Monday, November 25, 2013

Uber Low Sodium Pork Roast

What is the old saying?  If you want to make God laugh make a plan.  I had intended to return to cooking full time after the work at the lake was done.  Instead, I have been busy helping my folks through a difficult time.

 Things are more stable and my stove is going full steam ahead with just a slight difference.  Mom is now on a reduced sodium diet and does not need to be cooking at the moment. Since I live very close  it is easier for me to cook for them and run it down to their house than it would be to cook in their home.  I truly feel grateful that I can do something like this.  They are both so stubborn they refuse to let us help any other way.

One of the things I have learned through this process is how insanely salt laden most commercially prepared foods are.  I am not sure I really looked at packages well enough in the past.  Just check out the labels of whatever you are eating and you will be shocked.  Even something as simple as the chili powder in your spice cabinet most likely has salt added. (Well done Penzy's, who has not one but two chili blends that are totally sodium free!)

Another thing I have learned is how easy it is to mask the true taste of food with salt.  After about 2 weeks of eating what I prepare for Mom and Dad my salt tolerance has really decreased.  I ate some slightly salted popcorn last night and was dying for water to wash the salty taste away.

Today's food is a rather simple pork roast that is packed with flavor.  I found the original recipe on The Pioneer Woman  here.  I did a bit of altering so it would work for Mom.  The result was a truly tasty meal with zero added salt.

                                            Pork Roast With Apples And Onions

2 tablespoons cooking oil ( I used sunflower oil)
1 pork loin roast ( about 3 pounds)
coarsely ground black pepper to taste
3 onions, julienne sliced
3 hard, crisp apples, cored and cut in wedges ( I used Granny Smith because I had them in the crisper drawer )
1 cup apple juice
2 envelopes no sodium beef bouillon
2 cups water
3 bay leaves

In a heavy large pot with a lid heat the cooking oil to medium hot. Generously pepper the pork loin on all sides.  Brown turning so each surface of the roast is uniformly brown.  Put the onion slices in the pan and let them wilt slightly.  Add the apples.  Sprinkle the bouillon powder on the roast then pour the apple juice and the water over it.  When the liquid gets hot add the 3 bay leaves.  Turn the heat down to a medium heat and put the lid on the pan.   Cut the heat down to a medium low and cook until the roast is tender. (About 2-2 1/2 hours)

 Remove the roast to a cutting board.  Using a large slotted spoon remove the onions and apples and put them on individual plates or on one large platter.  Turn the heat under the pan on high and cook until the remaining liquid is reduced by 2/3 and is very thick and sauce like.   Cut the roast into slices and place it on the cooked apples and onions.  Top each slice with some of the reduced sauce.  Serve with whatever starch you prefer and a side green vegetable.

If you prefer a salted version, salt and pepper the roast before browning and use regular beef broth instead of the no sodium bouillon.

This was extremely tasty and quite filling.  The apples tend to turn to mush, which creates the thick sauce.  If you want the apples to have a little more shape and texture, I would add a couple more during the last 45 minutes of the cooking time.

 I served this with a plain boiled red potato and steamed asparagus.  I hesitated to serve it with rice ( I would have used short grain brown rice rather than the wild rice The Pioneer Woman used) because Mom is still balking at the way unsalted food tastes.  I was able to cut her potatoes in fourths  and drag them through the sauce left on the bottom of the plan.  Every bit of flavor counts!  I ate this for lunch and thought it was fantastic but the true test was my salt loving mother's opinion.  She thought it was delicious and actually called me to tell me.  I take this as high praise since she has been telling me how bad most things have tasted so far.  So yeah!  Success that was really good.

Can't wait to see what she thinks of the no salt sausage!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Return To Cooking, Chicken Marinades

I don't think I have cooked at all in three weeks.  Oh I have made a meal here or there but I am not sure grilled cheese and tomato soup count as real cooking.  Pretty sure slicing a hot dog into kraut and heating it doesn't either, but that is what you do when you are in the process of re-doing a small place at the lake.

As of mid-October we are the owners of a little house on a gorgeous lake lot.  The Hub is thrilled beyond belief to have a place to escape from civilization.  I am not as thrilled as he is.  For the past three weeks Son2 and I have painted and scraped and cleaned  and scrubbed and done minor repairs to the house.  The Hub has mostly come after work to tell us that things look good.  Rah.

So__rather than cooking I have been covered with paint and dirt and sawdust and living off of whatever food is brought to me in whatever paper bag whichever take-out place uses.  I think I ate the grilled chicken salad from Jack's for 4 consecutive days.

Now that the place is livable and furniture is in, I am no longer having to go there daily. I am returning to a  more normal life, which is wonderful since The Pig is having incredible sales in it's meat department.  $1.99 per pound for boneless skinless chicken breasts, means I buy at least 20 pounds of it.  The down side of buying that much means I also have to process 20 pounds of it. Tonight I grilled about 10 pounds and then vacuum sealed it for the freezer.  ( Thanks to my newest toy, the Food Saver)

We are trying to eat as many unprocessed foods as we can, so bottled marinades were out.  I looked at a couple of recipes and couldn't find anything that  I had the ingredients for  sounded good, so as usual I punted.

Italian-ish Marinade

1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons red wine
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a food safe zip lock bag.  Add chicken breasts and let marinate for about 15-30 minutes (I put 10 whole chicken breasts in the bag of marinade)
Cook over a medium grill for 5 minutes, turn and cook for 3 more minutes, if freezing or until done if eating immediately.  I always allow for a little more cooking time when I plan to thaw and reheat. This purposely has no salt in it at all.  I have found when freezing the salt tends to draw the moisture out of the chicken.  I will add a bit when I reheat it.  If you are eating it immediately salt it while it is on the grill or add 1/2 teaspoon to the marinade bag.

Asian-ish Lime Chili Marinade

1/4 cup neutral oil ( I used grapeseed)
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1/4 cup lime juice (fresh or bottled, I am not judging)
2 cloves  minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and pour into a zip lock bag.  Put the chicken in and seal.  Using your hand mash the bag to get the marinade over every piece.  Let it sit for about 20 minutes and follow the same steps as above for grilling.  Once again this has no salt by design, so salt it while on the grill if you are eating it right away.  Otherwise salt it while reheating.

I only tasted a small bit of each and I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite at this point.  They are both very tasty, but very different flavors.  Because of the brown sugar, the Asian marinade is a little sweet, while the Italian is absolutely just savory.  I say try the both and decide for yourself.

Meanwhile I now have a lot of ready to go foods in the freezer.  When we go to the lake I can pull a few out to take with us.  It will make lake cooking a non-issue.

I still have a boatload of chicken to grill.  Tomorrow I am trying 2 different recipes.  Who knows, I might even go to the store and buy everything so there will be no punting!