Waffled Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and Gravy | Pinky's Pantry
My sister-in-law, Anna, loves Biscuits and Gravy. It’s one of her favorite American breakfasts. Whenever she comes to visit, we always make sure to go out for breakfast and invariably, that’s what she orders. Biscuits and Gravy is an old American favorite, especially down south. It’s literally a biscuit topped with sausage gravy, sometimes also called Sawmill Gravy.
Biscuit Waffle | Pinky's Pantry
For this recipe, instead of just baking my biscuits in the oven, I cooked them in a waffle iron. The little wells made by the waffle iron made perfect little pockets to catch more of the savory gravy. Yum! Added to that, they looked so darn cute! If you don’t have a waffle iron or you’re feeling lazy to pull it out, just bake your biscuits in the oven like normal.

WAFFLED BISCUITS AND GRAVY

  • 1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 8 biscuits, homemade or purchased refrigerated biscuit dough (like Pillsbury)
  • butter for greasing the waffle iron
  1. Brown sausage in a medium pot, breaking up with a spoon, until completely cooked.
  2. Sprinkle in the flour and stir till flour is all absorbed.
  3. Pour in the milk, stirring well.
  4. Add green onions, sage, pepper, and salt. If using refrigerated biscuits, you may want to omit the salt because store-bought biscuits are pretty darn salty.
  5. Continue to cook, stirring until thickened.
  6. Cover and keep warm over low heat.
  7. Preheat waffle iron on medium-high heat. Brush center lightly with melted butter.
  8. Place 1 biscuit round into waffle iron and gently close without pushing down.
  9. Cook halfway, then close lid completely and continue cooking until biscuits are golden and cooked through.
  10. Repeat with remaining biscuits.
  11. To serve, place a biscuit on a plate and top with sausage gravy.
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Chili con Spam

Spam con Chili | Pinky's Pantry
At work a couple of weeks ago, two of my friends and I were reminiscing about Spam. Verna is Hawaiian-Filipino and Kaileigh is Mexican-Filipino. Besides having Filipino blood in common, we all share a love of Spam. Anyway, Kaileigh was telling us about this really easy dish she makes called Chili con Spam and she shared her recipe with us.

Fast forward to today. School is officially over and 3 of my kids came home this morning. I decided to fix a late breakfast to feed everyone…. bacon, eggs, hash browns…. and then I thought it would be a perfect time to try the Chili con Spam recipe. I searched everywhere but couldn’t remember where I saved it! I decided to google it, but only ONE recipe for Chili con Spam came up. It was a recipe submitted by a lady in Guam named Jane Certeza who apparently took 2nd Place for it at The Great Spam Cook-Off Island Style. I looked at it but it had way more ingredients than I remembered Kaileigh’s recipe having so it couldn’t be the same one.

I decided to text Kaileigh and ask her for her recipe again which she promptly sent off to me. Ah…. that was the one I remembered! Super easy with just 4 ingredients. But then another obstacle came along. Kaileigh’s recipe called for yellow wax chilies which I didn’t have. Great. I didn’t want to drive all the way down the hill just for chilies and none of the kids did either. So with wails of, “But I just drove hours to get here, Mama. You want me to drive some more?!?” ringing in my ears, I turned back to the Guamanian recipe which I happened to have all the ingredients for in my pantry.

Guess I’ll have to save Kaileigh’s Chili con Spam for next time. Sigh……. By the way, the Guamanian Chili con Spam was a hit. Everyone loved it and it quickly disappeared.

CHILI CON SPAM

  • 1 can (12 oz.) spam, cubed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (15 oz.) stewed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. cumin (I only used 1 Tbsp.)
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1½ tsp. sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  1. In skillet, fry spam until light brown on all sides.
  2. Add onions and garlic; sauté until onions are softened.
  3. Stir in stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and sugar.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add tomato sauce and kidney beans.
  6. Simmer over low heat for an additional 10 minutes or so.

