A Southern Classic Makeover: Brined Pork Chops with Spicy Pear Chutney

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Meats

Pork Chop and Applesauce Dinner Gets a Makeover with Spicy Pear Chutney and Brined Pork Chops

By Carol Kicinski
Recipes follow

Pork chops, cooked and served.

Instead of applesauce, serve these pork chops with a spicy pear chutney. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spicy Pear Chutney is just the answer! Green Anjou pears are in season and their crispy, juicy sweetness is the perfect compliment to pork chops. In about 15 minutes with some fresh, ripe pears, a few pantry items and a handful of dried cranberries you can whip up a side dish to make any ordinary pork chop company worthy.

This spicy pear chutney is a must try recipe! It not only goes great with the brined pork chops but also makes an amazing topping for pulled pork, baked chicken breasts and would even make a welcome change as an accompaniment for your Holiday Turkey!

Now let’s talk chops. About 25 years ago, the pork industry answered the demand for leaner meat. They bred pigs to have less fat and as we all know, less fat means less flavor and drier meat. So in order to pump up the flavor and juiciness of cheap supermarket pork chops, brining is the answer! Brining is soaking meat in a salty water solution with some flavoring added.

Why It Works
Remember in 5th grade science class we learned about osmosis? No, not smarter than a fifth grader? That’s ok. Simply put, water flows out of things that are less concentrated into things more highly concentrated. Brines have a higher concentration of salt than the water in the pork chop cells so the water flows out, the salt from the brining solution flows into the meat making the meat cells more concentrated so they draw the moisture back in. The bottom line is that brining makes tough flavorless meat moist, tender and more flavorful.

This brine recipe uses classic pork flavors; onion and sage. You can change up the flavor anyway you like with different herbs, spices and vegetables but keep in the basics of water, salt, sugar and vinegar. They all play their part in the brining process. The sugar will keep the pork chops from tasting too salty and the vinegar tenderizes the meat.

Four inexpensive pork chops can be purchased in most cases for about $5.00, brine and grill them, add the Spicy Pear Chutney and some steamed green beans and you have a delicious dinner for 4 for under $10.00! And aside from the brining time the whole meal was ready in about half an hour.

Spicy Pear Chutney

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium sized red onion, minced
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ – ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
3 fresh pears, chopped

Directions
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and minced red onion. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until the onions start to soften. Add the dried cranberries and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and peaches. Combine well. Simmer on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until the pears and cranberries have softened but the pears still retain their shape. If the mixture is too liquid, turn the heat up and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve warm.
Makes about 2 cups.

Brined Pork Chops
Ingredients
4 cups water, use divided
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 pork chops about ¾ inch thick
½ white onion, sliced
2 or 3 springs of fresh sage
Olive oil for brushing the pork chops

Directions
Combine 1 cup water with the salt, brown sugar and pepper in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add 3 cups of cold water and let the mixture cool. Stir in the apple cider vinegar. Pour mixture into a glass baking dish or large freezer weight plastic storage bag. Add the pork chops, onions and sage. Refrigerate for 1 – 12 hours. Even a little bit of brining is better than none.

Take pork chops out of the fridge and rinse them well with cold water the pat dry with paper towels. Let set for about 5 minutes before cooking.

Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Brush the pork chops with olive oil and cook for 4 minutes per side (more or less depending on the thickness of the pork chops). Remove from pan, brush the top with a little more olive oil and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 pork chops.

Carol Kicinski is a gluten-free food writer, recipe developer, and television chef. She is the author of the upcoming cook book “Simply…Gluten-free Desserts” and has a monthly gluten-free cooking segment on the nationally syndicated morning show “Daytime”.
For more gluten-free recipes visit her blog at http://simplygluten-free.blogspot.com/

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Andouille Smoked Sausage in Red Gravy

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Cajun, Meats

This dish is from the Cajun areas of Louisiana. The sausage and gravy are spicy with cayenne peppers. If you want it less spicy, use a mild sausage and decrease the cayenne or leave it out completely. Serve this dish of Andouille over rice covered in the red gravy.

