Scroll to the bottom of this post if you’re here to link to your January 2012 Post Produce post. I look forward to seeing what you’re consuming from your garden!
I can pineapple and pickled mixed vegetables so they’re on hand when I want to make sweet and sour pork. The vegetables are carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and chili peppers quick-pickled in brine made of water, vinegar, and salt. Canning pickled vegetables involves specific procedures to prevent growth of deadly bacteria, so please don’t make your own pickled vegetables without following USDA-tested procedures.
Still no produce to pick fresh from my small kitchen garden! Actually, we finally had our first snow of winter, and the planting bed is buried under white powder. About six inches fell overnight, finally making winter real.
But this non-planting season hasn’t soured me on Post Produce. I try always to look at the larder when planning meals, and more often than not, the larder saves me when I’ve failed to plan. Today was such a day, so for dinner we had sweet & sour pork.
Pickled Vegetables from My Small Kitchen Garden
Each year I like to preserve at least one canner full of pickled mixed vegetables in quart jars. When I can them, I follow the procedures I wrote in my post, Pickles From Your Home Kitchen Garden, with two significant differences:
1. I don’t use pickling spice—I use no spices at all.
2. I don’t use dill.
Making a canner full of pickled vegetables in summer lets me make sweet & sour pork or chicken seven times through the year.
I also can a lot of pineapple, but I don’t grow that in my kitchen garden, so it doesn’t qualify for sharing during Post Produce. Still, it’s important to know if you want to do this at home: I use 10% sugar syrup to pack pineapple chunks when I can them. Of course, what matters during the off season is how the veggies and the pineapple combine to make a sweet & sour sauce.
Sweet & Sour Pork (or Chicken) in a Hurry
Typically, I serve this stuff with rice. Right when you start prepping the meat is a good time to set rice on to cook. I almost never work from recipes, so there are no hard numbers here.
1 pound of boneless pork (boneless spare ribs, chops, or tenderloin all work well)…
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken (I prefer breasts, but thighs work well, too)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil (optional)
1 pint canned pineapple chunks in juice
1 quart pickled mixed vegetables
1 – 2 cups beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
1 – 2 tablespoon cornstarch
Cut the pork (or chicken) into bite-sized pieces. Peel and dice the onion, and crush and dice the garlic if you’re using it. Open the pickled vegetables and reserve ½ cup of brine; pour off the rest if you can’t think of a way to use it. Open the pineapple and strain the juice into a measuring cup. Ideally, you’ll get a cup of pineapple juice, but if not, add water to result in a cup of liquid.
Heat the vegetable oil on high in a wok or skillet. Being careful not to splash the hot oil, put the diced onion, grated ginger, and garlic in the pan, and stir briefly to prevent sticking. Then dump the cut-up pork or chicken in on top. Stir and turn the meat for five minutes or so to coat it with the oil.
When I cooked dinner, it didn’t occur to me the meal would end up in tonight’s blog post. So, the only photographic record remaining is of the leftovers in storage containers. My son and I each had a generous serving without side dishes, and there’s enough left for two more servings. The recipe in this post should easily feed four and possibly five people.
While the meat is still obviously not fully-cooked, add the soy sauce and sesame oil to the pan and stir it in thoroughly. Continue to stir until all surfaces of the meat appear cooked and most pieces have cooked through. You don’t need to stir continuously, but neither should you leave the pan unattended while cooking on such high heat.
Add the drained pickled vegetables and toss the contents of the pan gently for a few minutes until the vegetables heat through. Add the drained pineapple, and heat for another minute or so. Then add the reserved pickle brine and pineapple juice and stir.
Taste the liquid! If it’s sour, stir in a teaspoon or two of sugar till it dissolves.
When the liquid has a pleasant sweet and sour balance, stir in a cup of stock. While that heats, stir a tablespoon of cornstarch into a quarter cup of stock and then add that to the skillet. Stir it all until it thickens… if it’s too thick, add more stock, if it’s too thin, mix more cornstarch and stock to stir into the pan.
Your Turn to Post Produce!
Please join the celebration of home-grown produce. Post about something you’re eating from your garden, then return here and link to your post. Watch for other Post Produce posts to see what others are enjoying from their gardens. Follow this link for more information about Post Produce.