Braised Pork with Apple, Carrot, and Onion

Spicy, tomato-y, and yummy. I made this dish with a pork tenderloin that had been in the freezer too long, but it would also be great with pork chops. I served the meat and sauce over spaghetti squash with a side of broccoli florets.

This dish is also very easy to make but not quick to cook, because it requires braising—a cooking method that requires low heat and long, moist bakes. Out of curiosity, I googled “braise” to learn why this method makes meat so tender.

According to The Reluctant Gourmet, the braising “process breaks down the tough connective tissue in meat to collagen. Through time, the moisture and heat build and the collagen dissolves into gelatin. Heat also contracts and coils the muscle fibers. Over time, these fibers expel moisture and the meat becomes dry. Given even more time, these fibers relax and absorb the melted fat and melted gelatin.”

The result is that the meat, no matter how cheap the cut, becomes tender, moist, and tasty.

Now, theoretically, the meat should be seared in oil before the baking, but I confess to skipping this part because of the oil. Does it make a difference? I haven’t a clue. Maybe someone out there has an answer?

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Stir-Fried Pork Tenderloin with Eggplant and Apple

Who among us doesn’t need a fast and easy supper dish in our repertoire?  I’ve been making this stir-fry for a long time, and part of its attraction is that I don’t have to peel a thing!  Just chop and cook.

The flavour is mild which gives you the scope to spice it up with a hoisin or hot sauce.  And you can use however much pork, eggplant, apple, or onion you please.  This particular recipe makes 2 meals for my husband and myself, but then we don’t eat a lot of meat.

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Apricot Rosemary Pork Chops with Apples

Last night, with family coming for dinner, I decided to resurrect an old recipe, much favoured by my children back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, known as “Yum-Yum Pork Chops.” The dish was both sweet and savoury—the result of, what I realize now, was a rather pedestrian sauce made from ketchup, honey, and soy sauce. (I think at the time this was considered exotic because of the soy sauce.)

The following recipe is based on the same principles of baking meat in a sauce as Yum-Yum Pork Chops, but takes its inspiration from Orange Rosemary Chicken Breasts with some twists. The result is delicious and far from pedestrian. In fact, this dish could be used for a dinner party. The key to this dish, as with that of the chicken, is the use of fresh rosemary. Note: If you love fruit, you can add more if you wish.

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Tomato Soup with Spinach Meatballs

As the weather gets colder, my taste buds yearn for hot, hearty soups.  This tomato soup is thick, rich, aromatic, and a dinner unto itself.  Two things set it apart from spaghetti sauce: the emphasis on fresh basil (it has no oregano), and the meatballs are made of spinach and three types of meat, rather than just beef.

This dish can be eaten simply as a soup or with noodles or rice.  If you’re dieting and want to add noodles, consider using shirataki which is almost pure fiber and won’t add to your calorie count.  Also, you can make the soup thicker (as I did) by using canned crushed tomatoes as well as diced tomatoes.

I was making this soup with two of my grandchildren who are avid beginner cooks.  To keep them busy and feed their early teen appetites, I decided to triple the meatball mixture called for in the original recipe.  Feel free to cut back if you prefer.

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Cuban Crazy Quilt Pork Stew

You are likely to think I’m not quite in my right mind to be making a stew using winter vegetables in the summer.  But, honestly, there’s a method to my madness.  Some of you may recall my post about cooking for stays on our boat.  We have a barbecue on the stern rail where the captain can grill meats and vegetables, but I also prepare food in advance so that we can have variety and I don’t have to toil in the miniscule galley.

FYI: My husband is the captain, and I am first mate and cook.  When we’re on the boat, we share about 300 square feet of living space.  How does this work maritally?  Well, he has a shirt that says “Captain,” and I have a shirt that says “Don’t Yell at Me!”  Generally, the atmosphere is very pleasant although there have been moments…but back to the stew.

So, as you can see, it isn’t so crazy to make a tasty, filling, healthy, and crazy-quilt colourful pork stew whose leftovers can be frozen and then eaten when floating at anchor.  This recipe takes some chopping but it’s worth it!

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