A sauce containing tomato puree, diced tomatoe...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6 tb Unsalted butter
1/2 c Diced green peppers
1 1/2 lb Andouille smoked sausage, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 tsp Minced garlic
8 tsp Tomato sauce
3 c Onions, diced
1/4 c Chopped parsley
6 1/2 c Beef stock
1 c Chopped green onion tops
1 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
3 c Cooked rice
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 c Chopped celery

cooked rice for serving

  1. Melt butter in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Add the sausage, cover and cook without stirring about 7 minutes.
  2. Turn over and sprinkle 2 c. of onions on top. Cover and cook another 7 minutes.
  3. There should be dark brown sediment on the bottom of the pan. Add 3/4 c. of stock and scrape the pan bottom to get all the flavor incorporated. Add pepper and salt, stirring and scraping.
  4. Cover and cook 2 minutes, stirring once. Add celery, green peppers and garlic. Cover and cook 3 minutes, stirring once.
  5. Add tomato sauce and cook uncovered 5 minutes, stirring and scrapping the bottom occasionally. Add 1/2 c. onions. Cook 8 minutes until large puddles of oil have broken out and tomato mixture is thick. Stir only if sticking.
  6. Add parsley and 1/2 c. of the green onions. Add 3-1/4 c. more stock and scrape. Cook 20 minutes until liquid is thick dark red gravy. Stir occasionally.
  7. Stir in remaining stock and onions. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring frequently, about 14 minutes, until gravy is noticeably thicker but still juicy. Remove from heat and serve immediately over rice.
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Pickled Pig’s Feet – My Best Soul Food Recipes

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Meats, Pickles

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, in his "Meat...

Yes, you can still buy pigs feet, but you may have to look for them. Ask your butcher. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ok, this recipe is a blast from the past. I used to eat these as a snack with my mother, sitting on the back porch. Pickled Pig’s Feet are a whole lot better than they sound! Remember the old addage that the meat is better next to the bone? Well, pig’s feet are a lot of bone, knuckle and succulent meat! You have to work to get that meat, but boy is it worth it! Try this recipe:

Pickled Pig’s Feet

4 pig’s feet
1 teaspoon whole cloves
4 bay leaves
4 cups white vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 large onion, sliced
1 hot green pepper, whole
Black pepper

1. Take all four feet, clean and scrape ’em till
they’re spotless, flip off the hoofs, and cut between the toes. Put ’em in a pot and cover with salted water. Simmer til the meat is ready to come off the bone, but don’t let it!
2.While they are cooking: mix the cloves, bay leaves, vinegar, sugar, onion, hot pepper and black pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer 20-30 minutes.
3. Add 2 cups of the juice from the foot to the vinegar,
and stir.
4. Put the feet in a jar so they stand if you can,
and pour the vinegar over them. Cover and refrigerate
for 3 days to a week before eatting.
5. The longer they marinate, the more flavor! Enjoy!

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How to Make Competition Worthy Barbecue Ribs

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Grilling and BBQ, How To, Meats

By Bill Anderson

Great barbecue recipes are hard to come by. Most recipes and books leave out important information like times and temperatures. That’s because so much depends on your cooking conditions. But if you know the basics and what to look for, this shouldn’t be a problem. [Read the rest of this entry…]

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How to Cook a Whole Corned Beef Brisket

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under How To, Meats

Cooking a corned beef brisket sounds intimidating, but it really is not. The instructions below are for cooking on the stove top, but you can also cook corned beef brisket in the crock pot or roaster, or covered with water as below in the oven at 325 for approximately 1 hour per pound. When cooking in the oven, use a tight fitting lid, or seal it with aluminum foil.

Cooked corned beef, eaten on St. Patrick's Day...

