For the last few months, those weekly supermarket flyers have been bereft of chicken on sale, to say the least. At first I thought it was because I’d moved to a different part of the country, but no – turns out that the non-surplus of chicken is a national thing and has been for some time. Part supply chain crapola, part bird flu – those regular rotating sales of chicken parts for one or two bucks a pound are now a fond memory.
And what DOES turn up on sale repeatedly in those flyers? Pork.
I’ve never really cooked a lot with pork. No special reason, really, I don’t keep kosher (and all the shellfish recipes on this blog are a reminder of that), but I never had a lot of experience cooking with pork. But as much as I find pigs adorable and feel bad for ’em, they are certainly delicious. So I started out basically substituting pork for chicken in some recipes, and altering the spices in some others, and came up with the following dishes that work pretty well & appeal to my CHEAPNESS whenever I probe those weekly specials.
Substituting boneless pork tenderloin for boneless chicken was the simplest switch, although you have to treat the pork more like chicken breast than chicken thigh or leg meat. It’ll cook quicker and dry out on you if you’re not careful. All of the following recipes come from using those shrinkwrapped boneless pork loins that come in three to five pound logs, except for the last one which uses boneless pork shoulder.
First order of business for me is to cut the log into portion sections of 3/4 to a pound apiece. Trim the fat, and they’re ready to use or freeze easily.
Pork parmigiana – Easiest substitution EVAH – take one of those portions, cut lengthwise into two even chops and then pound them to about 1/4 inch thick. Then they got parmagianed the same as anything else: salt/pepper ’em, dust with flour, egg wash, coated with seasoned breadcrumbs, basil & some grated Parmesan/Romano cheese. Pan fried in olive oil until about 75-80% done, then topped with mozzarella & a couple of spoonfuls of marinara and into a 350 oven for 10 minutes. That’s it. Put the sauce on top of the cheese – that way the cutlets will retain their crispness & you’ll still get the cheese/sauce/crisp coating/porn flavor.
Another simply substitution was to cut a portion into 1/2 inch slices and substitute it for chicken in an easy spicy Chinese pork stir fry. Marinate in a tsp of soy, tsp of sherry & tsp of cornstarch. Sauce: 4 tsp soy, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 1-2 tsp hot pepper paste, 1 tsp cornstarch and 1 tbs honey. Stir fry the porn with a tsp of chopped garlic and a tsp of chopped ginger, add whatever vegetables you want, then add the sauce. Give it a hit of toasted sesame oil off heat. Done.
An easy pork noodle dish: cut up the pork into 1/4 inch pieces, and marinate it 2 tsp soy, 1 tsp cornstarch, 1 tbs sherry and 1/4-1/2 tsp white pepper. Precook and undercook some spaghetti – for 10 minute spaghetti, I’ll drain it after 6 minutes and put aside. Stir fry 2-3 chopped garlic cloves and red pepper to taste, then add the pork and cook until browned. Add vegetables after – some shredded carrot, small broccoli pieces, pea pods, sprouts -whatever. Then add 3 tbs soy, 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or 1 tsp honey) and 3/4 cup of water or better – use chicken broth. Put the noodles on top of this mixture and cover for 5 minutes over low-medium. Then stir and toss until all the liquid is absorbed by the now finished noodles. You can also add 1 tbs oyster sauce to this with nice results.
Easy BBQ pork chops – I cut a portion lengthwise into what becomes a pair of boneless pork chops. Into my cast iron skillet with a homemade bbq sauce of 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup water, 2 tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 tbs worcestershire, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 white pepper and 1 tbs honey. Just pour the sauce over the pork. Into a 375 oven. In 15 minutes, flip the chops and recoat with he sauce in the pan, then back in for another 15 minutes. That’s it.
For pork stew, I’ll use the boneless pork shoulder and cube it up the same as I would a beef chuck roast. I like using a slow cooker for stews. I’ll season the cut up pork with salt, white pepper, paprika and garlic powder, then brown with some olive oil before adding some chopped garlic and two tbs of tomato paste. Cook that through to toast the paste enough, and into a slow cooker with an onion chopped into chunks, some chunked carrot, a can of chicken broth, a can of chopped tomato, a few sprigs of rosemary and EITHER enough of a good beer to cover OR a good red wine. Add a teaspoon of salt for the tomatoes, and a few bay leaves. Slow cook on high for 2-3 hours, and then add a cubed sweet potato before finishing on low for another hour. Remove bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Season to taste. Add other herbs if you want. See if I care.
Are those enough pork recipes from this Jew? Oy vey, I hope so. I’d always been led to believe that pork was not good for you due to the fat content, but if you trim the fat, the meat itself is very lean. And lard is not as unhealthy a fat as people think, compared to some of the other stuff out there.
And pigs are still cute and smarter than cats or dogs, and I feel kinda bad whenever I eat them. But they are delicious.