December 17, 2007

Healthy Meal: Oregon Style Pork Chops with Pinot Noir and Cranberries

The last few recipes I’ve posted have been super low-calorie. Although I try to cook healthy, my definition of healthy is really just cooking for myself, using natural ingredients (not processed foods), limiting fats/sugars, and making healthy substitutions for some of the worst ingredients. This recipe definitely has a lot more calories than other things I’ve posted so far, but it’s still very good, and has a lot of great nutrients.

Tonight’s recipe was Oregon Style Pork Chops with Pinot Noir and Cranberries, Oregon Hash with Wild Mushrooms, Greens, Beets, Hazelnuts and Blue Cheese, Charred Whole Grain Bread with Butter and Chives. Quite possibly the longest name ever (thanks, Food Network), but it’s really three different recipes that they just put all the instructions on one page. They all work very well together, and as a meal for company, I think it’s decently impressive. I invited my friend Barry over to try my cooking for the first time. He’s been hearing about my meals quite a bit, so the expectations were pretty high. I opted to make a new recipe instead of something already in my repertoire, just because I really like trying new recipes. There are so many out there – why bore your palate with flavors you’ve already tried? I’m all for being adventurous. Unfortunately, I did have a little mishap (burned the leeks/cranberries, but I was able to salvage most of it, so you couldn’t really tell in the final product). However, I think it got a thumbs up overall.
First, I grilled the pork instead of pan-frying it in oil. Then I sauteed the leeks in some olive oil, added the cranberries and Pinot, and subbed 1/4 cup chicken broth mixed with 1.75 cups water (saved some salt that way) for the 2 cups of chicken broth. Tossed the pork chops in and cooked that for ten minutes. If I had been keeping an eye on it, I would have been done with that part of the meal. Unfortunately, I wasn’t – so I burned it and ended up having to transfer the pork chops and top layer of leeks/cranberries to a new pan and cook it with a bit more Pinot to get some sauce going.

As for the hash, I skipped the butter, and used just 1/2 tablespoon of oil. I put in the shallots and mushrooms, cooked five minutes, and tossed in the kale. I skipped the beets because Barry doesn’t like them, but I bet they would be good for next time.

Finally, for the bread, I used some rather delicious Mestemacher three grain bread and toasted it. I went to toss the goat cheese (I hate blue cheese) onto the hash, and realized I had accidentally bought spreadable – so I put that onto the bread instead of butter/chives (that’s what that big white blobby looking thing is in the picture). Tossed the hazelnuts on top of the hash, poured two glasses of the Pinot, and everything was ready to go. Not too difficult, and I think it took maybe 25 minutes or so total.

A tip for those of you unfamiliar with wine but wanting to impress: use a recipe like this that calls for a specific type of wine, then make sure you buy a good bottle. Use however much you need for cooking, then serve the rest of the bottle with the meal. The flavors of the food will be enhanced by the wine, and vice versa. If no one realizes you used the wine in both the food and as a drink, they’ll think you’re an amazing oenophile who can really choose the perfect match! (I couldn’t get away with this because Barry brought the wine and was watching me cook).

Nutritional results:
726 calories for the food (recipe here)
122 calories for the glass of Pinot Noir I had with the meal

Review: 4.5/5
Really delicious with good flavors. All the components of the meal really work well together, and although I didn’t really do a great job with the presentation, you could make it really pretty and impress someone by cooking this for them. The only reason for the 1/2 point deduction is that it’s a bit high in calories for my eating plan. Not really unhealthy, but it’s a meal I would have to plan and eat a bit less for breakfast and lunch in order to make sure it fits in. Depending on your diet and caloric needs, this may not be an issue.


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