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Perfect Pork

Pork is a great freezer staple when unexpected guests come over. Select a cut, defrost in the microwave, and make your way to the slow cooker, an oven bag, or strips for a stir-fry. It’s flavorful, versatile, and equally great in roasts, ribs, and chops.

TANGY DIJON PORK CHOPS
4 center-cut pork chops
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (10.5-oz) can condensed chicken and rice soup

Prepare pork chops by coating both sides of each one with mustard. Dredge coated chops in flour. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place pork chops into hot oil, and cook until browned on both sides. Remove from pan, and discard any excess oil in the pan.

Return chops to the pan, and reduce heat to low. Pour undiluted soup over the chops, making sure to put an ample amount of rice on each one. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes, or until pork is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Baste chops occasionally, and add water if necessary. Serves 4.

PORK SHOULDER WITH STIR-FRY VEGETABLES AND PLUM SAUCE
1 head garlic, cloves peeled
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5-lb. pork shoulder or Boston butt with skin
1 cup broccoli
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 cup carrots, julienned
1 cup green beans
1 cup red bell pepper strips
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup baby cob corn
1 cup water chestnuts
1 small jar plum sauce

Mash garlic to a paste with 2 Table-spoons kosher salt using a mortar and pestle or side of a large heavy knife; stir in oregano, vinegar, lemon juice, and pepper.

Pat pork dry. Using a small sharp knife, cut a wide pocket at large end of roast to separate skin from fat, leaving skin attached at sides and stopping before roast narrows to bone.

Make 1-inch-deep slits in pork under skin and on all meaty sides, twisting knife slightly to widen openings, then push some of garlic mixture into slits with your fingers. Rub any remaining garlic mixture over roast (not skin). Wipe skin clean, then rub with remaining teaspoon kosher salt (to help it crisp). Transfer pork to a glass or ceramic shallow dish and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours.

Put pork, skin side up, in flameproof roasting pan, discarding marinade, and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° with rack in middle.

Cover pork with parchment paper and then tightly with foil and roast 2-1/2 hours. Discard foil and parchment, then add 1/2 cup water to pan and roast, uncovered, adding more water when liquid in pan evaporates (check about every half hour), until skin is browned and crisp and meat is fork-tender. Transfer to cutting board or platter, and let stand 30 minutes. Cut in small pieces. Steam all vegetables lightly, then quickly stir-fry in a hot wok until done but still crisp. Pour plum sauce over vegetables and combine with pork and serve. Serves 8-10.

GRILLED CHIPOTLE ADOBO PORK TENDERLOIN
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 lb. each
3 Tablespoons chipotle chilies, finely chopped
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons adobo sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Place tenderloins in shallow dish. Make a slit down the middle of each one without cutting through it. Season with salt and black pepper and fill each tenderloin with chopped chipotles. Press tenderloins so that chilies won’t slide out, and season outside with salt and black pepper; set aside.

Mix remaining ingredients in medium bowl until well-combined. Pour mixture over tenderloins and allow to stand for 15-20 minutes. Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Place tenderloins on oiled grill rack and allow to cook for 10-12 minutes per side. Baste occasionally with sauce. Once internal temperature reaches 150°, remove and allow to stand for five minutes before carving. Serves 6-8.

CARIBBEAN JERK PORK
1-1/3 lbs. pork tenderloin
2 papayas, peeled, seeded, and cut into slices
1 banana, chopped
3/4 cup mango chutney
3 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 lb. pasta (optional)
Grilled bread

Jerk Seasoning
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon ground allspice
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Mix together Jerk Seasoning ingredients into paste. Coat over pork tenderloin. Cover, refrigerate, and let pork stand anywhere between 20 minutes and 1 day. Mix together banana, chutney, 1 Tablespoon lime juice, and coconut. Set aside. Preheat grill and prepare for indirect cooking.

Grill until pork tenderloin reaches about 155°. Reduce chicken broth by half. Add vinegar, cilantro, sugar, and remaining lime juice. Remove pork from grill and let sit for five minutes. Cut pork tenderloin into 1/2-inch slices. Baste with chicken broth and vinegar mixture, using as much as possible. Serve pork tenderloin over pasta if desired or on grilled bread, with papaya slices and banana chutney mixture on the side. Serves 4-6.

CARAMEL APPLE PORK CHOPS
4 (3/4-inch) thick pork chops
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 Tablespoons pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 175°. Place a medium dish in oven to warm. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush chops lightly with oil and place in hot frying pan. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally, or until done. Transfer to warm dish, and keep warm in the preheated oven.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt and pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add butter to skillet, and stir in brown sugar mixture and apples. Cover and cook until apples are just tender. Remove apples with a slotted spoon and arrange on top of chops. Keep warm in preheated oven. Continue cooking sauce, uncovered, in skillet, until thickened slightly. Spoon sauce over apples and chops. Sprinkle with pecans. Serves 4.

Coming Next Month: Crepes, Savory and Sweet

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