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Pork

Stir Fry: Harvest Special

I didn’t grow a ton of veggies in the garden this year. I did have a substantial carrot patch, a mix of Touchon and Purple Dragons. I also had a pair of Fairy Tale eggplants, some Pablano peppers and a good amount of Tatsoi bak choi. Needless to say, all of these things came to meet one another in My wok. With a few additions, a very nice meal was spawned. There is just nothing better than garden fresh food! Here is what I did for the first meal after harvest. Paired with rice, noodles, or bread, this recipe serves two ravenous teenagers, or four average appetites.

Garden Fresh Stir Fry © Andor

Supplies Needed: Knife and cutting board. Wok, or large, high sided fry pan. Large bowl, or zip-lock bag for marinating.

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
3-4 large carrots, chopped into pieces no more than a quarter inch thick
4 small eggplants, sliced about a quarter inch thick(Kamo eggplants are best for frying)
1 large onion, chopped to Your liking
2 pablano peppers, diced
1 head of bak choi, stems removed(about 30, 3-4 inch leaves)
a quarter cup of dry sherry
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
salt and pepper to taste
bacon grease(I love bacon grease!), or Your choice of cooking oil.

Prep and Cooking:

Mix the sherry, lemon juice, hoisin and pablano peppers in a large bowl, or zip-lock bag. Add the pork and let marinate for at least 30 minutes(over night is best). Over medium-high heat, stir fry the carrots until they reach Your desired texture and remove from pan. Then stir fry the eggplants with black pepper and a pinch of salt and set aside as well. Now start cooking the onions, when they start to turn translucent, turn the heat to high and add the pork and liquid mixture. Stir fry on high until the meat is done cooking, then reduce heat to medium and stir in the bak choi. Then, turn off the burner and mix everything together. Plate and serve!

Notes:

Obviously, nearly any meat will work with this recipe.

Pablano peppers are really mild, this is not a spicy dish…

If using mock duck, marinate for no more than 5 minutes. Add the liquid marinade to the onions and let it thicken a little, before adding the mock duck to the fry pan.

Running short on time? Skip the marinating part, simply put the liquids and peppers in the pan when You go to cook the meat. It will still taste great, but the meat won’t be quite as flavorful.

Most varieties of eggplant will cook VERY fast and fall apart, becoming mush. Which is why I suggest Kamo eggplants, which hold their texture very well compared to every other variety. If using another kind of eggplant, You must pay close attention to the texture, once You can dent it with Your finger, remove from the pan immediately. Some eggplants are very moist inside, laying them on a dry towel or napkin after slicing(before cooking) can dry them a bit and thus help keep them from disintegrating as You cook.

You can use the bak choi stems if You like. Chop them up like onions and fry until tender after You cook the eggplant.

Cooking each ingredient separately helps mix up the flavors that hit Your tongue. You can indeed cook the carrots and onions together, then add the eggplant and meat. Stir frying till everything is done, but You end up with a more uniform flavor, which is good, but lacks the depth of each ingredient. You also have more control over the texture of each thing when cooking them solo…

I admit to using too much bacon fat in making this one. You may have noticed by the glossy nature in the photo… It was delicious though!

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Pulled Pork Sandwich, Assemble!

Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Assemble! © Andor

This was just My second attempt to make pulled pork. As You can see, I went in to geek mode with My camera. Just a little bit anyways. The lighting in My kitchen is pretty poor, even by the windows, so I will likely try this animation again sometime with a better lighting arrangment. Using whole wheat hot dog buns, bak choi picked fresh from the garden, diced onions and barbeque sauce, these sandwiches came together quite well.

The hours I work have My schedule a bit off from most peoples. I go to bed around five in the morning and wake up around noon. So I started the pork in My Instapot when I went to bed and it was done when I woke up the next day. The first time, I started it before I went to work and it was ready and waiting for Me when I got home. I do love the set it and forget it style of cooking involved with making this tasty, meaty, dish.

