Saturday, November 3, 2012

Random Cookbook of the Week: 30-Minute Meals

This is, I believe, Rachael Ray's first cookbook, and I've found her earlier cookbooks far more useful than her later ones. The early books focus on simple meals, mostly made with fresh ingredients, while her later ones run to the gimmicky.

No picture this week, as I made this on a weeknight and have a bad habit of forgetting I'm supposed to be recording my food for posterity when I'm tired and hungry and have an equally tired and hungry family to feed.

Pork Chops and Homemade Chunky Applesauce

6 boneless pork chops, 3/4 inch thick
Balsamic vinegar
Black pepper
1 T olive oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems

For the applesauce:
8 Macintosh apples, peeled, cored, and cut into cubes (I used a mix of Granny Smith and Gala, since my local QFC doesn't carry Macintoshes)
1 c apple juice or cider
A couple pinches ground cinnamon
A palmful brown sugar
A pinch ground ginger
A pinch ground nutmeg

Rub chops with a little balsamic vinegar. Heat oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 5-6 minutes. Turn and season with pepper and thyme. Reduce heat to medium and cook another 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand till ready to serve. (I cooked the chops in 2 batches and left them in a 200-degree oven until ready to serve.)

While chops cook, cook the apple chunks over medium-high heat with the apple juice. As the juice boils, stir and mush the apples a bit as they cook down. (I used a potato masher.) Sprinkle the sauce with cinnamon, sugar, ginger, and nutmeg. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens, 7-10 minutes.

Note that unless you're much quicker at peeling and chopping apples than I am, this is not even remotely a true 30-minute recipe. With prep time, I was somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour. That said, it was pretty good, and since my family of three doesn't really need this much food, I could, say, half the applesauce recipe and use just four chops and save time accordingly.

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