Sunday, June 17, 2012

One Pork Loin, Three meals

When I met my husband, I had never purchased a pork loin.  I don't remember my mother ever having bought one either.  I had seen it in the grocery, this giant chunk of meat, and wondered how on earth to prepare it and when would I ever have an army big enough to eat it all.  I have at least 6 ways we make it on a regular basis.  Typically when it goes on sale, I buy at least three of them and stock my freezer.  The best thing about it is that you can customize your portions when you divide it up.  When I was single I ate out a lot, I managed restaurants so there was never a shortage of food, and why go home and make all that mess to cook for myself and have to clean it up.  

Wow, in the past year or so meats and many other staples in our diet have risen in price considerably.  Feeding a large or semi-large family can be costly these days.  In order to keep our grocery budget in control I try to shop for meats ONLY when they are on sale and then stock up.  Pork loin, chicken breasts, and ground beef are pretty much staples in our home.  Pound-wise a pork loin is typically enough to feed a family of four 3-4 meals.  I buy several when the go on sale.  I keep plenty of plastic freezer bags on hand.  Our grocery offers additional discounts on the family packs of meat, so I buy larger portions and repackage at home.  

Meal one: Boneless Pork Chops
Cut it into chops.  If you look at each end of the pork loin, you should see one end that looks like a boneless pork chop.  The other end may look the same or it may be marbled looking with a darker meat as well as the white meat.  I try to get ones that each end looks like a boneless pork chop whenever possible.  It's easier to work with.  That's not always possible, but dig through the display and you should be able to find a couple of good ones.  
If you cut 3/4 inch chops off the nicer end you should be able to get enough for one meal for your family.  We have four kids, but I only cut 5 because these are pretty big and our girls will never eat a whole one, so I just cut the fifth one in half.  The great thing is you can cut as many as you need, instead of trying to find a package that has the right amount for your family.  
Our favorite seasoning for chops is the Jamaican Jerk seasoning from Pampered Chef, otherwise, salt and pepper, maybe a little garlic powder.  

Meal two: Teriyaki Pork Roast
Cut the next section into a roast about 4"-5" long.  If you're having company, make it bigger.  This is how I had it the first time.  It was served at our wedding reception with my mother-in-law's marinade recipe.  She says the recipe I have written down isn't the one she gave me but I swear it is.  
Here goes:  
Judy's Teriyaki Marinade
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt (optional)  I don't add this because there is so much sodium in the soy sauce.  
Whisk all the ingredients together until the brown sugar dissolves completely.  Soak pork roast in it for at least 2 hours prior to cooking or overnight for a really strong flavor.  Bake about an hour, until juices run clear.  

Do ahead option: Place roast in a freezer bag.  Pour marinade over it.  Seal the bag making sure to carefully squeeze out all the air.  Freeze until ready to use.  Thaw at least 24 hours ahead of cooking.  

Meal three:  Barbecued Pork 
Cut remaining pork into 1" slices and place in a covered baking dish.  
Bake 1-1/2 to 2 hours at 350 degrees F.  Let sit for 30 minutes and drain off any extra juices and discard the fatty pieces.  Break the meat up with 2 forks, it should be tender enough to fall apart pretty easily.  Pour in 1/2 of a 16oz of your favorite barbecue sauce and stir in well, add more to taste.  We like ours sloppy so we use most of a bottle (2 if we use the whole pork loin).  You may have leftovers on this one or have enough for 2 meals depending on how big your pork loin was.  

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