Fooding: Appliances Part 2, The Pork In The Room

Today I feel very much like hiding in bed, that that would be a really fabulous idea. My body is super sore (in a good way, but daaamnn), I’m still struggling with sleep, and I’ve just been a basket case lately. Anxious over nothing, spazzing out over nothing, basket case. So, instead of talking about how cray-cray I’ve been feeling, let’s talk about pork.

We watched Forks Over Knives this weekend and love love loved it. It’s a big scientific argument for why less meat protein and more veggies are the way to go. Which is all to say that I believe in moderation. If we cook meat it happens once a week. And we eat it about 3 times during that week, small portions.

I was excited about cooking pork. We had it rarely when I was a kid but it’s a lean meat and it’s not chicken! So I was stoked to be mixing it up. I used the super easy and classic onion-potato-cream-of-mushroom-soup recipe. Some salt and pepper and a little rosemary, toss it all in a pot, and bam.

Cream of mushroom soup may be the grossest looking substance ever. This photo makes it look a little bit like mashed potatoes, but in reality – yuck. I can’t imagine that people actually make this and eat it like other soups. I can only see this being used as a cooking tool and not a meal. Ew. And this is another example of my texture aversions. If you do have the ability to gag a bowl of that down with relish, more power to ya.

I don’t know if I was supposed to put all of the veggies in with the meat right off the bat. I’ve read that you put it in after a a few hours (at least with roasts you do), and the potatoes definitely were very very very cooked by the end, but I’m sure they added to the flavor … or maybe I would add the potatoes last, but keep the onions from the beginning? Pork thoughts in hindsight.

So of course after I sealed it up, I wanted to watch it cook… for 6 hours. I did manage to tear myself away, but did come back and check a few times. I’m always worried that things won’t cook correctly. What if the meat doesn’t cook all the way through? What if it over cooks and dries out? What if something ca-razy happens while I’m not pay attention and then it’s ruined! Ruined I say!!

Who knew that one could get anxiety from a slow cooker? The gentlest of all the cookers in the world! Well, I’m not that surprised based on my track record.

2 things weird me out about the end product. First, I hate it when the stem of the fork touches the food. Gah! So annoying! It gives me the willies. And second, It was very clear that we were eating an all-tan-all-the-time meal. When all the food on your plate is the same sorta brown, sorta white color, it’s not a good thing. Adding some greens would have cured this problem, but I hadn’t thought about it until it was staring me in the face. Oink.

Also, I wasn’t so much of a fan. Kamel loved it, but I thought it was dry and kind of bland. I think next time I need a more dynamic flavor. Maybe with wine, maybe with a true sauce involved, maybe searing the chops before popping them into the cooker. I’m not sure. But it will probably be a while before we buy chops again. It wasn’t not a success, because it ended up edible (always my goal!) and we had plenty of left overs, but it was no shredded nummy chicken, lemme tell ya.

23 thoughts on “Fooding: Appliances Part 2, The Pork In The Room”

  1. I’ve had this same eww-it’s-bland trouble with slow cooker meals before. Which seems to be the exact opposite from the POINT of the slow cooker, but there you have it.

    I’ve decided to err on the side of over seasoning (like with the nummy chicken) and letting it cook down and really soak in. Fixes it every time.

    Two things to remember though: cream soups don’t taste like anything after they’ve been cooked so long (at least that’s my experience), and potatoes draw salt out of whatever liquid they’re in. Seriously. My dad used to make giant pots of veggie beef soup (I’m SO getting that recipe for both of us, it lasts a good solid 2 weeks and just keeps getting better the longer it’s in the fridge) and when it was too salty he’d cut up potatoes and throw them in. Worked every time. So maybe that’s taking a bit of the taste out of this meal?

      1. I second the searing in advance. Also gives you a chance to season the meat directly. Just move it from the freezer to the fridge the night before.

        I’ve also had success with sauteeing the onions before putting them in. Yet another chance to season a layer of flavor.

  2. Yeah, Sarah is right, it was a trick my mom used too, whenever something is too salty, you throw in a potato and it will magically be fixed. It is an osmosis thing, actually now that I think about it my biology teacher in high school used potatos and a starch dye to explain that stuff. Anyway I digress. I wanted to say that… we also use mushroom sauce to cook and it is really handy. And, now I am very curious about that documentary, we are also trying to eat meat only 1 to 2 times per week.

  3. I don’t know if you eat red meat but: beef stew, yo! Best easy crockpot meal ever! I have a couple variations I use. Also, I add a bunch of frozen spinach to almost everything I make in the crockpot so that I make sure we get our greens.

