Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Breakfast for Dinner: A GIANT Pancake in the Rice Cooker

I do it.

I'll bet you do it too.

I'm talking about breakfast for dinner. It's what I make when I don't have the brain power to make anything else. Because breakfast food tends to be pretty easy.

The folks at Krusteaz did a survey and this is what they found out:
  • Nine out of ten (91 percent) Americans say they eat breakfast for dinner, with 56 percent doing so once a month or more often. 
  • For families, the trend is even more prevalent. 67 percent of respondents with children in the household say they have breakfast for dinner once a month or more.
  • A variety of factors contribute to the rising popularity of breakfast for dinner, with the main appeal being ease of preparation versus a traditional dinner meal (43 percent).  
  • For families especially, it's also "a fun way to break up the monotony of weekly dinner night" said 44 percent.
  • When it comes to preparation, mom is most likely to lead the preparation of breakfast-for-dinner (42 percent), followed by dad (19 percent). Another 17 percent say it's a joint effort between parents and kids.
  • Half of all adults (52 percent) choose dinner as their favorite meal of the day. 
  • Most adults (62 percent) eat dinner as a family at least four nights a week, with over one in three (37 percent) saying they do so every night. 
  • Those with children in the household are even more likely to have dinner as a family at least 4 nights a week (72 percent).
September is actually Breakfast for Dinner Month. (Who thinks of these things???) So I decided to celebrate by making a giant pancake.

And when I say giant, I mean ginormous. Like, it's really a cake, sort of. I suggest cutting it into wedges to serve.

I made this in my rice cooker which seems odd, but it actually cooks. The rice cookers with sensors actually pay attention to ... something ... which is how they know your rice is cooked. I think it's the temperature.

In any case, it's that same sensor that tells the rice cooker when your ginormous pancake-monster is done.

If you have a rice cooker that doesn't have a sensor, I guess you're on your own to figure out the timing on the cooking.

Walnut Rice-Cooker Pancake

2 cups Krusteaz pancake mix
1 1/2 cups water
Generous 1/2 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon maple sugar

Combine the pancake mix and water and mix well. It's fine if there are a few lumps, but it should be mixed. Add the walnut and stir to combine.

Pour this into your rice cooker.

Yes, I said rice cooker.

Sprinkle the maple sugar on top.

If your rice cooker has settings, you might need to fiddle around to get the perfect setting for making pancake cakes, but I used the sushi setting. Next time I might try the brown rice setting. We'll see.

In any case, the top of the cake (which will be the bottom when you turn it out) won't brown, so it will look pale even when it's cooked. You might see browning around the edges, though, since it will brown where it makes contact with the rice cooker bowl. To check for doneness, poke a toothpick in, just like with a cake.

Turn it out onto a rack and then put it on a plate for serving.

While you'd normally eat pancakes warm from the stove, I actually liked this better after it was cooled, and I liked it better plain or with a little butter, rather than with syrup.

But I'm weird. So try it warm and try it cooled and see which you prefer.

And, if this is breakfast for dinner, you might want to serve it with some bacon and eggs. Otherwise, it's sort of like cake for dinner. Which, now that I think about it, isn't such a terrible thing.

This is NOT a sponsored post. Krusteaz has sent me products in the past, but this time around, I just wanted to have some fun with the info they sent me.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cottage Cheese Loaf

On weekends, I sometimes stop at a few garage sales. There are usually two things I look for: interesting kitchen I items I can use for cooking or photos ... and ... cookbooks. Sometimes I find a few gems.

Last weekend, I picked up a tome called The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking (along with a few other books). No byline - it just says it's by the "Editors of Favorite Recipes Press." With a copyright of 1986, it's not exactly ancient, but it's not modern, either.

I paged through it looking for something interesting to make, and I spotted a recipe for Cottage Cheese Bread. Well, okay. I needed bread, I had cottage cheese, and of course I had yeast and flour and the rest of the ingredients.

One thing I liked about the recipe was that it made just one loaf instead of two or three. I ditched most of the instructions. Hello, I like using my stand mixer for kneading. And it suggested baking in an 8-inch round casserole. I baked it in an 8-inch round cake pan instead.

