Barbecued Baked Pork Chops

Just about anyone who has experience with a Dutch oven will say that there is no going back to other types cooking vessels once you’ve tried this method.

Their reasoning is understandable, since there are many advantages to Dutch oven cooking, which dates back hundreds of years. One is the way in which the food is prepared. With a Dutch oven, the food is cooked uniformly, and because of the slowness of the process, the food is prepared so that optimum tenderness is achieved.

Dutch ovens, which usually are made out of cast iron, can be used to prepare main dishes, side vegetable dishes, breads as well as the most decadent of desserts.

My favorite use for our trusty cast-iron Dutch oven is to cook meats and seafood, including venison, elk, buffalo and pork roasts, chickens (regular and smoked), salmon and halibut.

Most recently, I made some Dutch oven-barbecued pork chops, baked with a homemade spiced barbecue sauce. It made for an excellent weeknight meal when combined with baked potatoes and some whole-kernel corn.

Barbecued Baked Pork Chops
4 pork chops, trimmed of fat
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
6 tablspoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
Olive oil
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil in Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and celery and saute until translucent. Add remaining ingredients except pork chops. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Add pork chops, cover and pot oven in preheated oven. Bake for 2 to 3 hours until tender. Remove pot from oven. Take meat from the bones and return to oven for another 10 to 20 minutes.
Serve with potatoes (baked or mashed) and whole-kernel corn.

Pork Chops with Sauerkraut and Potatoes

The combination of pork and sauerkraut is a tradition among many cultures. It’s most associated with the Germanic, Polish and Slavic populace of Eastern Europe. That’s one reason why it is very popular in our region of northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. The pairing is one my favorites, too.

I was introduced to the combo at an early age. My mom every once in a while would cook baby back ribs and sauerkraut together in a big roaster and serve them with mashed potatoes. To this day, we still have that on Christmas Eve.

The pair is going to be starring in a meal in our home soon. We recently purchased a half-pig from a co-worker’s cousin, and my friend, Darrel Koehler, has a couple of crocks of homemade sauerkraut fermenting in his basement, which he will be sharing with us.

One of the first meals I’m planning will be the following skillet dish in which pork chops, sauerkraut and potatoes are cooked together, seasoned only with salt, pepper and some parsley flakes.

Pork Chops with Sauerkraut and Potatoes
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
4 bone-in pork loin chops, thin cut (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 pound small red potatoes, cut into ¼-inch wedges
1 1-pound can sauerkraut, drained
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Sprinkle pork with ½ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper; cook pork in oil 5 to 8 minutes, turning once, until brown. Remove pork from skillet; cover to keep warm.
In same skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil. Sprinkle potatoes with remaining ½ teaspoon salt; cook potatoes in oil 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown. Add pork. Stir in sauerkraut and parsley.
Cover; cook 7 to 10 minutes or until pork is no longer pink in center and potatoes are tender. Serve pork over sauerkraut.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 340 calories, 16 grams fat (4 grams saturated, no trans), 70 milligrams cholesterol, 1,300 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams dietary fiber, 1 gram sugars, 27 grams protein.

Grilled Pork Chops with Chorizo, Dates and Manchego Stuffing

Pork chops are one of the most popular meats for grilling. There are several reasons why, including that they’re versatile, quick to prepare, are relatively lean and go well with a lot of different seasonings.

But one thing only about one in five Americans  realize is the potential of this endlessly inspiring option, according to the new “However You Chop It” survey.

Here’s a recipe from Chef Madison Cowan that demonstrates just what you can do with a pork chop. Cowan, Grand Champion of the popular cooking competition, “Chopped,” recent winner of “Iron Chef America” and also the star of  the new television show, “No Kitchen Required,” says when it comes to versatility, it’s hard to beat pork chops.

“I’m a firm believer that chops are a great cut to inspire a bit more creativity in the kitchen. It’s ideal to keep a couple go-to chop recipes in your back pocket, but why not spread your culinary wings and try a new flavor combination or technique? I find that experimenting in the kitchen can be a revelation, often leading to new family favorites.”

