Vietnamese Pork Chops

This combines ingredients from several recipes I found online. Pork and chicken, along with some fish, are the only meats I eat so I’m always searching for new ways to cook them as well as vegan alternatives. This is quite an easy recipe that turns out succulent with a pleasant sour flavor from the lime squeezed on top when the chops are cooked. I’ll give you some optional ingredients along with the ones I used if a more complex flavor profile is desired and soy is an option.

In a square or rectangular dish, whisk together the marinade:

1 small shallot, minced

3 tablespoons honey or 1/4 cup date sugar

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup Hoisin, soy or oyster sauce (optional)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 stalks lemon grass (smashed and chopped fine)

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Trim the fat, puncture each chop with a fork in multiple places on both sides so the marinade soaks in, and then add to the marinade:

4 – 1″ thick pork chops

Turn the pork chops so they are fully covered in the marinade. Let sit at least 20-30 minutes (or up to 1 day in the refrigerator). When ready to cook, heat a 12″ skillet over medium high:

1 tablespoon olive oil

until shimmering. Wipe the marinade off the chops and add to the oil. Sear on each side (approximately 1 minute per side) and then reduce heat to medium and sauté until the chops are firm to the touch, about 3-4 minutes per side. Watch closely so they don’t burn on either side. Remove from heat and let rest for 6-8 minutes before serving. Serve with a wedge of lime. Serves 4.

Oriental Pork and Vegetables

I’d intended to make pork with eggplant but . . . I used all the eggplant in the eggplant with garlic sauce yesterday! So instead here’s pork and vegetables. As in many of my recipes, feel free to substitute the vegetables for whatever ones your family prefers, eggplant would be great. Makes 4 generous servings.

Ingredients for sauce:

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced (or grated) fresh ginger (adjust to your family’s taste)

1 small can diced chilis (I used mild but whatever heat level your family enjoys is fine)

1/2 cup soy sauce substitute (see recipe under sauces and condiments)

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon corn or tapioca starch (or arrowroot) dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

Ingredients for the pork and vegetables:

2 tablespoons olive oil

16 ounces pork, diced

2 tablespoons corn or tapioca starch

2-3 baby bok choy, cleaned and chopped

1 medium onion sliced thinly

1/2 grated carrots (or 2 large carrots cut on the bias)

1 medium yellow pepper, seeded and cubed

1 small can sliced water chestnuts

First, put the pork cubes into a gallon food storage bag with the 2 tablespoons of corn or tapioca starch. Shake to coat the cubes, making sure all the pork gets some starch, and set aside for 15-20 minutes (I’ve left it overnight and it worked fine).

In a large skillet, heat over medium high heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot, add the pork cubes and fry, turning frequently to brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove cubes from the pan and set aside covered (they will continue cooking). Add the vegetables to the pan and cook over medium heat until they start to soften but still have some crunch, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the pork.

In a small saucepan or skillet, heat the 1/2 tablespoon oil then add the garlic, ginger, chilis (drained) over medium heat. After about 1-2 minutes, add the soy sauce substitute, fish sauce and sesame oil. Cook until it comes to a boil, about 1 minute and then add the slurry of corn/tapioca starch and water. Stir to combine and continue stirring until thickened, should be almost immediately. Remove from heat and pour over the vegetables and pork. Stir to combine and plate, garnishing with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with brown rice (or white rice if preferred).

Paprika Pork Stew

Found a great recipe for a pork stew for a slow cooker. I don’t have a slow cooker since I’m retired and can watch the stove all day when necessary. So you can do this in either a Dutch oven like I did or in your slow cooker. Either way it’s delicious, a little spicy, and can be served with a variety of sides, either mashed potatoes, spaghetti squash, rice, or pasta. It also doesn’t take long to put together, just cooks for 3-4 hours.

You’ll need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 ounces pancetta or bacon

1-2 pounds pork cubed and most of the fat removed

1 medium onion diced

1 large carrot diced

2-3 stalks of celery diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt or herbamare

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (want it a little spicier, use white pepper)

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

14 ounce can of diced tomatoes (if using 2 pounds of pork, use a large 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes)

2 teaspoons sweet paprika (add more with more meat)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

In a large skillet (if you’re going to use a slow cooker) or a Dutch over, heat the olive oil before adding the cubed pork and pancetta (or bacon). Cook, stirring occasionally, until pork is browned. Remove from the pot (to your slow cooker if using one) or just set aside if not.

