Pineapple Pork & Sauteed Cabbage

I thought before diving into how to make this recipe, I’d explain why I include so many recipes on this website of mine. Because that may not seem to fit into the overall “theme(s)” of my website.

I like to cook, yes. And putting how-to recipes here, especially ones that I create and there’s no “book” to refer to. It helps me either remember them or know where to look quickly if I forget. I have a few other places I use for that purpose, which I mention later, here.

But it just struck me that I’ve never explained the biggest reason. It’s because I often find myself having to explain to people how to do things, and writing these recipes down helps me directly practice that. And I’m being productive simultaneously. Sometimes it seems it’s all I do. Which I don’t mind – I like helping people and think it’s better to explain HOW to do something than do it myself for them(something my 6-year-old daughter asks for all the time, understandably) or just explain as best as I can. Otherwise, it can turn out to be a waste of everyone’s time and frustration I may have been able to handle better with improved communication skills.

And I often explain how to do something extremely technical or complex and translate that in more manageable steps and instructions and writing that others can more easily understand than the original. Think about engineers, doctors, academics(who LOVE to write incomprehensibly just to sound smart. They’re usually just riffing off someone else’s work). And then have me to edit it all for them.

Explaining how I cook something and breaking it down into logical, easy-to-follow steps, making sure not to overlook any detail, and preparing it for someone else of nearly any education or familiarity with the subject (a lot of financial and statistical babble for me to interpret, too). And getting video and photos of it all, editing that, and including them for supplementary and supportive illustration. It’s a living.

I don’t think improving oneself has to be tough. You don’t always have to overcome some nearly insurmountable obstacle in life to consistently grow as a person.

Baby steps work as well. As in a saying I use a lot, it’s how a beach is made: one grain of sand at a time. And how an ant can eat an Elephant: One bite at a time. Iteration and often the power of compounding and multipliers can reap dividends in no time quick. Like doubling the payment of a penny a day. Always take that offer.

Also like how to expand your vocabulary, which I also think is a noble endeavor. You don’t need to start memorizing Shakespearean sonnets. Take it at a comfortable pace and it’ll stick better usually.

This is a recipe I created myself. I don’t have a seriously long list of dishes I create because there aren’t a lot of recipes I don’t have quickly on hand that I like and haven’t just memorized at this point in my cooking career.

I curate recipes using a few methods, which I guess I’ll mention here. I could probably do a whole post on them, because they’ve become so vital to modern cooking and lifestyles, and they just make life easier. For me, at least. I realize everyone has their preferences with everything in life. It is why I don’t ever even try to debate people’s preferences, no matter how they may contend with my own. Everyone likes different things for different reasons. It’s what makes the world go around. And stay full of friction, sometimes.

I use Allrecipes extensively, which has a nice “Favorites” feature. They also make it easy to save to a Pinterest FOOD board if that’s more your thing. I often save it there too, just in case. Southern Living, which has been a staple in my family forever since it began. I have a hardback library of their cookbooks that span decades. Plus their “extra” supplementary Seasonal and “Ultimate” cookbooks. I lug them around the world in boxes to be put in hard-to-reach places in my home. And typically find the recipes online before pulling them out as much as I ever used to. However, the Southern Living website is overrun with pop-ups and ads and annoying things, I have to warn. The hardback cookbooks don’t do that, which makes them still valuable. The recipes have already been paid for.

I also use Zoho Notebook to pop interesting recipes in. Then when I’m in the store or making a list, or need to pull up the recipe while in the middle of cooking, I can easily with an iPhone or iPad ever-nearby.

A screenshot of my Notebooks using Zoho Notebook

It allows you to create different notebooks for different purposes, customize them, customize your UI and do all sorts of nice things. For free. Can’t beat that.

Another App I use a lot is a list manager. I make lists all the time for reasons of saving time and frustration mostly. Those items interrelate for me a lot. So I try to optimize all the time. I’ve tried and used a lot of list managers. Bear, which seems to be one that Apple likes to push for some reason I know not. I didn’t like it. (I use Google calendar incidentally. I don’t use many “Apple” Apps because it feels confining to stick to an ecosystem so blindly.) Some impressive, some not.

The list manager I use the most these days, and have a long-term subscription for all the associated products (just to contradict what I just said :-)) is Adobe’s “Actions.” I can’t locate a website or app in Apple’s App store or anywhere online now, which is interesting. It’s a whole suite of time-saving software that I use frequently. It has several options just in the “Actions” App which also has a complementary app that I don’t use as frequently. Adobe has such a long list of software, that it’s hard to even keep up. Such an incredible company.