Cooked corned beef, sliced across the grain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My recipe starts with an already corned beef that includes the spice packet. If there isn’t a spice packet, don’t worry, just ignore it and continue on.

Stove top method to cook a whole corned beef brisket:

1 corned beef brisket
water
spice packet that comes in the brisket

1. The brisket comes already brined and ready to cook. You need to rinse the brine off, then place the brisket in a large heavy pot. Add the spice packet that came with the brisket, and cover it with water.
2. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3 – 5 hours, depending on the size of your brisket. (Refer to the package label.)
3. When done the brisket will be tender and will have shrunk a bit. Remove the brisket from the water and place on a cutting board and allow to rest a few minutes. If you are not planning to eat it until later, allow it to cool before slicing.
4. To slice the corned beef brisket correctly you need to locate the direction of the grain. Look for the long strands of meat. If you slice so that these strands stay long, your brisket will be tough to chew. Instead slice across the grain so that the strands are cut very short. This will result in a tender slice of corned beef.

When the beef is done, throw in some potatoes and carrots, or cabbage. This is a fine meal any night of the week. Don’t forget the Reuben sandwich the next day.

 

 

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How to Make Incredible Pan Sauces

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under How To, Meats, Tips

How to Make Incredible Pan Sauces

By: The Reluctant Gourmet

If you want to elevate your cooking skills to a new level and add a whole lot more to your gastronomy repertoire, learn how to make a simple pan sauce. With this technique in your cooking bag of tricks, you can turn a simple pan-fried steak into a mouth-watering meal, a plain boneless chicken breast into a delicious feast, or a modest pork chop into a scrumptious banquet. Ok, maybe I’m stretching a bit but check this out.

Restaurants chefs use this technique all the time. Basically, they cook something in a sauté pan over pretty high heat until it’s done and leaves a bunch of brown caramelize bits of “stuff”in the pan. You look at this “stuff” in the pan and say to yourself, “Now how am I going to clean this ‘stuff’ off the pan? What a mess! I wish I had used a non stick pan.”

English: Fond left in a white enamel pot after...

The fond left in the pan after cooking is the flavor for delicious pan sauces. Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “stuff” has a name, it’s called “fond” and you want that “fond” stuck to your pan because it is packed with incredible flavors. It’s also easy to remove by adding a little liquid to the pan and using a wooden spoon to dissolve it. This is called deglazing and can be done with wine, brandy, fortified wines, stock, cider, fruit juices or most typically a combination of two. Just be careful if you use wine to remove the pan from the heat so the alcohol doesn’t ignite and blow up in your face. I’ve spoken with chefs who have seen this happen.

The next steps are to continue to cook the liquid in the pan until it is reduced by half and finish by adding several pats of butter to thicken and enhance the flavor of the sauce. If you ever knew how much butter professional chefs use in restaurants to “enhance” flavor, you would be amazed. I sometimes think they make their dishes too rich because I get that uncomfortable “too full” feeling later on, but then again, it’s so good while you’re dining. Now those are just the basics.

To create more complexity to the sauce you’ll want to add some aromatics like garlic or shallots for a subtle but additional layer of flavor. Then you might want to add some additional ingredients such as mushrooms, mustards, chutneys, herbs and/or spices to give even more complexity and flavor.

For more information on making classic and quick pan sauces at home including what kind of pan to use, how much deglazing liquid to use and two example recipes for the same sauce, one classic and the other quick, go to http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/pan_sauces.htm

About the author: G. Stephen Jones, The Reluctant Gourmet, created a web site back in 1997 as a hobby to assist other novice cooks who may find the art of cooking a little daunting. As an ex-Wall Street broker and Stay-at-Home Dad, I try to explore cooking from a different perspective. Visit http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/ for more tips, techniques and recipes.

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Dinner: Healthy Quick Recipe Ideas — Pork Piccata over Spinach Pasta

May 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Meats, Quick and Easy

Because the pork is so thin, it cooks very quickly. Serve this flavorful pork piccata over a bed of spinach pasta (recipe follows.)

