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Thinking Fall: Pork, Potatoes & Peas

Here in the Upper Peninsula the nights are getting chilly again, which means we all are busy soaking up what’s left summer. Kayaking, hiking, biking and event after event keep us gone from sunrise to sunset – and all that fun can really build up an appetite. This meal is simple, yet will help you regain strength for day after day of fun in the sun!

There is another smell in the air – the smell of sawdust and deep fried food. Be it county fairs or our very own Upper Peninsula State Fair happening this week, Youth Market Livestock Auctions are a great way to buy local while supporting the future of your own community. This month’s recipe features pork chops from a 4-H hog, but feel free to try with any chops from your favorite hog farmer! As a 4-H Alumni who sold animals for over ten years – let me just extend a huge thank you to every individual and business that has supported a young, hard working kid in their agriculture endeavors. Those projects teach real life skills that I am so thankful for everyday. 

The other two star ingredients of the show are: peas I shelled myself and new potatoes from Mighty Soil Farm. Often potatoes don’t make it into my eating habits until later in the fall, but nothing is quite as delicious as a rustic mashed potato with this year’s first harvest of spuds. 

Easy Pork, Potatoes & Peas

Step 1: When you walk in the door pull the thawed pork chops out of the fridge and throw them in the sink to come up in temperature. Put two small pots of water on the stove to boil, one to fit the potatoes and one to fit the peas. Salt your water! You’ll also need a large cast iron so feel free to get that set on the stove. 

Step 2: Put away your things and go about your usual routine while you wait for a boil. 

Ingredients: 

2 cups Peas, shelled 
10 small Potatoes, washed 
1 Tbsp Pork Fat
2 Pork Chops, seasoned with Salt & Pepper
1 Cup Water
4 Tbsp Butter 
Salt 

Step 3: Poke the potatoes with a fork in the center. Add potatoes to the boiling water and boil until tender (20-25 minutes). 

Step 4: Add the peas to boiling water and simmer for 7-10 minutes. 

Step 5: While those are cooking, heat your cast iron skillet to medium high heat and add the pork fat. Once hot, add the pork chops and sear both sides, approximately 4-5 minutes per side. 

Step 6: Strain the poached peas and add them to your cast iron with the pork. Add the cup of water and 2 Tbsps of butter to the pan and let it all simmer together. Change the temperature of your cast iron to medium. 

Step 7: Strain potatoes (check that they are tender) and mash with a fork or potato masher. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and salt and pepper to taste. 

Step 8: I ended up removing the peas from the cast iron and setting them aside and finishing the pork chop solo in the gravy that formed in the cast iron for an even more flavorful and juicy chop.

Plating: Place a heap of potatoes on the middle of the plate, rest a pork chop atop the spuds and “sprinkle” the peas over the plate, topping it all with a drizzle of the gravy from the cast iron. I love non-fat greek yogurt with my potatoes – but I encourage your to dress up your taters the way you love most. 

Enjoy! Use the carbs and proteins to rebuild your strength and get back out there and seize the day! 

Alex Palzewicz is the U.P. Local Food Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference and she wants to know your favorite protein? Contact Alex at alex@localdifference.org

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