Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sweet Potatoes + Bacon = Perfect Hash

Good evening everyone! If we had to make a short list of our favorite ingredients to use in a recipe, sweet potatoes would certainly be among the finalists. The sweet root is versatile, easily adaptable to most dishes and can even act as a sweetener and thickener for other recipes. We’ve used sweet potatoes in about every way imaginable, we’ve mashed them, baked them, cooked them into soups, paired them with chorizo, put them in pies – you name it, we’ve tried it. Or so we thought.

Last week I came across an America’s Test Kitchen recipe that paired the orange root with an ingredient I had yet to try – bacon. Following the philosophy that everything tastes better with bacon, I decided to tackle this dish and expand our sweet potato horizons. It didn’t hurt that the “star” of the dish was a variant of a maple glazed pork chop, which we’ve tried before and know to be a fantastic end result.

The Recipe: Maple Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Bacon Hash
What You’ll Need:
(Serves 4)

1 ¼ Pounds Sweet Potatoes (Peeled, cut into ½ inch chunks)
6 Slices Bacon (Chopped fine)
4 Bone-In pork chops (1 inch thick, 8 ounces)*
2 Teaspoons Minced Fresh Thyme
½ Cup Maple Syrup
1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard

* We have a large supply of boneless, thin cut pork chops that we use for most of our pork chop recipes. The instructions below are for the thicker cut chop (we’re adapting for our smaller chops, but leaving the recipe original).

Begin by placing the sweet potato in a large bowl and cover with a microwave safe lid (or use a microwave safe plate as the lid  if you don’t have a lid). Microwave for 4 to 7 minutes on high until the sweet potatoes are soft. Meanwhile, add the bacon to a large (12 inch) non stick skillet and cook over medium high heat until the bacon is golden brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a paper towel lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fact from the skillet before wiping it clean with a paper towel.

Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel and lightly season them with salt and pepper. Score the outer surface of the pork chops lightly with a knife (this prevents the chop from ‘curling’ during cooking). Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat to the same skillet you used before and bring it up to temperature over medium high heat. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook for 4 minutes per side, or until the chops are golden brown and cooked through. Transfer the chops to plate and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon of bacon fat to the same skillet you’ve been using all along and set the temperature to medium. Add the sweet potatoes to the skillet and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they become slightly crispy and browned. Once browned, stir in the bacon and thyme and season lightly with salt and pepper. Transfer this mixture to a serving bowl.

Finally, add the maple syrup, vinegar and mustard to the skillet (yes, the very same one we’ve been using all night) and cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens (make sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking). Return the pork chops to the skillet and rotate the chops in the mixture for 2 minutes (flipping every 30 seconds or so) until the glaze begins to stick to the chops. Serve with the potato / bacon hash and enjoy!

The Results:

As I mentioned in the open, we’ve cooked a variant of this maple glazed pork chop before (it was actually our first ‘return’ to cooking with pork) so we knew the flavors here were going to be great. (Spoiler: it was)

The pork chop was great, but the sweet potato hash was something special. The perfect blend of the sweet potatoes with the rich, salty flavors of the bacon was one of those “wow!” moments of home cooking. The two ingredients blend so well, it’s hard to believe bacon / sweet potatoes aren’t mandated partners in every recipe. Okay, that may be overdoing it – but I want to convey just how good these two are together. This certainly won’t be the last time we combine these two ingredients! Do yourself a favor and give this a try at home (Oh, and at 300 calories per serving it’s easy on the diet too!)

That’s all we have for you this evening. Stop back tomorrow night for Maggie’s brand new recipe! Until then,


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