Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pork Chops & Savory Mashed Yams

By the time noon hits, my stomach is growling in protest since I skip the snacks. Today all I could think about was the delicious lunch I had prepped for this week. The pork chops took a little more work since I had Panda help out with the brine. Brine is a process used on meats to tenderize them using salt and other ingredients. This is different than marinating which gives the meat the flavor. However, Panda’s brine did serve as a marinade as it had a hickory flavor to it. All I needed to add was crushed black pepper and the chops were ready to be pan “fried”.

Brine Recipe

·         1 cup salt

·         1/2 cup sugar

·         1 tbsp. paprika

·         1 tbsp. cayenne pepper (can omit if you are sensitive to spicy foods but you can’t taste it once cooked)

·         1 tbsp. liquid smoke (the hickory flavor comes from this)

·         1 cup cold water

·         1 cup boiling hot water

·         4-5 8 oz. pork chops with fat trimmed

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and then pour the hot water in first and then the cold water. Stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Then you will pour liquid mixture into a gallon ziplock bag with the pork chops. Place in fridge for 2+ hours. The longer the pork chops are in the brine, the better the flavor. You could do this on Saturday night and then grill on Sunday.
Once the chops have been brined, sprinkle crushed black pepper on each side in addition to any other herbs and spices you want to add. I would stay away from adding on any more salt as the brine is salty enough. You can either pan “fry” or grill the chops. I decided to pan “fry” as I’m a dee de dee when it comes to working a grill and Panda had plenty on his plate. Preheat a skillet or non-stick pan on the stove on medium to medium low heat with 1/2 tbsp. coconut oil (I use Trader Joe’s virgin coconut oil). Place the pork chops on the pan and cook each side about 5-7 minutes until a golden brown crust forms. Then flip over for another 5-7 minutes. You can also use a meat thermometer to gauge how ready they are to be on the safe side. Pork chops should be plump and juicy – ready to eat!

I followed this recipe almost to the tee. I used yams instead of sweet potatoes only because I couldn’t tell the difference at the grocery store and they weren’t labeled. I also baked the yams differently than the original recipe called for. The only difference was that I coated the yams in coconut oil instead of baking without it. The recipe was easy and most importantly – delicious! My modified recipe is as follows:

·         3 small yams

·         3 tbsp. unsalted butter (I used Kerrygold)

·         1 tbsp. olive oil

·         2 cloves garlic

·         1 tbsp. fresh thyme

·         1/2 tsp. salt

·         1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash yams so that they are clean. Poke holes into the yam’s skin and then coat the outside with coconut oil. I used a basting brush to put the oil on. Place yams on a baking sheet. I would recommend putting foil on the baking sheet so it’s easy clean up. I speak from experience people! Bake for 45 minutes or until you see goo gushing out of the yams.

Let the yams cool for about 15-20 minutes as you will need to peel off the skins with your fingers. Caution – you may burn yourself if you don’t let them cool off enough! Once peeled, you will put in a mixing bowl and mash with either a potato masher or a hand mixer. Once mashed, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Now you have the best tasting yams on the face of the planet. Even Panda liked them and that’s saying a lot since he’s very cautious about healthy food (j/k!).

Yield: 3 servings (1/2 cup)

Macros (this will vary depending on the ingredients used):
Calories: 223.6
Fat: 8.8 grams
Carbs: 19.4 grams
Protein: 1.3 grams