Friday, November 18, 2011

Fall Chops

Have you ever found a recipe that sounded just perfect, but it took a half dozen tries to get it to really work and meet your vision? I just finally realized the desired goal last night on a pork chop crockpot recipe that I probably found over a year ago.


Ha, ha. Look – it was almost 3 years ago that is was posted, so I would guess that I tried it for the first time while I was on maternity leave with Todd. So it has taken me this long to get the recipe right *and* figure out my crockpot.

I’ve had pulled pork. I know that it is possible to get that kind of tenderness, and yet each time that I made the recipe we had meat that needed to be cut with a serrated knife and that had to be completely drenched in sauce from the first bite to the last. I knew it could be better, but it took me a while to figure out why I was having so many issues.

First, the issue with my crockpot. It is a very basic model. And honestly, I have no problem with that. I can hook it up to a timer if I need to it to start after I leave the house, I tend to simmer things on low all day while we’re at work and I have made a variety of yummy foods in it for the 4-5 years that I’ve had it. The “problem” is that the heat dial just goes from 1 to 5. There is no “warm”, no “low”, nothing specific about temperatures or that relates to the way that crockpot recipes are usually written. So this is the recipe that finally taught me that 1 is “warm” and 2 is “low”. I decided that there was enough liquid in the pot that I could afford to try heating the pork chops on 2 yesterday, and the results were perfect. Fall apart when you just look at it, perfectly cooked pork.

Second, in the past I have stuck literally to the directions in the blog post, but I found that when I emptied the can of mandarin oranges over everything else, it pushed the sweet and savory jam mixture off the top of the chops, leaving them with just a few orange slices on top and the jam mixture diluted in the crock.

So here are my directions for this yummy recipe that seems to me like perfect fall fare. The orange and clove smell emanating from the kitchen reminds me of the wassail I make for the holidays. Yum!

3-4 Pork chops (I use boneless)
2, 10.5 oz cans of mandarin oranges
1 cup apricot jam (I also like peach or a peach/apricot mixture. You can use orange marmalade as well.)
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ginger (You could use more if you like more “kick”)
¼ tsp whole cloves

Put pork chops in the crockpot. Pour cans of mandarin oranges (including juice) over them, leaving at least 5-6 orange slices on each chop.

In a small bowl, stir together remaining ingredients, except cloves. Dollop mixture evenly over chops and oranges. Then sprinkle cloves over the whole thing. (This makes it easier to find and remove them before serving)

Cover and cook on low for 10 hours. It might not need that long, but that's the length of time I'm away from the house on a weekday.

Someday, when my kids will eat rice, I will serve this with rice because I think the rice would absorb the extra sauce nicely.

(Enjoy the picture on the original blog because it didn’t even cross my mind to take one last night.)

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