At the bottom of the "directory posting about grandchildren" (I am so blessed! :->), I mentioned that I was headed into the kitchen to "attempt making a winter stew using up the left over Pork Loin in the fridge". I had also said, "Hopefully it will turn out delicious. If it does, then yup, I'll be posting about it". I am ever so happy to report that it did!! :-) !! (Actually, I'm THRILLED that it did. ;-p). So as promised, I am now posting about it.
Yes, this qualifies as yet another "Improvised" recipe. Which in turn means, yes, I do that a lot. Improvise that is. Around here, those are referred to as "Tonight's Specials". Sometimes they result from a desire to use up left overs in a different way than they were served the first time. Other times they come about due to my walking into the pantry and asking myself, "what can I make up out of what is still sitting in here?". Thankfully, my guys are good sports about trying the creations. Also thankfully, the mass majority of the time they (the 'tonight's specials') get at least a "it's okay" vote. But sometimes, they get a full thumbs up / "write this one down and save it" vote. Thus was the case with the Pork Loin Stew. :-D!
Here is a picture of the main stew ingredients.
(the piece of meat does not look very big in that picture. It was about an eight (8) inch long piece)
After having sprayed the inside of the crock-pot, I then cut the left over pork loin into small pieces. Yes, small pieces. We prefer getting a mixture of all of the ingredients in a spoon full, versus this time getting a big chunk of this, and next time a big chunk of that. But that's just our preference. You are welcome to fix yours the way your household likes it.
--> Bonus tip here about cooking the Pork Loin. While most people are now preferring 'lean meats' (which means meat without much fat on it), when you purchase a roast or loin cut meat to cook, make sure you get one that DOES have a good thick slab of fat the whole length of one side of the meat piece. Why? Because it is the juices flowing from the fat into the meat during baking, that first help make the meat juicy not dry, and secondly help add flavor to the meat. You are then welcome to slice the fat that's left on the meat after baking, off of it, before slicing and serving it. But leave it on there during the baking part!!!
(-->) Also, place the meat in the pan with the layer of fat facing the top of the pan. That way, both the juices and the flavor will ooze down into the meat while it's cooking, not just fill the bottom of your pan.
(-->) On top of that now facing up layer of fat, is where you want to liberally apply your spices. This time for the pork loin, I had put on a THICK layer of garlic powder, a medium layer of Lawry's Seasoning Salt (TM), and a light layer of Leaf Thyme. It made for really good pork loin!!!
Next I cut up the red skin potatoes. Yes, I left the skins on. For one, they add a nice color to the finished product. And secondly, the skins contain a whole lot of the nutrients.
I cut up enough potatoes to equal the amount of cut up pork loin, which was sitting on one side inside of the crock-pot.
Next came the onions. Yes, I chopped them up very fine, knowing full well how much they shrink in size while cooking. Seeings how several of the onions in the bag were past just sprouting, I knew these were going to be strong flavored onions! I didn't want the end result to taste like onion stew.
While the pork loin was already deliciously flavored, I wasn't sure it was enough flavoring to carry through all of the ingredients. And I did not want a totally bland tasting final product. We didn't have (seldom do actually) any real garlic, so I added a liberal sprinkling of the garlic powder.
Then came the carrots. These, I peeled. Why? Because I do not like the texture of the cooked carrot skins. Yes, they too contain nutrients. But I don't like their texture!!! You are welcome to do it which ever way you prefer. ;-)
I then referred to my recipe for "Old Time Beef Stew", to figure out what other spices I should add. I didn't go with all of them, seeings how this was pork not beef. And I added one that the beef recipe didn't include. More of the 'improvising'.
Next came pouring on the water, mixing everything up real good, plugging in the crock pot, setting it to high, putting the cover on and walking away. :-)
The idea had been to serve it that night for supper. But then it turned out that I was going to be the only one home. Doesn't life often work out that way? Tis best to learn to flow! Brent stuck the inside crock of the crock pot in the basement fridge for me, before he headed out. The next morning I brought it back upstairs, set it inside it's base, and left a note for someone to plug it in around noon, before heading off to the chiropractor ( the latest specialist helping my vertigo). .
--> Bonus tip here about using your crock-pot after having refrigerated the liner. You CAN cook something for several hours (or less) in your crock-pot and then stick the liner straight into the fridge (I usually place a hot pad on the fridge shelf first). HOWEVER, you then need to let the liner loose some of it's coldness before you again start heating it/cooking with it. Otherwise you risk the possibility of it cracking on you. That would then spell disaster! [I recommend about an half hour 'loosing the chill' time.]
When I got home, the crock-pot had been plugged in (thank-you Benson!) and was on the 'low' setting. I stirred everything and turned it up to high. The carrots were still 'crunchier' than how I like them in a stew. Turned out for the best that I hadn't served it that first night, huh? God's timing is amazing!!!