Pulled Pork © Andor

To make the pulled pork, You will need a slow cooker, such as a crock pot, adjustable rice cooker, or sommething of that nature. A three to four pound pork shoulder, or butt. Sprinkle 2+ tbsp of lowry’s seasoned salt, 4 tbsp cajun spice blend and a third of a cup of tightly packed brown suger all over the out sides of the meat. Put an onion or two, peeled and halved into the bottom of You crock pot, along with a third of a cup of dry sherry, 2 long sprigs of thyme and two large cloves of garlic. Then place the pork on top, cover and slow cook for 6 to 8 hours. Once the meat is super tender and falling apart, remove it from the cooker and use a pair of forks to pull, or shred the pork, removing and fatty chunks and bones as You go. Serve it with Your favorite side dishes, or make sandwiches, wraps, or even eat it all by it’s self. There should be plenty of juices in the bottom of the pot, add some to the pulled meat to keep it moist and flavorful, especially if You are refridgerating some of it for later.


Bacon & Baby Lima Beans in Spiced Porky Soup

Bacon & Baby Lima Beans in Spiced Porky Soup (1)

I am in love with this soup! Layers of porky flavor make it a delight to devour. I originally intended to make a bacon and bak choi soup, but instead I used what was in My freezer. Thus stumbling upon this lovely combination. Baby lima beans add a great texture and are perfect for reducing the spicy impact on Your taste buds. Obviously, bacon adds to almost any meal, but by cooking it in different ways, bacon can take things to the next level. I have been playing with different methods of cooking it for quite some time. Treating a pack of standard, sliced bacon as a single piece of meat is the key to this dish.

Soup takes time to make. It is very easy, since You can ignore it most of the time, but it’s a long process. 3 hours of simmering on the stove seems to be the minimum for getting all of the flavor and nutrients out of the ingredients. Simmering for 4 to 6 hours before reducing has yielded the best soup stock for Me. Be sure not to reduce too far, the general rule is that You want to cook it down by half. You don’t want to end up with soup concentrate. Making this soup is a two part recipe. First, one must make the stock that provides the base flavors. Then, You fry Your bacon and finish the soup with spices. I tend to make stock half, to three quarters of a gallon at a time, since the largest pot in My kitchen is 8 quarts. Storing any that is not being used right away in the freezer for later. It will last about a month in the freezer, so You can save time and make the stock well before the day You intend actually to serve the soup.

Bacon & Baby Lima Beans in Spiced Porky Soup (2)

Supplies Needed: TWO 8 quart stock pots(the second is for straining), a decent sized strainer and a skillet for frying.

~For the Stock~

Ingredients:

2lbs Ham Shanks, or the bone of a mostly eaten ham

3 large Carrots, cut in half, or thirds

2 large Onions, halved

half a bushel of Celery

half a bulb of Garlic

2 Bay Leaves

1.5 to 2 gallons of Water(as much as can be fit into the pot with the other ingredients)

Andor's Porky Soup Stock © Andor

To Cook:

Put all the above ingredients in a stock pot, adding as much water as possible(1.5 to 2 inches from the top of the pot). You don’t want to boil it, set the burner to whatever setting You need to keep it simmering. Continue simmering for 4 or more hours. Then, strain the ingredients from the liquid, pressing as much of the broth out of them as possible. Discard the solids(eat the meat, if there is any) and return the liquid to the stove. Now You want to bring it to a boil and continue until the soup has been reduced to about half of the post-straining quantity. You don’t want a full rolling boil, with a foamy top. A ‘low boiling’ is ideal, constant large bubbling is what You want to see. Once reduced, let cool and place in the fridge over night. When it’s nice and cold, remove the fat that has solidified on the top. Now proceed to the next part of the recipe, or put it in containers and freeze.