On odd thing was that this bread included 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. I'd ever added baking soda to a yeast bread, and I almost left it out. Then I thought, eh, what the heck. I used all the other ingredients, so I tossed the soda in, as well. Maybe next time I'll leave the soda out and see if it makes any difference.

Cottage Cheese Bread
Adapted from The Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Cooking
By the Editors of Favorite Recipes Press

1/4 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 1/4 cups (10 1/8 ounces) bread flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and knead with the dough hook until the mixture is smooth and elastic. There will be bumpy bits from the cottage cheese, but the dough itself should be very smooth, shiny, and elastic. The dough is very loose and wet.

Cover the bowl and set aside to rise for an hour.

After the dough has risen, stir the bread to knock the air out.

Spray an 8-inch cake pan with baking spray. Turn the dough out into the cake pan. It's a wet dough, so it won't hold it's shape very well. Encourage it to spread to a mostly round shape to fit the pan. You don't need to flatten it or shape the top - it will ooze on its own.

Cover the pan (I upended the stand mixer bowl on top of the cake pan, but plastic wrap is fine. Let it rest for another hour.

About 20 minutes before you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the two hours are up, uncover the dough and bake the loaf at 350 degrees until the bread is deep brown and the interior reaches 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (I like the Thermapen), about 35 minutes.

Remove the bread from the pan and let it cool complete on a rack before cutting.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Apple Cheesecake Custard Pie

I found a really interesting apple pie recipe in a community cookbook - it was an apple pie with what sounded sort of like a custard filling. Sort of.

To be honest, the "custard" part of the pie sounded like it might be a little too wet to set properly. But I figured I'd give it a try. What the heck...

The recipe instructions were a little untrustworthy, in other ways. For example, it said that the apples should be peeled and then pared. But ... that's the same thing.

I tried the recipe, despite all the clues that I shouldn't have, making my best attempts to interpret in between the lines. It sounded like it could have been good.

It was an unholy mess.

I started poking around online and didn't find anything close. There were some apple custard pies ... but none seemed like the correct version of the one in the community book. Many of them called for condensed milk or even sweetened condensed milk, where this one called for plain old milk. Maybe that was the issue.

I poked around a little more, and didn't find anything that was calling to me to make it.

So I decided to whip up my own custom version. The apples are cooked first, so they don't release too much moisture into the custard. And the custard itself is a little different - it's actually a bit of a cross between cheesecake and custard.

Here's a confession. I had no idea how the apples would behave. I had no idea if they were going to stay put at the bottom of the pan, or whether they'd float to the top. Well, they did float a little, but they actually distributed themselves nicely throughout the custard, so the resulting pie has layers of apples interspersed with a creamy custard-like filling.

I thought it was pretty interesting.

Speaking of pretty, it didn't cut as pretty as some pies I've made. But that's fine. The flavor made up for it.

Psssst! There's a link to a GIVEAWAY at the bottom of this post! Courtesy of Casabella.

Apple Cheesecake Custard Pie

1 recipe for a single pie crust

For the apples:
1 tablespoon butter
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
4 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced

For the cheesecake custard:
4 ounces cream cheese
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

For the topping:
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

If you're making your own crust, have it ready and chilling in the refrigerator.

To cook the apples:
Melt the butter in a saute pan. Add the salt, cinnamon, sugar, and apples. Cook until the apples are slightly softened, then turn up the heat and continue cooking until there's very little liquid left, and the liquid that is there has thickened.

Set aside to cool to room temperature. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until needed. You absolutely don't want to out it into the pie crust while it's warm - it should be room temperature or cooler.

To make the filling:
Use an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to beat the cream cheese to soften it. Add the sugar and salt ad beat until combined. add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined. Add the vanilla and milk and mix until combined.

Roll the pie crust to fit your pie plate, Fit it into the plate and flute the edges as desired.

Place the apples in the bottom of the pan, then add the filling mixture.

Cover the edges of the crust with pie shields to keep them from over-browning. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 degrees and bake another 40 minutes, or until the custard is mostly set, but it's still slightly jiggly in the center.

Note: check the browning of the crusts about 10 minutes before the pie is cooked. Removed the pie shields if you want more browning - how much it browns is going to depend in your crust recipe.