  4. Yay for cooking adventures! Suggestion- pork chops tend to do better baked or in a skillet, like you mentioned. Also, things like pork and potatoes could do with some salt in the beginning and end of cook time. If you do pork in a slow cooker, go with a cut that has more fat, like shoulder. The fat cooks off and you don’t need to eat it, but it makes for tender meat. And let’s be real, if we’re going to eat another living thing, let it taste succulent and Henry the VIII-ish for godsake!

  5. This sounds like a good base recipe that you could play around with. Maybe if you ate it with a salad, it would help the color issue? I love my slow cooker but I hear you with the vegetables issue. When I make soup in the slow cooker, I usually use frozen veggies, so I just toss them in frozen. That usually works okay, but I admit I haven’t tried potatoes. Sounds like a project for next weekend!

  6. Conveniently, this post showed up in my Reader feed right next to this one from Domestocrat.

    We also eat pork somewhat regularly, because it’s often on sale. I find it’s pretty good with a sweet ingredient element. So, sauteed with chopped apples, onions, and thyme is pretty good. Or with apricot jam, balsamic vinegar, and brown mustard. If you want an actual “recipe” recipe, we’ve used this before:

    MAPLE BRINED PORK CHOPS
    – 4 pork chops
    – 2c water
    – .5c maple syrup
    – 2T kosher salt
    – 2t black pepper
    – a sprig of rosemary (we used dried, it was fine)
    – 1T dry mustard

    Mix together everything except the pork chops in a glass dish. Add the pork chops and let sit for 30-60 minutes, rotating occasionally so they all marinate well. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove pork chops from brine and add to the hot pan. Cook on one side about 5 minutes, until it starts to brown. Flip to the other side and heat until cooked through (3-5 minutes).

    The maple isn’t overwhelming, but if it’s too subtle for ya, you can also brush the cooked pork chops with a little additional syrup.

    1. I was JUST going to suggest brining them. I added meat into my diet fairly regularly (and even then, sparingly), and so, like you, I’ve had to learn how to cook it. Here’s a recipe from William Sonoma’s Bride & Groom cookbook, which brines the chops. They came out so juicy, all you needed to do was stick ’em on a skillet.

      For the brine:
      1/4 c sugar
      1 tbsp + 2 tsp (kosher) salt
      1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
      1 bay leaf (or more, if you’re so inclined!)
      6 peppercorns
      4 whole cloves
      1/8 tsp red chili flakes

      2 pork chops
      2 tbsp olive oil

      To make the brine, combine the sugar and the salt with 4 c cold water in a stockpot or large bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves, and chili flakes.

      Place the pork chops in the brine. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for at least 8 hours (but no more than 2 days).

      When ready to cook, lift the chops out of the brine and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron frying pan (if you don’t have one, it’s not the end of the world). Add the chops and cook over medium heat until brown on one side, about 8 minutes. Turn the chops over and cook the other side until just cooked through, about 4 minutes. If you press the center lightly, it should still have some give for chops that are juicy in the middle. Let rest for a minute or two, then serve.

      Also, himself works in the restaurant industry and some of the chefs swear by searing. Both sides, BAM BAM, and then put it in the oven to continue cooking. Apparently the searing keeps in the juices.

    1. I think I need to stop relying so heavily on my slow cooker. Today I actually browned a giant piece of meat before throwing it into the slow cooker. Baby steps.

  7. O.K. miss cook-at-home-but-never-with-your-family… the best thing that you can put into a slow cooker if you are going to do pork is a pork roast. Brown all sides and then stuff it in and let it go. You don’t need to defrost, just make sure that you peel away the wrapping before you start to brown. That will give you that great brown color and keep the moisture in. Second thing is stay away from that in-the-can soup stuff. Not good for you and… really, you have been taught better than that. The only time your mother ever allowed cream of mushroom soup in the house is when she did the pork chop thing. Maybe that is why she never wants pork again. Then.. add a few of your favorite mushrooms, with some water, carrots and onions. Seasoning to your choice, but don’t forget the garlic and maybe a bit of ( cup or better) red wine. There you go. Have at it. I think that you are so damn funny. I’m still smiling as I am thinking of you cooking and Kamel is such a champ to say that everything that you cook is great. I’m proud of you for all that you are doing. Now get out that cookbook I made for you and try Veggie Lasagna… ha. love you tons. DB

      1. you’re right. I never let anyone in my kitchen. Sorry. I should have taught you better. Now I am just so jazed that you are cooking, even with a slow cooker.

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