Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Smothered Pork Chops a la Mike & Sarah

So the folks were in town this weekend. They had some things that needed to be done at the house and so between Mike and I we helped make that a bit easier for them. Help that we don't mind giving at all.

It's always fun to see Mike's folks. I always get a good laugh and have a great time.

So for dinner the other night Mike decided he wanted to make dinner rather than go out. That was fine, but then he remembered the roomie was sleeping. Well poo poopie doo. Then we found out around 5 that the roomie was awake and moving around. It was Mexican Monday and so she goes out on a double date gathering thing with friends and her boyfriend. Ok, sweet, we can now dominate the kitchen!

So Mike called his folks and let them know we could do dinner at the apartment now and then he and I rushed out to Walmart to collect ingredients and hurry back home to cook before the arrival at 6:30. (we left shortly after 5:00) So we have a list and are running through the store like we are on an episode of Bobby's Dinner Battle. Running to find the ingredients needed and figuring up a side dish and then having little time to make dinner in.

We finally figured out a side dish, we could do crostini (which have been done before - see here) but we changed it up and bought some Philadelphia dinner creations Italian herb flavored and then bought mini ciabatta breads and planned to cut them into quarters.

So we rush back home and begin prep work. Turning the oven broiler on and starting the veggie work. I pull out a pan and start arranging the peppers on them to place under the broiler. We bought the mini peppers rather than full bell peppers. They taste great too.

Then I began prepping the ciabatta bread, cutting the little squares into quarter triangles.

Drizzled with olive oil.

Then oiled the pan and popped under the broiler. However, I did burn the first set and had to start over with the other half of the bag. :( Oopsie!

While I was working on toasting my ciabatta bread triangles Mike seasoned the pork chops and seared them in the cast iron.

He then cut up the remaining mini yellow and red peppers, sliced up some onion, garlic, and popped open a small can of peas. After he seared the pork he took the meat out of the pan, placed on a plate and set aside while he sauteed up the onion and peppers. Then made a roux and added everything back into the pan and made gravy. Adding the peas last so not to mush them up any more. So we ended up with delicious and tender smothered pork chops (sadly I forgot to photograph my plate or even the pan! What kind of blogger are we? It was my job this time to take pictures, I failed. But I did get a picture of the finished crostini.

The folks liked it. Though Mike went a little crazy on the seasoning. He used Tony Chachare's Cajun seasoning, which in small doses is great. He seasoned the pork separately from the gravy and so combined it created quite a bite. More than planned but still delicious.

The recipes are simple.

Pork Chops - thin cut - boneless (however many you want to use, I think we had 6 or 8)
1/2 bag of mini peppers sliced and seeded
1 small onion
1 small can of peas
Cajun seasoning of choice
water or some stock to create gravy
and a roux to thicken which is just flour and oil or butter seared in a pan until desired darkness of roux (we usually do a blond roux - even though I prefer slurry's - corn starch and cold water).

-Season meat, sear on both sides in hot skillet.
-Set meat aside.
-Saute onion and peppers together and some chopped garlic
-Set veggies aside when just tender
-create blond roux, add some stock/water
-everybody back in the pan, add peas and cook until warm

Serve with delicious crostini and mashed potatoes.

We bought Betty Crocker Loaded Mashed for a side and it was pretty darn good.

For the crostini

1 small loaf French Baguette (the thin rod kind for bite size pieces)
2 Tbsp ish of extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup cream cheese creations by Philadelphia (Italian herb blend)
1/2 bag mini peppers

Roast peppers either on a gas stove top over the fire or under your oven broiler until the skin is charred. Place in zip lock bag or in a bowl covered with plastic to let the skin steam off.

Cut your bread and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and oil the top side of your bread with a drizzle of olive oil. Pop in the oven under the broiler until golden on each side, careful to watch them as they will burn FAST.

Once your bread is done pull out of the oven and take a garlic clove cut in half and rub on each toast (only on one side). Then top with cream cheese.

Now, get your peppers, the skin should just flake right off when rubbed gently. Slice up into strips and top your crostini.

And serve. These will go fast, they are delicious.

Mike and I have a lot of fun figuring out new things and new ways of doing things. He suggested using the ciabatta bread since the store didn't have a small baguette to use. Then we decided last minute to use the mini peppers rather than the big bell peppers just because. Also, initially Mike had suggested using cream cheese and just mixing it with Italian herbs. Well I went to get some and found that new recipe creations and was all over it.

Just get creative  how can you change a dish? Can you make it better? Can you change the flavor profile from Italian to Mexican, or just tweak to your taste? You can do just about anything with the right seasonings and a little thought. And don't be afraid to high five in Walmart, make life fun. :)

Also while at Walmart this week I found this. Gooey Butter Cake - in Kansas! That doesn't happen often if at all. It's by Paula Deen. Since we have this slight obsession with gooey butter cake I bought it to try it out.

The gooey part was good but I can't say the "yellow cake crust" was great. To me it was too salty. But on a scale of 1 to 10. I give it a 7 because when in a pinch and not feeling like making it, this would suffice. Just definitely is NOT St. Louis traditional. But not bad.

 Now go out and cook!