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Pork Secrets

Remember when quality dinner meat was $1.88 a pound? Well, you might be surprised to find out brilliant pork chops aren't too far from that.

BLOG POSTINGS > Basic Recipes

Pork Secrets

by zirbirt

So, you may have noticed my postings have been a bit sporadic lately. Currently we have house guests, who happen to be very picky eaters. The problem with picky eaters is the amount of food that ends up in the trash because you didnt know they had a deep seeded hatred for "that type of cheese" or "crazy" additions like onions or pepper.... So, dinner is about as basic as I can get... and not very interesting to post... I don't think anyone wants to read "Look here's grilled chicken for the 50th time"...

The other problem is, I'm now cooking for 7 or more people.. every night! which means getting everything on the table is a little bit more of a chore, so I often forget to snap final pictures. Sadly, there were several delicious dinners that just didn't make it to the site because I forget to get a picture of them.

What this really highlights for me, is the need to for a solid meal plan. So, I have taken to planning my dinners a week in advance. Though that doesn't leave me a lot of flexibility, it does give me the opportunity to sit and think about what things I want to make. Also, because I pre-plan, I am able to print a sheet with all the dinners listed, and a sign up area. So those picky eaters, can let me know in advance if they will not be eating that meal.

It also gives me one other very important advantage. It lets me know exactly what I need at the grocery store, and in what quantities. I can say, ok.. I need chicken and dumplings for 5, because picky eaters wont eat anything in sauce.. This saves me quite a bit of money in the long run.

There is also another trick I use to save a little money. I don't buy pork chops.

Have you ever seen packages marked as "Boneless Pork Chops", which usually run about the same price as normal pork chops? Well, boneless pork chops is just sliced pork tenderloin, and the great thing about tenderloin is, not many people know what to do with a very large tenderloin. Why is that great? Because it keeps em cheap!

I buy 10 lb pork tenderloins for about $20, over at Sams Club.

Look at that, $1.88 a lb. This isn't some crummy fat filled, have to slow cook it to get something good, meat. This is awesome meat. Sure there is a little more fat on it, but that too is actually a good thing.

The problem is, what do we do with this massive 10 lb slab of meat. I mean if I just stick this in the freezer, I don't think the occasion to cook an entire 10lb tenderloin will ever pop up.

This means I will need to butcher it, but that is actually a very simple task and only requires 3 things.

Saran Wrap, 1 Gallon Freezer Bags, a Chef Knife.

First, though, I need an area. I typically grab two of my big prep mats and just lay them side by side, overlapping a little bit.

In the sink, I remove my meat from the packaging, then rinse it off and place it on the prep mats. Why do I do this in the sink? Because some juices and blood will come out when I open it. Also, I need to rinse it anyhow, to get rid of anything that might be on the surface.

Ok, so next I need to look at my loin. Usually a full pork tenderloin has a thicker end and a thinner end, and a fat side and a meat side. We want to stick the fat side down to begin with.

Right away on the meat side, you will see a fat vein separating 2 distinct muscle groups. In the pic below you will see the darker red meat in the upper right, and the lighter pink meat in the lower left. The vein continues all the way down the meat... but its pretty easy to see where the darker red meat ends.

The darker red meat is fine and good, but it doesn't make for a pretty pork chop. Instead you end up with a two tone pork chop that looks a little strange. Also, there are much better uses for that end of the loin, so I simply cut at about the point where the fat vein starts to go parallel to the meat. (starting from the lower right, in the above pic, you will notice the fat vein curves inward. At one point it starts to go straight left.. that's the spot).

Then just slice right at the cut.. Then, I just slice that end into 2 pieces.

In the pic above you can see the two tone roasts I cut from the end of the tenderloin, and you can see the very clean looking remainder of the meat on the left.

The 2 roasts can be used for a lot of different things, like, pork carnitas, pulled pork, pork stew, pork roast, and a lot more, So they each get wrapped in saran wrap, then put into a 1 gallon freezer bag, that I dated with todays date. Then they can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months.

For the remaining loin, I flip it so it is fat side up, then slice it into 1 inch chops.

For those of you doing the math. That is 16 pork chops, and 2 roasts... which gives me about 6 dinners for 4 for under $20.

I wrap these in 2's with saran wrap, then put them in dated 1 gallon sealed bags, and store them in the freezer, also up to 6 months. Then I just reach in, grab as many as I need and thaw them when I need them.

So, here is a very simple dinner I like to make with these.

I begin by taking 4-6 chops and putting salt and pepper on both sides.

I then heat my 12" cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add in 2 Tbs of butter.

Once it is well heated and the butter is bubbly, I just stick all my chops in the pan.

Ok, so normally, I would not stick all my chops in a pan. The normal problem with crowding your pan like this, is it cools the pan off. This causes your meat to not sear and more poach, which is not yummy. So, it is rare I will make a dish that actually crowds my pan like this, but its ok here... partly because of the cast iron, but also because I kinda want some of the pork juice to come out.

So, these sit for about 5 minutes, then they get a flip... and cook for 3-5 more minutes until done.

Since I need a simple side dish, I decided to do an old trick.

I pulled out my rice maker and tossed in 1 1/2 cups of rice. Then 3 Cups of water, and 2 cups of frozen broccoli. Finally I put in a good dash of salt, 2 chopped garlic cloves and 2 Tbs of olive oil. Then, I ran it on it's normal setting.

Normally, in the last 4 minutes of the cooking cycle I would mix in 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese to make an amazing broccoli cheddar rice. In this case, I was going to have gravy, so I decided not to.

So, now that my pork is cooked, I am going to remove them from the pan, and add 2 cups of chicken stock to the pan and bring it all back up to a boil over medium heat. (I don't need to add any additional salt and pepper, since the meat should have provided that, but I do take a taste once the chicken stock is boiling just to be sure)

Also, normally I would have sautéed onions and mushrooms into this before adding the chicken stock.. unfortunately onions and mushrooms apparently are the devil's food.. and must be avoided at all costs. If you do wish to be so crazy as to add onions and mushrooms, well 1/2 an onion and about 1 cup of mushrooms would work nicely.

So once it is boiling, I combine 3 Tbs corn Starch, and 3 Tbs Water.. then add that to the pan. I stir, and let it boil for about 4 minutes. Then I put my meat back in the pan, reduce heat to simmer and let it sit there as long as I can stand it.

These go onto a plate, with my rice.. and everything gets smothered with the gravy.

Hope you enjoyed this posting, thanks for reading!

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