Saturday, March 19, 2011

Two-fer: An OK Entree but Delish Side

There's not a whole lot I have to say about tonight's dinner. There was nothing incredibly wrong with it, but there was also nothing to make me really jump up and down. Maybe it's just too overshadowed by the greatness of today's earlier post, Sweet & Sour Chicken which was amazing. While the side was delicious and will definitely be making an appearance back in my kitchen, the pork left a little to be desired. The flavor was decent, and it was great having it thrown in the slow cooker in the morning and being able to do something special to go next to it, but just wasn't something I'd rave about. I also seemed to have a problem with uneven cooking. I don't completely understand this coming from the slow cooker, but there were parts of the chops that were so incredibly juicy and tender while others weren't tough but a little dryer. It wasn't hard to chew and the meat did completely fall off the bone to the point where I had difficulty getting the chops out of the cooking liquid, but the texture was definitely different at some spots versus others. While I enjoyed it, I really don't think I'll be going back to this recipe considering all the other recipes that are out there in the world just waiting for me to dive in to.

Slow Cooker Smothered Pork Chops
I found this on Imperfect Happiness's Website but they gave credit to Cook's Illustrated The Best Slow & East Cookbook

4 oz (about 4 slices) bacon, cut into 1/4 in. pieces
3 medium onions, halved and sliced thin
4 tsp. light brown sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dry
Salt (use sparingly due to salt content of bacon and soy sauce)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Minute tapioca
2 bay leaves             
6 bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about 3/4 in. thick
Ground Black pepper
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley (didn't use)

1. Cook the bacon in a 12 in. nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 min. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the skillet, and refrigerate until serving time.

2. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp. of the bacon fat left in the skillet and place over medium-high heat until simmering. Add the onions, 1 tsp. of the brown sugar, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 tsp. salt to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the onions are soft and caramelized, 10-15 min. Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

3. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker and stir in the remaining 2 cups broth, remaining Tbsp brown sugar, soy sauce, tapioca, and bay leaves until evenly combined. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and nestle them in the slow cooker. Cover and cook, either on low or high, until the meat is tender, 7-8 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high.

4. Transfer the pork chops to a serving platter with a large spoon, tent with foil and let rest for 20 min. Let the cooking liquid settle for 5 min, then gently tilt the slow cooker and remove as much fat as possible from the surface using a large spoon. Remove the bay leaves, stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Remember, go easy on the salt before tasting it.) Reheat the bacon in the microwave on high power until heated through and crisp, about 30 seconds. Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the chops, sprinkle with the crisp bacon and parsley, and serve, passing the remaining sauce separately. (I kept all of the sauce separate and just poured on chops as desired by each person.)

The next recipe, I feel, was the star of the show. So simple, but definitely hit the spot for me. Unfortunately, I didn't think of the fact that I was offering the recipe for this also, so the picture really shows you how I felt about it. There are no words to describe this. I'll let the empty dish speak for itself.

                                                        Easy Baked Sweet Potatoes
From submitted by The Range Rover

2 (15 oz) cans sweet potatoes, with juice (in 1/2 in. chunks) (I drained and left the size they were.)
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, (oops, forgot this)

1. Layer potatoes, brown sugar, and margarine in a casserole dish.

2. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (OOPS!)

3. Bake, uncovered, at 375F for 30 min. (I tossed them a few times during baking to make sure they were getting coated well with the sticky yummy goodness.)