Monday, February 20, 2012

Pork Chops in Lemon-Cola Marinade

I picked up another 20 pounds of pork shoulder roast at Pro's Ranch Market last week. After I cut the 3-pound arm-bone portions from each roast, I sliced the remainder into 3/4-inch thicknesses, resulting in 15 pork chops. Unlike the roast we bought three weeks ago at Ranch Market, these had the skin and most of the fat removed. I froze the chops in single portions for convenience, since we cook meals on the spur of the moment rather than on a set schedule, especially if we are working on a project.

Today, I marinated 3 of the pork chops in a mixture of 1/4-cup lemon juice; 5 cloves of fresh, minced garlic; 1/2-cup thin-sliced Vidalia onion; 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika; 1 teaspoon ground black pepper; 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger; 1/2 teaspoon chili powder; 1 tablespoon of rehydrated, minced ginger root; 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of cola.

Marinated Pork Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 20, 2012

Marinated Pork Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 20, 2012

Garlic, Onion, and Dehydrated Ginger by Jack V. Sage, February 20, 2012

I thawed the pork in the refrigerator by placing it -- still wrapped in plastic -- in an 8-cup plastic storage container with a tight-fitting lid. After the chops thawed, I removed the plastic wrap and rinsed each one under cold running water.

I added the lemon juice to the container and rolled the pork around in it to ensure that the juice covered the entire surface of each chop. After five minutes, I added the ground spices, minced garlic, sliced onion and minced ginger. I turned the chops several times to ensure that the spices were evenly distributed over the meat. I waited another five minutes before adding the olive oil and turning the chops again. Next, I added the cola, turning the pork chops several more times.

After two hours, I pan-seared each pork chop. I heated a 12-inch skillet on medium-high heat for one minute before placing the pork chops in it, spaced 1/2-inch apart and 1 inch away from the sides of the pan.

Lemon-Cola Pork Chops by Jack V. Sage, February 20, 2012

I seared the chops for 5 minutes on each side before checking the internal temperature.The USDA recommends pan-searing for 7 minutes on a side, but here in Arizona, using a stainless steel saute pan, the chops only needed 5 minutes per side. The test chop I cooked was dark brown at 6 minutes and scorched black at 7.

The USDA recommends cooking pork roasts and chops to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, as measured with a meat thermometer. To check the internal temperature, insert a meat thermometer horizontally into the side of the thickest portion of each pork chop without touching any bone or the sides of the pan.

I allowed the chops to rest for 3 minutes before serving. This gave the juices in the meat time to redistribute and resulted in a more tender, juicy pork chop.

Lemon-Cola Pork Chops by Jack V. Sage, February 20, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Palate-Pleasing Pork Recipes

Bacon-Wrapped Apple-Raisin Pork Loin

Crisp Virginia bacon keeps your pork loin tender while tart Granny Smith apples and sweet California raisins flavor the meat, providing your taste buds with an avalanche of savory delight. Serve with baked acorn squash, roasted new potatoes, chunks of tender turnip and whole carrots.

Place the pork tenderloin in a plastic zipper bag with the apple cider, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and star anise pods. Marinate it in the refrigerator for 6 to 12 hours.

Remove the pork loin from the bag and pour the marinade into a saucepan, including the cinnamon and star anise. Wash your hands with soap and water.

Add the apple butter, raisins and molasses and bring the mixture to a boil for 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Remove the anise pods and cinnamon sticks from the raisin sauce.

Lay the pork loin on a plastic cutting sheet so its length runs left to right. Make a slit from left to right, halfway down the side. Make a second and third slit, if needed, until the pork loin will open like a book.

Cover the pork loin with the second cutting sheet and pound it to 1/4-inch thickness with the meat mallet.

Slice the apples into 12 pieces, from stem end to blossom end without peeling them. Trim away the core and seeds and lay the apple slices on the flattened pork loin.

Drain the raisin sauce through a strainer into a mixing bowl. Spread the drained raisins evenly over the apples on the pork loin. Reserve the raisin sauce for later.

Roll the pork loin into a tube and fold each end closed. Cut two pieces of string twice the length of the pork loin plus three inches. Lay them side by side, one inch apart.

Cut at least four more pieces of string the same length as the circumference of the pork loin, plus three inches. Lay them across the first two strings, one inch apart.

Lay the pork loin on the net pattern you made with the strings. Pull the ends of the short strings together and knot them tight against the pork loin. Repeat for the long strings.

Heat the saute pan on high for three minutes. Rub the pork loin with olive oil and lay it in the saute pan. Pan-sear the pork loin on all sides, including the ends.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the pork loin on a broiler pan and cover it with foil. Roast the pork loin for 45 minutes.

Lay half the Virginia bacon on a clean cookie sheet in a single layer, with all the slices running left to right, with their long sides touching, to form a rectangle.