As mentioned, I had poured water over everything. That then made the cooked product soup like. But 'stew' is thick, right?
--> Bonus tip here about how to thicken the water to make it stew like. I am not including pictures of this step, because it turns out looking very unappealing, at least from my perspective. And from the look on Brian's face as he walked by and saw me then adding it to the stew, my perspective is right. ;-p!
(-->) Using a ladle, remove a lot of the liquid from the crock-pot, with out also removing any of the meat or veggies. Yup, it takes a slow hand and patience. The good news is, that it's another one of those things where practice does in turn make the process easier. ;-). Place the pulled off liquid in a small sauce pan. Once your sauce pan is about three fourths (3/4) of the way full, turn the burner on high and stir. Once the liquid starts to boil, turn your heat down and start adding flour. I dump quite a bit in, then whisk it - whisk it good! The idea is to break apart as many of those forming lumps of flour as you can. Once you've conquered that amount, add more flour and keep whisking!! You can now turn the burner off. You know you have added enough flour, when your mixture is a considerably thick lumpy looking blob of goo. Hey, I warned you that it's not very unappealing looking! o:-b.
(-->)Scoot as much of the meat and veggies as you can to the side near the top of the crock-pot, and dump the "goo" in. Wait a minute or two, and then stir everything in the pot together. The "goo" look will vanish, and your end product will start resembling stew instead of soup. ;-) Put the lid back on the crock-pot and let it cook for another ten minutes, or longer if grandpa calls to talk to your husband right then. (More of life's 'timing' that's best to just flow with! ;->)
We had our Pork Loin Stew with wonderful plain muffins. Don't know what I'm referring to? 'Stay tuned', I'll do a posting about them yet this weekend. :-> [ I did :-) Find it HERE ]
But for now, here is the recipe for "Stew from Leftover Pork Loin":
You can write down that this recipe came from Cheryl B. :-)
Left Over Pre-Cooked Pork Loin
Red Skin Potatoes, chucked small (enough to = the amount of cut up meat)
Finely Chopped Yellow Onions
4 - Peeled and Finely Chopped Large Sized Carrots
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Pepper
1 Teaspoon Paprika (I use Spanish Style)
1 Teaspoon Celery Salt
(Next time I will also be adding 1 Tablespoon of Leaf Thyme)
4 Cups Steaming Hot Water
For "thickening" -
Liquid removed from cooked ingredients
Early in the morning, chop your meat and veggies up into small size pieces. Add them to your crock-pot as you go. Once they are all in, add a nice layer of the garlic powder on top. Stir it in good. Then add your other spices. Pour the steaming hot water over the top of everything, allowing the spices to flow down into the pot. Stir everything for a minute or two. Put the lid on the pot, plug the pot in, set the setting to "hot" and walk away.
If possible, a couple of times during the day wander into the kitchen and stir everything up good. If your not at home and thus can't do this, don't fret it. It will still taste really good!!!
About a half hour before you plan on serving it, remove a lot of the liquid from inside of the crock-pot, place it in a sauce pan, and use the white flour to make your 'goo' (aka: thickener ;-p). Add the 'goo' to the crock-pot, wait a minute or two, and then stir it in thourally. Wait about ten more minutes (during which the lid is back on the crock-pot) before dishing up your stew. Enjoy!
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NEXT WEEK, I 'plan' on linking this particular posting up to:
~ "Making Your Home Sing Monday('s)", are hosted by Nan, at 'Mom's the Word (I love to hear)' (http://momstheword--livingforhim.blogspot.com/).
~ "Homemaker Mondays ... Yours, Mine & Ours", are hosted by Jen, at '11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven' (http://rtheyallyours.blogspot.com/).
~ "Market Yourself Monday", are hosted by Sumo, at 'Sumo's Sweet Stuff' (http://sumossweetstuff.blogspot.com/)
~ "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday('s)", are hosted by Lisa, at 'Blessed with Grace' (http://blessedwithgrace.blogspot.com).
~ "Tuesdays at the Table", are hosted by Cole, at 'All The Small Stuff' (http://allthesmallstuff-cole.blogspot.com/).
~ "Kitchen Tip Tuesday('s)", are hosted by Tammy, at 'Tammy's Recipes' (http://www.tammysrecipes.com/).
~ "Tasty Tuesday('s)", are hosted by Jennifer, at "Balancing Beauty and Bedlam" (http://www.beautyandbedlam.com/)
~ "Whatever Goes Wednesday('s), hosted by Michelle, at 'Someday Crafts'
~ "Full Plate Thursday('s), hosted by Miz Helen, at 'Miz Helen's Country Cottage' (http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/)
~ "(Foodie Friday's)", are hosted by "Gollum" (aka: Michael), at 'Designs by Gollum' (http://designsbygollum.blogspot.com/)