The Gourmet Touch: Pork — It’s what’s for dinner
by Prudence Hilburn
Special to The Star
May 23, 2012 | 2088 views |  0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
No doubt about it, we Southerners love our pork.

When I was growing up, “hog-killing” time meant that we would have homemade sausage (and there is nothing that can compare with it), cured hams, cracklings, pork tenderloin and much more.

Now, I usually have to depend on the pork I find in the supermarket.

I especially like tenderloin for breakfast with some biscuits hot from the oven.

Pork and potatoes are a wonderful combination anyway you prepare them. In a recent cooking class, I decided to prepare a recipe that I had found in one of the cookbooks in my collection, calling for these two favorite ingredients. Of course, while I was cooking, my mind started to think of possible changes that I would like to make. The following recipe for Pork and Potato Casserole is my new version.

All that is needed with this delicious main dish is either a tossed salad or a bowl of coleslaw. If you would like to fancy the meal up a bit, you might want to serve my Spinach Salad with Pancetta and Hazelnut Dressing. If you are concerned about the fact that the dressing calls for a raw egg yolk, just be sure that the egg is fresh and that the shell has no cracks in it.

No Southern meal is complete without dessert, which can be as simple as the following quick and easy Brownie Bites.

Pork and Potato Casserole

1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup bell pepper, red and green mixed
8 thin boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup French onion dip (sour cream base)
1/2 cup milk
28 ounce package frozen hashbrowns, thawed (not the shredded ones)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13x9-inch baking dish or pan. Heat oil and butter in a skillet. Saute the peppers until tender. Remove from pan and set aside. Salt and pepper the pork chops and brown in skillet. With the thin chops, it doesn’t take but just a minute or two. Combine the remaining ingredients and the peppers in a large bowl. Mix well. Spoon into baking pan or dish. Place pork chops on top. Cover the pan with foil. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Spinach Salad with Pancetta

4 ounces chopped pancetta (Italian bacon)
10 ounce bag fresh baby spinach
1 small red onion, cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur
2 teaspoons rice vinegar (or vinegar of choice)
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Crumbled goat cheese, optional

Cook the pancetta in a skillet until crisp. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. In salad bowl, toss together the spinach, pancetta and onion. In medium bowl, whisk the mustard with the tarragon, liqueur, vinegar, egg yolk and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add black pepper to taste. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Sprinkle goat cheese over top, if desired.

Brownie Bites

1 (11 ounce) box pie crust mix
1 small box (about 3 ounces) instant devil’s food pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine mixes, baking soda and sugar. Stir to mix. Add egg and sour cream. Beat until mixture clings together. Will be thick. Roll into small balls and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for ONLY 10 minutes. Remove to rack to cool.

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The Gourmet Touch: Pork — It’s what’s for dinner by Prudence Hilburn
Special to The Star

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