31 August 2012

Our First Meal Together

Pan seared pork chop served with Roasted cabbage with homemade pancetta, side of yellow corn and onions, Harvest salad and a Crush Grape "flavored" drink

Random! I know. Here's how it all came together.

Harvest Salad

I will use the terminology "Harvest salad" or "Cornucopia salad" interchangeably for the sole purpose of showing the vast array of options for the salad recipe. 

Harvest salad recipe:

Red denotes items obtained from a dumpster throughout this and future blogs

1 large hand full of organic spinach   
1 cucumber cut up in cubes       (garden)          
1 cup of broccoli slaw                        
1 D'anjou pear, sliced                                 
Several bing cherries, sliced                

Served with homemade poppy seed dressing (not shown)

Serves 3

Price tag $0.00

Pan seared pork chop with Roasted Cabbage and pancetta with corn and onion

Pan seared pork chop

This isn't your average "run of the mill" pork chop. This is, as my brother quotes it, "the best damn pork chop I have ever put in my mouth". The art of the perfect chop takes form from two stages. The first stage of development, is feeding pigs vegetables, cakes, butter, milk and breads that sweetens the meat like the ripening of a grape for the best Cabernet!

The second stage is, the butcher. In my case, that's me. I get to select how thick my chop is and how much fat to leave on the outside. Each chop is cut with the thickness of the vertebrae, which will create a chop approximately 1 & 1/2" to 2" thick. This particular cut of pork shown is also known as the loin chop. Notice the bone on the left side of the chop and how it's protruding from the bottom of the chop. That's your guide to complete cooking. Bones and fat should always be included when cooking meat for just one reason, flavor. Fat as I mentioned above, is important for moisture in the chop. If you don't have enough fat to cook the meat, you end up with shoe leather. I leave about a 1/2" of fat around the chop and as it cooks and it renders additional "lard" to provide a succulent taste bud tingle. Also, for those of you who stress about eating fat, stop it. Your body can't process the vitamins without the fats. Ask your local butcher to cut this chop for you and follow these steps for preparation:
Season both sides liberally with Kosher salt, garlic powder and black pepper.
If you choose to use garlic salt, you won't get the right amount of salt or the right amount of garlic. Salt is heavier than garlic powder and will settle lower in the container and you may be using more garlic than salt. Always buy them separate so you can control the spice.

1 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp of black pepper

In a large flat skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat, add chops to the skillet. I like to lay pork, beef, or venison out to room temperature for an hour prior to cooking. This will help evenly distribute the heat while cooking. Cook for 10 minutes on each side, flipping as needed.
Always let your meat "rest" at least 5 minutes when you finish cooking it. When you cut into meat immediately, it will release all of the juices and will taste dry. It is very important to give it time to let the juices bond with the meat.

I will take the Pepsi challenge any day with this pork recipe up against any other chop and I'll even go out there and place it next to a steak.That's how good this pork will taste. I hope you will give it a try!

Pork                                          (Pasture raised on dumpster vegetables and feed for .30 LB finished)
Olive Oil                                  (pennies)
Garlic powder                       ( All spices for pennies)

Estimated cost : $ .33

Roasted Cabbage with Pancetta

This simple delicacy will provide a huge vegetable option for the family. How easy can it be to roast a cabbage, one might say? It's super easy.

 Peel the outer edges of the cabbage until it looks clean. Cut the bottom off and cut in half. You can speed the cooking time up if you quarter the cabbage. I recommend it so you don't use as much electricity from the oven. Use butter or olive oil to coat the cut side. Slice chunks of Pancetta on top and cover with aluminum foil. Twice and in opposite directions so you will not spill moisture from the foil and the cabbage can steam. Bake for at least 1 1/2 hours at 350 for quartered cabbage and 2 1/2 for half cut cabbage.

Why roasted cabbage you might ask? Simple. Roasting any vegetable brings out caramelization and that will make your taste buds happy! Caramelizing vegetables is the process of decomposition of organic matter at elevated temperatures without the introduction of oxygen. Simply put from my education in fire engineering from the University of Cincinnati, pyrolysis or the use of fire and separation of matter. Never would I have seen in a million years that my use of this word and my education in this discipline would carry over to a culinary science that I frequently use. Thank you to my father for sending me to school to learn how to roast a cabbage!!!

Okay, the pancetta is an ingredient that you can purchase from a specialty market or make yourself. I have visited Whole Foods and I will tell you that the pancetta they have for sale and the pancetta I made is no comparison. Ingredients, looks and price were completely different. While I am not prepared to explain how to cure your own pancetta in this recipe or blog post, I will tell you that I am fully prepared to future post on this fine charcuterie art. I would do a disservice to the art by barely mentioning it here. In the meantime, you can substitute bacon or pancetta from sources other than homemade.

1 Wakefield Cabbage                   
1/2 stick of butter                         
1/2 lb pancetta                                (Homemade) Approx. $ .45 LB This includes $.30 LB plus the spices                                                         

Estimated cost:     $ .25

Corn and Onions

So what makes corn and onions so special? It tastes good when prepared the right way! So the corn that I used in this recipe was an awesome score. I managed to figure out when the person that works the frozen section of the supermarket cleans out the freezer products that were "out of date". I think the temperature that day was upper 90's and as soon as I looked in the dumpster, it was the whole frozen food section. Still frozen. I'm talking ice creams, frozen vegetables, Texas Toast "New York Style", frozen sweet potato fries and the list goes on and on. What I want to know is, what moron thinks it's a good idea to advertise a Texas sized toast in a "New York Style"? PEOPLE!! No wonder it's in the dumpster! Who in their right mind is going to buy a New York Style bread from Texas in North Carolina? Or anywhere for that matter. But I did bring home six for the freezer and of course the pigs got their share.

Here's the recipe.

Melt butter over medium heat. Combine all ingredients and cook for 25 minutes. Stirring frequently or it could burn.

1 large packet of frozen sweet yellow corn                     
1 large sweet onion                                                     
2 ts kosher salt                                                            (purchased spice)
2 ts garlic powder                                                        (purchased spice)
2 ts black pepper                                                          (purchased spice)
2 tbs butter                                                                 

Estimated cost : < $ .05

Thanks for stopping by!