I have not posted for ages, but I was determined to document this concoction since it is an experiment that worked. Yes, I did start with a recipe, but I adapted it so as to use up a few leftovers from my New Year’s Day open house, as well as some pork that was in the freezer, some stray sweet potatoes, and a shallot. In addition, as noted toward the end, it can also be easily adapted to fit a vegetarian diet.
Here is what I had: a pork sirloin mini roast (1.17 lbs) that I sliced an inch or a bit under thick, apple chutney that I had made but forgotten to put out on New Year’s Day, chopped cabbage that I had forgotten to add to the sweet and sour beef soup I made for and served on New Year’s Day, and two sweet potatoes and a shallot that I had on hand.
Here is the link to original recipe from which I was working:
Pork Chop Casserole Recipe with Sweet Potatoes
Obviously, I was not using chops, and this recipe calls for more than 1 lb or so of meat; also, it does not specify boned or bone-in. Given I had a smaller amount of meat, it worked out fine that I had only two small sweet potatoes, and I used about two cups of Apple Chutney (Click HERE for the recipe – it is buried in the pulled pork recipe but it is worth deciphering it out, so to speak) to replace the OJ, brown sugar, and spices.
I also did everything in an ovenproof skillet. Note to self: Do Not forget to use a pot holder when taking the skillet out of the oven…)
Anyway, I started by lightly browning the pork in a bit of olive oil to help seal in moisture in the pork and to give a nice flavor base for the rest of the ingredients.
After removing the pork and setting it aside, I added a bit more olive oil and lightly sauteed thinly sliced shallot and a few stems of fresh thyme until the shallot was soft and the thyme quite fragrant.
I then removed the shallot and thyme, added yet a bit more olive oil, and put the onion (one medium, sliced) in the pan.
Once the onion was starting to get soft, I added about 3 cups of chopped savoy cabbage. (I am sure any type of cabbage would do – in fact, the red kind would make for a REALLY colorful dish!)
Once the cabbage cooked down a bit (after maybe 5 minutes or so), I stirred in the sliced sweet potato and the pork, including the juices, and then arranged the shallot and thyme on top. Finally, I put the lid on the pan, and into the oven preheated to 350 degrees it went.
After 50 minutes, the potatoes were just tender and the meat was still moist, so I put the pan with the cover on it back in the oven on the “keep warm” setting (170 dgrees) since we were not quite ready to eat. If I had wanted to serve sooner, I probably would have put it back in at the 350 degrees for another 5-10 minutes.
If I had had more sweet potatoes on hand, or a few white potatoes to add to the mix, this could very well have been a one-dish meal. Or, I could have added some extra liquid and rice, or cooked rice separately and serve the pork and veggies over it. But, since it was a cold and stormy night, I thought soba noodles, made from the hearty buckwheat (often cited as good food for cold weather) would be the perfect match. And, it was!
This turned out to be quite tasty. Upon reading the reviews of the original recipe, I think that it would fine as written, but both the original and my version would benefit from the sauce being thickened a bit, perhaps with cornstarch, and, in my version, I think a little more sweetness to counter the tart chutney would be nice. But overall, I think the dish works well as written, as adapted by me, and as a base for further adaptations. One note about the soba noodles: They do not expand as much as regular pasta, so you may not have as much leftover as you would have thought.
If you don’t care to eat meat, this recipe can easily be adapted to suit a vegetarian diet. If you want a concentrated protein source to serve as does the pork, then I think tempeh would work wonderfully with this recipe. Tofu and seitan may work, also, albeit the textures of tofu and the usual tamari-based flavor of seitan would give a different slant. This recipe could also inspire the creation of a rice, sweet potato, and cabbage (or other vegetable) casserole. Or, add edamame to replace the pork and still serve over the soba.
So, that’s it for now. I really need to get back to blogging here on a more regular basis. I have drafts and photos of various dishes and meals that I hope to document on this blog one of these days, but one the one ingredient I seem to always be low on is time, something for which thyme is no substitute… <grin>