Here’s one of his creative recipes, in which he stuffs whole chops with a savory sausage, date annd cheese filling.

Grilled Pork Chops with Chorizo, Dates and Manchego Stuffing
6 double-thick bone-in rib chops, about 12 ounces each
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup sea salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
½ gallon iced water
CHORIZO STUFFING:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound smoked Spanish chorizo, diced
2 medium celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup pitted and finely chopped dates
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Manchego or sharp Cheddar cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
To brine pork chops:  Bring vinegar, brown sugar, salt, mustard, and peppercorns to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve salt.  Do not inhale fumes.  Transfer to large, deep food-safe container.  Let cool until tepid.  Stir in iced water.  Submerge chops in brine.  Refrigerate for 3 hours, no longer.
To make stuffing: Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add celery, dates, and shallot, and cook, stirring often, until celery is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, sage, and paprika. Transfer to a bowl and let cool completely.  Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Remove chops from brine, rinse under cold water, and blot dry with paper towels. Cut a horizontal pocket in each chop to the bone using a sharp knife. Spoon equal amounts of stuffing into each chop, and close each opening shut with wooden toothpicks. Do not overstuff the chops; you may not use all of the filling.
Prepare a medium fire in an outdoor grill. (For a gas grill, preheat to about 400 degrees. For a charcoal grill, let the coals burn until covered with white ash and you can hold your hand about an inch above the cooking grate for 3 seconds.) Brush cooking grates clean. Grill pork, with the lid closed as much as possible, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop reads 145 degrees, about 15 minutes. Remove from the grill and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove toothpicks and serve.
Yield: Serves 6.

Spicy Baby Back Ribs

There’s a fine line between good and bad baby back pork ribs. When it comes to bad ribs, one of the biggest mistakes people make is to boil the meat first. All this does is boil away the flavor.

I’ve eaten my share of baby back pork ribs. Some of the best I’ve had were at the annual rib fest in Oslo, Minn., the past two summers. I’ve also had some pretty bad ones there, too.

I got a taste of some pretty good baby backs Friday night at the new Whitey’s in East Grand Forks. The meat was fall-off-the-bone. Along with some nice au gratin potatoes (the portion was a bit small), it made for a real tasty meal. The dinner was my first at the recently opened restaurant under new management, and I came away impressed.

Speaking of baby back pork ribs, here’s a recipe I came across recently that readers who still are grilling might find interesting.

Spicy Baby Back Ribs with Orange Glaze
MARINADE AND GLAZE;
1½ cups orange or tangerine juice
½ cup Asian-style sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
RIBS:
2 slabs (2 pounds each) baby back ribs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
In a glass measure, combine all the marinade ingredients. Remove half of the marinade and set it aside in the refrigerator. Place the ribs in a sealable plastic bag. You can fold them or cut them in half to fit better. Pour the marinade over the ribs. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat or prepare the grill for indirect heat over low to low-medium heat. The heat should be at a constant 250 to 275 degrees with the heat source at one side of the grill.
Remove the ribs from the marinade (discard the marinade) and let the ribs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.
Brush the cooking grates clean and oil them. Place the ribs, meaty side up, on the grill away from the heat source. Close the lid and grill for about 2 hours (for whole racks). Check periodically that the heat is not getting too high.
Meanwhile, place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Whisk in the Dijon and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until it’s slightly reduced and has a glaze consistency.
Check the ribs for doneness. The bones should start pulling away from the meat and the meat should be tender, but still hold together.
Brush the ribs with the glaze and close the lid. Continue cooking another 10 minutes or until the glaze sets in. Glaze the ribs several times this way. Remove from the grill and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serve with additional glaze if desired.
Note: You can adjust this marinade to your liking, adding more chili sauce and chipotle flakes for a more pronounced spicy kick.
Yield: Serves 4 (generously).
Approximate nutritional analysis per 6½ ounces of rib meat: 529 calories, 63 percent of calories from fat , 37 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 18 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein, 1,217 milligrams sodium, 132 milligrams cholesterol, no fiber.