Add the vegetables to the pot and cook until the onion is translucent before adding the garlic. Put the pork back into the pot, add the stock and the tomatoes, salt, pepper and paprika. (If using a slow cooker, add the vegetables to the cooker once the stock has come to a boil with the vegetables so that the pan is deglazed.) Reduce heat to a simmer and, cover with the lid so that a little steam can escape, and cook for 2-3 hours or until most of the liquid is cooked off. Cook on high in the slow cooker for 3-4 hours. The meat will almost shimmer when the dish is ready.

TIP: I like a lot of vegetables in my stews so I also added 1 cup of sliced mushrooms. I meant to add a cup of frozen peas near the end but it didn’t happen. Green beans would also be fine in this stew.

Smothered Pork Chops

One of my favorite things my mother used to make was smothered pork chops. She’d dump a can of cream of mushroom soup on top of pork chops in a baking dish and then sprinkle that with a package of dry French onion soup mix. Bake it and voila – moist and tender pork chops with a great gravy already made. Well, those days are past and I can no longer have the French onion soup mix or canned cream of mushroom soup. But as many of you who have followed me for awhile know, cream of mushroom soup is one of the easiest soups to make (see the recipe under Soups and Salads). For this smothered pork chop recipe, I used a variety of mushrooms in the soup recipe and it really enhanced the flavor of the pork chops. I always have at least one 2 cup bowl of this soup in my freezer ready for use in recipes like this.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking dish to hold the pork chops and mushroom soup. For 2 servings:

2 thick cut pork chops (at least 1 inch thick) – if thinner chops are used, cook only 20-25 minutes

Heat in a 10″ skillet, 1 tablespoon olive oil and sear the chops on all sides (including the skinny ones!). I cut slashes in the fat side to allow the fat to render out. Place the chops in the baking dish and cover with:

2 cups of cream of mushroom soup

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pork reaches 145 degrees. My mother always served these with mashed potatoes but I prefer brown rice. Mashed sweet potatoes would also work or any type of noodle.

Peking Pork Chops

I’m always looking for new ways to cook chicken and pork, my two main proteins. Here’s an easy one that’s very tasty with a hint of heat and spice.

Prepare a baking dish which will hold 2-4 pork chops without crowding by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl whisk:

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or use 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger)

2 tablespoons sugar-free ketchup

3 tablespoons soy substitute (or soy sauce if you can use it)

2 tablespoons date sugar

Salt and pepper to taste (approximately 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a dash of ground pepper)

If preparing 4 chops, double the above. In a medium to large sauce pan heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is shimmering add:

2 thick cut pork chops

Sear on all sides before adding to the prepared baking dish. Spread with the prepared sauce and bake approximately 40-50 minutes depending on the size of the pork chops.

Pan Fried Breaded Pork Chop

Since chicken and pork are my primary proteins, along with the occasional fish dish, I’m always looking for tasty recipes to give me more variety. The problem I’ve always had with pork is it gets so dry. This is a way of holding in that moisture while at the same time having a really crispy, fried chicken like, coating on the outside. The original recipe called for crushed corn flakes but many of us have problems with corn so I’ve revised it to seasoned flour but feel free to use crushed corn flakes if desired. Serves 2.

In a gallon food storage bag combine:

2 tablespoons arrowroot with

2, 1″ thick pork chops with most of the fat trimmed (make shallow cuts in the pork chops in a diamond pattern roughly 1/2″ apart to allow the arrowroot to be absorbed into the pork. By shallow I mean not more than 1/16 of an inch. This will help the coating stick as well as tenderize the pork.)

Shake to make sure that the arrowroot covers all the pork and let sit in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. In a shallow dish, place:

1/4 to 1/3 cup aquafaba depending on how large the chops are

In another shallow dish combine:

2 tablespoons all purpose gluten free flour

1 tablespoon tapioca or cassava flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

When the pork chops are ready, remove from bag (over the sink is a good place to do this) being sure to rub any loose arrowroot from the chops. Coat each in the aquafaba and then in the seasoned flour. In a 10″ skillet, heat:

1/4 cup olive oil

When shimmering, add the pork chops being careful to place the side nearest you into the pan first. Reduce heat to medium and fry until golden brown on each side (don’t forget the narrow edges), this should take about 7 minutes. Reduce to medium low and cover for approximately 5 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork is 145 degrees. (If you don’t have a meat thermometer, they aren’t expensive and are very useful in determining if meat is at temperature.) If you don’t have a thermometer, touch the meat with a utensil or your finger. If it has a lot of give, it’s not cooked. It should not be totally firm but close to it, just a little give to the meat will produce a juicy chop. If the coating has gotten soggy while covered, increase the heat back to medium and cook on each side for 30 seconds to one minute to crisp it back up. Remove from heat and blot on paper towels before serving – DON’T LET THE CHOPS SIT ON THE TOWELS TOO LONG OR THE OUTSIDE WILL GET SOGGY. Be sure to salt them as soon as they come out of the oil.

