Cranberry Bean, Smoked Pork Chop & Sauerkraut Stew

The season of stews is upon us. The cold weather is settling in, bringing its’ wet weather, gloves and frozen cheeks with it. I love those first few minutes walking into a warm house, where you thaw out a bit. And it’s even better when there is a chock full of creamy beans, smoky pork and sauekraut bubbling away on a hot stove, filling the house with savory smells. About two weekends ago, I stopped by a supermarket that I don’t usually frequent and saw these smoked pork chops that I had to bring home to experiment with. It was a sunny and oddly warm day and I was tempted to throw them on the grill, to see what happened but I had a feeling that low and slow cooking would lend that smoky flavor over to the cranberry beans and sauerkraut and it pleasantly did. This stew is great as leftovers, it’s even better warmed up the next day! Enjoy!

  • 1 cup cranberry beans, soaked overnight
  • 2 smoked pork chops
  • 2 cups drained sauerkraut and carrots from a jar, (usually found in the Polish aisle)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • a few dried champignon mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 juniper berries

Place the cranberry beans in a large heavy bottomed pot, top with the pork chops. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries and water to the pot. Bring to a boil on high heat, covered. Remove any foam that comes to the surface. Once it boils, lower the heat and stir in the the tomato paste and simmer on low heat for 1 hour, covered. Stir occasionally, so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. I love my wooden spoons for that! After your hour is up, remove the pork chops and set aside. Add in the sauerkraut (squeezed super dry), mushrooms and the garlic. Remove the meat off of the bone, shredding and cutting the meat into small pieces and add back into the pot. Increase the heat to high, so your stew begins to boil again. Once it does, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and juniper berries before serving. Makes about 4 servings.

Spanish Style Pork Chops

Smoked Spanish Paprika, what a great spice to have in your cabinet! When I started sauteing the garlic and I added the paprika, it tasted so good, I wanted to just eat it, alone, lol, maybe on crusty bread. And my head started spinning with possible ways to use this spice. This is a new addition to my spice cabinet, that I am really excited about! Once you open the tin, you get a burst of earthy smokiness and a subtle unexpected sweet aroma. This recipe is a little time consuming, so make it when you don’t have to rush or when you have a pair of helping hands in the kitchen. Enjoy with Manchego mashed potatoes to get a little taste of Spain in your kitchen tonight. Enjoy!

For the pork chops you will need:

  • 4 center cut pork chops, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Vegeta or any all purpose seasoning you like, divided
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • flour for dredging
  • 1-2 eggs
  • canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 heaping tablespoon halved Manzanilla olives

For the Manchego mashed potatoes you will need:

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes, roughly chopped, skin left on, cooked until soft
  • 1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
  • 2 oz. light cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt
  • handful of raw sliced almonds, toasted *optional

Start off my setting up your breading station, having the flour, eggs and bread crumbs on separate plates, with an extra for the breaded chops. To the bread crumbs add 1/4 teaspoon of the paprika, 1/2 teaspoon Vegeta and fresh ground pepper. Adjust the seasoning of the breadcrumbs as needed. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat up the canola oil. Put enough oil in the pan, to fry the pork chops. You want to fry the pork chops on medium heat, until light golden brown on both sides. They will finish cooking in the oven. Once done frying your pork chops, drain on paper towels and set aside. In a heavy bottomed pan, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon paprika and a few saffron threads. Let the garlic cook on low heat until soft, add in the can of tomatoes, with the juice, 1/2 teaspoon of Vegeta, the capers and the olives. Crush your tomato mixture with a potato masher to break down the tomatoes a little bit. Let this cook for 10 minutes. Place your pork chops down in a single layer, in a 13×9 baking pan. Spoon your tomato mixture over the pork chops and around them evenly. Drizzle a little extra olive oil over the top. Place in a 350 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes. If making the Manchego mashed potatoes to go with your pork chops, you want to put them on the stove the about same time that you start sauteing your garlic. To your cooked potatoes, add the butter, cream, cheese and salt. Mash until combined and creamy and adjust the seasonings as needed. Top with the toasted almond slices and enjoy!

Pork Chops with Cherry Basil Sauce

Mmm…one of the highlights of summertime…eating fresh cherries, on a hot day while a cool breeze passes through. It inspired me to make a cherry sauce for pork chops. This cherry sauce is so rich and it would be equally delicious on vanilla bean ice cream. This meal is so indulgent, yet it doesn’t take that much time to make, a little over 30 minutes but tastes as if it took all day. ;) This serves 3, so double if making a dinner for company. A nice green leaf lettuce salad tossed with buttermilk dressing would be nice as a start to this meal. And a great finish would be a chocolate mousse cake, along with a long walk. lol. ;)

  • 3 bone-in center cut pork chops, a little over a pound in weight
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons raw sliced almonds, finely chopped plus 1 tablespoon raw sliced almonds for wild rice
  • Vegeta seasoning or any all purpose seasoning
  • canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus a pat of butter for wild rice
  • 3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 teaspoon or more sugar
  • a few basil leaves, finely chopped plus some leaves for garnish
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 8.5 oz. packet of ready made wild rice

I’ve been obsessed with wild rice lately so I included a quick and easy side dish that complements the pork chops but you can make whatever side dish you love. To make your pork chops, make your almond coating, combining the panko bread crumbs, the finely chopped almonds and a little bit of the Vegeta, to taste. Set up your breading station, a plate with the beaten egg, a plate with the almond coating and a empty plate so you can place your breaded chops. Heat up your canola oil on low heat until nice and hot, test your oil by throwing in some panko crumbs if they start sizzling, the oil is ready. Dip your chops into the egg and then into the almond coating. Don’t be afraid to pack on the coating, pressing it into the meat. Place your breaded chops into the oil, once it’s ready. Fry your chops for about 10 minutes, then flip to fry for another 10 minutes until nice and brown. Carefully take them out of the oil and place on a paper towel lined plate so they drain. To make your cherry basil sauce, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and add in the pitted cherries, bring to a boil. Once it boils, bring down to a simmer and throw in the chopped basil, fresh coarse ground pepper and a touch of sea salt. Let this simmer for about 8 minutes until it thickens. Stir in the heavy cream and cook for another few minutes and set aside. To make the wild rice, follow the directions on the package and stir in a pat of butter and 1 tablespoon of the raw sliced almonds. Serve up your plates and garnish with some basil leaves. Enjoy!