Monday, April 30, 2012

Pork and Peach Dijonnaise

This excellent dish is a great way to use pork tenderloin or boneless chops. I used chops, slicing them in half horizontally to make them extra-thin. Once again, I made this using the economical cuts of meat I carved from the whole pork leg I bought on sale (Miss Piggy Goes to Market, April 25, 2012 blog).
Pork and Peach Dijonnaise:
1-½ lb. pork tenderloin, sliced thinly (or 4 boneless pork chops, sliced in half horizontally)
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
3 tbsp. butter or margarine, divided
¼ c. onion, chopped
½ tsp. dried rosemary stems, crushed
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
½ c. white wine or non-alcoholic cooking sherry
2-to-3 tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
2 fresh peaches, sliced (or 12 slices canned peaches, drained)
½ c. heavy cream (whipping cream)
Using meat mallet or the side of a cleaver, flatten pork slices to ¼-inch. Shake meat in combined flour, salt, and pepper in paper or plastic bag. In a heavy skillet (I used a cast iron one), sauté seasoned meat on medium-high heat in 2 tbsp. butter or margarine until golden on both sides, about 3 min. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
Melt remaining butter in skillet. Cook onion until translucent and tender. Add rosemary, thyme, wine or cooking sherry, and mustard. Cook until reduced by half, 4-to-5 min. Reduce heat to medium-low, stirring in peaches and cream. Cook 3-to-4 min., just until sauce thickens and peaches are heated through. Pour over pork. Serves 4.
- Modified from a recipe in The Vancouver Sun

If using chops, slice horizontally; trimming all fat!

Slicing chops through is easy when your knife is sharp!

Sauté floured, seasoned meat in heavy skillet

Turn once, ensuring meat is golden brown on each side

Lower heat to sauté onions

Add white wine or cooking sherry
In go the peaches!

And the cream ... you don't need much!

Simmer just until heated through

Plate warm chops or tenderloin slices

Nap with Dijon-style peach sauce

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Roast

The biggest mistake people make with pork is to overcook it, leaving it dry and stringy. This simple recipe for tenderloin roast is truly outstanding. The initial high heat seals in the juices so that the pork emerges moist, yet fully cooked.
Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Roast:
1 lb. pork tenderloin
1 tbsp. olive oil
1-½ tsp. salt
1-½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
½ tsp. powdered allspice
¼ tsp. powdered cinnamon
Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. Brush loin lightly with olive oil in roasting pan. Combine seasonings in a small bowl, rubbing over oiled surface of meat. Roast, uncovered, exactly 10 min. Leaving meat in oven, reduce oven heat to 250 deg. F., setting timer for a further 30 min. Serves 4.

Combine seasonings in a small bowl, mixing well

Brush lightly with olive oil
Rub seasonings into meat before roasting

Straight from the oven and ready to slice

Moist ... tender ... slightly pink at the center ... delicious!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Slivered Pork in Tangy BBQ Sauce

This very quick dinner uses the bits of meat I rescued when I cut that massive pork leg earlier this week (Miss Piggy Goes to Market, April 25, 2012). Depending on the thickness of the meat, a butcher might call these strips “fast fry” boneless chops. This simple dish is excellent over rice or noodles, and needs only a couple of minutes in your skillet. 
Slivered Pork in Tangy BBQ Sauce:
1 lb. lean pork, sliced into strips
2 tsp. canola oil
1 c. ketchup
⅓ c. apple juice or water
⅔ c. brown sugar
1 tsp. chili flakes
1-½ tsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. dry mustard
¼ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cornstarch or tapioca starch
Sauté meat in canola oil about 1 min. per side on medium-high heat (If meat is more than ¼-in. thick, this may take slightly longer). Reduce heat to low. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add to meat, cover, and simmer 5 min. Serves 4. 

Prepare Tangy BBQ Sauce as directed

Lightly oil your skillet 

Sauté and flip pork strips, working quickly

Cook only just until no pink remains

Stir sauce into meat. Cover and simmer 5 min. Serve!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sweet ’n’ Sour Pork

Food prices are on the rise! Eating smart and eating cheap means using your noggin. This deliciously inexpensive dish is quick to prepare and is sure to become a personal and family favorite. It uses some of the cubed pork and consommé from my post of two days ago (Miss Piggy Goes to Market, April 25, 2012). Serve over a bed of hot, cooked rice (see Index for How to Cook Rice) and enjoy the accolades!
Sweet ’n’ Sour Pork:
1 lb. lean pork, sliced into 1-in. cubes
2 tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. salt
Dash coarsely ground pepper
2 tbsp. canola oil
1-½ green peppers, chunked at irregular angles
4 tbsp. chopped onions
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1 c. pork (or beef) consommé, divided
¾ c. canned pineapple chunks with enough juice to fill measuring cup to 1 c. level
3 tbsp. cornstarch or tapioca starch
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. soy sauce
¼ c. brown sugar
Using a plastic or paper bag, shake pork cubes in seasoned flour. Heat oil in skillet and sauté pork until golden. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add peppers, onions, and mushrooms to pan, stirring until onions are translucent and mushrooms are tender and lightly browned. Cover and simmer 15 min. Combine remaining consommé with pineapple chunks and juice. cornstarch or tapioca starch, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Stir in to meat mixture. Cover and simmer a further 10 min. Ladle over rice. Serves 4.

