I had a few connection problems last night, so this didn’t get posted then. And I’m still having a touch, so if you come back you’ll see a picture once I get it uploaded. In the meantime.
This (picture to come) was supper. It’s fairly plain, but I want to point it out as a poor man’s dish. Pork chops, boxed au gratin potatoes, and green beans. The brown stuff is apple butter. I did a few things that show up in taste, not appearance, and that’s what I’m sharing.
The pork chops are bought in bulk at ‘last day’ sale and immediately separated and put into the freezer. Cooking them is a period of thawing, then brining, then grilling on the foreman. To my taste brining is the key. The saltwater alone improves the taste and ensures the meat is moist. Since I always add some spices to the brine – some peppercorns, some sugar, a crushed dried cayenne pepper, some rosemary – there’s actually additional flavor to the whole. Brine for a couple hours, rinse, let dry for 15 minutes or so. I use a simple foreman grill. It gets a frequent workout during the week as it simultaneously moves the cook time down to four or five minutes (yes, for done) while trapping all the spatter – but not the evaporating moisture.
Yes, it’s boxed au gratin potatoes. Yes, doing it right tastes better. It also costs at least twice and as much as five times as much as the box while not THAT much worse in taste. Also, I’m going to point out it’s meeting 100 degrees (F) down here, and the oven is out. I can nuke or stovetop the boxed. That said there are a few things that can make the dish a wee bit better. For example, using a bit of half and half stirred in after it’s done in the microwave will enrichen the whole. Sprinkle a little grated cheddar on top of each serving adds a serious boost to taste.
The beans are canned beans. I prefer fresh, followed by frozen. Again, canned beans (as opposed to some other canned veggies) aren’t that bad. Because of all the juggling, just a little salt and vinegar was used on the cold (yes, cold) beans.
The apple butter is what I made using the instructions recently posted. Two pints of applesauce reduced (and caramelized) to one pint of apple butter. Cost of sauce, sugar, and spices was barely over $2; the 12 hours of electricity for the crockpot was pretty much immaterial. Since you’re going to pay at least $6 for as much – and it doesn’t taste as good to me – I figure this is a major plus for the poor man’s dinner. And a bit of sweetened, caramelized apple with the pork is a favorite match for me.
You don’t have to be rich to have a great meal.