Slow-Cooker Pork Chops

One of the late radio TV personality Art Linkletter’s favorite quotes was, “Kids say the darnest things.” In fact, that was the name of a segment of his popular “House Party” show, which ran in the afternoons on CBS in the 1950s and ’60s.

I was reminded of that the other day when a friend of mine, Pete Hougum of Grand Forks, shared a recipe and an anecdote with me.

Pete, who exercises at the gym where I work out, told me about a slow-cooker dish he prepared that contained pork, potatoes, chops, sauerkraut and apples. The recipes sounded pretty good to me, and I shared with Pete that three of the ingredients would be the topic of a “Terrific Trio” column in an upcoming Herald Food page column.

Pete said he was baby-sitting his 3-year-old grandson the day he combined the pork, sauerkraut and apples. His grandson, Landon, was going around the kitchen sniffing and said, “I smell poop.” Of course, that made me laugh aloud, and it reminded me of the kids’ feature on “House Party.”

The next day, Pete said he was digging carrots in his garden and that his grandson’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw the vegetables coming out of the ground. When Pete asked Landon  where he thought the carrots came from, it elicited another quote worthy of the Linkletter show — “The puppies did it.”

After Pete told me about the aforementioned recipe, I decided that it would worth trying, since we had three pork chops in the freezer that needed to be used. Plus, I really like sauerkraut, potatoes and apples.

I’ve made a few additions to recipe — a can of cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup, a little fresh cabbage, some sauerkraut and a small onion.
Slow-Cooker Pork Chops
4 center-cut pork chops, fat removed
1 small onion, diced
1 10¾-ounce can cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 quart sauerkraut
4 small potatoes
3 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all of the ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or until meat and potatoes are fork-tender.
Yield: Serves 4.

Peachy Pork Chops

I feel fortunate to have been raised in a family that liked to can and preserve food — and lucky to have a wife who shares my passion. And I sometimes take it for granted that everyone knows how to put up goodies that can be enjoyed months after they’ve been in season.

That presumption was proved wrong this past week when Kathleen Shea, former reporter for the Philadelphia Daily New, offered me some homemade peach cobbler before our afternoon budget huddle at the Herald.

Kathleen, who moved her a couple of years ago with her husband, Rich Aregood, the Charles R. Johnson Professor of Journalism at UND and former Pulizter Prize-winning editorial page editor at the Philadelphia Daily News, recently joined us a few hours a week to critique the newspaper.

Kathleen said she had bought some Colorado peaches at the downtown Farmers Market from the Grand Forks Youth for Christ, which has been conducting its annual fundraiser. I told her that we were going to be get some peaches and were going to can some of them. She then said that she was deathly afraid of canning. I assured her there was nothing to it and that canning using the water-bath method was a lot different that using a pressure cooker.

We didn’t can all of our peaches. We kept some to eat, and I may use some of them in a recipe or two, including the following one with pork chops.

Pork Chops with Peaches
2 strips bacon
4 pork chops
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
¾ cup dry white wine
3 to 4 fresh peaches, chopped in ½-inch cubes
6 to 8 leaves fresh basil, sliced in thin strips
Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp; drain on paper-towel-lined plate. When cool, crumble.
Meanwhile, season chops with ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Add oil to skillet if needed so that chops won’t stick; add chops to skillet. Cook over medium high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 5 minutes per side. Remove from skillet; keep warm. (If using thick chops, you may need to finish in the oven; do so at 350 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.)
Add wine to skillet; cook, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any bits from the chops, until reduced slightly, 2 minutes. Add peaches to skillet; season with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until warmed through and slightly softened, 5 minutes.
Return chops to skillet; spoon peaches over. Divide chops among 4 plates, topped by peaches, crumbled bacon and basil.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 218 calories, 49 percent of calories from fat, 12 grams fa (4 grams saturated fat), 65 milligrams cholesterol, 7 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 422 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Skillet Pork Chops

One-pot meals are the rage these days. And there is good reason. With both parents working in so many families, and a lot of single-parent households, there isn’t always a lot of time for meal preparation.