Heat oil in skillet

Add seasoned, floured pork cubes

Sauté until golden; then lower heat

Prepare vegetables

Add to skillet

Reduce heat and sauté

Add half of consommé; cover; simmer

Add remaining ingredients mixed with starch

Simmer; cover 10 min. longer

Serve over a hot bed of rice

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to Make Pork Stock

As I was saying, Dollinks (Miss Piggy Goes to Market, April 25, 2012), pork’s versatility will allow you to use every part of the pig except the squeal! So let’s start with the bone I carved from the whole pork leg I recently hauled home. Soup, anyone?
How to Make Pork Stock:

1 large pork bone from leg and/or shoulder 
Pork knuckle bones, if available 
Assorted vegetables
Follow the same recipe and method as in my March 9, 2012 post for How to Make Beef Stock. Roasting the bones and vegetables will deepen the flavor and color of any broth you prepare.

While this bone is not exactly pretty, check the post below for a simple, nutritious, and low-calorie soup - one of an infinite variety of soups you can make from homemade stock! Save a cupful of this lovely broth and set 1 lb. of cubed pork aside! Tomorrow, I’ll feature both in an utterly scrumptious Sweet ’n’ Sour Pork recipe! 

Pork Consommé with Sliced Mushrooms

Stirring soup stock is a compulsion for me - but not for pros or for smart home chefs. I like to dig my spoon deep into the pot, bringing the vegetables at the bottom to the top while transporting those on top straight to the bottom. But that only means extra work: Smart soup chefs allow broth to simmer and bubble so that the scum rises to the top and clings to the sides of the pot, producing broth that is clearer than broth that is vigorously stirred. I compensate for my compulsion with many screenings - first, through a wide-holed colander; next, through a fine-meshed sieve; and last (if I’m being ultra-fussy), through a layer or two of cheesecloth. This and ensuring that almost all the fat is skimmed away usually produces a very clear and delicious stock - definitely superior to stock that is factory-produced.

Preparing homemade stock takes time - but this simple, nutritious, low-fat soup takes only a few moments.  Remember the thin strips of meat I carved from the pork leg in yesterday’s post? A couple of those would make an excellent addition to this soup! This quantity serves 4.

Pork Consommé with Sliced Mushrooms:

4 c. pork broth, well skimmed of fat
8 very thin raw pork strips (optional)
1/2 tsp. sesame oil (found in the ethnic foods section of your supermarket)
1 c. hot, sliced, fried mushrooms, blotted dry of fat
2 green onions, angle-cut in 1-in. pieces

In a medium pot, heat broth until almost boiling. Remove from heat, stirring in pork strips and sesame oil (The heat of the broth will cook the pork). Ladle equally into bowls. Divide mushrooms and green onions equally among four bowls. Serve at once.

Et voilà!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Miss Piggy Goes to Market

The sign read SALE! It was the largest pork leg I’ve ever seen, unattached to a pig. The thing weighed in at a touch under 23 pounds, and just two remained. How could I resist - especially when it was priced at only $1 a pound? 
(For those of you who think in metric, the beast weighed 10.440 kg and clocked in at $2.20 per kg. I repeat: How could I resist?)
When Ron saw me trying to wrest it from the meat counter at the supermarket, he rushed to my side with three little words: “You are insane!” I shot him a look that said: “Don’t mess with me, Bub. I’ve got a carving knife and know how to use it.”
Strapped in like an obese toddler, the pig rode shotgun in the car. Under his breath, Ron grumbled: “Good thing they didn’t have whole cows on sale.” One laser beam stare from Yours Truly silenced him.
“It’s all going to be fat and bone,” he whinged. But he was wrong. Just 10 pounds of it was fat and bone. The rest was mighty fine. 

It’s said you can use every part of the pig except the squeal, so I set out to determine if that were true. 
I quickly understood that I could never carve a whole pig. I’m not a butcher, and lack the skills, strength and desire to use the hoofs in glue, the tail hairs as a paint brush, the fat in soap, or the ears in silk purses. I’d pretty much met my match with this single leg. I procrastinated, but High Noon and the Gunfight at the OK Corral seemed to come all at once. It was me or the pig. I raised my knife and plunged it into the swine.  
The thing was sheathed in a half-inch layer of fat. I sawed my way through to find thinner layers of fat, gristle, and connective tissue. I sliced them away and prevailed! Two hours later, I emerged from the kitchen with a cornucopia of porcine delights tucked into my freezer. Today’s blog and subsequent postings will tell you about that. 
I’ve never met a pig I didn’t like (I’ve dated enough of ’em to know*). Today’s blog (subtitled How to Carve a Whole Pork Leg) may even take you places you’ve never been. Yeah, the pigs I used to date always said that, too ...

