Pork for your fork

Pork producers probably aren’t very happy about it, but there are some really good deals on pork right now, and it’s a very flexible choice of meat that goes well with many different flavours.

Probably the worst sin most cooks commit with pork is overcooking it. Lean pork especially can become dry and tough quickly if it’s cooked too much.

Pork does lend itself well to partnering with spicy or flavourful sauces, glazes and rubs and often it can be substituted in recipes for chicken, because both are not strong-flavoured by themselves.

Some cuts of pork, such as the loin and tenderloin can be very lean, although other cuts are not.

With those lean cuts, it’s particularly important not to overcook it, so use a meat thermometer or remove it from the heat while there’s a little pink remaining in the meat.

Barbecuing is also a favourite way to cook pork, because the smoky flavour goes very well with the richness of pork.

It’s excellent in stir-fried dishes, sliced up into slivers and cooked very quickly with a variety of vegetables and a little spicy Oriental sauce.

Incidentally, mark Sat., June 18 on your calendar for another entertaining evening to raise funds for the Nature Trust of B.C., at Earth Wind Fire 2011.

This year, co-chairs Tom Kennedy and Garry Benson plan to involve the Okanagan’s rising junior star chefs, including the Canadian Culinary Junior Team in the event as well as Culinary Team British Columbia.

This event offers a fantastic array of food prepared by world class chefs and paired with some of the excellent wines of the Okanagan, along with draws and live entertainment as well as silent auction items that will amaze you.

I wonder if they’ll come up with something to top last year’s ‘wall of wine’ which was auctioned off?

For tickets, call Robin Rivers at 1-866-288-7878 or visit the website at: www.naturetrust.bc.ca

This spring, you’ll also be able to purchase your copy of my book, called Jude’s Kitchen, to be published by the Okanagan Institute. To reserve your copy, go to: www.judiesteeves.com

Apricot-glazed Pork Chops

This is a great way to remember those fresh apricots you turned into jam last summer when they were so ripe they were falling off the tree.

4 pork chops

1 lonion

1 tsp. (5 ml) minced ginger

1 garlic clove

1 c. (250 ml) beef broth

1 tbsp. (15 ml) apricot jam

1/2 tsp. (2 ml) dried mustard

1 tbsp. (15 ml) cornstarch

1 tbsp. (15 ml) cold water

Trim fat from the pork chops and brown on both sides in a drizzle of oil in a deep frypan over high heat. Remove and set aside and reduce the heat under the pan to medium.

Coarsely chop onions and mince ginger and garlic. Add onions and ginger to frypan and stir for a few minutes until softened.

Add garlic and stir about, then pour in the beef broth and bring it to a simmer. Stir in jam and mustard.

Return pork chops to the pan, cover and simmer on low for about five minutes.

Remove the chops to a serving plate, increase the heat and thicken the sauce with a mixture of cornstarch and cold water. Add the mixture to the bubbling sauce and stir until it is thickened and translucent. Pour over the pork chops and serve with a brown rice pilaf.

Serves 4.

Pork with Gorgonzola & Grape Sauce

Ricardo and Sue Scebba, owners of Ricardo’s Mediterranean Kitchen in Lake Country, suggest a special dish that’s really simple to prepare for two of you, or double it and have another couple join you.

14 oz. (400 g) pork tenderloin

drizzle of olive oil

2 garlic cloves

chili flakes, to taste

salt & pepper, to taste

3-4 oz. (90-120 ml) heavy cream

1 tbsp. (15 ml) gorgonzola cheese

5 seedless grapes, halved

garnish with fresh parsley

Clean the pork tenderloin of its covering of silverskin as well as you can and cut it in half to make two seven-ounce portions.

Rub each with olive oil, minced fresh garlic, chili flakes, minced parsley and salt and pepper.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

In an oven-safe frypan such as a cast iron one, sear pork over high heat, turning it until all sides are sealed and brown.

Place frypan in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, turning the pork halfway through.

Remove the frypan from the oven, remove the meat and let it rest on a cutting board.

Into the hot frypan add the heavy cream and gorgonzola cheese and reduce it by half or until the sauce is thick and creamy.

Slice grapes in half and add, stirring any cheese pieces until they dissolve.

Slice pork into five or six pieces and fan them out on a serving dish.

Pour the sauce over the pork and serve right away.

Serves 2.