Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pork Chops With Apples and Onions (Hudson Valley Style)

**Sorry about the "off" color of some of the photos. The memory card in my camera was full and I had to use a camera that I'm not as familiar with to take quite a few of the photos.**

We l-o-v-e pork. Yup. We love it in practically all of it's incarnations. Unfortunately, no matter what even the newest studies say, for some reason it continues to have a less than stellar reputation. But, contrary to what some believe, the pork industry's now famous tag-line "pork... it's the other white meat" is actually true. Of course, there are pork products/cuts that are higher in fat, but purchased and prepared with care and attention to detail, pork can truly be a lean, healthy and delicious alternative to chicken or turkey.

I've been making a chicken dish for years that has a deliciously sweet and savory cooked apple and onion topping, sometimes referred to as "Hudson Valley Style".  I looked the term up some time ago and what it means is something that's cooked with apples and onions. Go figure!

No matter what you call it, it's DE-licious. And frankly, I can't think of a better meal to warm the tummy, on these cooler early Fall nights. I've also included the recipes/instructions for the Sour Cream Smashed Potatoes and *Fresh Green Beans cooked in Milk and Butter, that I served with the chops.

Pork Chops With Apples and Onions

  • 4-6 Bone-In Center Cut Rib Chops
  • 2-3 Lg Granny Smith Apples
  • 1 Lg Yellow Onion
  • 1/4 Cup Applejack Brandy or Apple Cider
  • Chicken Stock or Water
  • "Better Than Bullion" Stock Base
  • 4-6 Tbls Butter
  • Pork Seasoning (**recipe below)
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Black Pepper

**My homemade pork seasoning consists of Kosher Salt, Onion Powder, Sage and a just a little bit of Cinnamon.

About 45 minutes before cooking time, I take the chops out of the fridge, season them liberally with my homemade pork seasoning and a bit of freshly ground Black Pepper. It's important to let refrigerated meat come to room temperature before cooking it, in order to keep it tender and juicy. This also gives any seasonings you're using, a little time to absorb into the meat and give it some depth of flavor.

The Hubbers grilled the chops for me on this particular night, but they can also be broiled, baked or pan fried, with the same end result. Just don't overcook them. The old days of cooking pork until it's like shoe leather are long gone. Pork products today are processed under modern, sanitary conditions and are subject to strict USDA standards for health and safety. Medium well pork is perfectly acceptable.

Cut the apples and onions into 1/4" slices, trying to keep them relatively equal in thickness so they'll cook more evenly. I don't peel my apples because I like both the flavor and texture they add to the dish, but I'll leave that call up to you.

Place 2 to 3 Tbls of butter into a large frying pan over medium heat, until it's melted and just beginning to sizzle a little.

Add in the apples and onions and stir them well to coat with the butter. Continue to cook, over medium to medium high heat until the onions start to get translucent and the apples begin to soften.

This is seriously one of the best things invented in the culinary world! It's so much better than bullion cubes or powders. (just as the name infers - lol) It has less sodium, blends much more easily into sauces and soups and has much better flavor, in my opinion.

It comes in Pork, Chicken, Beef, Turkey, Vegetable and Seafood/Fish versions. In my local grocery store, it's right next to the bullion and broths/stocks. (I've noticed that the Turkey version seems to be available more around holiday time)

Just a little bit of the "Better Than Bullion" goes a long way. Start with a slightly heaping teaspoon and add more, if needed. Remember to always taste your food periodically as your cooking it to check for proper seasoning!

Add about 1/4 Cup of Applejack Brandy to the pan and turn the heat up just a little to help the liquid absorb and reduce a bit. If you don't want to use alcohol, you can substitute with apple cider. Apple juice could be used, but it wouldn't really add the depth of flavor that cider would. But, keep in mind that the alcohol will burn off before it's finished cooking and only the delicious flavor will be left behind.

I add a little water or stock if the liquid evaporates too much or too quickly. You want it to be a little saucy when you spoon it over your chops.

