Sunday, October 02, 2022

Slow-Roasted Pork Chops

      Not just pork chops -- pork chops with cabbage, turnip and apple, not to mention a few other vegetables.

      Our local grocer's meat case was a little picked-over Friday.  You can always count on nice steaks these days, because the price ensures they're no longer an impulse buy, but the less-costly cuts go fast and it turns out I'm not the only person who knows how to roast a Boston Butt or a London Broil.  They had some nice, thick boneless pork chops, and I picked them up with thoughts of making a tasty Autumn dinner.

      Root vegetables are back; the hot summer wasn't kind to turnips and rutabagas, but big, delicately-colored turnips have returned.  I've had a few commenters wonder why anyone would ever think of eating, of all things, a turnip.  I can only pity such folks.  Turnips have an earthy, faintly sweet, delicate flavor that works nicely with meat and they can be cooked any way you'd cook a potato.  Turnip chips are a delightful treat; a lot of work in a skillet but I wonder how an air-fryer would do for chips or fries?  Fall apples are already showing up, too, a profusion of varieties.  I bought a "Pink Lady" apple nearly as large as a softball and a small head of cabbage.  I already had a bag of carrots, plus a large bell pepper, some skinny mild peppers and a jalapeno.

      The pork chops got several hours in a mixture of soy sauce and balsamic vinegar, spiked with a little white vinegar and seasoned with plenty of garlic and some Bragg's spice mixture; you just put them in a heavy freezer bag, add enough liquid to cover and set it back in the fridge.  About three hours from dinner time, I started building a fire in the grill (it needs emptying), the normal tic-tac-toe grid of kindling stuffed with a standard newspaper page torn into strips and balled up.  Charcoal, most of it left over from earlier, is then mounded up around and over the kindling in a kind of hollow tower with a gap at the front bottom, opposite the air intake.  One match gets the paper going at front and back; pretty soon flame is roaring up through the thing and by the time the pile collapses, the coals are lit and glowing.  I pushed them into two rows at the sides for indirect heat, set the grill bars in place and closed the lid.

      The oval roasting pan -- inexpensive graniteware -- got a coating of olive oil, both chops, and coarsely-cubed peeled turnip (3/4" cubes and some smaller) with smoked paprika and a generous dollop of marinade.  With a two-hour timer,* I set it (with the lid on) in the center of the grill while I peeled and chopped the apple, then sprinkled some mild curry powder on it before adding it to the pan (you can leave the skin on if you like, but it tends to remain in large pieces, which I find annoying).  I took my time dicing the carrots (1/2" sections) and mild peppers (1/4" or smaller).  After tasting the jalapeno, I sliced it into thin rounds and added perhaps a third of them -- this is very much to taste and depends on how feisty the particular pepper happens to be.  Err on the mild side and save the extra to be added at the table by anyone who wants more heat.  I put the the peppers and carrots in the pan about a half-hour into cooking or a little less.

      Cabbage next.  Don't be shy about discarding outer leaves to get to the tender parts; it's inexpensive.  I cut wedges, and with just over an hour left, layered them atop everything else in the pan until it was full.

      At the two-hour mark, I went out with the digital meat thermometer (these gadgets are cheap and well worth owning), expecting to need more time.  Nope -- the pork was plenty done, the cabbage translucent and tender, and it all smelled tempting.

      The meat was well-browned on the outside and on the verge of falling apart.  There was plenty of broth in the pan to put over it and the vegetables were delicious, savory, not too sweet or too spicy.  The apple cooked down soft, while the turnip, carrots and cabbage were tender without being mushy.  I will readily admit this is "peasant food," but it's darned tasty.

      No stirring or measuring and I mostly ignore the pan unless there's something to be added or it's time to bring it in.
* I use Alexa for this, and set timers at half-hour intervals as a reminder to add remaining ingredients and check on the grill.


Antibubba said...

I have to go back and find your corned beef recipe.

Roberta X said...

A search on "corned beef" brings up multiple examples.