Fatter than a pregnant Jessica Simpson! 
I mean the pork leg, silly!

Slice away the sheath of fat with a very sharp knife

Cut the fat away in sections. Some people prize this  
"crackling" - I prefer to cook with less fat

With the fat removed, let your knife
follow the bone as you cut the meat
Save the smaller bits, continuing to 
trim away as much fat as possible

Carve what feels like a good-sized
roast for your needs ... There will
be several more!

Separate the roast from the leg; set aside

Carve another section into cubes suitable for stew

I netted a small mountain of cubed pork!

Slice some of the meat into chops

At last ... Down to the bones! 

All in all, the whole pork leg I could barely lift produced 3-¼ lb. cubed pork suitable for stew, 1 lb. of lean pork strips ideal for chow mein, 5 boneless pork chops weighing 1-¼ lb., one 2-½ lb. roast, a second roast weighing 1-¼ lb., two “pork tenderloins” (technically not tenderloins, which are found around the rib cage, but small, long roasts) weighing 1.1 lb. each, and one 2 lb. roast. 
I revisited the supermarket and recorded the per-pound and per-kilogram price of every cut I’d got from this leg. Then I did the math. Had I bought all this meat pre-cut, I would have paid a whopping $59.32 for it. My savings totaled $36.35. 
All cooks have guilty secrets. Mine is that I initially threw out the bone, being too tired from carving, weighing, packaging, and labeling everything to bother turning it into stock. But then I had second thoughts - after all, I’d wanted to use every part of the leg I could - and soon dug the bone from the fresh bag into which I’d so callously tossed it.

Seek and ye shall find!

Not a leg to stand on ... Now let's get to work and 
make something delicious from this!
I made a beautiful pork broth and soup from this bone, with both recipes featured tomorrow. Throughout this week and next, I’ll also publish the recipes for the many great dishes I made from this leg

Miss Piggy offers this very important reminder: Pork does not freeze as well as beef. Freeze raw pork roasts and chops no longer than four-to-six months; freeze raw beef roasts and steaks 6-to-12 months. I owe my good friend Lorna a heads up for that postscript! Now were cooking, Dollinks!
* Don’t get me wrong ... Most men are great! 

Postscript: Here’s the math!
Pork strips: $7.20 lb. or $15.85 kg (1 lb. x $7.20 = $7.20)
Cubed pork: $5.50 lb. or $12.10 kg (3-¼ lb. x $5.50 = $17.88)
Pork tenderloin: $8.41 lb. or $18.50 kg (2.2 lb. x $8.41 = $18.50)
Pork chops: $5.30 lb. or $11.66 kg (1-¼ lb. x $5.30 = $6.60)
Pork leg roasts: $1.59 lb. or $3.49 kg (5-¾ lb. x $1.59 = $9.14)
Total cost of these cuts: $7.20 + $17.88 + $18.50 + $6.60 + $9.14 = $59.32
Total cost of my pork leg: $22.97
Total savings: $59.32 - $22.97 = $36.35

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spinach Salad with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette

Do you cook the same few recipes on automatic pilot, night after night? Or grab deli meals? Or worse - reheat fast foods? Step out of the box! You deserve better than same-old, same-old - and you certainly deserve better than foods loaded with sodium, sugar, multi-syllabic additives, and fat! Experimenting with new foods, new tastes, and new recipes can be a lot of fun - and a lot healthier than eating factory-prepared foods. This excellent Spinach Salad with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette is very different from the Spinach Salad with Feta and Almonds I posted April 17th. Try it! It’s excellent! In fact, its another of my favorite recipes!
Spinach Salad with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette:
To Prepare the Salad:
12 c. (12 oz. or 340 g) loosely packed baby spinach
6 slices cooked, crumbled bacon
⅔ c. sweet, mild onion, slivered (or ⅓ c. red onion, if you prefer your onion sharp) 
1-½ c. thinly sliced mushrooms
Toss together with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette. Serve at once. Yields 8-to-10 portions.
To Prepare Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette:
2 tbsp. lemon juice
⅓ c. olive oil
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ tsp. dry mustard
5 drops hot sauce
1 egg yolk
Shake dressing ingredients together in a small jar. 

Sliver onions
Prepare to slice mushrooms and cook bacon
Measure washed, dried, stemmed spinach

Add all to work bowl, tossing with Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette

Start with scant dressing, gradually adding more

Transfer to serving bowl, serving at once