Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cornmeal Crusted Pork and Quinoa

My mother showed me an Asian market on Irving Street between 25th and 26th Avenues - Sunset Super - that has a butcher and seafood counter. I am excited because it is a few blocks down from my favorite produce market - 22nd & Irving - so that means I can now park once (if I happen to drive over) and get more ingredients within walking distance.

They have some very nice looking meat and seafood including sukiyaki cuts of meat. (Sukiyaki is a japanese one pot meal. Since all the ingredients are typically cooked and assembled at the table, the meat is sliced paper thin for quick cooking.) I purchased several items; one of which was a package of sukiyaki pork.

We had some friends over for dinner on last week so I decided to use the pork and serve it with oven-roasted cauliflower and quinoa. I also decided to serve the quick vegetable soup as a starter since I had frozen some of my most recent batch. Since the cauliflower will take almost 40 minutes, I set that up and start pre-heating the oven. Additionally, I drop my frozen soup into a pot with about an inch of water on the bottom and set it on my burner with the lowest BTU at low. This will defrost the soup and allow me to ignore it while I am cooking.

Next, using I decide to dip the pork in egg and coat with a cornmeal mixture. Since the pork is so thin it will be almost the last thing I cook, however I want to coat it now and give it some time to dry so that the crust will be crisper. (Another method is to do a three part process; coat in flour, dip in egg and then coat in breadcrumbs or corn meal. This method is very effective but I always mess myself up by rinsing my meat and putting it right into my egg wash. At the same time, you save a step which isn't bad either.)

For my egg coating, I use the two egg yolks left over from my souffle and one whole egg all whisked together with a bit of water (otherwise I would use two whole eggs and some milk). For the cornmeal coating, I put 1 cup of cornmeal in a pie plate and add approximately a teaspoon each of salt, pepper and thyme as well as 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese. I set up a couple of cutting boards to place the coated pork to dry; carefully remove a piece of pork from the egg coating; and lie it on top of the cornmeal coating and gently cover the meat. I flip the pork piece around, pressing into the coating to make sure it is fully covered and set the coated piece onto the waiting cutting board. I continue this process until all the meat it set aside and ready to cook. (If you start to run out of the cornmeal coating, it should be sufficient to simply add a bit more cornmeal - if you gauge it right you shouldn't have to add more seasoning.)

The cauliflower has been cooking and it is time for me to turn it for the final 10 minutes. I start the quinoa; I put 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of chicken broth in a medium saucepan. As it begins to boil, I add 1/2 cup of frozen peas, cover the pot and let cook for 10 minutes. When done, the grain appears soft and fluffy; the germ ring will be visible around the outside of the grain.

Finally, I take a bit of butter and lemon-infused olive oil and heat it in a large skillet over medium-high heat. I gently brown each peice of cornmeal coated pork for about 2 minutes per side. I remove the cooked pieces to a warm plate and continue cooking until they are all done. This recipe made a lot of leftovers - even serving to four people we will have enough for dinner another night this week. Just by making different side dishes it will be like a whole new meal...

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