The Grill Master, hard at work.

Remember... You can broil, bake or pan fry your chops if you don't have a grill, or if yours has been put away for the winter.

For the Potatoes:
(I used Yukon Gold Potatoes)

Cut your potatoes into similar sized pieces, place them in a large stockpot filled with cold, generously salted water and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down just a little, so that the water is at a slow boil. Cook until fork tender, drain and put the potatoes back into the empty pot.

Add 4 Tbls of butter (yes, half a stick) and 1/2 C of sour cream and smash the potatoes to your desired consistency. Season well with salt and black pepper and keep warm until you're ready to serve them. (a great way to keep mashed or smashed potatoes warm, is to put them in the top portion of a double boiler, over barely simmering water, covered)

I like to leave the skins on and keep small chunks of potato for texture and flavor.

For the Beans:
(*My mother used to prepare fresh green beans this way when I was growing up. She didn't cook them like this often, but oh boy, when she did, I could have eaten the entire bowl, all by my lonesome.)

Place about 2 Cups of Milk, 1 Stick of Butter (yes, 1 whole stick) and a generous amount of Salt and Black Pepper in a saucepan or deep skillet.

Add your trimmed green beans to the pan and bring it all up to a simmer.

Cover the pan and cook the beans in the milk and butter for about 10 to 15 minutes, until they're tender. But, you don't want the beans to be mushy or falling apart.

I made the boo-boo of not paying close enough attention as it was heating up and it started to boil kind of vigorously. This caused the milk and butter mixture to separate a bit, but it didn't affect the flavor at all. They just didn't look as pretty.

A little extra pat of butter for the potatoes and a generous helping of the apples and onions on the chops and you're on your way to comfort food heaven.

Bona Fide Comfort Food
I serve the green beans in a separate bowl so you can get lots of the milk and butter. I know they're probably not the best thing for your arteries, but I only prepare them this way once in a blue moon. They really are a treat. Trust me.



I'll be sharing this at these fabulous parties: (Adding the URLs as I link up)

Creative Thursday at Michelle's Tasty Creations
Thriving On Thursdays at Domesblissity
Live, Laugh, {Linky} Thursday at Live, Laugh, Rowe
Potpourri Friday at 2805
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense
Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm
Scrumptious Sunday at Addicted To Recipes
Overflowing With Creativity at It's Overflowing

Week of 10/1

Creative Monday at Clairejustineoxox
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps On The Porch
Wednesday Whatsits at White Lights On Wednesday
Whatcha' Whipped Up at DJ's Sugar Shack
Wow Us On Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
All-Star Block Party at In The Old Road

Week of 10/8/12

Tasteful Tuesdays at Nap Time Creations

Yay! My Chicken Enchilada Lasagna was featured this week at Creative Thursday, hosted by the very sweet Michelle at Michelle's Tasty Creations!


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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chocolate Chip PB and J Bars

Geeesh.... Vacation can definitely throw off your schedule! And that's exactly where I'm at right now. I totally thought that I had plenty of time once we got back, to get my post up for the Get Your Chef On party this month. Yup. I had the date in my head. September 24th, right? I was so ready for this. I had it all figured out. I knew just what I was going to make. I knew I had all of the ingredients on hand. (or did I?) So, I'm checking my email and I see the one that I received from Jen, giving the instructions and codes for the party. And then I saw the date that our recipes were supposed to be posted. What?! Huh? I was supposed to post it.... yesterday?! On the 18th? O-M-G

So... I ran to the pantry and checked to see if I had everything that I needed. Peanut Butter? check. Flour? check. Raspberry jam? Uhhhh, Oh no! I had NO raspberry jam in the pantry! Starting to feel little beads of sweat collecting on my upper lip, I go to the fridge to see if I have enough in the jar that's in there. Hmmm... apple jelly, apricot jam, wild Maine blueberry jam, apple butter, strawberry preserves.... Jars are flyin' out of the fridge and I'm getting that sick feeling of dread rising up in my chest. Nope. NO raspberry jam. Now, that might not seem odd to most people, but in this house, there is ALWAYS at least one jar of raspberry jam. It's the hubber's go-to flavor for everything from PB&J sandwiches to English muffins.

