Smothered Pork {In the Kitchen}

 As you may have surmised, from all the semi-recent pig photos, we love pigs and like to raise our own pork. Since we butcher the pigs ourselves we get the WHOLE hog. There’s a lot of meat there, especially in the form of hams.  My preferred way to deal with all that ham is to cut some of the ham up into ham steaks.

DSCN8344So, what to do with all those ham steaks? We like them best prepared like smothered pork chops (except I often substitute ham steaks for the pork chops, those we like best breaded with parmesan and sage).
Smothered pork is simple to make. Basically, cover your pork with sliced onions, add a touch of herbs and surround with broth to add moisture and flavor while baking. It sounds too simple to be true but the resulting meal is tender, flavorful and there’s gravy!

The Recipe In Detail

  • 4 pork chops or equivalent in ham steaks
  • 4 slices bacon, optional but recommended
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups broth
  • salt and pepper

Using a stove top/oven proof pan, large enough to hold the ham slices (or pork chops) in one layer, brown the pork slices. Feel free to cook a couple of slices of bacon first, reserving bacon to crumble and serve on top of the finished dish and use the rendered fat to brown the pork on both sides.

Add enough sliced onions to cover the pork and saute till they start to brown (remove pork from the pan if there’s not enough room, when you return them to the pan place the onions on top of the pork).

Add a sprinkle of thyme, perhaps a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Add enough broth to cover the pork and onions (we’ll cook this down later to make a delicious gravy). Cover and bake till fork tender, add liquid if the broth dries up during this time. This is the most important step. If you don’t cook the pork long enough to be fork tender, and it can take a while, then you won’t get tender, delicious, eat it with just a fork results.

Now, uncover and allow the broth to condense. The onions and meat will develop a deep golden color. Make sure you will have enough liquids to make a gravy, add broth if needed.

Make the gravy. Transfer broth/pan juices to a stove top saucepan and thicken to make a gravy. I use arrowroot powder but cornstarch or flour is commonly used.

Serve with gravy and crumbled bacon on top. I often serve with mashed potatoes (with some of that gravy on top) and veggies.  Since the oven is on anyways, I like to braise pot of collar greens in chicken broth for my vegetable. Peas are common too.

Adding apples in along with the onions is also super delicious. Here’s a photo of that:

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Pretzel Bites

To quote struggling_along: “These are awesome!”.

DSCN4190These being ham and cheese filled pretzel bites. I found the recipe here at Pip & Ebby. What a great soft pretzel!  Adding ham and cheese takes it over the top. We eat them as a light meal or as a snack. Somehow, either way, there are never any leftovers!

DSCN4187  I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made these in the last few weeks. I usually make a double batch and try to freeze some for another day. I managed to freeze a small batch just to see how they did in the freezer. I froze them after boiling but before baking. They baked up great with only a few extra minutes needed in the oven. “Extra” cooked pretzels reheat superbly in the oven or toaster oven. I read in the comments (on Pip & Ebby) that the microwave works well too.

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Here’s how they look after boiling. I froze some at this stage, then bagged them once frozen.

Here is the pdf printable of the recipe. I’ve reproduced the pdf printout below for your convenience. Although, I recommend popping on over to Pip & Ebby – if only to drool over her photos.

……….

Ham & Cheese Pretzel Bites
(Source: penniesonaplatter.com)
Servings: 48 bites
Ready in: 2 hours,45 minutes
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)
2½ to 3 cups flour
1 package (1/4 oz) instant dry yeast
½ cup finely chopped ham
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 cups water
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
Directions:
1.In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.
In a large bowl combine 2 ½ cups flour, the milk mixture and the yeast. Stir
until a soft dough forms. Add the remaining flour as needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times, forming a smooth ball.
2. Brush the inside of a large clean bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and
cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size and bubbles appear on the surface.
3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust
hands and rolling pin with flour. Roll one of the four sections into a 12×4- inch rectangle. With the long side facing you, gently press ¼ of the
ham and cheese into the bottom third of the dough, and roll as tightly as possible, starting with the end that has the filling. Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and transfer to a
baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining 3 portions of dough.
4. Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
5. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.
Boil pretzels in batches, cooking about 20 seconds each, turning once. They should be
slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them back to the baking sheets.Bake until
puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Brush warm pretzel bites with melted butter
and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm
…………

 I cut the rolls into thirds instead of bite-sized pieces. After boiling I cut the thirds into bite sized pieces. I also grease a cookie sheet instead of using parchment paper, which kept sticking to the bottoms.

If your kids love to help in the kitchen, like mine do, I suggest getting them involved in the first steps of the process. My youngest two (4 and 2) are quite capable at measuring out the ingredients and mixing up the dough. They also help sprinkle flour, roll the dough out, prepare, and add, the filling.

DSCN4235DSCN4182You’ve got to try them!

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sharing with:

slightly indulgent tuesday

barn hop

wildcrafting wednesday

farmgirl friday