Braised Pork Loin with Figs and Pears

This recipe takes some time since the pork loin is marinated but worth the effort and wait. The gravy is lick the plate good! Now I’m thinking I should add fruit puree to all my gravies. Yum, yum. Braising cooks food slowly so be sure that the loin is well seared (browned) before cooking so that it doesn’t lose all its juices. And since I love figs and pears, and I know they go well together, I thought how about braising them with the loin. This recipe would also work with a turkey breast or apples instead of pears.

At least 4 hours before the cooking starts, put in a gallon food storage bag:

1/4 cup seasoned vinegar or apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (or herbamare)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon dried thyme

6-8 dried figs

Add:

1 1/2-2 1/2 pound pork loin

Seal and let sit in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. If you are using a chicken, duck, or turkey breast, you can put this directly into the cooking vessel – either a roasting/baking dish with a cover, or the bowl of a slow cooker.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees if the loin is going in the oven. I cooked mine on the stove top in a medium size Dutch oven. Remove the pork loin (or turkey breast) from the marinade. Dry thoroughly and rub with:

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

In a 10″ skillet or one large enough to hold the loin, heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Turn the oil down to medium heat and add the loin (or turkey breast). Sear (brown) on all sides. Remove the meat and add to the skillet:

1 medium onion chopped

1/2 bag of baby carrots, cut into bite size pieces

1 large or 2 small (I used one small sweet and one small white) potatoes

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes. Add:

figs from the marinade (or 6-8 other fresh or dried figs)

Add the meat back into the cooking vessel along with:

1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock

Cover the pot or dish and cook over low heat (simmer) until the meat reaches 145 degrees for pork or 165-170 for poultry. On the stovetop in the Dutch oven, my just under 2 pound pork loin took just over an hour. When the meat is cooked, remove the meat and vegetables and add to the stock:

1 diced medium pear (peeled or not doesn’t matter)

If the meat was cooked in the oven, pour the stock into a small saucepot before adding the pear. Turn up the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the pear is soft. Add:

A slurry made with 1/2 cup turkey or chicken stock whisked with 2 tablespoons all purpose gluten free flour

Stir until the gravy thickens and the pear pieces are integrated into the gravy, this should only take a couple of minutes. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes so that the flour cooks completely. Slice the pork loin (or other meat) and place on a platter surrounded by the vegetables and figs. Pour some of the gravy over the pork and serve.

Pork with Sauerkraut (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, soy-free)

Sauerkraut was one of my mother’s favorite foods but as a child, I didn’t much care for it. Too salty for my taste! Now that fermented foods are all the rage, I thought I should try it again. At my former apartment, the dining room often served a pork with sauerkraut that was delicious, not salty at all. So here’s my version. Feel free to add diced apples or pears!

You’ll need:

1 tablespoon olive oil

16 ounces lean pork (4 chops or steaks at least 1/2 inch thick, loin)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 medium onion thinly sliced

16 ounces sauerkraut, drained

1 apple (or pear) peeled and diced

1 cup chicken stock

1 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into pieces

In a 10″ skillet with a lid, heat the oil. Dry the pork and salt and pepper to taste. When the oil is hot, brown the pork on all sides over medium heat. Turn the heat down to medium low and add the sweet potato and apple. Cover the pork with the onions and sauerkraut.

Mix together the stock, paprika and minced garlic. Pour over the pork, cover and simmer on low for at least 35 minutes. The longer and slower you cook the pork, the tenderer it will be.

Makes 4 servings.

Easy Sweet and Sour Pork (or chicken or tofu) (Dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, cane sugar-free)

I do love Chinese food but its been off limits since I developed an allergy to soy. With the soy substitute I gave you last year on this blog, this is really delicious! It’s not quick but it is very easy to put together; takes longer to cut everything up then to cook. Do it in stages and use precut or frozen vegetables to make it even quicker.

Start by cutting into 1/2 inch pieces 1 pound of pork, chicken or tofu

Put the pork into a zip-lock bag with 1 tablespoon corn starch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper [If you are allergic to corn, use 1 tablespoon tapioca or cassava flour or arrowroot]. Shake to coat all the pieces of pork and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

While the pork is sitting, prepare your vegetables. I’m giving the list of what I used but feel free to use whatever veggies your family likes.

