Tag Archives: pork loin

Braised Pork & Cider Stew

29 Nov
Braised Pork and Cider Stew

Braised Pork and Cider Stew

This is usually cooked in an oven-proof Dutch oven started on the stove, then placed in the oven for a couple of hours, but mine is still in storage. So I did the next best thing and used the crock pot! Yes, it is slow cooker season. I made this the past weekend, but only just now getting around to posting it.

I really enjoyed the tartness of the cider and it added an entire new level of taste to your standard braised stew. My daughter really liked this, and the husband said he enjoyed the different taste of the stew, then suddenly announced that he no longer likes pork anymore. What??? I think it has to do with the quarter side of beef we just stocked up in our chest freezer. Nonetheless, I’m sticking with this recipe, as I do like the variation from your standard beef stew. The rubbed sage with the apple cider is a winner! Trust me, it is delicious!

Braised Pork & Cider Stew

1.25 pounds pork loin
Ground black pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash seasoning, or salt, to taste
Flour, for dusting
3 tablespoons olive or grapeseed oil, divided
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 sticks of celery, rough chopped
1/2 large sweet onion, rough chopped
8 to 10 baby carrots
1/2 teaspoon rubbed dried sage
1 pint homemade jarred tomatoes, or 1 can diced
2 cups apple cider

Prepping the Pork Loin

Prepping the Pork Loin

Generously season the pork loin with pepper and Mrs. Dash, or salt. Cut the pork into bite-sized pieces, then dust with flour.

Searing the Pork in Batches

Searing the Pork in Batches

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of the oil. Sear the pork (in batches if needed) until browned on all sides. Remove and add to the crock pot.

Prepping/Sauteing the Veggies

Prepping/Sauteing the Veggies

Add one more tablespoon of oil to the skillet, then add all the chopped veggies. Sprinkle with the rubbed sage and additional ground black pepper. Cook the vegetables for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and add to the crock pot.

Stew in the Crock Pot Ready to Cook

Stew in the Crock Pot Ready to Cook

Now add the tomatoes (crushing if jarred) and apple cider to the crock pot and stir all the ingredients to combine. Cook for low on 8 to 10 hours, or on high for 4 to 6 hours. Serve with a thick crusty bread for mopping up all the wonderful juices!

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Cassoulet ~ French Challenge #2

30 Apr
Serving the Cassoulet

Serving the Cassoulet

It’s been well over a month since I posted this challenge to myself, and I finally bucked up to to make this somewhat complex dish. What I didn’t plan on when I first posted this was how many weekends I’d have in between that didn’t allow for this amount of cooking time (not to mention being out of town), but also that I couldn’t find a pork belly or lamb shoulder to save my life in this small town!

After numerous “cassoulet” searches online, I decided I could use pork loin and smoked sausages without spoiling too much of the classic way of cooking this dish. Which means long and slow. Long and slow, get it? Like about a four-hour chunk of my day long and slow. But oh my gosh, the flavors are amazing!

Actually, it takes two days to make this meal, as you have to start some of the prep the night before cooking. I found no part of preparing this dish particularly “hard” to make, it was just time-consuming.

Soaking Beans and Drying out Bread Night Before

First Things First ~ Soak the Beans and Dry Out the Bread Night Before Cooking

Another factor was that I live in high altitude, and the instructions to “cook the beans for about 20 minutes until tender” about floored me. No-way, no-how would dry beans (even soaked overnight) would be remotely tender after 20 minutes in this high-desert climate. But like all good cooks, I read the instructions in advance and was proactive in knowing my cooking environment. I added at least an hour to my cooking time overall, and I bumped up both the liquid amounts and cooking temps.

Also, I found the amount of meat called for a bit extravagant (seeing as there are only three of us), so scaled the meat amount down. My husband even thought I could reduce the pork amount down even more next time.

