Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pork Chops with Apple Kraut

Last week, my dear hubby Justin went hunting.  He left me and the kids at home. I was OK with that. I'm not much for outdoorsy activities. I'm sort of like a fish out of water when it comes to camping and hunting. I also really like the convenience of running water and electricity.  There seems to be a shortage of both when using a tent in the wilderness. I might be OK a couple days, but then...I miss all the conveniences of home. And I get a bit stir crazy.

My folks came up for the weekend to help and keep me company.  It was nice to have the extra hands. Mom and I cooked up a storm. Pecan bars, goulash, muffins, and kraut chops. Mm. I rarely get to eat anything with kraut because hubby doesn't like it. And if he won't eat it, no sense in making a whole batch of this for just me. Right?

Anyhow, we made this in an electric skillet. You can make this on the stove. Just make sure you have a really big skillet that can hold everything. I know, electric skillets seem so 80's but they are handy. I have a whole pantry in the garage full of kitchen wares that are not used regularly.  The skillet lives out there next to the Ronco rotisserie, tons of empty canning jars, the Valtrompia bread tubes, and tons of other oversized things.

Back to the food. You can use light meat pork chops, but they won't need cooked as long. Dark meat pork chops can handle the longer cooking time, i.e. they don't dry out as fast. You should plan on one thick pork chop per serving. I love the combination of apples, onion, and sauerkraut. It's sweet and tangy and the hint of caraway seeds give it a nice herbiness.

Also, you should use apples that will hold up to cooking. I don't know what variety I used here, but they weren't typical cooking apples. They turned out OK, a tad too soft, but still sweet and tasty. I usually have Fuji or Gala apples on hand for eating, so chances are good that they were one of those varieties.

Mom also made dumplings to go with the kraut and chops. They are your typical soup dumplings, but they are quite good with this.

4-6 boneless pork chops, about 3/4" thick, dark meat sirloin are best
1 Tablespoon oil
1 16-oz. can sauerkraut (don't drain off the liquid)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 or 3 apples, cored and sliced (I used 3, they were small)
1 cup apple juice (you may need extra)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet. brown pork chops on both sides. You'll want to season them with salt and pepper. They don't need cooked through, just get some seared places on them. Sear = flavor.

2. Drain off extra fat.  Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and stir.

3. Cover and cook over low heat about 45 minutes. Occasionally turn and baste the pork chops with the pan juices. If it gets dry, you may need to add an additional splash of juice to keep it moist. (Time lapse below. Top photo, just after apples were added. Bottom photo, 45 minutes later.)

3. If desired, prepare dumplings and spoon batter over kraut in skillet.  Cover and cook about 15 minutes, or until they pass a toothpick test. Serves 4 to 6.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mom's Dumplings

As I was preparing this post I realized something. It has been ages since I've made dumplings!  Honest to goodness dumplings are so tasty on top of a pot of chicken soup, deer stew, or beef barley soup. These were nice and puffy.

The last time I made dumplings, I tried a German potato dumpling that didn't turn out well. They kept shrinking and dissolving as I cooked them instead of setting up. They were pretty gummy and nasty and made the soup cloudy. I think perhaps something was lost in translation.

This time, my folks were in town so I snagged Mom's trusted recipe. (Thanks Mom!) I think I have my own. Somewhere. At least, I used to have my own dumpling recipe. I'm good at losing recipes. I have tons of cookbooks, tons of recipe notecards, so things get mixed up and "lost" easily.  That is really why I started posting recipes on the internet so many years ago. It was an attempt to keep my favorite recipes somewhere accessible all the time. If I travel, I can jump on the computer and bring up my recipe.

1 1/2 cup AP flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup minced parsley (optional)

1. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt.

2. Combine other ingredients. Mix until all incorporated. Don't overmix.

3. Drop by spoonful on top of soup or hot liquidy food. Cover. (Photos below shows dumplings on top of Pork Chops with Apple Kraut.)

4. Cook about 12-15 minutes or until dumplings pass a toothpick test.

Just a reminder: To pass the toothpick test, you poke a toothpick into the center of a dumpling. When you remove it, the toothpick should remain dry and free from crumbs or wet batter. If goopy crumbs stick to the toothpick, cook them some more.