I can relate to that. While it’s just Therese and I at our house, we take a pretty active role in the lives or my stepdaughter and grandson. They usually have at least one meal a week with us, and during the summer, it’s been more. And this summer was challenging, with my grandson playing on three baseball teams and games five to seven days a week.

Luckily, I have a lot of recipes that are easy to make and require only one pot. But I’m always looking for more.

The following, which appeared in the July-August 2011 issue of Eating Well magazine, is one that fits the mold. And I already have some of the ingredients on hand, including fresh thyme from my garden and apricot preserves.

Thyme, Pork Chop and Pineapple Skillet Supper
3 tablespoons apricot preserves or orange marmalade
3 tablespoons orange juice, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon Dijon or stone-ground mustard
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
½ teaspoon curry powder
4 fresh or canned pineapple rings (½-inch thick), cut in half, any juice reserved
2 teaspoons butter
4 boneless pork loin chops (about 4 to 5 ounces each and ½-inch thick), trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
½ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
Thyme sprigs for garnish (optional)
If the preserves are chunky, chop any large pieces. Combine preserves, 3 tablespoons orange juice, mustard, ginger and curry powder in a small bowl; set aside. Pour pineapple juice into a measuring cup; if necessary, add enough orange juice to equal 1/3 cup total. Set aside.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add pork chops, sprinkle with ½ tablespoon thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Immediately turn them over and sprinkle with another ½ tablespoon thyme and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook the chops, turning occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the reserved juice to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the chops are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
Add pineapple, the reserved sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon thyme to the pan. Cook, stirring, until hot and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. To serve, spoon the sauce onto the chops and pineapple.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 257 calories, 28 percent of calories from fat, 8 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 25 grams carbohydrates, 22 grams protein, 388 milligrams sodium, 72 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams fiber.

Balsamic Pork Loin Chops

Pork chops are one of easiest cuts of meats to prepare and one of the tastiest. It was one of my favorite foods when I was growing up. I remember how my mom used to fix them in her big, cast-iron frying pan and when they were cooked sufficiently, she would make a milk gravy that was out of this world.

These days, pork is know as the “other white meat” and is almost as popular as beef. We don’t eat a lot of pork but when we do, I relish it.

Just recently, I’ve been sharing recipes with a Facebook friend, Daryl Bergman, of Mesa, Ariz. Daryl is originally from Grand Forks and says he still likes to keep up on what is going on in his hometown via the Herald’s website (www.grandforksherald.com).

In our latest correspondence, Darryl sent me a recipe for pork chops that are prepared on the stove top and are topped with a sauce that includes balsamic vinegar, honey and soy sauce. It’s a recipe that really has caught my attention and one that will soon find its way to our dining room table.

Balsamic Pork Loin Chops
4 boneless pork loin chops, cut ¾-inch thick (about 4 ounces each) trimmed
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon cornstarch
1 garlic clove minced
2 green onions sliced for garnish
Sprinkle 1 side of each pork chop with black pepper.
Heat nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium high heat until hot and add pork chops pepper side down. Cook about 4 minutes or until browned Reduce heat to medium, turn pork chops and cook 6 to 8 minutes longer, until they just lose the pink color throughout. Transfer pork chops to platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, mix honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and cornstarch until smooth.
Add garlic to skillet. Cook 30 seconds, stirring stir honey mixture into skillet (mixture will boil). Cook 1 minute, stirring until thick. Spoon sauce over pork chops and sprinkle with green onions for garnish..