Family verdict? All thumbs up! I was amazed at the depth of flavor in this dish. But heck, it’s got not only bacon, but pork and sausage. NO SALT REQUIRED, K? The three large sprigs of thyme and bay leaves added just the right amount of herb flavor without being overwhelming. I did grind some black pepper over it all even though it didn’t call for it because, well, I love pepper in almost everything! Now on to the recipe:

French-Style Cassoulet

1 and 1/2 cups dried white beans (I used Great Northern), soaked overnight
3 slices of grain bread, torn and set to dry
4 strips streaked bacon (not lean), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound pork loin, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 horseshoe link of beef Italian smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 smallish leek, sliced thin and soaked in water to rinse
2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 jar homemade tomatoes, or 1 14-ounce can, hand-crushed with liquid
2 to 2 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup Fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons melted butter

The night before making this dish, place dried beans in a bowl and cover with about an inch of cold water. Soak overnight. In addition, tear up the bread into pieces and place on a rack or in colander so that air can circulate around the bread to make it stale.

The next day, about 3 or 4 hours before serving, drain the beans and add about two inches of water over top of the beans. Bring to a boil and then simmer on medium for about 45 minutes (or less in lower altitudes).

Prepping the Ingredients

Prepping the Ingredients

Meanwhile you can begin prepping the other ingredients. Place the stale bread in a food processor and process until coarse crumbs develop and you have 2 cups of breadcrumbs. If you have any leftover, you can reserve for another use or feed to the birds, like I did. Chop the parsley and combine with the breadcrumbs and set aside.

Next, slice the leek thin and place in a bowl of water to remove any sand/silt. Drain and set aside. Chop the onion and set aside. Then cut the pork loin into one-inch chunks, the sausage into slices, and the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces and set aside.

When the beans are almost tender, you can remove from heat then drain. They will continue cooking later in the oven.

Obligatory Bacon Frying Photo

Obligatory Bacon Frying Photo

Now you can start cooking the actual dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 for lower altitude). In a Dutch oven or other oven-proof dish (I used my 3-quart cast-iron deep skillet), cook the bacon on medium high until crispy, about 10 minutes then drain on paper towels. Remove all but about 1 or 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.

Browning the Pork

Browning the Pork ~ I left too much grease for first batch, so removed some for next batch

Next cook the pork in the same dish in batches, until browned on all sides. I eyeballed it and left too much in there for the first batch of pork (above) so adjust accordingly. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Browning the Sausage

Browning the Sausage

Cook the sausage in the same dish until browned, remove and drain on paper towels.

Cooking the Leeks, Onion, and Garlic

Cooking the Leeks, Onion, and Garlic

Next cook the onion, leek and garlic in the same dish, stirring often, until onions and leeks have softened and reduced by about half. Return all the meat and the beans to the pot and combine.

Meat and Beans Added

Meat and Beans Added

Now add the thyme, undrained crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken broth (only 2 cups if at lower altitude).

Broth and Tomatoes Added

Broth and Tomatoes Added

Season with ground black pepper, to taste. Bring up to a boil, cover, and turn off heat.

Out of Oven First Time

Out of Oven First Time

Cook covered in preheated oven for 1 hour (or 45 minutes at lower altitude). Remove from oven, uncover, and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Drizzle the melted butter over top. Place back in oven and cook uncovered for 45 minutes.

Parsley and Breadcrumbs Added

Parsley and Breadcrumbs Added

Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before serving. Serve with thick slices of crusty bread and a big glass of wine, because you’re going to need it after all that cooking! Bon Apetit!

p.s. (We are headed to our river property over the weekend, so I’ll post again in about a week!)

Don’t forget the handy-dandy printable PDF below!

Cassoulet Out of Oven

Cassoulet Out of Oven ~ Finally!

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

 

San Francisco Pork Chops

11 Dec
San Francisco Pork Chops Dinner

San Francisco Pork Chops Dinner

I really have no background on why these are called this, but let me tell you they are AMAZING! Spicy, a very tad hint of sweet, and a delicious gravy to go over your rice. I “borrowed” this recipe over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, one of many amazing foodie blogs I follow. There are so many fantastic cooks out there that cook meals in “real life” situations, and she is one of them. She also does a lot of baking and candy-making, which I don’t do, but her main and side dishes are great!

