’ve ever been able to make were with a box of Shake ‘n Bake growing up. Since I’ve been trying to ban processed foods from my diet as much as possible, I haven’t had any luck making a decent pork chop that didn’t come pre-seasoned from the grocery store. I was about to give in and pull out that box of Shake ‘n Bake I remembered seeing in the back of the cupboard but, oops, it was for chicken. (Now I remember it was used in an early experiment at homemade chicken nuggets.)

So I figured there must be a rip-off recipe or twenty out there and did a little cheating instead.

I went looking for our box of panko bread crumbs but found an old abandoned box of Caesar style croutons and had a better idea!

  • 1/4 tsp. onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • In a separate bowl I mixed up the spices, using onion powder in place of onion salt, celery seed in place of celery salt (since I had neither) and threw in a bit of freeze-dried parsley.

    I put the spices in a plastic sandwich bag with a handful of bread crumbs (much less than the cup and a half the recipe says) and did the shake-and-bake thing.

    Looks authentic so far.

    I baked at 350 for… I think 20 minutes.

    So I must have done something right – these were hands down the juiciest pork chops I have ever made. Flavor however… there were hints of flavor. Tiny, tiny hints of real flavor, of something amazing that could be but just wasn’t there. What did I do wrong? Was it because I avoided the salt? More spices?

    So I’m putting out an official call for help. How do I make a good breaded pork chop that doesn’t start with a box?

    Sage Pork Chops

    Posted in Pork on January 7th, 2011 by admin – 1 Comment

    Looking at my old drafts, I first tried to write about Sage Pork Chops last summer during a period I was calling “Bad Food Week”. Bad Food Week had continued that day with me ruining an old pot by leaving it sitting on the burner empty except some bullion remnants. Since Andrew caught me (in time) doing the same thing to our good pot, I think this recipe needs to come with a disclaimer:

    Turn off the burner when you’re done cooking.

    Also,

    Turn on the burner when you start cooking.

    According to my draft I next left the pork chops to “simmer” with the stove not quite on. Anyway I obviously survived since I’m here to try again.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon dried sage
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 6 center cut bone-in pork chops
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 cubes beef bouillon

    I tend to buy boneless pork chops but I think it’s just a matter of personal preference.

    Directions:

    • Combine the salt, sage and black pepper in a small bowl and rub on both sides of the chops.

    Now I don’t know what kind of sage other people buy, but every kind I’ve tried tends to be kind of… fluffy… for lack of a better word. I have no idea how you combine a “fluffy” spice with salt and pepper, and for that matter, is 1 teaspoon a typo? I always end up with salt and pepper left at the bottom of the bowl, and use way more sage than called for.


    This is what I had left over after sage’ing just one pork chop.

    • Melt the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium high heat and saute the chops for 5 minutes per side, or until well browned.

    Mmmm… sagey.

    Perfect doneness isn’t expected since there is more cooking to come.

    • Meanwhile, in a separate small saucepan over high heat, combine the water and the bouillon and stir until bouillon dissolves.

    Maybe next time I’ll use the microwave.

    • Add this to the chops, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer chops for 45 minutes.

    Following the cooking times in the recipe is asking for overcooked-ness. That might be because bone-in pork chops take longer to cook than boneless. (I don’t know if that’s true but it sounds good.) I’d recommend cutting back the sauteing time to ‘until browned’ and the simmering to 20-30 minutes depending on thickness.

    Sadly this is the best way I’ve found to cook a pork chop since Shake & Bake… Nothing too special but all in all it’s a decent recipe, and should satisfy any carnivorous meat-cooked-inside-of-other-meat cravings.

    Pork Rub

    Posted in Pork on December 5th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

    I need to learn to smell my meat more.

    Yes I said “smell my meat”.

    My problem is whenever I’m trying to smell test some meat that’s pushing the sell-by date, I realize I don’t know what it’s supposed to smell like to begin with. I know the line ‘when it doubt throw it out’ but raw meat in general never smells pleasant to me. I need a better reference point to know when to be in doubt.

    Besides, When-In-Doubt-Throw-It-Out comes from a pretty privileged background. When-In-Doubt always has a backup for dinner. When-In-Doubt doesn’t live on a budget and doesn’t mind wasting food. When-In-Doubt is contradicted by it’s rival ‘I’ll eat anything and I’ve never gotten sick.’

    This isn’t anything special – just some pre-seasoned pork chops from QFC right at their sell-by date.


    Back when buying pre-seasoned meat from QFC was the closest to real cooking I did, my favorite thing to find was the pork loin sirloin chop – a piece that seems to contain nearly every word used to describe cuts of pork making it impossible to search for a recipe to recreate what I used to eat.

    From my past experiences I’ve found that that a marinade doesn’t work out for me so what I needed was a dry rub.

    Some research, a few experiments, and waste of spices later, I came up with a variation on a pork chop seasoning, leaving out the salt.

  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
  •  

    Luckily in my research I learned that a dry rub works the same as a marinade, in that you have to leave it to sit for a few hours, otherwise I would have thrown this together and right into the oven once I got hungry.

    I know this still isn’t right… there should be some green herbs but I can’t place them. This went into the fridge until dinnertime and then I broiled.

    My whole plate looks like it could use some color-correcting. The pork was overcooked and the broccoli has seen better days. This is why there’s always backup pasta in the kitchen.