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Old 08-11-2015, 12:51 PM   #1
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Dinner Woes

Well, my first non-introduction post here at DC. My apologies is this is in the wrong place or not with the spirit of the community.

Last night I tried my hand at pan seared pork chops with a honey bourbon pan sauce, fried red potatoes and green beans. I wanted a Kansas City flavor like you would get at a BBQ so I knew that my main seasonings would be onion, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder and brown sugar. I always had a problem with my pork chops curling on me, so I checked out some YouTube videos that said to make small slits in the outer ring of fat.

So I get home from work, and I am set to rock out this meal. I grab my pork chops from fridge and still frozen. I set them into a cold water batch, and started prepping the vegetables. I wash and cube the red potatoes and snip the green beans, then set the green pans in a sauce pan with some water to boil. seasoned with a bit of seasoning salt.

I go for my frying pans, and only one clean pan is available. So I figured fry the potatoes since they take the longest, and then pan sear the pork chops and make my sauce. I get the nonstick pan hot and throw in about a tablespoon of olive oil, then start frying the potatoes, flipping frequently because I had to stack my potatoes in two layers. While frying I seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

While the potatoes where frying, I pulled out the pork chops and put them on my prep cart. They were boneless, so no outer ring of fat to slit to keep them from curling. I pull the potatoes off the heat and get the pan hot again and add a bit more oil. I put the pork chops in, searing each side for 4 minutes, seasoning after I flipped with salt, pepper, and onion powder. I also added three crushed cloves of garlic to the pan after flipping. I also melted 3 tbsp of butter in the pan and basted the pork chops post flip.

I removed the pork from the pan and let them rest while I made the sauce. I de-glazed the pan with bourbon and added honey, salt, pepper, onion powder,garlic powder, chili powder, and cinnamon sugar. When I first tasted the sauce I wasn't wild about it, but it got a lot better after reducing. Unfortunately, the honey overpowered the other flavors and I didn't get any heat from the sauce.

Other problems with the meal was not getting all the dirt off from the potatoes and bland beans. Finally, the pork was not as firm as my other times cooking pork chops, but it wasn't pink at all. It had the texture of medium rare beef so I am hoping I didn't inadvertently give my wife and I food poisoning.

Most of my cooking experience in the past has always been just one item, be it chicken, ribs, etc... When cooking a whole meal I found it was easy to lose track of things and that I need better organization.

I definitely want to learn how to make roasted meats and pan seared meats because that is fairly close to smoking, and can get me through the winter when I can't smoke or grill everything. Also, it seems to be a good jumping off point for working on knife skills and other basic cooking skills.

Well I better wrap this up before I start to ramble (too late). If anyone has any advice or ideas on what I could do differently to improve on what I did hear I would love to hear it. The food was edible, but lacked any sort of wow factor to it.

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Old 08-11-2015, 01:24 PM   #2
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Hi 84. Hope you don't mind me calling you that, it's easier.

Welcome to Discuss cooking!
One thing that stuck out in your post is you cooked the pork perfectly!
"Finally, the pork was not as firm as my other times cooking pork chops, but it wasn't pink at all. It had the texture of medium rare beef so I am hoping I didn't inadvertently give my wife and I food poisoning." Far too many people over cook pork, so you did the hardest part best. That's a good thing!
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Old 08-11-2015, 01:26 PM   #3
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Hi. This is in the perfect place and is absolutely what this community is about

IMO, your first mistake is using a non-stick pan to try to sear meats. By its nature, it resists sticking, and the browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan are the flavor base for your pan sauce. So try seasoning your meat, warming oil in a stainless steel or cast iron pan, then searing it on both sides. Let it sit in the pan till it's nice and brown and releases easily. When both sides are just done, set aside, covered, to rest and complete carryover cooking.

Use about a half cup of water or chicken broth to deglaze the pan and scrape up the browned bits into the liquid. Then add the bourbon and the rest of the seasonings and reduce. The additional liquid will smooth out the flavor of the sauce.

If you have a microwave and a toaster oven, use them for the potatoes. Cut and toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper and parcook in the microwave for five minutes or so. Toss with fresh herbs or spices and put in the toaster oven at 400F for about 15 minutes to roast. Set the timer on the toaster oven so it will turn off when the time is up, then leave them in there to keep warm.