~Finishing the Soup~

Ingredients:

1 tbsp Cajun Spice blend

A 1.5 to 2 inch wide slice of the Bacon slab and half a cup or more of Baby Lima Beans per person

1 tsp freshly ground Peppercorns(multi-color medley is best for this)

Salt to taste

Slow Cooking Sliced Bacon © Andor

To Cook:

Over medium-low, or even low heat, start frying the bacon, spreading the pepper evenly on the top and bottom. It is best to slow cook, flipping every 5 to 10 minutes. You want to keep the temperature low, so You don’t burn the outsides before the center has been cooked. This should take 45 minutes to an hour. You may also have a hard time keeping the bacon from splitting apart, I suggest using a tongs for flipping, so You can hold each piece together as You maneuver them around. Once the bacon is ALMOST cooked through, heat Your soup stock on high. Once the soup starts to boil, add the baby lima beans, cajun spice and salt and reduce to medium heat, stirring occasionally. At the same time, turn the burner for the bacon to medium-high and fry until the outer edges are nice and crispy(burnt is ok too), then remove from the pan, placing on a towel to pull out the excess grease. Make sure the beans are cooked to Your liking and turn off the burner. Ladle the soup and beans into bowls and place a chunk of bacon on top. Serve hot!

Notes:

I have only served this when also making other dishes. I’ve never tried it as a stand alone meal, it’s a great fit for multi-course dinners.

Cooking sliced bacon in this manor provides a unique texture, similar to tender un-sliced meat. Half pound slabs cook up quite well, but are hard to slice afterwords without breaking it all apart. I prefer Corn King brand bacon. You may laugh, or turn Your nose to the sky, but the brine and smoking process they use produces a superior tasting grease. I use bacon grease instead of cooking oil in most of My cooking, so such things matter to Me. Yes, I am telling You that a mass produced product of Iowan factory-made bacon is better than bacon from a quality butcher shop!

Baby lima beans are really tender inside. If You are substituting regular lima beans, You will want to boil/steam them with water and add to the soup when plating. Otherwise they will be tough and meaty in texture.

This soup is very barbecue friendly. I saved 15 bones from pork spare ribs that I had smoked, added them, burnt edges, sauce and all, instead of the ham. It was delicious! I was unsure about how the charred ends and the messy, sweet remnants of bbq sauce would affect the flavor, but it came out really good. The only burnt parts were maybe half an inch at the tip of each bone.  The soup lacked the hammy flavor and aroma, but was instead smelling like a barbequed bowl of goodness. I admit to also using one head of bak choi in place of the carrots that time too. The spice blend really helps this soup fit in to a barbecue menu as well. The spiciness just invites one to eat more sweet, savory, saucy ribs.

I have also found the broth, which is the soup after straining, but before reducing, is very good for sauces. 1 cup of broth, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp minced fresh ginger, some garlic and a splash of chili powder made for a delicious thick sauced stir-fry.

Bacon & Baby Lima Beans in Spiced Porky Soup (3)


Fruit Stuffed Tenderloin

 

A sweet and savory meat dish. It’s a recipe I stumbled upon while sifting through a stack of old family cook books a couple years ago. No idea why I didn’t attempt to make it sooner. Far more delicious than I anticipated after reading the ingredient list. If you use the right amount of apple juice in the roasting pan, you end up with 2 sweet sauces to accompany your meal. I drizzled the apple/dripping sauce atop some spinach and cooked down the last of the basting sauce to use for dipping. Loins cooked in this fashion would go well with some wild rice and steamed, buttered asparagus, or brussel sprouts, or as pictured, with fresh greens. Serves 8 to 12 depending on the size of your tenderloin.

Supplies Needed: Sauce Pan, Roasting Pan or Baking Sheet with high sides, Mixing Bowl, Cook’s String, and a Large Sheet or cutting board for prep. If Your tenderloin did not come in a vacuum sealed, leak-proof packaging, You shall also need something large enough to soak the meat in.

Ingredients:

1 Pork Tenderloin
1 Large Onion, chopped
3/4 of a cup of Bread Crumbs
half a cup of Dried Cranberries
half a cup of Dried Apricots, chopped
half a cup of Golden Raisins
half a cup of Apricot Preserves
1 cup of Apple Juice, possibly more.
1.5 cups of Port Wine
2 tbsp of Thyme
1 tsp or so of Cinnamon
1 cup of water
2 tsp or so of sea salt
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prep and Cooking:

First, mix a cup of the port wine, a cup of water and 2 teaspoons or so of sea salt. Mix until the salt has dissolved. Put Your tenderloin into the mixture and store in the fridge for at least 6 hours, rotating the meat as needed to get it soaking in from all sides.

