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How to Madmom a recipe

AmyElliesMom's picture

I thought I'd share how I madmom not only a recipe, but in this case, an entire meal.

The meal: Plantain Crusted Pork Chops, Pineapple Rice, and Hearts of Palm Salad.

The inspiration: A recipe from Publix: Plantain-Crusted Pork Chops With Sauce and Watercress Salad

I tasted this yesterday while picking up some bananas and milk; it was pretty good, but not quite something we'd eat. I didn't like the crackers in the crust; too many carbs and too crunchy. I don't care for watercress, and the feta in the salad seemed odd; the pork is Caribbean and the feta is Greek. They just don't go together.

However, when I tasted this, I loved the plantain flavor and the pork together and the hearts of palm were just delicious. So I bought a small bag of dried plantains and a can of hearts of palm and planned to figure out the rest as I went along.

Today, I did searches online for other plantain-crusted meats. I found a recipe for Plantain-Crusted Chicken that gave me an idea of how to crust without the use of crackers and what spices to use (in lieu of the Sazon Complete, which is too salty for my taste). Of course, I didn't follow this recipe to a T, either. I subbed my pork, and added a pre-mixed jerk spice I keep on hand. I left out lime, as I didn't have any, and didn't use pepper sauce in the egg wash - I used some apricot jam, instead.

Why the apricot jam? Well, if you go back to the Publix recipe, you see it has a sauce that goes with it. And I liked the sauce. Since I had about 1/4 cup of the pink homemade mayo I made the other day left, I thought the sauce would be a perfect use for it. Since the sauce has green pepper sauce in it, I thought adding habenero sauce to the egg bath would be too much pepper. But I wanted something to tie the sauce in with the pork, so that's why I put the apricot jam into the egg bath!

Now that the pork has been madmommed into submission; properly seasoned for my family's tastes, salt reduced and sugar-free jam used, it was time to think about the salad. I loathe watercress, so wasn't about to buy any. But I did have some romaine in the fridge, and that is a very verstatile salad base, so I knew I could manage something. Again, I started with a google search for "hearts of palm recipe". I saw a title that intrigued me: Strawberry, Spinach and Hearts of Palm Salad. I didn't have strawberries or spinach on hand, but I did have grapes and romaine. The strawberries are a firm, sweet burst of flavor and a grape would sub nicely. Spinach and romaine are different in flavor, with spinach being much stronger, but both are hearty in texture, so I figured the dressing would work.

I start assembling the needed ingredients (mise en place, right pros?), and realize I don't, in fact, have poppy seeds. I check my seeds and I have fennel, celery seed, anise seed and sesame seeds. I go for the celery seed. Why? It has a strong flavor like poppy seeds; is similar in size and I think the flavor (crisp and green) will go well with the hearts of palm and the grapes I'm planning to use. I sub Splenda for the sugar (of course), and make the dressing. It's delicious, and I think I could drink it.

I now set aside salad assembly for the time being to turn my attention to the side dish I'd chosen. I thought rice would go well with the pork. With the heavy crust, a heavy starch wouldn't go so nicely. Some people would forego a starchy sidedish, but since the diet plan calls for a certain amount of carb for dinner - and the crust on the pork wasn't enough to meet that call - a starchy side dish is in order. Since I feel this pork is very Caribbean in flavor, I do a google search on "Caribbean Rice" and find several recipes. They all call for pretty much the same things: pineapple, mandarin oranges and garam masala. Not particularly Caribbean to me (more Pacific cuisine), but oh well. The flavors will work well with the pork. Only I have no coconut (I almost had picked up a can of unsweetened dessicated cocount the other day, too. Darn!). And I don't like mandarin oranges, so they are right out. This recipe gets madmommed to the extreme. I make a batch of Basmati rice and after it cooks, I stir in about 1/3 cup crushed pineapple, some minced red onion (to remind us of the flavor of the red onion in the salad dressing, and because it was sitting on the counter inspiring me, lol!) and some jerk-spice. Delish, but missing something. I go off to the fridge for inspiration. I pull out some diced muskmelon and sesame oil. I add a few drops of the sesame oil to the rice, and it's perfect. But now the melon is on the counter, calling my name.

And that quickly, the grapes for the salad are forgotten. I didn't feel like cutting them up, anyway. Man, that's a pain. So, I diced the melon a bit smaller, added it to the cut romaine and cubed hearts of palm and dressed it with half the salad dressing (I didn't have quite as much romaine as I thought I did; oh well, it's enough for two servings at least). I also subbed pecans for the walnuts, as I keep pecans on hand and I like them more.

So, that's how you go from a Publix recipe to a completely homemade dinner. I hope this helps those who have trouble getting creative see how the process can work for at least one cook.

The final menu:

Pork Chops Crusted with Plantains, seasoned Caribbean Jerk Style
Spicy Basmati Rice with Pineapple and Red Onion
Hearts of Palm and Melon Salad


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