And, of course, I use this very website, with “Recipes” categorized as such in the main menu and easily searchable in the top “Search” box. I’m always testing different places to put menus here. I just recently changed my theme, which means putting things in all-new places.

Moving on, here’s what I’m currently cooking. As I recently wrote about, I have gone head-in over pineapple lately. I buy it fresh and refrigerate and then core it and love it nice and cold and fresh. It’s hard to beat that. My daughter is a fan, too, which is a great way to get her to eat fruits. Not that I have any trouble- she loves them. And raw vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts. I don’t question her. I just feed them to her and rejoice I have such a wonderful child.

And one thing I don’t like is wasting food. I generate an incredibly small amount of garbage, I’ve noticed. Some weeks I don’t even have a whole bag to take to the trash. Which is a good thing, I believe. It means I’m consuming or reusing most of what comes in through the door and little is going into the refuse.

And with that in mind, I’ve always felt I needed a better way to use more of the fresh pineapple (I eat a lot of it.) The pineapple corer I have does a great job of what it does, but it often leaves spare pineapple behind. It’s not enough to juice. Although I drink the juice out of the pineapple after coring it. Fresh PJ is awfully good, even if it’s just a shot. (Another tip: if you’re thinking of getting a juicer, plan on stocking and using a LOT of fruit. LOTS. I’ve had one and I didn’t think it was worth it as easily as it is to get fresh juice these days. Depending on where you live.)

So lately I spotted a good deal on thick bone-in pork chops that looked very fresh. Those are hard to find around here(for some reason- we have a pork processing plant right in downtown Louisville), and when I do spot them, they’re not inexpensive. A lot isn’t these days. (Like bacon, which is crazy.) I like bone-in because it gives more flavor. And I like thick-cut because they don’t dry out as easily.

Pork has a bad rap with some. There are old-maiden misperceptions that persist. “Myths” in fact these days, but they have a real foundation. From long ago. Just not true or relevant in 2021. So allow me to bust the myths here.

One is that pork is unhealthy. It’s white meat, like chicken. Because of what they both eat. Most animals’ muscles, which is what carnivores and omnivores like humans and cats(carnivore, only) and dogs are most interested in, reflect their diet. Some shrimp and crabs and lobster and other crustaceans will be blue, red, pink, white, or some exotic color because of what they just finished eating or have eaten steadily. And cows, chickens, and pigs, which count for most of humans’ popular animal meats[int he USA. As we may or may not know other cultures may prefer eating animals meat we consider “gross.” Like bat soup, for example.) all have meat colors based upon the same. Point made and that’s enough about that in a general sense.

But “pork” as common pigs are called by the middleman and retailers. They’re known as “Large Whites” in the breeding, auctioning, carnival, and processing businesses. And you probably don’t want to start looking further into those business operations than these mentions of it, unless you, unfortunately, grew up around them and have a conditioned stomach and unique perspective about animal treatment. I went vegetarian for about 10 years after seeing some things I wish I hadn’t, so “fair warning.” I’m better now.

The second “myth” that has stuck around are two that I’ll knock out at the same time. One is that pork is susceptible to worms. Which is gross, but comes with the territory if you’re eating meat. Fish get them too with some breeds more prone than others, like Amberjack.

The other is that it’s fatty meat and unhealthy and as much as beef, which has much more saturated fat, which is what causes some big cardiac (heart), digestive(colon a lot of times), and arterial and circulatory problems. It’s a big reason I eat very little red meat. And lobster. Which have a lot of bad cholesterol. Luckily both are relatively expensive, especially if dining out. So I eat a lot of fish. But not always, as evidenced by this recipe. I don’t live in Texas and I’m not an Eskimo.

Decades ago, before the mass commercialization of the entire meat industry, for which Americans should be thankful, not scornful of, pigs were fed with slop and leftovers. And treated and killed very inhumanely for that matter. And a lot of the “things” they were fed weren’t healthy or what you would feed anything or one. Garbage, basically. And sometimes even other “pork byproducts.” And it caused worms and disease and some unwanted problems along the food chain, back then. Farms don’t practice this anymore. Commerical ones regulated by the USDA, at least.

As a result of that diet, as I sort of began talking about earlier, most of nature is what it eats. I think about some things we eat, and what they just finished eating a lot of, which I shouldn’t. Oysters and crabs are two nightmarish situations.

But these days pigs are fed corn mostly with some other fortifications, vitamins, and carefully prepared food. As a result, their meat is very lean. SO much so, It’ll easily dry out while cooking if you aren’t careful. Like turkey or venison. Which “wet, low and slow” is a good way to prepare it. And beware: when BBQ places describe their food as “juicy” they mean “simmered and coated in a lot of fat, unnecessarily. Fat is the juice they refer to. In the case of how we can cook it at home (restaurants do NOT have their customers’ dietary concerns in mind. It’s to make it TASTE as good as possible. Health is usually out the door, even when they claim it isn’t on their menus. They light pare it all down by halving the portion, and keeping a healthy margin on, or using some alternative oils. But it still doesn’t get it down to what is truly “healthy” and what we can make at home for a fraction of the price.)