Try braising the beans instead of boiling. Put some oil, about a quarter cup water and seasonings in a skillet or saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the beans and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, till almost done to your liking. Remove the lid, bring to a boil and boil off the liquid. Reduce the heat and let them brown a little in the oil, then serve.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-11-2015, 01:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Kayelle View Post
Hi 84. Hope you don't mind me calling you that, it's easier.

Welcome to Discuss cooking!
One thing that stuck out in your post is you cooked the pork perfectly!
"Finally, the pork was not as firm as my other times cooking pork chops, but it wasn't pink at all. It had the texture of medium rare beef so I am hoping I didn't inadvertently give my wife and I food poisoning." Far too many people over cook pork, so you did the hardest part best. That's a good thing!
That's fine, 84 is a cool nickname. I suspected that when pork is firm enough to not bend when you lift it by one edge that it is overcooked, but I always worry about under cooking pork. Thanks for the reassurances :)

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Use about a half cup of water or chicken broth to deglaze the pan and scrape up the browned bits into the liquid. Then add the bourbon and the rest of the seasonings and reduce. The additional liquid will smooth out the flavor of the sauce.
Thanks for the tips, I will definitely try them out next time! I never thought about cooking the potatoes in the microwave. Also, can't wait to try braising the beans next time, I love green beans and this sounds like they come out a little crispy, almost like when you grill them.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:01 PM   #5
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Also always season meat before you sear it
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:02 PM   #6
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Sounds like you did OK. Modern day pork is fully cooked and safe to eat @137ºF. The USDA recommends cooking pork to 145ºF. Pork cooked to this temperature can still have a little blush of pink and that's fine.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:04 PM   #7
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I don't like to have to keep track of too many things, either. It take the fun out of cooking. A lot of times the meal is structured to allow me to only have to pay attention to one thing. I'll cook (barely) a veggie like green beans in the microwave, and then dump into cold water to stop the cooking process, then drain when cooled. When dinner is just about ready, I'll heat some EVOO in a pan, add garlic and maybe some other herbs, and heat the veggies for 2 minutes or so.

I like oven roasted red potatoes. Cut up the red potatoes, shake in a plastic bag with a couple tablespoons of EVOO and herbs, and then bake for 30 minutes or so. All you have to remember is to flip them half way through. Gives you plenty of time to pay attention to the grill. I usually put my wife to work to take care of the final few items while I'm outside at the grill.

It's got to be a short grilling season when you have to drive south to watch the Green Bay Packers play!
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:11 PM   #8
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I don't like to have to keep track of too many things, either. It take the fun out of cooking. A lot of times the meal is structured to allow me to only have to pay attention to one thing. I'll cook (barely) a veggie like green beans in the microwave, and then dump into cold water to stop the cooking process, then drain when cooled. When dinner is just about ready, I'll heat some EVOO in a pan, add garlic and maybe some other herbs, and heat the veggies for 2 minutes or so.

I like oven roasted red potatoes. Cut up the red potatoes, shake in a plastic bag with a couple tablespoons of EVOO and herbs, and then bake for 30 minutes or so. All you have to remember is to flip them half way through. Gives you plenty of time to pay attention to the grill. I usually put my wife to work to take care of the final few items while I'm outside at the grill.

It's got to be a short grilling season when you have to drive south to watch the Green Bay Packers play!
Not too bad, about 4-5 months out of the year if you don't mind wearing a jacket and using two bags of charcoal per cook, and if you do mind that, then 2-3 months for grilling season. Our springs and falls can be quite cool but still not too bad to grill in. The last 4-5 years have been weird winters, but we typically get really cold weather early November to mid May.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:22 PM   #9
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Welcome, 84! The good news is the meal you cooked was edible and neither you nor your wife got sick. You're already on the road to rousing success! Also, like Kayelle said, cooking the pork till done but not overcooked is a big success.

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...When cooking a whole meal I found it was easy to lose track of things and that I need better organization...
And you figured out what your biggest stumbling block is. Maybe. Even though I've been cooking for *coughcough* decades, I tend to prep before cooking as if I'm doing a TV show. Items measured out at the ready to mix in, veggies set to go on as soon as I reach that point with my protein, and pans and utensils pulled out of hither and yon, ready to be put to work. Before I did it that way, veggies and starch and meat would never be ready at the same time. Now if I just had a crew that followed after me to clean up all those dirty bowls, etc.