So, what do I do? Well, like any self-respecting, menopausal, middle-aged crazy lady, I improvise. I start looking for all kinds of substitutes. I start thinking that maybe I need to start looking for another recipe altogether. But... what if I don't have all of the ingredients that I need for ANY of them?? Then I see the chocolate chips. OK, so instead of PB&J bars, I'll do PB&CC bars. Or PB Blondies. Ooorrr... I have strawberry jam, so maybe PB&SJCC bars?? Oy! Calm down, Mary.

Anywhooo.... I finally figured it out. And since this is my first time linking up with the GYCO party and I'm not sure about whether there's a little leeway in regard to posting time, I'm gonna just post it anyway and hope that our lovely hostesses will take pity on me. So, here it is folks!

{A big apology and an even bigger thank you to Julie at White Lights On Wednesday and Jen at Four Marrs & One Venus for hosting and for hopefully forgiving a batty old broad like me, who forgets what day it is, pretty much five out of six, um... I mean, seven days a week.}

Chocolate Chip PB&J Bars
(adapted from Ina Garten's recipe)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) strawberry jam (or what you have)
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F

Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line with parchment, then grease and flour the pan.

In the bowl of your mixer, (paddle attachment) cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light yellow. On low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all of the ingredients are combined.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. Staying on low speed, slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, until combined. I try to add it in thirds.

Spread 1/2 of the dough into the pan and spread evenly on the bottom with a spatula. Spread the jam over the dough. Sprinkle 1/2 of the chocolate chips over the jam. Then, drop small chunks of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if it doesn't look like enough to cover it. It will spread out as it cooks. Sprinkle with the rest of the chips.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for about 20 minutes and cut into squares.

These will keep, in an airtight container for about a week. (if they last that long) Or, you can freeze them individually in zip-top sandwich bags or wrapped tightly in cling wrap.

Don't Forget To Follow Me On Social Media! I Post Blog Updates, Ideas For Kitchen "How To's", Restaurant Recommendations And Reviews And Always Lots Of Photos!

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Don't forget that you can print this (or any) recipe using the "Print Friendly" button at the foot of each post. It's a great little feature that allows you to remove any pictures (or any text that isn't relevant to the recipe) before printing. That can save on ink and paper & in today's economy, who doesn't want to save a little cash when you can?!

Please Note: Many of the following links to parties are no longer functioning because the blog has been removed or because the name and/or the URL have changed. I'll try to get in here one of these days and update/correct it all but for now, I just don't have the time or the level of health that I used to have. To the very best of my knowledge, the links are all still safe and should not take you to any spam sites if you choose to click on them. Thanks!

I'm linking this up with: (adding the URL's as I link up)
White Lights on Wednesdays

And with:

Creative Thursday at Michelle's Tasty Creations
Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm
Friday Fun Party at Craftionary
Happy Hour Friday at Happy Hour Projects
Strut Your Stuff Saturday at Six Sister's Stuff
Saturday Night Special at Funky Junk Interiors
Scrumptious Sunday at Addicted To Recipes

Week of 9/25/12

Mix It Up Monday at Flour Me With Love
Thriving On Thursdays at Domesblissity
Live, Laugh, {Linky} Thursday at Live, Laugh, Rowe
Fridays Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense
Potpourri Friday at 2805
Overflowing With Creativity at It's Overflowing

Week of 10/1/12

Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps On The Porch
Creative Corner Blog Hop at Cherished Handmade Treasures
Whatcha' Whipped Up at DJ's Sugar Shack
Wow Us On Wednesdays at Savvy Southern Style
All-Star Block Party at In The Old Road

Week of 10/8/12

Tasteful Tuesdays at Nap Time Creations

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