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Last night after a long day at work, I came home and did the prep work so I could just get straight to cooking when dinner time rolled around tonight. It was easy enough– season some pork chops, make some mashed potatoes. Tonight however? Not so easy. 

The kitchen was still clean when I went to cook tonight. Armed with determination, my iPod and camera, I washed my hands and got down to it. First of all, I’ll be flat-out honest with you:

I have no idea how to make pork chops in the oven. 

Tonight was, admittedly, the first time I had ever solo-made pork chops in the oven. I’ve seen my Gran make pork chops in the oven a million times; I’ve prepped pork chops for my boyfriend’s mother; but never once have I made them by myself without anyone’s guidance.

I heated the oven to 375 and got the pork chops out of the fridge.

24 hours of sitting in the fridge with espresso rub. They look delicious and they're not even cooked yet.

Once the oven had finished heating and the pork chops were in, I set the timer for, I don’t know, 30 minutes? Might I reiterate: I’ve never made pork chops before. While they were in the oven, I got the deep bottomed skillet and added oil to it. Before turning the stove on, I got out everything I would need for the pancakes.

The lid for the potatoes. If you've seen BBC's "Sherlock" you'll understand the threat. Besides-- I'm not the only one who writes threats on containers of foods that you don't want others eating, right?

The potatoes. See, they did come out good.

Back to front: Potatoes, egg wash, flour, and deep bottomed pan with oil

I learned something of importance tonight. You don’t ever dip mashed potatoes into egg wash. Because then the cake shape doesn’t stay, instead it gets crumbly and is a REAL pain to dip into the flour. I caught on by the time I was doing the third pancake. I managed to salvage pancakes three, four and five. But not one and two.

In the skillet

I have bad luck with pan frying things like this. The last time I attempted to dredge anything in flour and then pan fry it, I was making mozzarella sticks. Let’s just say… those didn’t come out great at all and we’ll leave it at that. Which is why, I was surprised that the pancakes were golden when I flipped them.

They actually look edible. I'm proud of myself, needless to say.

While the pancakes cooked, I checked on the pork chops. The house was starting to smell delicious, especially when I opened up the oven.

The pork chops, after I turned them over.

As I said before, I only managed to salvage three of the potato pancakes and they smelled good. However, I did worry about their taste.

They still look edible... right?

I tried a nibble of one and wasn’t sure what to think. However, I knew Sydney and Sara (my sisters) wouldn’t eat them. So I offered them macaroni and cheese. I thought about steaming broccoli too, but that was getting a bit ambitious, I think.

While the water boiled for the macaroni and cheese, my sister wandered into the kitchen, looked at the potato cake and tried a bite of it. She looked at me and said “It needs something.” Next thing I knew, she was in the fridge, getting the ketchup. With ketchup on it, she popped another bit of potato cake in her mouth and nodded approvingly. “It’s like a hash brown, it just needed ketchup.”

That’s a complement, right? Because she does like hash browns. I didn’t think she would actually like it and it surprised me when she asked if she could have the second one.

While she ate it, I strained the macaroni.

Another thing: I actually got the macaroni and cheese down perfectly tonight. Perfectly golden, not overly saucy. About darn time, too.

Just like Mum used to make it for us when we were kids.

By this point, the pork chops were done and the oven was off. Plating was fun. I wasn’t sure how the girls would like the pork chops. They had never had pork chops that weren’t breaded like my Gran makes them. I worried that Sara wouldn’t eat it, I thought Sydney wouldn’t like it either. So I made sure to double up on their macaroni and cheese while plating.

My plate:

Macaroni and cheese, pork chop, and potato pancake.

Before I ate, I stopped by Sara’s room to see what she thought. She had hardly touched her macaroni and cheese and was instead eating the pork chop with vigour. Taking my plate down the hall to Sydney’s room, we sat on her bed, talked and ate. She too, liked the pork chop and was eating it with her fingers (if only our mother saw!) so I guess it had to have been good if they both liked it. I tried the first bite and wasn’t disappointed, it was delicious. Shoot, everything was delicious.  While Sydney talked, I mused to myself how I could improve on this.

Maybe next time (because this meal will definitely have a next time) I could fry up the potato cakes and then bake them to give them the crunch they were lacking this time. Just as such, instead of baking the pork chops, next time I’ll grill them.

~ Recipe: Potato Pancakes  ~ 

Yields 5 petite cakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of mashed potatoes cooked the night before.
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging
  • 1 egg for egg wash
  • Enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large, deep bottomed pan or skillet.
  2. Portion the potatoes into five even patties.
  3. Rather than dip them into the egg wash, use a basting brush (or if you don’t have one, your fingers) to cover them (but not soak them) with egg.
  4. Roll them in flour, tapping off the excess
  5. Place on a plate.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 until all the potatoes have been used and the oil is heated (shouldn’t be smoking yet. You know it’s heated when you can place a wooden spoon in and it creates bubbles).
  7. Once the oil is heated, place them in gently, careful not to splash any oil (it’s hot,  mind you)
  8. Let the potato cakes cook on medium-high heat for about three (3) minutes or golden brown.
  9. Flip over and let cook on the other side for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. Remove from pan and let sit on a paper towel lined plate until cool.
  11. Serve with ketchup?
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