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I go for my frying pans, and only one clean pan is available.
Wait, are you my son? He has a tendency to hide the dirty ones in the oven until he needs one. Keep them clean, my boy, keep them clean.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:30 PM   #10
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With just my wife and I we tend to not be able to fill up a dishwasher daily. I like to think that entitles me to buy more pans but in reality it just means having to wash dishes by hand every once in a while.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:41 PM   #11
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With just my wife and I we tend to not be able to fill up a dishwasher daily. I like to think that entitles me to buy more pans but in reality it just means having to wash dishes by hand every once in a while.
We are also only two and have the same problem with forks and spoons, so we bought more.
Pans never go in the dishwasher here. Jes sayin..
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:42 PM   #12
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I'm glad I could help CG is right about the mise en place (everything in its place) for prepping to cook. That way, you know you have everything you need to move from one thing to the next smoothly.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:46 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by jseymour84 View Post
Well, my first non-introduction post here at DC. My apologies is this is in the wrong place or not with the spirit of the community.

Last night I tried my hand at pan seared pork chops with a honey bourbon pan sauce, fried red potatoes and green beans. I wanted a Kansas City flavor like you would get at a BBQ so I knew that my main seasonings would be onion, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder and brown sugar. I always had a problem with my pork chops curling on me, so I checked out some YouTube videos that said to make small slits in the outer ring of fat.

So I get home from work, and I am set to rock out this meal. I grab my pork chops from fridge and still frozen. I set them into a cold water batch, and started prepping the vegetables. I wash and cube the red potatoes and snip the green beans, then set the green pans in a sauce pan with some water to boil. seasoned with a bit of seasoning salt.

I go for my frying pans, and only one clean pan is available. So I figured fry the potatoes since they take the longest, and then pan sear the pork chops and make my sauce. I get the nonstick pan hot and throw in about a tablespoon of olive oil, then start frying the potatoes, flipping frequently because I had to stack my potatoes in two layers. While frying I seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

While the potatoes where frying, I pulled out the pork chops and put them on my prep cart. They were boneless, so no outer ring of fat to slit to keep them from curling. I pull the potatoes off the heat and get the pan hot again and add a bit more oil. I put the pork chops in, searing each side for 4 minutes, seasoning after I flipped with salt, pepper, and onion powder. I also added three crushed cloves of garlic to the pan after flipping. I also melted 3 tbsp of butter in the pan and basted the pork chops post flip.

I removed the pork from the pan and let them rest while I made the sauce. I de-glazed the pan with bourbon and added honey, salt, pepper, onion powder,garlic powder, chili powder, and cinnamon sugar. When I first tasted the sauce I wasn't wild about it, but it got a lot better after reducing. Unfortunately, the honey overpowered the other flavors and I didn't get any heat from the sauce.

Other problems with the meal was not getting all the dirt off from the potatoes and bland beans. Finally, the pork was not as firm as my other times cooking pork chops, but it wasn't pink at all. It had the texture of medium rare beef so I am hoping I didn't inadvertently give my wife and I food poisoning.

Most of my cooking experience in the past has always been just one item, be it chicken, ribs, etc... When cooking a whole meal I found it was easy to lose track of things and that I need better organization.

I definitely want to learn how to make roasted meats and pan seared meats because that is fairly close to smoking, and can get me through the winter when I can't smoke or grill everything. Also, it seems to be a good jumping off point for working on knife skills and other basic cooking skills.

Well I better wrap this up before I start to ramble (too late). If anyone has any advice or ideas on what I could do differently to improve on what I did hear I would love to hear it. The food was edible, but lacked any sort of wow factor to it.
For beef roasts in the oven, Pre-heat to 500F, season roast, place in a roasting pan on rack. Place in the oven on middle rack (do not use the convection feature). Roast for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 200F and roast for 1 hour per pound.

