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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Fire Up the Oven {In the Kitchen}

Daily morning flurries & cold windy days.

I’m practically embracing any reason to fire up the oven. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts. How about a slow roasted roast?!

Here are a few oven dishes we have been enjoying as of late:

Cranberry Orange Bread- I use America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe, my family prefers I leave out the nuts.

Puff Oven Pancakes – Oven 425F. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a large cast iron pan. Mix 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour. Pour into preheated pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up. Serve topped with fruit and the last of this year’s maple syrup.

Muffins- Oatmeal Banana and random “some of this some of that ” concoctions.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites – recipe coming soon!  Recipe here.

Pizza! Plain cheese is always welcome. We also like to add a little chopped onion, broccoli and bacon to ours.

Roasted Green Beans, Baked Potatoes (lightly EVO and salt the skin before baking), Fermented Fries, Cumin Lime Carrots

Whole Roasted Chicken- Made Chicken Pot Pie with the leftovers and Bone Broth (froze the extra in cubes for future use).

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder–  This was excellent! I replaced the white wine with chicken broth. This recipe is very similar to how I make Beef Pot Roast. Marinated Pork Tenderloin  and Smothered Pork Chops- I’ll have to share that recipe with you soon, it’s also my favorite way to cook ham steaks.

Braised Short Ribs

Lemon Squares, Cinnamon Roll Cookies

What is your favorite oven dish?

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Clam Chowder & Peasent Bread

Being this early in spring the days still carry a chill. What better way to warm up and enjoy some comfort food than with Clam Chowder? Ironically, after 5 years on the coast of Maine, the best clam chowder I’ve had was here in Vermont. It was a special and I don’t go out to eat very often so I enjoyed it thinking “I wish I could make this a home”. Then my Mom hooked me up with this recipe- wish granted!

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This recipe is from Grit magazine. My mother made a few adaptations that I think really add to an already excellent recipe. Here’s Grit’s recipe – reproduced for your convenience:

Alida’s Clam Chowder Recipe

A thick, creamy soup, this is my mother’s recipe, and she still makes it.

1 pound bacon, diced
3 large onions, chopped
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
3 small cans minced clams
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
Pinch thyme
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
4 cups milk
1 can evaporated milk

In skillet, fry bacon until crispy. Add onions and cook until browned.

Add potatoes and water, and cook until potatoes are tender. Stir in clams, pepper, sugar and thyme, and let simmer.

In separate pan, over low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour. Add milk a little at a time while continuing to whisk until white sauce starts to bubble around edges. Pour white sauce into clam mixture and let cool.

Just before serving, stir in evaporated milk. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until heated through. Do not boil, as it will ruin the texture of the soup. Yields 3 quarts.

My mother’s suggestions: If the bacon is really fatty drain some of the grease off. Double the potatoes and cans of clams.
I think those are suggestions are spot on. I also sometimes replace the water with bone broth and I use corn starch so it’s gluten free. You can also use half and half instead of a can of evaporated milk or cook 2 1/4 cups milk down to 1 cup.

DSCN0341DSCN0492Now that you have a great chowder only some crusty bread will do it justice. I came across this recipe for a no knead bread called peasent bread, baked in a pyrex bowl. It’s super easy and adapts well to a gluten free version. I tried it with sweet white sorghum flour- delicious! I won’t reproduce the instructions here because it’s quite long with tips, photos and variations.

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DSCN0342Enjoy it with the clam chowder -or even just with jelly.

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In the Kitchen :: Favorite

I just love finding a new favorite recipe because, first and foremost, I get to enjoy a fresh new (and now favorite) dish but also because it justifies my huge “recipes to try” collection. I recently reorganized my “recipes to try” collection which began in elementary school as a few slips of paper in an old school folder  but it has grown and morphed into a bulging 13 pocket accordion folder monstrosity . But I really do try these recipes and, as I go, they either end up in my “keeping” binder or in the garbage; and lately I’ve been hearing a lot of “That’s my favorite!” and “That’s the best ever!” so I think I’m on to something.

Here’s a few things we keep coming back to as of late:

Cheesy popcorn- aka homemade smart food. I love cheesy popcorn and it’s as simple as sprinkling Parmesan cheese on your (buttered) popcorn. Who knew?!

Roasted Cumin Lime  Carrots – I found these through pinterest (imagine that!) I didn’t have the mint/green onion garnish so I left it out and I used maple syrup for the sweetener. I also used my preserved limes instead of fresh- worked great!

Quinoa- I know I’m like the last person to try it- can’t believe I’ve been missing out. It cooks so fast, it’s gluten free and reminds me of couscous.What’s not to love?!

Roasted Rabbit- from over at Real Food Freaks. This is my new favorite way to have rabbit! I used less oil and preserved lemons instead of white wine. Oh my did it smell good while baking and tasting it didn’t disappoint.

This was one of our meat rabbits. It was fresh; I soaked it in cold salted water for a few hours before baking.I recommend the salt water soak as it tastes better and the color is better too. And speaking of game we’ve been eating a lot of

Venison too. We got lucky with the tenderest deer ever. I’ve been coating venison tenderloins and butterfly chops with seasoned cornstarch and frying them in butter in my cast iron skillet. Then I transfer them to the oven till they’re done on the inside and they’re crispy and brown on the outside. I can’t keep up with demand!

And then there’s the

Rose hip Tart – I made this one up as I had several jars of rose hip jam I made from rose hips and apples I gathered at the beach. I hadn’t cooked the pectin quite down enough so it was more saucy than jammy. Somehow tarts came to mind as a way to use them up. I used pecan flour for the crust, blind baked it; and I threw in a piece of preserved meyer lemon into the rose hip filling. Oh so good, the lemon goes so well with the slightly herbal rose hips. I wish I had more jars of saucy jam!

And we made our favorite soap

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