Posted by: Erin | August 24, 2009

No Normal Person Cooks in 90 Degree Heat Plus Humidity When They Don’t Have Air Conditioning

Well, I did it. After a week of “I’m too tired,” “I got home too late,” and “OH MY GOD, it’s TOO FREAKING HOT!”, I finally made Cooking Light‘s Grilled Pork with Blackberry-Sage Sauce recipe on Friday.

blackberry-sage_pork

On the whole, I’m pretty proud of myself, because I made it with Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Butter, and managed to time it so both recipes were done around the same time. I usually try out one recipe at a time (and then make something I already know with it), but even so, I have trouble timing everything. I have to pop things into the microwave once I’m done cooking more often than I’d like to admit. The sauce needs to simmer for 20 minutes initially, so as soon as that was set, I put the potatoes in the microwave (10 minutes), and then went about gathering the rest of what I needed for the recipes, and making the potato topping.

I varied the pork recipe slightly, in that I “grilled” two pork chops on my little Foreman Grill, instead of the bigger cut of meat the recipe calls for. Since you don’t put the sauce on until the pork is cooked, I didn’t think it would make any difference (and it didn’t). I really need to get a grill pan, though. (I’ve heard Lodge makes good ones – any other suggestions?) One side of whatever I make in the Foreman Grill gets grill marks (from the lid) and the bottom is always kind of brown all over, since there aren’t any real ridges on the bottom half. (Why is that? That strikes me as a design flaw. But I digress.) Anyway, the point is that I always feel like the meat is tougher than it should be when I finish. Maybe because of my tendency to slightly overcook things out of paranoia of undercooking them, maybe because of design flaws in the grill. Anyway.

The sauce was interesting. I generally do not approve of mixing fruit with onion-like things (there are shallots involved in this recipe) – it’s why I tend to get disappointed when I find recipes for things like fruit-based chutneys. But I soldiered on and kept cooking. When I got to the part where you have to strain the mixture to get the liquid out, I was vaguely nauseous. Perhaps it’s just because of my preferences, but I didn’t find the smell appealing at all. In the end, it worked out okay. I think the smell bothered me because the shallot and sage were much stronger than the blackberry scent when stuff was cooking down. In the end, it turned out to be a milder taste than I expected from the smell, and I didn’t really taste blackberries OR shallots. But it did add a nice tangy flavor to the pork. It was easy to make, so I may do it again. It’s not my favorite thing ever, but it made the pork a bit more interesting, and I like to make pork chops fairly frequently. I’m not sure if it should have been thicker, though. The recipe says to let it cook down for about 9 minutes. As I’ve learned before, reducing is not my forte, so I stuck to the timing, and went from there. I can’t decide if it would be better with more of a jam-like consistency. I don’t think it would matter much in terms of taste, just in texture, which could just be a matter of personal preference.

The one thing I would do differently, though, would be to use cheesecloth instead of a strainer. I HATE cleaning out my metal strainer. Because you have to squish the mixture to get the rest of the juice out of the blackberries, you end up with a mushy substance in the strainer, and the seeds and stuff get stuck. (Anyone have tips on cleaning metal strainers?) It occurred to me later that if I’d poured the mixture through cheesecloth over a bowl, and then squeeze the cheesecloth, I could get the same effect, and then just toss the remainder in the garbage. (Less clean up is good, because I have an unfortunate tendency to try to clean up as much as possible after the meal is ready, and then my dinner gets cold.)

The potatoes were good, and quite easy, since you cook them in the microwave. But word to the wise: do not attempt to remove potatoes with your bare hands, even if the towel you’re putting them in is two inches from the microwave. Microwaved potatoes are HOT. The neat thing when you take them out is, if you slice them down the middle, you can scoop out the insides almost in one shot, because the microwaving separates the skin from the flesh. When you’re done and you put the topping over it, the butter in the topping melts, seeping into the potatoes, which is nifty. It’s really good – it sort of reminds me of a cinnamon roll or strudel. They didn’t go as well with the pork as I’d thought. I usually like pork and sweet potatoes, but the blackberry-sage sauce is a little tangy, and the potatoes are pretty sweet. Perhaps without the topping, and maybe just mixing in some pecans would work.

mashed_pecan_sweet_potatoes

All in all, a successful experiment. Two new recipes down, and a potential new weeknight meal.

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Responses

  1. […] Herb Omelet Due to an abundance of chopped shallot leftover from the Blackberry-Sage Pork experiment on Friday, I got a little creative with breakfast over the weekend. I usually […]


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