Remove the pie from the oven when it's done and let the pie plate cool on a rack until it reaches room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.

To make the topping:
Combine the sour cream and powdered sugar. Spread over the top of the pie. Please note that I'm a huge fan of sour cream toppings ... so I might have gone just a tad overboard here. Half as much would cover the pie with a thin layer. Or, if you're a fan of sweet, then whipped cream might be more your style.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wagon Wheel Pasta

This is comfort food at its best. A neighbor in the apartment building I grew up in made something similar, and I was enthralled by it the first time I tried it. He called it "hot dish." Now, I know that "hot dish" is a Minnesota thing, and it isn't just one single recipe. Then, I thought that single recipe was Hot Dish, and I loved it.

It was completely different from anything I made at home, and that's probably why I like it so much when he sent over a sample.

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved my mother's spaghetti sauce. It was a long-cooked meat-based tomato sauce with oregano and other herbs.

The hot dish our neighbor made was pretty much the opposite. It was a super-quick dish rather than a long-cooked one. There was no oregano or fennel or marjoram or basil. No herbs at all. It was stunning in its simplicity. Instead of melded and merged flavors, the hot dish was all about the separate flavors.

The tomatoes weren't completely fresh in the that hot dish, but they weren't simmered all day, either.

It was a revelation ... you could have pasta without cooking sauce all day.

I still love a long-cooked pasta sauce, but sometimes this is exactly what I want.

Wagon Wheel Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, roughly diced
1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and diced the same size as the onion
1 clove elephant garlic, finely diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
1 can petite diced tomatoes
Several generous grinds black pepper
1/2 pound mini wagon wheel pasta, cooked al dente
1 cup tomato juice (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the onion, green pepper, garlic, and salt. Cook until the vegetables are cooked almost all the through.

Add the ground beef and cook until the meat is no longer pink, breaking it up into small bits as you cook it. It's fine if there are some small chunks.

Add the diced tomatoes and black pepper and stir to combine. Cover the pan and cook on low until most of the moisture is gone.

Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. If it needs a little more moisture - and to help to come together - add some of the pasta cooking water. Taste for seasoning and add salt or pepper, if needed. If you're like more tomato flavor, add the tomato juice and cook for another few seconds.

Serve hot. If you like, sprinkle some grated cheese on top.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Cheesecake in your slow cooker? Yes, you can!

A slow cooker is a pretty nifty place to cook a cheesecake. It stays at a controlled temperature, and you don't have to tie up the oven for a long time and you don't need to worry about a waterbath in the oven.

The tricky thing about cooking a cheesecake in a slow cooker is that slow cookers are not all the same. Newer slow cookers tend to cook hotter than really old ones. Some are insulated more than others, which matters during the resting stage.

I baked this in the Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Set & Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, so if you're using something that's significantly different, you might need to adjust the recipe.

The good news is that this makes a small cheesecake, so it's not a huge investment in ingredients. And it's a nice size for serving a small family - you don't need to commit to eating cheesecake every day for a week.

You're going to need a six-inch springform pan for this recipe, which is smaller that standard springform pans for normal-sized cheesecakes. A 6-inch springform pan fits perfectly in my slow cooker, with space around it for air circulation. If you're using a different slow cooker, test the size of your springform pan first, before you fill it, to make sure it fits.

Slow Cooker Cheesecake

This cheesecake is so good, you'll want to put it on a pedestal.
For the crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

Wrap the bottom and sides of a 6-inch springform pan with aluminum foil. Since the pan doesn't actually sit IN the water, you might not need to do this, but I never trust a springform pan around water - I always wrap, for insurance.

In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with sugar and salt. Or, save a bowl and do the mixing in the same plastic bag where you crushed the crackers. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. If you want a little less crust, you don't need to use it all - it's up to you.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sugar and salt; beat until combined and the cream cheese is smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until well blended. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth.

Note: you can do this beating with an electric mixer, but beat slowly - electric mixers tend to beat air into the product, and that's not what you want here.

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared springform pan. This filled my springform pan almost exactly to the top - if your pan is slightly taller or shorter, yours might not fill quite as full, or you might have a little excess.

