Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Summer of Sides: Ginger-Pear Chutney & Vidalia Casserole

Since the warm months are upon us, I thought I would focus my recipe blogging on side dishes.  Once my kitchen warms up, I ignore my oven like the plague.  Everything goes out the door to the grill or must be quickly cooked on the stove-top.  I do still use my crock pot a lot, I think this year I am going to set up a station for it in the garage.  If I had a screened in porch, it would have already had a home there.  So with the meat on the grill, we need some simple side dishes to capitalize on all of the great warm weather color and flavor.
I am day dreaming of heirloom tomatoes dripping with olive oil, stacked with fresh mozzarella and basil...but it's not quite that time.  So right now, here in Georgia, we have Vidalias!  I made this amazing casserole last night that is my best friend Jenn's go-to for potlucks.  I always get so excited to see she brought it.  After 3 or so years or mooching off of her, I tried it myself last night.

These pork chops are crazy huge!  I could only finish half and I was starving!
I served it with pan-fried forested pork chops and lacto-fermented spicy (and not so spicy for the kids) ginger-pear chutney.  If you want pork chops--you have got to get them from a farmer, or at least a butcher.  These scrawny thin-cut boneless things in the supermarket are a joke!  I swear if you try a 1-inch pork chop with the fat left on, you will NEVER go back!!  NEVER!
My family was fighting over the crispy fat on these chops, you would have thought it was dessert!  I know I've said it before, but remember pork fat from pigs raised outdoors (it must be outdoors), is one of the most bio-available sources of Vitamin D you can consume.  It is no wonder that our population, that used to raise a pig or two in the backyard a century ago, is now, with all of the pigs in confinement, completely Vitamin D deficient.
Here's the run down on our dinner.  Don't drool on your computer!


Pork Chops
Sea Salt
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)

I used the pan I had sauteed the onions in for the casserole without rinsing it.  Preheat your pan on med-hi for 3-5 minutes.  Do a water test--a drop of water should roll around.  You can watch this video if you are unsure what I mean.  I used a hard-adonized non-stick pan, but you could also use a stainless steel one.  Salt the meat, throw it in the pan, only put the amount of meat that can lie flat on the pan, do not over crowd the pan.  Let it brown on both sides*.  If you have a nice crust on the pan when finished pan-frying, use a 1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the bottom.  Just add it in and scrape all of the goodness off.  Then pour the yummy goodness on your meat before serving.  I love to serve deglazed goodies on mashed potatoes.
*I eat my pork chops medium-medium well.  I do not recommend this with supermarket pork.  But if you have the forested stuff, you should give it a whirl with a little pink in the middle, it is DELISH!

Pear Chutney (this will make 2 quarts, so that you can have one spicy, one not)
6-8 ripe pears depending on size, diced small
1 cup of dried cranberries
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp of grated fresh ginger
juice of 2 lemons
4 tsp of real salt or sea salt
half of small vidalia onion, diced super tiny (or 1 green onion sliced thin)
1/8 tsp. of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup or more of filtered water

Add all ingredients (except the filtered water) to a bowl and mix well.  Add the Chutney to the jars, using a mallet or the back of a wooden spoon to mash all of the chutney down into the jars.  Mash hard.  When you get to about an inch from the top, and you can't mash any longer add some water to the top.  If any of your chutney floats up, smash it back down.  Put the lid on tight.
Leave your chutney on the counter for 2-4 days, depending on the temperature.  Check for fizziness.  When it is good and fizzy, you will know it is done.  You can transfer it to the fridge.
I brought mine to room temperature before serving, but then we ate it later cold.  It was good both ways.

Vidalia Casserole


1 cup of uncooked rice (I used brown)
2 cups of water or stock
2 tbs. of salt (divided)
5 medium-large vidalia onions, sliced thin
1 stick of butter
2 cups of whole milk or half & half
2 cups of shredded swiss cheese

Cook rice in 2 cups of water or stock with 1 tbs. of butter and 1 tbs. of salt.  Meanwhile add butter to saute pan and saute onions until transparent (keep the heat low enough to not brown your onions).  Add cooked rice, salt, sauteed onions, milk and shredded cheese to 9x13 pyrex and bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour.

This meal was out of this world!  We even reheated it the next day for breakfast.  And my family is not very adventurous at breakfast time, they were just excited to get to enjoy the goodness again!  I really liked this casserole, especially for breakfast.  It would have been great with an egg or two as well.  I know with the warmer weather coming I won't want to make this in the oven, so I will be experimenting with the crock pot to see if I can get a similar result.  Well happy-summer eating!

Love and Butter,


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1 comment:

  1. This meal just makes my mouth water. I want it and soon I shall try to make it and have it! Thanks for posting.