Weave the remaining bacon strips between the strips of the rectangle. Fold every second bacon strip to halfway to the left and lay a bacon strip across the ones you did not fold. Return the folded strips of bacon to their original positions.

Repeat folding every other strip of bacon and laying strips across the ones you did not fold, until all the strips have been woven together.

Remove the partially-cooked, apple-raisin-stuffed pork loin from the oven and lay it on the bacon weave. Fold the left and right sides over the ends of the pork loin. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F.

Roll the pork loin in the bacon weave and place it on a cookie sheet with rolled sides. Bake for 30 minutes at 275 degrees F before inserting a meat thermometer into the roast. Remove the roast from the oven when the internal temperature registers 145 degrees F.

Ingredients and Equipment:
Plastic zipper bag
2-pound pork tenderloin
1 cup apple cider
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 star anise pods
2-quart saucepan
2 polyester cutting sheets
Meat mallet
3 Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup apple butter
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons molasses
Small mixing bowl
Kitchen string
Saute pan
Olive oil
Broiler pan
2 pounds Virginia bacon
Cookie sheet with rolled sides
Meat thermometer

Roasting the bacon-wrapped pork loin at 275 degrees for 30 minutes prevents the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines.


USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: Fresh Pork From Farm to Table

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: What Are Nitrosamines?


More Palate-Pleasing Pork Recipes:

Roast Pork with Oranges, Apples and Cauliflower

I needed to do something with the 4-pound cauliflower, oranges and cilantro I bought at Pro's Ranch Market this past Friday. This recipe is the tasty result. Cauliflower lacks the zest that I prefer in my food. Cooking it with pork roast for 1.5 hours at 375 degrees F allowed the pork juices to blend with the flavors of the apples, onions, oranges and cilantro. The cauliflower absorbed all the flavors and turned butter-soft. 

Center-Cut Pork Loin Roast with Cilantro and Guacamole

Slow-roast center-cut pork loin stuffed with chorizo, cilantro and guacamole. Serve the tender slices of stuffed roast pork with a generous helping of casamiento, or beans and rice, blended with grated cheese and jalapeno rings. Top the casamiento with strips of roasted red bell pepper and sun-dried tomatoes.

Luau Pork Roast and Grilled Plantain with Ginger

Taro-wrapped pork tenderloin with citrus, mango, bell pepper and grilled plantain provides 1/4 of your daily vitamin A, over half your daily vitamin C, and almost half your daily thiamine.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Orange O'Brien-Stuffed Roast Chicken

Walmart had whole chickens on sale for 69 cents a pound today, so I got one. I used a $10 Walmart gift card that I earned through MyPoints to buy it, so the chicken, vegetable oil, cocoa powder and cola I bought today were essentially free. I didn't have any stuffing mix or rice, so I decided to create something new. The result was this beautiful chicken, stuffed with orange-infused O'Brien potatoes.

Orange O'Brien-Stuffed Roast Chicken photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012

For this recipe, you will need one whole, five-pound chicken. You will also need coarse sea salt, olive oil, the juice and peel of one or two whole oranges, one whole onion, about 6 cloves of garlic, some paprika, black pepper and about one cup of finely-chopped fresh parsley.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012
I chopped the parsley and minced the onion and garlic, then set them aside for later. I rubbed the chicken with olive oil and sprinkled the body cavities and the skin with coarse sea salt. You can omit the salt if you are on a sodium-restricted diet, but you should double the orange juice to ensure that your chicken remains flavorful and juicy.

The chicken marinated in the salt, oil and juice for about 30 minutes while I made the potatoes. I show it uncovered on the counter, but you should cover it with foil or plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator while it marinates. I turned it over three times while it marinated. Each time I turned the chicken, I rubbed the juices all over the skin, including under the wings and in the folds of the leg.

I grated the zest of one whole orange and set it aside to mix into the O'Brien potatoes later.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012

One orange yields about 1/4 cup of orange zest and 1/4 cup of juice. A single orange gives the chicken and potatoes a subtle, pleasant taste and scent. Use two oranges if you like stronger orange flavor, or if you have to omit salt.

Orange Zest, Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012

I chopped the potatoes into 1/4-inch thick, 3/4-inch cubes. I deep-fried the potatoes using a blend of vegetable oil, but you can oven-fry them if you are on a low-fat diet.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 13, 2012
I covered the unused burners with metal pot lids, so that the oil would not splash all over the stove. Burner covers would have been nicer, but I'm too much of a tightwad to buy them.

I poured 40 ounces of vegetable oil into my 6-quart stockpot. I heated the oil on medium-high heat for about five minutes, then tested the oil by dropping a small piece of potato into it. The first piece did not sizzle enough, so I waited two more minutes before adding the potatoes. To prevent sogginess, I added the potatoes 1/4-cup at a time, making sure to drop each scoopful in separate places in the pan. I waited a minute, then used my metal serving spoon to loosen the potatoes from the bottom of the pan, which prevents scorching and clumping.

I lined a colander with paper towels and placed it on a ceramic serving plate, so the potatoes could drain between batches. Once all five batches cooled enough to handle, I put the chicken on a clean serving plate and dumped the potatoes, chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped parsley and the orange zest into the glass baking dish and mixed them with the juice, oil and salt from the chicken marinade. I added another teaspoon of coarse sea salt, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of paprika and 2 teaspoons of black pepper, tossing everything by hand until well-blended.

I mounded some of the potatoes in the middle of the glass baking dish and placed the chicken on top, breast-up. I stuffed the main body cavity with some of the potatoes and mounded the rest between the chicken and the sides of the baking dish. Although you should select a baking dish that is two inches longer and wider than the meat you intend to roast for best results, I am too much of a miser to buy additional baking dishes. The one I use is 15 inches by 18 inches, just big enough for a 15 to 16-pound turkey or the five-pound meat loaves I like to make. When I make anything smaller, I just surround it with quartered potatoes, chunks of vegetable or a heap of rice.

I roasted the chicken for an hour and a half at 350 degrees F. The result was juicy, tender and flavorful.

To make a vegan version, substitute tempeh strips or tofu for the chicken. Drain a block of tofu into a mixing bowl, leaving the tofu in the container. Place a folded paper towel on top of the tofu and apply slow, even downward pressure until the tofu is about 1/3 thinner than when you started, without applying so much pressure that it cracks or smashes. Pour off any resulting liquid into the same mixing bowl and reserve it for gravy base. Pour the orange juice into the container with the tofu and press the tofu down again, then release pressure. The juice will draw up into the tofu block. Turn the tofu over and repeat to ensure that the juice infuses all the way through. If you use tempeh strips, just soak them in the orange juice. Pan-fry the potatoes first, then pan-sear the tofu or tempeh for best results.

Special thanks to my friend and fellow freelance writer Colleen De Koning for reminding me to include the vegan option in this recipe. :)

Check out "Made from Scratch Monday" by Mary Hudak-Collins for more allergy-free recipes.

Monday Meals

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Roast Pork with Oranges, Apples and Cauliflower

I needed to do something with the 4-pound cauliflower, oranges and cilantro I bought at Pro's Ranch Market this past Friday. This recipe is the tasty result. Cauliflower lacks the zest that I prefer in my food. Cooking it with pork roast for 1.5 hours at 375 degrees F allowed the pork juices to blend with the flavors of the apples, onions, oranges and cilantro. The cauliflower absorbed all the flavors and turned butter-soft.

The pork cost 99 cents a pound, and the onions cost less than 50 cents a pound. I got the oranges at 6 pounds for a dollar, and the cauliflower cost me 50 cents a pound. I used about 33 cents worth of fresh chopped cilantro. The entire meal cost $5.25 to make, not including the cost of the electricity. The recipe serves 6 to 8 people, which means I fed everyone for under a dollar a person.

If you want a vegan version of this recipe, substitute pan-seared tofu slices for the pork. Add a cup of orange juice, a teaspoon of ground 5-spice powder and 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil for flavor. If you do not like cilantro, substitute parsley.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the stem and green parts from the bottom of the cauliflower. Slice the cauliflower 2 inches thick and arrange it in a single layer in the bottom of the broiler pan.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 2, 2011
Quarter the apples and trim away the core before slicing each piece into 1/4-inch thicknesses. Arrange the apple slices on top of the cauliflower, in the spaces between each orange slice.

Cut the ends off the onion and remove the first layer. Slice the onion into 1/8-inch thicknesses. Scatter the slices over the apples and oranges.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 2, 2011

Rinse the cilantro under cold running water. Remove any discolored or withered leaves and stems. Pinch the large ends of the stems and set them aside for later use. Chop the cilantro leaves and scatter them over the cauliflower and sliced fruit. Sprinkle the vegetables and fruit with 2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt. 

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 2, 2011

Cut the arm end of the roast into 2-inch slices. Arrange the pork skin-side-up on top of the fruit and cauliflower. Sprinkle everything with a light coating of paprika.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 2, 2011

Roast the pork uncovered for 1.5 hours at 375 degrees F, or until the meat registers 145 degrees F using a meat thermometer. Allow the roast to rest for 15 minutes before slicing it into 1-inch thicknesses. Serve 1 slice of pork with 1 cup of the cauliflower and sliced fruit. Serves 6 to 8.

Photo by Jack V. Sage, February 2, 2011

Check out "Made from Scratch Monday" by Mary Hudak-Collins for more allergy-free recipes.

Monday Meals