Asian Lettuce Cups

Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry
I felt like having Chinese food for dinner tonight and started thinking about P.F. Chang’s restaurant. We haven’t eaten there in years, but I remember how much I loved their chicken lettuce wraps. Well, I didn’t have any chicken, but I did have some ground pork so I thought, why not? Couldn’t I create something using pork as a substitute? Here’s what I came up with. The family loved it! I called the dish “Asian” because it was inspired by the wraps from a Chinese restaurant, but teriyaki marinade is Japanese, the noodles are Filipino, the peanut sauce is Indonesian, and the Mae Ploy sauce is Thai. LOL! A delicious blend of Asian flavors!
Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry        Asian Pork Lettuce Cups | Pinky's Pantry

ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS

Prepare the Meat:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken or ground pork (I used ground pork)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bottle Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade & sauce (or use your favorite brand)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 can (8 ozs.) waterchestnuts, diced
  • 1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 shitake mushroom caps, finely diced (optional)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded & minced (optional)
  1. Brown ground meat and garlic in a medium saucepot.
  2. Drain excess oil, if any.
  3. Stir in 1/2 cup teriyaki marinade and let cook for 2-3 minutes, then taste the meat. If it seems lacking in flavor, add more teriyaki sauce, a tablespoon at a time, until the flavor is to your liking. Be careful not to add too much or it will be too salty! I like Soy Vay teriyaki marinade but you could really use whatever brand you like.
  4. Stir in grated ginger, cook for a minute more, and then taste the meat again. Just like with the teriyaki sauce, you can add more grated ginger, a teaspoon at a time, till the flavor is to your liking.
  5. Stir in the water chestnuts, green onion, shitake mushrooms and jalapeño. Depending on how big your shitake mushroom caps are, you can add more or less, or omit them entirely if you don’t like them at all. Same thing with the jalapeño. You can add more than one if you want the dish spicier, or omit it altogether.

Make the Peanut Sauce:

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1½ tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepot and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wire whisk until well blended.
  2. The sauce thickens as it cools. If it becomes too thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, till it reaches the consistency you want.

Prepare Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1-2 heads butter lettuce
  • 1 pkg. bean thread or cellophane noodles
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup peanuts, finely chopped (optional)
  • Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce
  1. Carefully separate larger, outer lettuce leaves and wash and dry them well.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the noodles and let boil just until softened, about 2 minutes or so. Drain into a colander, run cold water over them, then allow to drain and cool completely.
  3. Place all the condiments in separate little serving bowls.
  4. Have everyone assemble their own wraps.

To Assemble:

  1. Place a lettuce leaf on your plate.
  2. Top with some noodles, then meat, carrots, and herbs.
  3. Pour a little peanut sauce over the top.
  4. Add a little Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce.
  5. Then finally, sprinkle top with chopped peanuts if desired.
  6. If your lettuce leaf is big enough, you can roll it into a little log and call it a lettuce wrap. If not, just serve it open-faced with a fork and knife and call it a lettuce cup like I did! A rose by any other name, right?

NOTE:  If you don’t like ground chicken or ground pork, you can make this dish with whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Mix the teriyaki marinade and grated ginger together (omit the rest of the ingredients). Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki-ginger mixture for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Grill the chicken or bake it in the oven. Slice cooked chicken into thin strips. Then continue with the recipe.
Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps | Pinky's Pantry

Chinese Sausage Bites

Chinese Sausage Bites | Pinky's Pantry
I originally saw this recipe on the Martha Stewart website and thought it would be fun to try making it. My family loves the Chinese sausage known as “lap cheong” and I love anything made with puff pastry. Lap Cheong wrapped in puff pastry sounded like a match made in heaven. These little bites were so easy to prepare, besides being tasty and addictive. Don’t forget to serve them with spicy Chinese mustard. It pairs perfectly with the sweet sausage bites.
Chinese Sausage Bites | Pinky's Pantry     Chinese Sausage Bites | Pinky's Pantry
Chinese Sausage Bites | Pinky's Pantry

CHINESE SAUSAGE BITES

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • flour, for dusting
  • 4 Chinese sausages (lap cheong)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1/4 cup Chinese mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Whisk egg and water together in a small bowl.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll puff pastry to about 10 x 12 inches.
  4. Cut into four 5­ x 6-­inch rectangles.
  5. Brush egg wash along one long edge of a puff pastry rectangle.
  6. Lay one sausage along opposite edge and roll up, pressing seam to seal.
  7. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down, and brush with egg wash.
  8. Repeat with remaining puff pastry and sausages.
  9. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
  10. Bake until puff pastry has cooked through and is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  11. Let cool slightly, then slice into rounds using a serrated knife.
  12. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with sliced scallions for garnish.
  13. Serve with Chinese mustard.