1/2 large onion sliced

2 celery stalks cut on a slant

2 baby bok choy sliced

1/2 cup grated or thinly sliced carrot

1 medium bell pepper sliced and seeded (you could cut into chunks if you prefer)

1 small can water chestnuts

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger (be sure to mince it well because no one wants a big piece of ginger! Or you can buy pre-minced in a jar)

Mix the sauce together:

1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock (use a little more if you’d like a saucier dish but increase the thickener as well)

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup date sugar (or 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder, 1/4 cup agave or coconut nectar)

2 tablespoons soy substitute [See recipe under sauces and dressings or use can use coconut aminos]

1 tablespoon corn starch [or cassava or tapioca flour; I wouldn’t recommend using arrowroot because it will be very slimy]

Whisk together. Tip: Put the date sugar and corn starch in the bowl first and then the liquids. Set aside.

When the pork is ready, add 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil to a large skillet (or if you have one use a wok). When hot, add the pork in individual pieces so that each one cooks individually. In other words don’t just dump the bagful into the skillet! Turn the skillet down to medium heat and let brown for about 1 1/2 minutes before turning. It will only take about another 1 1/2 minutes for the pork to cook through. Remove from the skillet.

And the vegetables and let cook for several minutes 2-3 before turning and then give them another 2-3 minutes covered so the celery, bok choy, and carrot soften. Remove cover and add the pork back in and stir to combine.

Add the sauce and stir until the sauce thickens. This should only take about 30 seconds. And its ready to eat! Serve over rice or quinoa, or noodles.

Serves 4

Spicy Spanish Meatballs (dairy free, gluten free, soy free, egg free)

Just like with meatloaf, I love meatballs. I’ve gotten lazy in my old age and simply made meatballs with some of my meatloaf mix but I recently saw a recipe for Spicy Spanish Meatballs and thought I’d give them a try. Here’s my revision of that recipe that used beef, veal and eggs, none of which I can eat.

You’ll need for the meatballs:

2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or ground cumin)

2 teaspoons coriander seeds (or ground coriander)

2 whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

9 ounces ground turkey

8 ounces ground pork

2 teaspoons allspice (or you can use nutmeg, I don’t happen to like it so substituted allspice)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 garlic cloves crushed

1/2 cup chopped dates (if you used dried dates, be sure to rehydrate them before adding)

1 small hot red chili pepper (I used a red finger pepper, seeds and veins removed), finely chopped

flax gel (3 tablespoons ground flax mixed into 1/3 cup hot water; let stand 5 minutes)

You’ll need for the sauce:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds (roast and grind as above) (or 1 teaspoon ground cumin)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium red onions, peeled and sliced

2 tablespoons diced garlic

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon paprika (I used 1/2 teaspoon regular paprika and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika)

1/2 cup wine (if you can have it) OR 1/2 cup chicken stock

28 ounces (1 large can) diced tomatoes

2 dried bay leaves

1 teaspoon dry oregano or marjoram

2 tablespoons date syrup

Make the meatballs: In a dry skillet, heat the cumin and coriander seeds and whole cloves over medium heat until aromatic, a minute or two. Let cool for a few minutes and then grind in either a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I used my coffee grinder that I never use for coffee).

Add to a food processor, the flax gel, dates, dried spices, garlic, cinnamon, allspice and chili pepper and grind until smooth. Remove to a bowl, add salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of each) along with the meats and blend until mixed. Try not to overmix to avoid tough meatballs. Form into about 1 ounce meatballs with wet hands (makes about 16-18). Place on a greased, small baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Whwn the sauce is simmering, take the meatballs out of the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Cook in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

To make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a small Dutch oven, add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper (again about 1/2 teaspoon each), cumin, cinnamon and paprika and cook for a few minutes over low to medium heat being careful not to let the spices or garlic burn. Add the wine or chicken stock and boil for several minutes until almost evaporated. Add the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes uncovered, stir occasionally.

Add 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste depending on how thick you like your sauce, and the oregano or marjoram along with the date syrup (don’t have any? Use maple syrup or agave instead).

Add the meatballs to the sauce, remove the bay leaves. If you wish, you can sprinkle the dish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve over any small grain such as quinoa or faro, couscous would also work. Or serve with slices of gluten free bread to sop up the sauce.

Serves 4 people generously.