Put a metal rack in the bottom of the slow cooker and add water just to the bottom of the rack. Place the cheesecake on the rack.

Cover the top of the slow cooker with a clean kitchen towel or a cloth napkin. This will collect the condensation so it doesn't drip onto the top of the cheesecake. Put the lid on top of the towels.

Turn the slow cooker to low and set for 2 hours. DON'T PEEK. When two hours are up, turn the slow cooker off and turn the lid crosswise on top of the slow cooker. Leave the towel in place, just turn the lid so the cheesecake can slowly begin to cool. Since the Hamilton Beach slow cooker is so well insulated, it holds the heat really well, so if you leave the lid on, the cheesecake won't cool off much at all.

 Let the slow cooker cool for one hour with the cheesecake resting inside.

Remove the lid, remove the towel, and remove the cheesecake. Refrigerate until well-chilled, about four hours. Or until tomorrow.

Run a thin-bladed knife between the cheesecake and pan, then release the spring and remove the cheesecake. Note: slicing is cleaner if you run the knife blade under hot water then wipe it off after each cut. If it matters. Or not.

Serve. Devour. Yum.

This recipe was developed using the Hamilton Beach slow cooker which was provided by the manufacturer through the blog group 37 Cooks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vanilla Bread Machine Loaf

I love vanilla. A lot. I buy it in quart bottles for general use, and I usually have other vanillas hanging around, as well.

So this time I decided to add it to some bread.  It's not that unusual. I've used vanilla in sweet breads before, but really vanilla isn't sweet on its own - we think of it as sweet because it's usually used in dessert. This time, I added vanilla to a loaf that was entirely savory.

The vanilla flavor wasn't in the forefront. In fact, most people probably wouldn't name it if they tasted it.

But then again, it's doubtful people would be able to name most individual ingredients in most dishes. It's not about tasting individual flavors - it's about creating a harmonious finished product.

Sure, you could make this loaf without the vanilla, but give it a try ... you might like it.

Bread Machine Loaf with Vanilla

1 cup water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Please all the ingredients in your bread machine in the order suggested by the bread maker's instructions. Press the appropriate buttons.

When the bread is done, remove it from the machine and let it cool complete on a rack before slicing.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Candied Carrots

When I started paging through the book Food, Family and Traditions: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances, I was first struck by how familiar many of the recipes were. 

Our family was neither Hungarian nor Jewish, but if your roots are in part of the world, there are a whole lot of similarities when it come to home-style dishes.

My first instinct was to make one of those familiar dishes. Maybe stuffed cabbage, or mushroom barley soup, or borsht. But then I spotted the recipe for candied carrots.

Now, the funny thing is that I often heard people talking about candied carrots when I was growing up. They'd be talking about a celebration menu, or a dinner party, and candied carrots would be on the list. Maybe they were in magazines or on TV, too.

But they were never, ever, ever on my plate. People talked about them. But apparently no one ever served them to me.

So I figured that now was as good a time as any to delve into the world of sweet vegetables. I figured that I could go back for the more familiar later. There's plenty of time for that.

The first thing I found out was that these take a looooong time to make. And the second thing is that the carrots shrink a lot. I started with a pound of carrots and ended up with a little bowl full. But that's fine. They were sweet enough that you probably wouldn't pile them on your plate, anyway.

Have you ever had candied carrots? What do YOU think of them?

Candied Carrots
Cherry Press LLC; August 2014; $35.00/Hardcover; ISBN: 978-0-9898479-0-2

1 tablespoon oil

1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced horizontally

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons flour
1 cup water

Pinch salt

Place oil in a 2-quart saucepan. Add the carrots and the sugar. Cover and cook on 
very low heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid reduces, approximately 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a small separate bowl, stir flour into ¼ into cup of the water, mixing until smooth. Add the remaining water, stirring to mix.

Add flour-water mixture slowly to cooked carrots, stirring; add salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Decrease heat to low, stirring gently so as not to break carrots, and cook until sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Two Colorado Chefs - KNIFE FIGHT

Kelly Liken. Photo courtesy of Esquire Network.
Okay, peeps, I've never even heard of the show Knife Fight, but I think I'll be watching this one, just because there are two prominent Colorado chefs involved.