Isot Pepper Pork & Cucumber Stir Fry

Isot Pepper Pork Stir Fry | Pinky's Pantry
I was blog-hopping one day when I came upon a recipe for a Pork Cucumber Stir Fry. I was instantly intrigued. Really? Cucumber? I’d never heard of stir-frying cucumber before. I read the post and was even more intrigued. The author talked about something else I’d never heard of called “isot pepper.” Curioser and curioser. She described it as being “imported from Turkey… only a little hot, and with a mahogany color and a mellow, fruity, slightly smoky taste.” Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Thus began the great search for isot pepper. I scoured our local grocery stores, hunted through Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Nugget Market, foraged around the little food shelves at Ross, Marshalls, and Home Goods, and even checked our local health food stores. All to no avail. So I gave up the dwindling hope of physically purchasing it and instead turned to mail order. Voila! Success at last! Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing? I should have started here from the get-go, but was really hoping to find it and bring it home on the same day. Anyway, I found it for a fairly reasonable price at The Spice House where it’s sold under its alternate name “urfa biber.” Is that Turkish? And as luck would have it, they were having a “free shipping” sale! The hardest part of the whole online ordering process was having to wait so many days for my pepper to arrive!

But it was worth it. The isot pepper, a reddish-black crushed pepper with a rich, raisin-like flavor and a little kick of heat to it, was delicious! The 2 teaspoons stirred into the dish were plenty hot enough for me, but Old Goat (who loves super spicy food) sprinkled lots more over his plate. And the cucumber was quite the surprise. It retained its crunch through the quick stir fry and meshed with the flavor of the sauce beautifully. This recipe comes together very quickly once you get all your veggies prepped and is wonderful served over hot, white rice.

ISOT PEPPER PORK & CUCUMBER STIR FRY
(Makes 4 servings)

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • lemongrass stalk, tender part only, smashed and finely minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced into rounds
  • 3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. isot pepper

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup water
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  1. In a bowl, mix the pork, soy sauce and cornstarch together with your hands.
  2. Heat a wok over medium-high heat, add pork and stir fry until cooked. If you want, you can heat a little canola oil in the wok first before adding the pork. I don’t bother because the pork renders its own fat. At first it will seem like it’s sticking to the pan, but just keep stirring and as it cooks, it will loosen and release.
  3. Once pork is thoroughly cooked, transfer to a bowl and wipe the wok clean.
  4. Put canola and sesame oil in wok and heat over medium flame.
  5. When hot, add garlic, ginger, and lemon grass, and stir fry for about 30 seconds.
  6. Add bell pepper and stir fry for another minute.
  7. Add cucumber and stir fry for one minute more.
  8. Add pork and green onions, and stir fry all together for another half minute.
  9. Give the sauce ingredients a quick stir and pour into the wok.
  10. Stir all together — the cornstarch will cook very quickly and there will be just enough sauce to coat everything lightly.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in isot pepper.
  12. Serve over cooked white rice.

NOTE:  When you plate this, scatter more isot pepper over everything with a generous hand before serving. Alternatively, you could serve this as is and pass a small bowl of isot pepper around for guests to sprinkle on themselves.

[Adapted from Blue Kitchen]

Filipino Pork Barbecue

Filipino Pork Barbecue | Pinky's Pantry
It’s No. 1’s birthday tomorrow. To celebrate, we’re having a Filipino dinner. I’m making Filipino pork barbecue among other things. Pork barbecue is a favorite party food in the Philippines and is often the first thing to disappear from the table. It’s also a popular street food and you can always find barbecued pork, chicken or innards being sold on city street corners. Filipinos prefer their barbecue a little on the sweet side and it is often served with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce made by stirring finely chopped chili peppers, onions, garlic, salt and pepper into a bottle of white vinegar.

I learned to make the original recipe for pork barbecue from Mrs. Carrion, my 7th grade cooking teacher at the Assumption Convent where I went to school. I can still hear her trying to impress upon a bunch of young girls the importance of cleaning up as you work. Since then I’ve modified her original recipe, making changes and additions to suit my own taste. And yes, I do clean up as I work. That part of making this hasn’t changed.