I live in Florida, so grilling and smoking are year round. I've got a Horizon stick burner, a large Egg and a 22.5 Weber. They cover just about anything I want to do. Lots of sausage gets done around here.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:47 PM   #14
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Ok, so to sum up the lessons learned here:

1) Get everything in place before starting to cook. I am assuming this means put all your seasonings next to the stove, chop all the vegetables and set next to stove, and sort out all the measuring devices, foil wrap, plastic wrap, etc...

2) Don't try to do it all at once. Proceed from one step to the next in an orderly fashion.

3) Season meat before searing.

4) Texture is not a true indicator of doneness. Get a meat thermometer.

5) If you can eat it, it's not a complete failure.

Thanks for all the help everyone, and please, keep the advice coming. At this point, I know a bit about cooking, but I don't know what I don't know if that makes sense.
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Old 08-11-2015, 02:49 PM   #15
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For beef roasts in the oven, Pre-heat to 500F, season roast, place in a roasting pan on rack. Place in the oven on middle rack (do not use the convection feature). Roast for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 200F and roast for 1 hour per pound.

I live in Florida, so grilling and smoking are year round. I've got a Horizon stick burner, a large Egg and a 22.5 Weber. They cover just about anything I want to do. Lots of sausage gets done around here.
I envy your grilling and smoking implements. I just got rid of three horizontal smokers, but I still have my big green egg knock-off that is sized perfectly for the wife and myself.

Also, thanks for the roasting advice. My next dish I want to make is a roasted venison loin with red wine sauce, roasted vegetable medley (carrots, potatoes, and peppers), and fresh dinner rolls.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:01 PM   #16
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I envy your grilling and smoking implements. I just got rid of three horizontal smokers, but I still have my big green egg knock-off that is sized perfectly for the wife and myself.

Also, thanks for the roasting advice. My next dish I want to make is a roasted venison loin with red wine sauce, roasted vegetable medley (carrots, potatoes, and peppers), and fresh dinner rolls.
Eggs are great pizza ovens as well. Unless you have a wood fired oven I don't think you can get any closer in flavor.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:06 PM   #17
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Eggs are great pizza ovens as well. Unless you have a wood fired oven I don't think you can get any closer in flavor.
I am definitely trying that before the summer is over. Pizza is one of my favorite foods of all time.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:24 PM   #18
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Ok, so to sum up the lessons learned here:

1) Get everything in place before starting to cook. I am assuming this means put all your seasonings next to the stove, chop all the vegetables and set next to stove, and sort out all the measuring devices, foil wrap, plastic wrap, etc...

2) Don't try to do it all at once. Proceed from one step to the next in an orderly fashion.

3) Season meat before searing.

4) Texture is not a true indicator of doneness. Get a meat thermometer.

5) If you can eat it, it's not a complete failure.

Thanks for all the help everyone, and please, keep the advice coming. At this point, I know a bit about cooking, but I don't know what I don't know if that makes sense.
Great summary You don't need to put everything in bowls, like they do on TV. I usually pile ingredients on a smaller cutting board to take to the stove (my primary prep space is a peninsula) and, when seasonings are to be added together, I mix them in a small dish to simplify and to avoid dumping a lot of seasoning in one place. It's easier to mix them in evenly this way.

It also occurred to me that chili powder often doesn't have a lot of heat, although good ones have good flavor. You could add a pinch of cayenne or a few drops of hot sauce to your sauce.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:37 PM   #19
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I tend to prep before cooking as if I'm doing a TV show. Items measured out at the ready to mix in, veggies set to go on as soon as I reach that point with my protein, and pans and utensils pulled out of hither and yon, ready to be put to work. Before I did it that way, veggies and starch and meat would never be ready at the same time.
In Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything Fast", he espouses to do exactly the opposite of what you do. That is, prepare as you go along. I picked up his book at the library, read some of the recipes and "hints" on how to spend less time cooking, and decided I didn't want to be the ringmaster of a four ring circus. I put stuff on little plates and bowls in advance and then enjoy some wine while I'm cooking. The food tastes a whole lot better when I'm relaxed when I sit down to eat.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:52 PM   #20
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In Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything Fast", he espouses to do exactly the opposite of what you do. That is, prepare as you go along.
That's interesting. He's the first food writer I've heard about who says that. In culinary school, one of the first things they taught us, along with knife skills, was the importance of mise en place. I don't want to be scrambling for ingredients and tools when I'm cooking, either.
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