Today is a rest day for me (as was yesterday and the day before thanks to an unwelcome cold) so I am keeping my carbs low. Tomorrow is a big day though – PR day (hopefully!). With my Paleo challenge coming to an end, it’s time to see how my clean & jerk, back squat, bench press and dead lift have been affected by 60 days of eating clean and Paleo. I am feeling a little nervous but pretty confident that I will have a couple of new PR’s. I will definitely be eating to perform tomorrow! Tonight, lots of protein…
With winter upon us here in Minnesota, I have been making LOTS of soups, stews and comfort foods. The other day my husband made a request…”So, do you think this weekend we could have a big piece of meat?”. Apparently, the caveman in him has been neglected lately with my cooking and I have to agree. I also missed chewing on a nice piece of steak or pork chop. First item on the menu…MEAT! We’ll do pork chops. I have been wanting to try brining my pork chops ever since I saw a recipe where they raved about how juicy their pork chops were because they brined them. I always brine my turkey when I roast it, but never thought about brining my pork chops!
So tonight I will have my usual sweet potato with my dinner, but what else? I have been pretty bad about my veggies lately. Mostly because it’s really hard for me to eat so much food at one time. I try to munch on veggies throughout the day in order to get what I need and usually have veggies with breakfast, but it’s hard at dinner. I’ll throw a salad in tonight. I have some baby spinach in my fridge that needs to be eaten along with some red onion, mushrooms and hard boiled eggs it will be a protein packed salad! Ooooh, and bacon! You can’t go wrong with bacon! Typically I will have some balsamic vinagrette on my salads. It’s super easy to make – olive oil, dijon mustard, sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper…But, what if I replaced the olive oil with bacon fat…I think I’m onto something here…
When all was said and done, the salad was AMAZING! I think I want to eat this salad everyday and at every meal! The pork chop – YUM! Super juicy – my husband said, “I think this is the juiciest pork chop I have ever had!”
This is a meal I will definitely be making again…soon!
Spinach Salad with Warm Maple Bacon Vinaigrette
- 8 ounces baby spinach, rinsed and stems removed
- 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
- 4 pieces thick-sliced bacon, crumbled
- 4 large white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons reserved bacon fat
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon stone ground, whole grain mustard
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the spinach, mushrooms and onions in a bowl. Divide evenly among 4 bowls and top with the hard boiled egg slices and crumbled bacon. Set aside or place in refrigerator until ready to serve with dressing.
To make the dressing, warm your bacon fat in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Vigorously whisk in your vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and salt & pepper. Serve immediately on top of your spinach salad.
Simply Delicious Pork Chops
- 3 cups cold water, divided
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 smashed garlic cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 to 4 pork chops — center cut, bone-on, 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick (about 1 pound each)
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
The key to these pork chops being so juicy and delicious starts with brining them. Boil one cup of your water along with the salt until the salt has dissolved. Add your garlic, peppercorns and remaining cold water. Place your brine along with your pork chops in a large ziplock bag or shallow dish so that the chops are covered with the brine. Place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to 4 hours depending on how much time you have.
When you are ready to cook your pork chops, heat your oven to 400 degrees and place an oven safe skillet in your oven to heat up as well. If you do not have an oven safe skillet, place a baking dish in the oven to heat up and heat a skillet on your stovetop over medium-high heat.
While your oven is heating up, remove your chops from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Brush both sides of the chops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. When your skillet has heated up, remove it from the oven and place over medium high heat on your stove top. Place your chops into the pan and listen to the beautiful sizzle! Cook for 3 minutes, flip and place your skillet back in the oven. If you are using a baking dish instead of a skillet, cook for 3 minutes on both sides before returning the chops to the oven. Cook the pork chops until the thickest part of the chop reads 140-145 degrees on a meat thermometer (usually about 7-10 minutes depending on their thickness). Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate to rest for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy!