The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘Pork’

Pork & Prunes – Yum or Yuck?

In General Articles on May 5, 2012 at 6:51 PM

I don’t know about you, but prunes make me smile. As a child I hated them, particularly as prune juice, which my mother felt was a sure-fire remedy for whatever ailed me. While I still have no love for prunes in their juice form, I have come to appreciate their fruity, dark sweetness, either the dry, finger-sticky kind, or the plump, juicy kind. It is the latter kind that I decided to recently experiment with. But either type will work. If using the dried type, be sure to soak them in boiled water first and then drain them, reserving a bit of liquid for the sauce.

I came across Pork Tenderloin in the local supermarket, and unlike most that you find, this one was not marinated. Pork tenderloin is usually sold vacuum packed with 2 one-pound tenderloins in the package. They are low in fat, about 10 inches long and narrow, maybe two inches wide. Because of their narrowness, they cook through in 10 to 15 minutes. The marinated type, which come in a myriad of flavors, are a great boon to mankind; merely rip open the package, throw them on the grill and 15 minutes later slice them up and dinner is ready. The un-marinated kind are a great boon as well.

As I was moving through the supermarket aisle thinking of how I was going to prepare the tenderloins, I recalled how last year I experimented with Pork Chops with Apples, Raisins and Calvados and also Pork Chops with an Apricot Mango-Chutney and Cognac. Some sort of fruit seemed like a good idea, and, I still had a bottle of Calvados at home.

When I saw a jar of prunes in liquid on the shelf, bingo, I had it! Slice the tenderloins, brown them in a fat, add the prunes and flame-off with the Calvados – Pork Medallions with Prunes and Calvados. The only hard work here, if you want to call it that, is pitting the prunes.

Hint: If using the wet prunes pit them while the medallions are browning and with a small salad as a side, dinner is truly ready in 15 minutes! If using the dried ones, soak them in advance.

‘The Other White Meat’

In General Articles on August 9, 2011 at 6:37 PM

In 1987, pork producers in the USA along with their industry association, The National Pork Board, and their advertising/public relations firm, conceived of a brilliant marketing strategy designed to increase consumer acceptance of their product.  Pork® The Other White Meat® was the brand that they developed and introduced in a nationwide PR campaign.

Historically, pork had been looked upon as being a fat-laden product, as compared to chicken, particularly skinless breast meat. Although pork consumption appears to have remained fairly steady since the start of the campaign, at least through 2004, beef consumption has declined, while chicken consumption continues to rise.

Besides having a lower fat content than most cuts of beef, processed pork (primarily boneless chops) and processed chicken (primarily boneless, skinless breasts) have another aspect in common, in my opinion. Both are basically bland and boring. Their redeeming feature is that they benefit from a variety of sauces, herbs and spices to make them enjoyable. See our recipe for Pork Chops Braised in Calvados, Caramelized Apples and Raisins.

Pork marries very well with many different fruits. Thinking about this and finding fresh, ripe mangoes in the market the other day, we remembered that we still had some boneless, center-cut, pork chops in the freezer. An inspection of the pantry revealed a jar of apricot preserve and a bottle of cognac, fresh ginger is usually on hand as well. So thinking about all of this, we came up with the idea of Broiled Pork Chops with Apricot-Mango Chutney.  Grilled pork chops, which surely would have been just as delicious, were not possible that evening due to a torrential rain storm. So check out the recipe and let us know what you think.

Basta Pasta!

In General Articles on May 13, 2011 at 9:20 AM

Enough with the pasta! Now it’s time for some meat dishes – more protein and fewer carbs. Pork is promoted by its producers as ‘the other white meat‘ and like chicken, the ‘original white meat’, it is sold in many different forms: roasts, tenderloin, pork shoulder, sausages and ribs, and of course chops, either on the bone or boneless. It is also adaptable to a variety of different cooking methods: frying, roasting, broiling, braising and barbecuing.

Also like chicken it goes well in combination dishes cooked with a variety of vegetables. Different sauces and spices enhance its flavor and keep it from becoming boring. A popular Southern Italian dish is Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers. Vinegar peppers are sweet peppers that are packed and sold in jars like roasted sweet peppers; however, they are preserved primarily in vinegar and spices. The problem is that they are not always easy to find.

As a result, we developed our version after experimenting with different types of peppers. We tried fresh peppers, both red and green, as well as jarred ones. The fresh peppers required a lot of cooking time up front and frankly added little to the finished product. Ultimately we settled on a combination of hot and sweet jarred papers. We also experimented with red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar, but found them both to be too harsh, too acidic; eventually we decided upon balsamic vinegar.

Another issue with pork, particularly pork chops, is that it tends to dry out quickly in cooking. Therefore it benefits from braising, i.e., being cooked in liquid. We chose to cook these pork chops in white wine to keep them moist and add a bit of flavor. Pork Chops with Hot and Sweet Peppers is delicious, quick and easy to make and another family favorite.

Where’s the beef? Check it out at: Steak! It’s What’s for Dinner!

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