And bonus points that Chef Kelly Liken was on Top Chef and that I met her and talked to her about a lot of food-related stuff.

So I really, really really have to watch. Wanna join me?

The show is hosted by Ilan Hall and it's on Esquire Network, which apparently I've apparently bypassed for too long.

According my my cable network, her episode, "Live Spot Prawns" will air on Tuesday, September 23. It looks like they're pretty good about reruns, but you'll have to check your provider to see when it will be shown.

Liken, who owns Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, met Knife Fight's host, Ilan Hall, while filming Bravo TV “Top Chef” season 7. That's the season where she made it to the finale episode filmed in Singapore. But she didn't win.

So she's back at it. At one point in the upcoming episode of Knife Fight  (according to my secret source), she says, “….there is no prize for second place, this is all about bragging rights.” You go, girl. I'm rooting for you!

Kelly Liken. Photo courtesy of Esquire Network.
The PR folks said, "This underground cooking competition brings together some of the nation’s leading chefs including James Beard Award winners and Michelin star chefs within a raw setting where no rules apply. Pitted against fellow Colorado chef Steve Redzikowski of Boulder’s Oak at Fourteenth, Liken, described as the queen of seasonal American cuisine, brings her game, no-holds-barred."

And there's more ...

"The crowd at The Gorbals, located in Los Angeles where Knife Fight is filmed, goes wild as Liken is challenged to cook with three secret ingredients: beef heart, wild dandelion greens, and lastly Santa Barbara Spot Prawns–̶ all under one hour. Liken starts off proposing three dishes she plans to prepare, including a beef tartare that features the dandelion greens, to present to the judges including Naomi Pomeroy and Brendan Collins of Waterloo & City, along with host Ilan Hall. Liken announces a second dish that will be a Southeast Asian inspired item followed by a braised beef heart on a crispy sope. America can expect surprising twists and turns throughout the half-hour episode. This hit original series is described as an after-hours war zone and America will see who takes home the win for 'Battle Colorado.'"

Kelly's Bio:

Kelly Liken was a James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southwest in 2009, 2010, and 2011, She likes to use ingredients that are unique to the Rocky Mountain region. She works with local farmers, ranchers, and artisan purveyors, many of whom supply ingredients especially grown for the restaurant, to develop a culinary program that reflects the seasonal bounty of Colorado.

Besides appearing on Season 7 of Top Chef  (Top Chef D.C.) she has also been on Iron Chef America on Food Network and The Talk on CBS. In print, she has been featured in Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and The New York Times.

Gonna be in Vail? Restaurant Kelly Liken is located in the Gateway Building at 12 Vail Rd. at the entrance to Vail Village. It is open for dinner seven nights a week from 6 ̶ 10 p.m.

For reservations, which are strongly recommended, call 970-479-0175. Valet parking is provided.

For more info about Kelly Liken, go to www.kellyliken.com or follow Liken on Twitter.

For more about Knife Fight, go to http://esquiretv.com/KnifeFight, follow on Twitter @KnifeFightESQ, or check it out on Facebook at http://facebook.com/KnifeFightESQ.

So tell me ... are you going to watch???

Friday, September 19, 2014

Corn Chowder with Bacon

Sometimes the stars align perfectly. Or maybe it's the ingredients that align. This corn chowder couldn't have been more perfect.

Well, maybe it could have been more perfect if I made a giant vat of the chowder. But the flavor was perfect.

At at first, I was wishing I had red bell peppers for the color, but I think I actually liked the look better with all pale ingredients. Some times bits of color don't look all that attractive in a creamy sauce. If you want an accent color, I'd suggest floating some chopped herbs or grated cheese on top.

Or do the sensible thing and add a little extra bacon spread to the top.

Hmmm ... did I just say BACON SPREAD???

Yup, I did. I got some bacon spread to sample from a company called The Bacon Jams. I had a giveaway over on my other blog (which is now over). But here, I have the magical corn chowder recipe.

Want another recipe? I made Bacon Bread in my bread machine, HERE.