In a mixing bowl, combine the onions, bread crumbs, dried fruit and a quarter cup of the port. Next, You must butterfly the tenderloin. Lay it out length-wise on a sheet or cutting board and slice down the side, half way up like a hot dog bun. Do try to make the top and bottom even in thickness, or it will cook un-evenly. After it’s cut open, salt and pepper all sides to Your liking. Lay it with the inside facing up and rub/sprinkle on the thyme and cinnamon, then spread the dried fruit and bread crumb mixture evenly over the meat, fold the tenderloin back up and tie it shut. Pre-heat Your oven to 350 degrees. Place the loin in the roasting pan, pouring the apple juice into the bottom of the pan. Roast for 35 minutes.

In a small sauce pan, bring the preserves and remaining port(1/4c) to a boil, stir until it starts to thicken up a bit. I started this sauce 25 minutes into the roasting on medium-low heat and it was a nice semi-thickened sauce, perfect for basting when I checked the loin at 35 minutes. Use this sauce to spread upon the tenderloin. You will want 3 to 5 layers for a nice sweet glaze. Continue to roast, basting every 5-10 minutes until the tenderloin is cooked fully, a meat thermometer should read at 160 degrees(F) or more. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes, slice and serve!

Notes:

This recipe is very sweet. The dried fruit and the port have a fair amount of sweetness to them, then You add the apricot preserves into the mix as well. If You can aquire some ‘less sugar added’ preserves, I would do so.

If You’re buying a tenderloin that comes in vacuum sealed plastic, You can make the brine/marinade with half of the quantity listed above. Cut a slit at one end of the packaging, drain the extra liquids and pour in the salted wine marinade, tying the end shut again with string, or twist ties. This is the most effective method for spreading the flavor, as well as using the least amount of wine/water/salt. On the other hand, those buying from a butcher, hunter or farmer will likely have to use a large bowl or cooking pot/pan of some variety. Which will require much more of the marinade to be made. If You have a ‘food saver’ or vacuum sealer, this might be a nice time to get some use out of it..


Marinated Pork with Peas

This is a particularly versatile flavor combination. Over the years, I have used it on cuts of pork from ribs, to tenderloin. I have also used it for marinating whole chickens prior to smoking them, as well as chicken stir fries and with veggie and shrimp dishes. It’s always a hit! The bitter punch of the time tested ginger/lemongrass match up, balanced by savory, salty and sweet elements, creates a lovely experience which is sure to satisfy the taste buds of all who consume it. Having done no research, I just assume this marinade was devised in China. It is pretty close to many common ‘bbq’ and ‘Sweet and Sour’ pork recipes found in south-east asia. I’m listing it as a stir-fry recipe, but the marinade is suited to nearly any cooking method one may choose. Eat this recipe with rice, or try serving it over a baked potato! Serves 4.

Supplies Needed: Large Ziplock bag or Bowl for marinating, Wok or Large Fry Pan, Knife and Cutting Board

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds of pork tenderloin, or de-boned chops, sliced into thin strips
1 large onion, chopped to Your liking
Half a bag or more of frozen sugar snap peas
3 tbsp of fresh ginger root, minced
2 tbsp of garlic, minced
6 inches or so of fresh lemongrass, at least half an inch thick, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
4 tbsp of cooking sherry
2-3 tbsp of soy sauce
1-2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp of sugar
1 tbsp mild chili pepper powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Prep and Cooking:

Mix all but the peas and onion together in a resealable bag, or large mixing bowl. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes, allowing it to marinate over night will deliver the best flavor. Heat Your pan on high and put ALL the ingredients in. Stir fry until the meat and onion are cooked and the liquids thicken up into a sauce. Remove from heat, discard the lemongrass chunks and serve.

Notes:

Don’t worry if You can’t get high enough heat to thicken the sauce in the time it takes for the other ingredients to cook. Just soak it up with some rice or bread, or remove everything else from the pan and cook the sauce til it’s thickened then mix everything back together.

Hot chili sauce is a great replacement for ketchup in this recipe too.