So I picked up a couple of packs of thick-cut bone-ins. These also go GREAT on a grill. You can caramelize the outside, making an awesome crust, and leave the centers juicy and moist easily, which is what you want.

Here’s a cooking secret if you do sear your meats before finishing them in the oven or cooler side of your grill, which is the recommended way: lightly dust your meat with confectioner’s sugar. It leaves a nice, invisible coating of sugar on the meat, along with other natural sugars, and will cause it to sear and caramelize like you’re never seen. Maybe in a steak restaurant, where the cook also knows the secret.

I’m still re-learning how to just cook for 1 or 2. I had to do it growing up, and when dating girls along the line I wanted to feed, who usually ate much less than I. Now 1 of those with a big appetite and the other having an up and down appetite, meaning my little daughter. Sometimes like a bird, and other times eating a whole 3lb bag of clementine oranges; a whole container of blackberries or strawberries; 2-3 bananas; a whole can of black-eyed peas; or something that I couldn’t finish in my most gluttonous of times. And other times pushing away a bowl of ice cream. Which I can easily testify that I’ve never, ever done and never plan to.

So here’s what I did. I cut up the hull of the pineapple by-product to make a bed in a slow cooker. And on top of that, I put the chops lightly seasoned with S(kosher)&P(hand-ground with non-exotic peppercorns). I’ll cook it at slow for 8-10 hours, checking on it often without taking the glass lid off. Having a clear glass cover for your crockpot or slow cooker is imperative. Same with any pot or pan. You don’t want to remove it when you’re in the middle of cooking, but you may need to take a look and observe how things are going in there. Especially if you ever plan to make grits or rice.

Here’s a gallery of photos of what I’ve got going on with the chops:

About 6-1/2 hours into it I invert the whole thing. I flip the chops and put the pineapple on the top of them to finish them off. Should be done in an hour or two. The glass top in on so my camera lens doesn’t fog, the top is off for longer than it needs to be, and I don’t drop my phone into the whole thing.

I always trim the meats I bring home unless I had the butcher do it for me, which I rarely ask. As I recently advised, it’s a good practice to keep your knives sharp. And equally as important to learn mad knife skillz. They aren’t hard to learn and develop into a habit, and it’s something you should know if you plan to cook for long and keep all your fingers attached and blood inside your body as much as possible. YouTube is your friend here. Cooking websites too, although they tend to not get down to the point as quickly as normal people on YouTube. Just an observation.

the great flip

The point I’d like to make is that you can also remove a lot of the fat once you’ve cooked it this way. So after, it’s one of the leanest meats around. I’m obviously not referring to bacon, tails, pork rinds, or some other cuts. It’s well worth it to learn the cuts of meat, both of cow and pig, as to not be ignorant when buying it, which a lot of people engage in, not knowing what they’re even looking at. For example, a pork”shoulder” is actually the “butt” and the “butt, usually of Boston type, is in fact the shoulder.

When this is almost done, I quarter a head of cabbage, cut the “cob” out on each corner, then julienne/shred the cabbage. While I’m doing that, I melt a TB of butter, along with a TB of olive oil. I then sweat it down sprinkling on kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper and stirring and flipping all around to cover it with the fat. I keep it on high and stir every no wand then until it begins to caramelize and wilt. When it’s done is up to you at this point, depending on how much you want to break down the cabbage. Don’t overdo it.

Then just move the chops to the cabbage. It’ll fall off the bone. I let it all cool for a while and then share the chops or cut them into bite-sized pieces. I either then plate it, and it comes out a big steamy pile of awesomeness, or divide it into serving containers and put it in the fridge for later, in ready-made portions.

I had a bowl after making this. And it’s good but I can make it better. And so this is what I’ve done:

I seived out what was left in the slow-cooker which was bones and cooked fruit and some fat that comes off while cooking. I’ve put that into a saucepan at med-high and will boil it down to concentrate, or “reduction.” Boiling down the juice to make a “dressing” for the dish as finished. It will be very potent flavorwise, and you need to make sure to strain it well with a sieve or cheesecloth or however you tend to do that to get rid of the unwanted pieces and fat left behind.

I realized, too long after the fact (meaning I ate it already), that I needed to take a photo of the finished recipe, plated. I plan on making this again soon because it was so good and easy, so I’ll spin back around here and insert one once I take it.

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