I was on a crunch for time (what else is new?) and wanted a quick and easy meal to prepare but I hadn’t started thinking about dinner until after noon. But this slow-cooker recipe saved the day, as I was able to put the crock pot on high and have it ready by a respectable hour. Please don’t skip the crushed red pepper flakes! You can always make substitutions for some of the other ingredients (I did, such as subbing beef broth for chicken broth and I added sliced onions) but the red pepper flakes really rounded out the flavors. I was in such a hurry I didn’t take the proper time to set up for my photos, so I didn’t end up with many usable “in the process of cooking” shots, but really, this is so easy I think you will forgive me this time.

San Francisco Pork Chops
adapted from San Francisco Pork Chops by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large boneless pork chops or loin, about 1-inch thick
Ground black pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb blend, or salt, to taste
1/2 onion, sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup homemade beef or chicken broth, or low-sodium store-bought
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Cooked rice, for serving

Onions and Spicy Broth

Onions and Spicy Broth

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Season the pork chops on both sides with pepper and Mrs. Dash, or salt, to taste. Brown the pork for a few minutes on each side then transfer the pork to the slow cooker. Add the sliced onion to the skillet and cook until the onions start to wilt. Add in the garlic and stir for a minute or so more. Really everything cooks so long in the crock pot you could probably skip this step and add that later just to the pot. Stir in the soy sauce, broth, brown sugar and red pepper flakes and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the sauce and onions over the pork in the crock pot.

Pork Onions and Sauce in Crock Pot

Pork Onions and Sauce in Crock Pot Ready to Cook

Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours. In the last half hour of cooking, add in the cornstarch and water mixture and whisk it into the broth in the crock pot. If you cooked the pork on low, turn the heat to high and cook for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened, otherwise just add and stir in the mixture and cook for the 30 minutes. We served this with cooked rice and green beans. I kept going back and adding more of the sauce over it. Just delicious!

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Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Balsamic Gravy over Pork

2 Oct
Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Balsamic Gravy over Pork

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Balsamic Gravy over Pork

This has all the makings to be an elegant meal, but somehow I just did not quite pull it off. Now don’t get me wrong, you can keep reading as I’ll still share the recipe. But let me ask you this. How on earth can onions be tough after cooking them for almost 20 minutes? Somehow I managed to do that. But the sauce was still good, and not all the onions were hard. I can only guess that I should have peeled the onion down one more layer after taking off the skin. Anyways, I plan on making this again some day and will cross my fingers for softer onions.

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Balsamic Gravy over Pork

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced thin and cut in half
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb Blend
Black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons flour, divided
2 thin-cut pork loin chops
1 cup homemade or low sodium beef broth
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
Pinch of dried basil

Caramelizing the Onions and Mushrooms

Caramelizing the Onions and Mushrooms

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until starting to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook until onions and mushrooms have caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes total. Turn heat down if needed if they start to burn.  Once caramelized, remove to a bowl and set aside.

Season the pork chops with Mrs. Dash and ground black pepper, to taste. Lightly dust each side of the pork chops with 1 tablespoon of the flour. Add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet, and cook each side of the pork chops for 2 to 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Remove to a plate and tent with foil.

Add a tablespoon of flour to the oil left in the pan, adding a touch more oil, if needed. Mix until a paste forms. Slowly whisk in the cup of beef broth and balsamic vinegar. Mix in the honey and herbs, then turn down heat to a simmer. Add the onions and mushrooms back to the skillet and mix into the sauce. Last, add the pork chops back to the skillet, cover, and cook for a few minutes more to heat them through. We served this with fresh Trader Joe’s Haricot Verts and Harvest Grains cooked in beef broth. If you have good luck with caramelizing onions, then this is an easy dinner for any night of the week.

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Balsamic Gravy over Pork

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Balsamic Gravy over Pork

Download and Print this Recipe

Download and Print this Yummy Recipe!

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