When I do my grocery shopping for the week I usually just buy staples, starches, and veggies. Staples are your everyday must haves like olive oil, vinegar, condiments and hot sauces. Starches are your breads, pastas and potatoes. Veggies are, well.. the veggies! With all of these on hand I just need to do a small daily protein shopping for the main event.
I like to buy my protein on a day to day basis. I hate feeling forced to eat something just because it’s in my fridge. How many times have you cooked and eaten something because it was about to spoil? That’s not a way to live!
Another reason is that I like to take advantage of daily deals. Whether it’s fish, beef, pork, or chicken, chances are your local market will have one of these on sale. The best part is that you get a really nice daily surprise for dinner. For example, today I found pork roast on sale. It is a nice piece too, over two pounds and under ten dollars. You can stretch two pounds of meat into two dinners for for two adults pretty easily. In my house, we will have Pork Roast tonight and tacos tomorrow night. Roughly adding in the cost of the staples and veggies it will probably come out to $10-15 for both dinners.
Always check the sales and always buy produce that is in season. It’s cheaper and the produce in season will always tatse the best.
I expect that even if money were no object, I would still shop this same way. It’s fun and keeps you from getting into a food rut.
The next challenge is to figure out what to serve my beautiful pork with. My mind naturally went to pork and rice. It’s a classic combo. We already had some romaine hearts in the fridge so I decided to make a light salad with fresh yellow tomatoes. Salad is a great go-to veg portion for carnivores. It takes only five minutes to prepare and you can take your time and concentrate on the lovely hunk of flesh you have.
I think of Asia when I think of pork and rice so I decided to make a marinade with soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 thumb of ginger minced ( about two table spoons)
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbl brown sugar
Always taste your soy sauce first. Some brands are stronger than others. Add water to dilute the stregnth if necessary.
In general, you want to be careful with marinades. People don’t usually realize that the sodium, salt, or acids in your marinade will start cooking the protein even if you have it in the fridge. The best example of this is ceviche where the fish is cooked in acid, usually tart fruit juice like lemons or lime. The longer your meat marinates, the more chance the marinade has of toughening your meat so for this pork roast I only marinated it for just under an hour. Try to marinate it in an oven safe cooking dish so you can use the same dish later. I’m not worried about losing flavor because the left over marinade will become the sauce as it roasts in the oven.
Next comes the rice. Good rice is not easy to make. I seem to have a knack for over cooking it when I try the traditional stove top method so, in the absence of a rice cooker, I use the French method. The French method lets you cook rice like you would pasta. Just pour the desired amount in a large pot of boiling water and drain when ready. Tres simple!
If you can find a pasta strainer like this one on the left, get it. These handy strainers are great because you can cook the pasta directly inside them and just pull out the strainer. Much safer than dumping out a whole pot of water and, if you are like me always forgetting to reserve a little pasta water for the sauce, this way will keep you from having to smack your own forehead as all the water swirls down the drain.
Restaurants use these types of pasta strainers to control portion size. Restaurant health rules stipulate that the pasta water should be refreshed every hour but, having worked for many years in the restaurant business, I can tell you that during a busy service, don’t count on it.
Salt your water and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Next, brown the meat. To brown is to get color on all sides of the meat in a pan on high heat. Basically, you want to sear it on all sides to get that nice golden brown caramalized color throughout. If you don’t do this first, you’ll end up pulling a decidedly unappetizing greyish mass of flesh out of your oven at the end. Season the pork with salt and pepper before browning it. Reserve the baking dish with the left over marinade. You’ll finish cooking off the pork in the same dish.
Once all sides are browned you can put the pork back in the oven safe dish it was marinating in with the reservered marinade.
Cook to your desired temperature.
U. S. regulations stipulate that pork are now fed on an all vegetarian diet. So there is very little chance to contract trichinosois the way they did in the olden days when pigs were fed farm leftovers or, what they called, “slop”. Recently the USDA lowered the internal cooking temperature of pork to 145 degrees instead of the long time standard of 155. So go ahead, dont be shy, eat that piggy pink.
Plate your dish with nice slices of pork, some rice, salad, and drizzle the reduced marinade (which is now a rich sauce) over your pork.