Corn Chowder

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 of a large onion, diced (about the same size as corn kernels)
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced (about the same size as corn kernels)
Kernels from 4 years of fresh corn
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced (about the same size as corn kernels)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Bacon Spread
1 teaspoon black pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan. add the onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring as needed, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the corn, potatoes, and salt. Cook for another minute or two, stirring as needed. Add the flour and stir. Cook another minute or two, then add the milk, cream, bacon jam, and black pepper. Stir well.

Let the mixture come to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook, stirring as needed, until the vegetables are cooked through. Taste for seasoning, and adjust as needed.

Serve hot. A little garnish of bacon jam would be nice.

About Bacon Spread: I received jars of this to try, and I have to say I'm in love with this stuff. I keep sneaking little samples of it. It's really good. A little sweet, a little smoky, a little jammy.

If you don't have bacon spread, I suppose you could used chopped or crumbled cooked bacon, but if you're a bacon fan, I suggest you give this stuff a try.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sous Vide Pork Chops

Ah, pork, I gnawed you well.

Do you remember back in the day when your mom cooked every piece of pork until it was as dry as shoe leather Probably because she was afraid of it?

There are some cuts of pork that are perfectly happy being cooked for a long time. Like ribs. Or shoulder. A long, slow cook results in fall-off-the-bone tenderness. But other cuts ... not really. They just get dry and chewy.

Nowadays, pork-cooking recommendations have changed. Pork no longer needs to be incinerated. It can be a little bit pink. Even the USDA says that 145 degrees is safe, and chefs are setting that threshold even lower. While no one's advocating rare pork, pink is preferable.

And here's the deal about temperature safety. It's not just about the highest temperature that the food reaches. The time that the food is at a certain temperature also makes a difference. So, a lower temperature for a longer time has the same effect (as far as safety) as a higher temperature for a shorter time. It's just like pasteurization, where milk can be heated to 161 degrees for 15 seconds or it can be heated 280 degrees for 2 seconds.

When I got some pork chops from Frontiere Natural Meats, they seemed to be the perfect candidates for sous vide cooking.

It turns out, I was right. These chops were fantastic. Okay, it was good meat to start with, but sous vide was a great technique for cooking them.

While cooking something using sous vide can take a looooong time, like the 72-hour short ribs I made a while back, that time is mostly unattended.

If you're sous vide cooking for a ridiculously long time, you might need to add some water to the pot as it evaporates, but other than that, you just let it go. Since we're not talking about unattended fire, the risk of something going horribly wrong is pretty low, much like having a waterfall or a fish tank left unattended.

In this case, I cooked the pork chops in the sous vide, and then seared them to get a pretty brown crust - and to add some seasoning. Since the chops from Frontiere were vacuum-sealed in their own pouches, I didn't even bother taking them out and re-sealing them in my own bags - I just plopped them into the warm water, and let them circulate.

How easy is that?

The result was fully-cooked, but slightly pink meat. It was tender and juicy, with a nicely seasoned crust from searing them after they were cooked.

Sous Vide Pork Chops

3 thick cut boneless pork chops (or as many as you need, and that will fit)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil, for searing

If the chops aren't vacuum-sealed, place them in a vacuum-seal bag and vacuum and seal them. That was certainly an unwieldy sentence, wasn't it.

Place them in a sous vide bath at 140 degrees for 2 hours. Longer should be perfectly fine.

When the cooking time is done, remove them from the bags and pat them dry.

Heat a cast iron frying pan on medium-high heat. Drizzle your favorite cooking oil on the meat - just enough to coat it slightly. I used an olive oil blend that can handle relatively high heat. Grind on some fresh black pepper and sprinkle on some salt to taste.

Sear the chops on all sides.

Serve. You can leave them whole, or slice them for presentation.

Did I mention that the other nice thing about sous vide cooking is that you don't need to worry as much about resting time as with other cooking methods? When you roast or grill or fry meat, the temperature is still rising after you take it off the heat. In theory, you should let the meat rest until the temperature stabilized or begins to drop a bit. But with sous vide, the internal temperature is stable, and it's not going to rise after cooking. Pretty slick, huh?

Disclaimer: I receive meat from Frontiere so I can create recipes for my blog.