Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

Dish of the Week

I learned something useful last night. Although sweet potatoes come out best when slow-roasted in a conventional oven, they are surprisingly good when cooked in the microwave. They don't get quite as smoothly soft on the inside in the latter case, but the taste is excellent. And they cook in ten minutes or less.

The reason I made this discovery is that I decided sweet potatoes would be the perfect complement to a dish I was making, but didn't have time to put them in the oven for an hour. Now I will tell you about that dish. But I'm putting the particulars behind the cut because I don't want to offend those of you who avoid certain foods for religious or ethical reasons. So if you keep kosher or are a vegetarian, you may want to stop reading here.

Alright, then. I bought some boneless pork chops the other day at Safeway. Since my partner's transformation into a full-bore carnivore, I've been shopping there for discount meat, because their offerings are pretty good by supermarket standards and they steeply discount anything that has reached its sell-by date, even if it will be good eating for several days or more. Usually I look for steak, which my partner now likes and which ages well. This time, though, it was pork, which I picked up very cheap.

I find that fried or broiled pork chops get too dry for my taste, so I wanted to come up with an alternative method of preparation. Because I didn't feel like being beholden to a cookbook, this meant that I had to improvise. Time constraints also made it necessary for me to take several shortcuts during tonight's cooking. Anyway, here's what I came up with:
The Day Before You Cook
• Chop up spicy peppers -- I used five serraños -- and an onion
• Get out a large bowl and place the pork chops inside it
• Dump the pepper and onion mixture in the bowl and mix well with the porkchops
• Pour about 1/3 of a quart of buttermilk over top of the chops
• Add the equivalent of six to eight garlic cloves (I use the frozen cubes from Trader Joe's frequently)
• Slice about half a package of grapes -- thirty to forty -- grapes in half with a paring knife and add to the bowl
• Add about 1/3 of a quart of pumpkn or squash soup (I used Trader Joe's Butternut Apple, which comes in an aseptic box)
• Cover tightly and marinate for approximately 24 hours

The Day You Cook
• Make a pot of rice in advance, either over the stove or with a rice cooker
• Wash and slice four apples, leaving the skin on
• Simmer the apple slices in a cast iron pan with a little olive oil, taking care not to burn them
• Remove the pork chops from the marinade and place them in a colander to drain a bit, making sure to catch the liquid for later use
• Start broiling the pork chops, trying not to burn the edges, and turning them over once the outside looks done. Bear in mind that you are not trying to cook them all the way through
• Turn off the broiler and pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, setting the browned pork chops aside
• When the apple slices have softened and darkened in color, remove them from the frying pan and combine them with the marinade in an oven-safe casserole or similar pot that will be big enough to also fit the pork chops or two such pots if you don't have one that is big enough
• Add the pork chops to the pot or pots and put it in the oven for approximately a half hour
• While the pork dish cooks, prepare a green vegetable -- I used green beans -- to serve with them
• Cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave, turning them over periodically and testing them for doneness. The more you cook at once, the longer it will take, so plan accordingly: you want them to be hot when the pork dish comes out of the oven. They will be done when they give considerably to the touch and the skin has separated appreciably from the flesh in the thicker portion of each sweet potatoe
• Slit the sweet potatoes when they are done and add butter if you wish
• Ladle the pork chops, together with apple slices, grapes, and sauce over the rice
• Serve with the sweet potatoes and green beans
• Add salt and black pepper to taste
Mmmmmm. I'm hungry all over again. The pork chops came out very juicy and with an excellent sharp bite to them. And the apples were divine. I'm going to make this one again, though I may experiment further, as is my wont.
Tags: food, how-to, recipe
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