Pork

What to Do with Leftover Pork Chops by Anne

bbq pork sandwich For me, this new month of October is so full of awesomeness that I don't even know what to do with myself.  First of all, tomorrow is my first day of culinary school.  I am giddy with excitement and might be up late tonight.  After years of teaching school, I forgot what it's like to be on the student end of the business, having no idea of what is in store for me.  It's a wild feeling, like sitting on a surfboard anticipating a really gorgeous and gnarly wave.

The other excitement in October is the Opportunity To Be A Better Person. With Unprocessed October we get to eat healthier, greener, and probably cheaper.  I've made a good menu.   And by good, I also mean that I took seasonality into account, along with keeping everything as local as possible. 

Wow.  I am (and probably you are) wondering: when school starts, am I going to be able to be this intentional anymore?  That's one of the great things about Seattle Culinary Academy, though.  Their mission includes sustainable practices.  These people walk their talk.  So hopefully, it will be a breeze to walk right alongside them and feed the family well in the meantime!  This is what I'm hoping for, and I'll definitely keep you posted.  Green, healthy, frugal, busy?  What has to give? Does anything?

One sustainable practice, of course, is to avoid wasting food.  Here's where the leftover pork chops come in.  On Friday I tried a new recipe for spice-crusted pork chops that had an intriguing-sounding combination of spices.  I will not share this recipe with you, because it was, in a word, gross.  Did the recipe writer even taste this dish? Ever?   It reminded me of a potluck, where you put too many different flavors on your plate, and, while chatting and plate-balancing, you accidentally take a bite of several people's contributions at once.  Hmm.  I detect notes of kitchen sink.

Meanwhile, though, I had a couple pounds of good pork that had been cooked and crusted within this gross-kitchen-sink combo.  What to do? 

Sunday night I tackled the problem with pork fried rice.  I trimmed the outer layer off the pork, sliced it thinly, and sauteed it on high heat with onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mixed veggies and a batch of cooked rice.  At the end, I added a couple of beaten eggs and stirred them in, frying everything some more.  The secret to good fried rice is to not stir too much.  The crusty bits are mighty fine, especially after you add the egg. 

After dinner I realized that I had not used all the pork.  "Are you kidding me?" I asked the tupperware dish.  Tupperware does not kid.  Having used all my big containers to freeze items for Unprocessed October, I had split the large pork chops in two small, unfunny containers. 

So, tonight I trimmed the pork outsides again, rinsed them off, and really shredded them up.  I threw the bits in a slow cooker and added my mom's barbeque sauce.  With a few hours of cooking, a Tall Grass Bakery baguette, and salad greens from our garden, suddenly we were living large and not eating gross leftovers. 

So.  What to do with leftover porkchops?  In a nutshell, cover the previous flavors with strong elements like soy sauce and barbeque sauce.  Feel grateful and don't waste stuff.

Cherry Power Meets Pork Chops by Anne

 

porkchopscherrysalsaeditOnce I asked my mom how to clean the grout between tiles. She said, “I would apply a solution of bleach to the tiles and let it sit awhile.”

I asked, “What do you mean by ‘a solution of bleach,’ exactly?”

She paused and said, “Straight bleach.”

Like Mom, I don’t always opt for the subtle approach.  Naturally, this zeal affects my big-flavor decisions in the kitchen.   Now that it’s cherry season in Washington, I’m thrilled for some intense and sweet opportunities to experiment.  The possibilities range from desserty, to savory, to sitting on the front steps eating “a solution of cherries.” 

The full flavor of fresh cherries does not stand up to the heat of cooking—that’s more of a job for a dried cherry—so I chose a tart, pico de gallo-style salsa to complement a commanding and savory grilled meat.  This salsa is like the Hallelujah Chorus for cherries.  Joyous, unadulterated cherry power.

 

Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Salsa

If the idea of cherry salsa doesn’t appeal, or if you cannot get good cherries, the marinade itself is still delicious with grilled pork.   If you’re cherryless but still in the mood for a fruit salsa, you could even substitute the cherries with pineapple, adding a couple tablespoons of minced cilantro.  With either salsa version, you could also add some fresh mint.  Myself, I was looking for a punch of sweet and tart, and the mint takes it off that course a bit.

  •  One recipe of Gorgeously Good Pork Marinade (below)
  • 1 lb boneless pork chops (add 6 or so ounces if bones are in)
  • One recipe of Fresh Cherry Salsa (below)
  1. Place the pork chops in a large ziplock bag and pour in the marinade.  Rub the marinade into both sides of each piece of meat, then seal the bag, making sure as much of the meat as possible is in contact with marinade.  If you don’t have much time to marinate, leave the bag on the counter for 30 minutes.  If you have time, marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of hour--up to overnight.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high.  If you are cooking with a pan on the stovetop or with a George Foreman-type grill, a higher heat may be necessary.
  3. Remove pork from the marinade and loosely shake off the extra marinade.  Cook pork about 4 minutes on each side, depending on thickness of meat. 
  4. Serve pork on plates with cherry salsa nestled on the side. 

 Serves 2-4

 

Gorgeously Good Pork Marinade

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 ½ T fresh sage, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large shallots, coarsely chopped (about ¼ cup)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

 Place all ingredients in a blender or food processer and blend until smooth. 

 

Fresh Cherry Salsa

  • 1½ cup diced fresh cherries
  • 3 T lime juice
  • ½ cup sweet onion, chopped finely
  • ¼ tsp grated ginger (too much of this will overwhelm the other flavors; if you don’t have fresh ginger, in a pinch you could use the same amount of powdered ginger.  It’s not the same, but it still provides the necessary flavor to help complement the pork).
  • ¼ tsp sugar (optional—if salsa is a bit too tart for your taste.  Add right before serving if you don’t want cherries to macerate and lose their juices)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve.  This salsa tastes best if made right before serving.