FILIPINO PORK BARBECUE

  • 3 lbs. boneless pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1/2-inch thick chunks
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup Mafran or Jufran banana ketchup
  • 1/2 cup 7-Up
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 whole head garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Marinate the pork overnight.
  3. While the pork marinates, soak bamboo skewers in water overnight. This helps to keep them from burning on the grill.
  4. Skewer the marinated pork onto the soaked bamboo sticks.
  5. In a small bowl make a mixture of 2 parts Mafran ketchup to 1 part of the marinade mixture for brushing over the pork while grilling (i.e. 1 cup Mafran + 1/2 cup marinade).
  6. Grill pork until done, brushing with Mafran mixture while grilling.

NOTE:  Nowadays, you can purchase Mother’s Best or Mama Sita’s Barbecue Marinade in Filipino or Asian grocery stores. I think both brands are very good and make a quick and easy marinade when you don’t have time to gather and measure out all the ingredients for the traditional recipe. You’ll have to try both brands yourself to decide if you like one better than the other. They both taste delicious to me so I usually just pick up whichever one is on sale at the time I’m at the store.

QUICK AND EASY MARINADE:

  • 2 cups Mama Sita’s or Mother’s Best barbecue marinade
  • 1 cup 7-Up
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and crushed

Follow the steps above, including making the 2:1 Mafran/marinade mixture to brush over the pork while grilling.

Baked Pork Chops in Mushroom Sauce

Pork Chops in Mushroom Sauce | Pinky's PantryMy Mom used to make pork chops in mushroom sauce (aka mushroom soup) for us all the time when we were growing up. We loved it! It brings back great childhood memories for me so of course, I made it all the time for my own kids when they were growing up. I put my own stamp on the dish by adding the sliced mushrooms which Mom never did. If you don’t like mushrooms, you can certainly leave them out but if you don’t like mushrooms, then you probably don’t like mushroom soup so I guess this wouldn’t be the recipe for you.

This recipe comes together pretty quickly. What takes the most time is frying the pork chops but I really wouldn’t skip that step. The frying enhances the flavor of the chops and it’s what gives the sauce that nice brown gravy color. I often serve these pork chops with rice because my kids love eating the sauce over rice. In fact, my kids always ask me to make extra sauce for their rice so sometimes I’ll actually use two cans of mushroom soup and make lots of sauce.

BAKED PORK CHOPS IN MUSHROOM SAUCE

  • 1 can (10¾ ozs.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can (4 ozs.) sliced mushrooms, undrained
  • 4-6 pork chops
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • canola oil for frying
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Empty the can of mushroom soup into a rectangular baking pan and add half a can of water.
  3. Add the can of sliced mushrooms with its juice and whisk all together with a wire whisk until well combined; then set pan aside.
  4. Lightly season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides, if desired.
  5. In a little oil, fry the pork chops in a skillet over medium-high heat until well browned on both sides.
  6. Place cooked pork chops in baking pan, turning a few times to coat with sauce.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Creamy Hash Browns

Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Hash Browns | Pinky's PantryThis pork chop recipe is one that’s been around for years. If you just Google “slow cooker pork chops and hash browns,” you’re bound to come across a few variations of it. You can make it with cream of mushroom soup, O’Brien style potatoes, a different kind of cheese, the possibilities are many and varied.

This version was given to me by one of my officemates years ago and I’ve fixed it this way ever since. It’s easy and delicious. The best part is I have one of those slow cookers that lets you brown the meat right in it so I don’t have to dirty a separate skillet. Toss together a green salad and dinner’s ready in 2 shakes of a leg…. or 2 shakes of a dressing bottle.

SLOW COOKER PORK CHOPS WITH CREAMY HASH BROWNS

  • 6 pork chops
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 pkg. (30 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 2 cans (2.8 oz) French-fried onions
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil on both sides and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, sour cream and 1 cup of cheese.
  4. Stir in the hash browns and one can of onions; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Transfer hash brown mixture to a greased slow cooker and lay pork chops on top.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
  7. Sprinkle top with remaining onions and cheese.
  8. Cover and cook 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

 

Pork Meatball Banh Mi

Pork Meatball Banh Mi | Pinky's PantryIn Vietnam, the term banh mi usually refers to bread, in particular the baguette which was introduced into Vietnamese cuisine by the French during the colonial period. The mini-baguette is most popular and can be found everywhere in Vietnam. It is typically used for Banh Mi sandwiches which are filled with a variety of fillings, from pork to vegetables to eggs, and which are eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I came across this amazing recipe in Bon Appétit magazine. OMG, is it good! It embodies that wonderful Asian flavor combination of spicy, sweet, sour, and salty. It has a few components to it so may seem a bit complicated, but the nice part is that much of it can be made ahead of time. Trust me, it’s well worth the time and effort it takes to prepare. The original recipe called for frying the meatballs but I bake mine, partly because baking them is healthier, but mostly because there’s less of a mess to clean up afterwards and that’s always a good thing in my book!Pork Meatball Banh Mi | Pinky's Pantry

PORK MEATBALL BANH MI

Hot Chili Mayo:

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce
  1. Stir all ingredients together in small bowl.
  2. Season with salt if desired.

