30 December 2009

Comfort Food for a Restful Break

Ahhhhhhhhh. Allow me to catch you up. After I submitted grades, I went to bed. I slept in without waking up at 2, 3 or 4 AM in a cold sweat, without even waking up when my cat meowed in my ear all morning. I logged into my email and didn't see 50 pleas or beggings for forgiveness, I drove to my office and didn't encounter a single student. It looked like a ghost town, and my blood pressure never rose once. Is it? Could it be? BREAK??!!

Yes, oh yes, it is break. I watched a line of cars the length of a football field head out of town from my little valley, and with their vacancy came the loud proclamation from the depths of my soul:


It isn't that I dislike the presence of students. I just relish the quiet. Pullman is a tiny town, and without the student population the whole town slows down. No rush, no bustle, just silent calm.

To commemorate my final winter break in Pullman, I decided on comfort food. Comfort food is stick-to-your-ribs delicious, but it doesn't have to stick to your waistline. Pork chops are lean enough that a simple pan sauce can be downright satisfying, and even though mashed potatoes have been given a bad reputation in recent years, without adding a pound of butter, the potato is one of the most nutritious vegetables around (they possess the highest amount of protein that any vegetable has to offer). Rounding out the meal with a big ol' pile of steamed broccoli and a salad, my version of "comfort food" was every bit as comforting as a steak and loaded baked potato dinner. Take that, end of semester!

Pork Chops with Sage Apple Sauce
(Adapted from Eating Well's Pork Chops with Apples & Thyme recipe)

3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 4-ounce boneless pork chops, 1/2 inch thick, trimmed of fat
1 small onion, sliced
1 Fuji apple, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup apple cider, or apple juice
2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 tsp. crushed sage

1. Mix 2 tablespoons broth and cornstarch in a small bowl.
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add chops and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
3. Reduce heat to medium-high and add onion to the pan. Cook, stirring often, until it starts to soften and brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add apple and cook, stirring often, until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining broth, cider (or juice), mustard, sage and the cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring, until thickened and glossy, about 1 minute. Return the chops to the pan and heat through. Serve immediately with mashed potatoes.

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