Grilled Oriental Pork Chops

I’ve become a firm believer in marinades because a good one can turn an otherwise bland piece of meat into something special. And when it comes to marinades, the number of kinds is only limited by one’s imagination.

Recently, I’ve become enamored with some marinades from McCormick, the spice people. The ones I’ve tried the past couple of weeks have been dandy with some pheasant we’ve had on the grill.

But I do like to tinker with my own marinade recipes and ones that other people have perfected. A marinade recipe that I’m interested in trying that came via email from New Asian Cuisine (www.newasianscuisine.com) combines yuzu kosho, a spicy Japanese sauce made from green or yellow yuzu zest, green or red chili peppers and salt, and miso, a fermented soybean paste. (Both the yuzu kosho and miso can be found in Oriental markets or perhaps in the Oriental section of your local supermarket.)

The yuzu-miso marinade was suggested for use with grilled pork chops. The meat is marinaded overnight to give the pork time to absorb the miso flavor and also to give the active bacteria cultures in miso time to tenderize the meat. The yuzu kosho gives the pork a pleasing touch of heat.

Pork Chops with Yuzo-Miso Marinade
¼ cup red miso
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon mirin
2 teaspoons red yuzu kosho
¼ cup finely chopped scallions
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1½ pounds
Mix together the miso, sake, mirin, yuzu kosho, scallions and sesame oil in a bowl. Pour ¾ of the marinade onto a baking dish or sheet pan, and reserve the rest. Lay the pork chops in the marinade and flip them 4 times to generously coat both sides of the meat. Once they’re coated, marinate the pork chops for 12 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
Preheat a grill to a 2-zone fire (medium and hot). Grill the pork chops for about 10 minutes. Start on hot heat for about 1 minute, then shift the chops to medium heat. After about 4 minutes, flip the chops and repeat the 2-zone grilling on the other side. When the pork is ready, it’ll be glossy and juicy on the outside. Test for doneness using the nick and peek method. Let the pork chops rest for about 2 minutes and serve.

Sloppy Joes: ‘Cues for a Crowd

Do you like cooking for a crowd?

I do. And that’s exactly what I’m about to get to work on in just a few minutes.

Each spring for about the past 15 years or so, we’ve been making a batch of homemade barbecues for a 100 or so people who belong to a group that Therese and I support. The recipe I use is tried and true. I call it Auntie Helen’s Barbecues, because it was given to me by my late aunt, Helen Tiedeman, who was the head cook at our Catholic school when I was growing up.

The barbecues were a hot lunch favorite of all the kids. Over the years, I’ve shared the recipe with friends, relatives and Herald readers. No one has been disappointed.

While Auntie Helen’s Barbecues are great, I realize there are a lot of other barbecue or “Sloppy Joe” recipes out there that are pretty good. I can think of a couple right off the top of my head. The Sloppy Joes that are served at The Kegs drive-in in Grand Forks have a lot of fans, and I’m one of them. Also, one of my friends has his mom’s recipe that contains chicken gumbo soup, which ranks right up there, too.

While I don’t have those two aforementioned recipes, here is my aunt’s along with another that was shared with me recently that looks pretty tasty.

Sloppy Joes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ red or green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
½ cup each: ketchup, water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 kaiser rolls, toasted
Heat oil in medium skillet.
Add onion and pepper; cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.
Add beef; cook, breaking up pieces, until browned and crumbled, 4 minutes.
Mix in ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste; simmer until flavors are blended, 15 minutes. Serve on rolls.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 415 calories, 31 percent of calories from fat, 14 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 69 milligrams cholesterol, 42 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 1,087 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Auntie Helen’s Barbecues
6 pounds of ground beef
1 package flaked onions
1 25 ounce-can cream of mushroom soup
½ gallon of ketchup
½ stalk of celery, diced, precooked
2 tablespoons mustard
¼ cup of vinegar
Barbecue spice, to taste
½ cup of brown sugar
Mix all of ingredients and cook for about 2 hours
Yield: Serves 50.