NOTE:  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill in refrigerator.

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Line rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Gently mix all ingredients together in large bowl.
  3. Moisten hands with water and roll meat mixture into 1½-inch meatballs.
  4. Arrange on baking sheet.

NOTE:  Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover meatballs and chill in refrigerator.

Daikon Salad:

  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon (Japanese white radish)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar (seasoned works too if that’s what you have)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Toss all ingredients together in medium bowl.
  2. Let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Sandwiches:

  • Asian sesame oil for brushing meatballs
  • 4 mini-baguette loaves
  • thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  1. If refrigerated, bring meatballs to room temperature before baking.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Lightly brush meatballs with sesame oil. It is not necessary to turn them over.
  4. Bake meatballs for 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Cut each baguette horizontally in half.
  6. Spread hot chili mayo over each bread half.
  7. Drain pickled vegetables and lay a little on bottom halves of bread.
  8. Top each with 1/4 of meatballs.
  9. Arrange jalapeños, then cilantro, on top of meatballs.
  10. Cover with bread tops, pressing down to hold filling in place.

NOTE:  You can make Banh Mi Sliders for a great appetizer or a light meal, too. Just make the meatballs a little bit bigger and then flatten them into patties. Use dinner rolls or little buns in place of the baguette rolls. They’re always a crowd pleaser!
Banh Mi Sliders | Pinky's Pantry

Grilled Brined Pork Chops

Grilled Brined Pork Chops on Grits | Pinky's Pantry
I decided to brine some pork chops to serve over the Cheddar Grits I was planning to make. Brining lean meats like pork chops, chicken breasts, fish fillets, and shrimp is a great way to keep them moist and juicy after they’re cooked. Brining is really easy. It’s simply marinating your meat in a solution of salt and water before cooking. How long you brine your meat depends on what you’re brining. Small, thin pieces like fish fillets and shrimp should be brined for no more than 30 minutes or less. A large turkey can be brined overnight.

This chart is from one of my early issues of Fine Cooking magazine and gives you a good idea of the ratio of salt to water for each of the different meats and how long to brine them. Make enough brining liquid to completely submerge the amount of meat you plan to cook.

Brining Chart | Pinky's Pantry

The chart above gives salt concentration and brining time for various foods. Concentrations listed are for Diamond Crystal kosher salt. For table salt, cut salt amounts by 1/2; for Mortons kosher salt, cut amounts by 1/4.

You can add different herbs like rosemary, thyme, garlic, etc., to your brine. You can also change the brining liquid to broth or apple cider. You can even add sugar. All these additions are flavor enhancers, but the main ingredient in a brine is salt. You can’t have a brine without it. Make sure that whatever you’re brining is completely submerged in the liquid and keep it in the refrigerator for the required period of time. After the required brining time, remove the meat and rinse it under cold water so that it won’t be too salty.

GRILLED BRINED PORK CHOPS

  • 6 pork chops
  • 1 quart apple cider
  • ½ cup salt
  1. Mix apple cider and salt in a plastic baking bag or a ziploc bag.
  2. Add the pork chops and seal the bag partway, pressing to remove all the air you can before sealing the bag completely so the pork chops are fully submerged.
  3. Place bag in refrigerator and allow pork chops to sit in brine for 4 hours.
  4. After 4 hours, remove pork chops from brining liquid and discard the liquid.
  5. Rinse the pork chops under cool running water and pat them dry with paper towels.
  6. Grill or pan fry to desired doneness.

Note:  I served the pork chops over a bed of polenta with roasted butternut squash.

EASY ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs.)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Peel squash, remove seeds, and cut into 1-inch chunks.
  2. Place squash in a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with garam masala, salt and pepper.
  4. Toss all together well.
  5. Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.