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Homemade Chicken and Dumplings

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Frugal, Meats

English: A bowl of chicken and dumplings with ...

A bowl of chicken and dumplings with vegetables. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chicken and Dumplings Recipe

3 pounds chicken pieces
3 cups chicken broth
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
2 stalks celery, cut into ½ inch slices
1 ½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons  flour
¼ cup cold water

Dumplings:
1 cup all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons minced parsley
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons oil

  1. Rinse chicken, pat dry.  In a large dutch oven, combine chicken, both, onions, celery, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from bone and cut into bite size pieces.  Return to heat and bring back to a boil.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour into the cold water.  Stir into the chicken mixture.  Continue to cook until the broth thickens.   Prepare dumplings and place onto top of chicken.
  5. Prepare dumplings:  Combine flour, parsley, baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  6. Whisk together the milk and oil.  Pour into flour mixture and stir with fork until mixed.
  7. Drop large spoonfuls of dumpling mixtures into the top of the chicken mixture.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. At the end of 10 minutes, remove lid and check dumplings for doneness (dumplings are done when toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
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North Carolina Style Barbecue — Pulled Pork

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Grilling and BBQ, Meats

Almost everyone in the South will agree that pork means barbecue! But travel a few miles and the barbecue changes. The sweet tomato style of sauce popular in the Smoky Mountain regions gets diluted with vinegar for this North Carolina style barbecue. True barbecue gurus would disagree with me about the cooking method, but to me easy means use the oven and timer. No fire to tend, but that rich flavor is still there!

Pulled pork in BBQ sauce sandwich with slaw

Pulled pork in BBQ sauce sandwich with slaw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4 to 5 pound Boston Butt pork roast
1 large onion, chopped
1 ½ cups water
1 cup vinegar
½ cup catsup
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons dry mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place roast in a roasting pan.
  3. Combine remaining ingredients, stir well, and pour over roast.
  4. Cover and bake until meat is very tender – approximately 5 to 6 hours.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Remove roast from sauce and chop meat or “pull” apart with 2 forks, removing excess fat as you go.
  7. Skim excess fat from sauce. Return the meat to the sauce, stir well, and bake at 325 for another 15 minutes or until heated through.
  8. Serve as is – yum- or on buns with coleslaw.
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Southern Fried Chicken with Gravy

May 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Meats

Southern Fried Chicken with Gravy Recipe

1 fryer, 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 pounds, cut up

English: Fried chicken.

Fried chicken. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1 onion, diced (Optional for gravy)
Oil for frying, milk for soaking
1 cup water for gravy, approximately.

  1. Clean and disjoint fryer, cut into frying size pieces. Cover with milk and soak until ready to cook. Store in refrigerator if preparing more than 30 minutes ahead.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Drain the chicken and dredge in the flour mixture until coated, or put into a paper bag with flour (a few pieces at a time) and shake til coated.
  3. Heat about 2 inches of oil into a large hot frying pan. Put chicken in and fry until browned and cooked through (approximately 20 minutes). The trick is to keep moving and turning the chicken regularly so that the chicken cooks evenly and does not burn or stick. If chicken is too brown on outside and not done on inside, the oil is too hot. Lower the temperature for the next batch and finish this batch for a couple minutes on high in the microwave. (My method, not Granny’s, but it will not be as crisp)
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan and drain on paper towels. Pour off most of the fat, leaving about 1 Tablespoon and the crumbs in the bottom of the pan. Add onions if desired and a little flour (1 T per cup of gravy) and brown. I use the seasoned flour, but you may need to sift it.
  5. When flour has browned, add 1 cup of hot water and stir until smooth and thickened. Taste for flavor. If the flavor is not chicken, you can add 1 bouillon cube, If too thick, add more water. Adjust seasoning if needed. I like a lot of gravy, so I use 2 cups of water and 1 bouillon cube.
  6. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes
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