Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hog Chops with Wild Rice

As I’ve mentioned before, I spent two glorious months on Kauai, and those who’ve been there know that Kauai has plenty of wild boar (and chickens!). If fact, the weekend we drove up the Waimea Canyon (aka. Grand Canyon of the Pacific) the locals were having their 10th annual “Grab Um’ and Stab Um’” Pig Hunting Tournament. I really wanted to go on a pig hunt while on the island, but the opportunity never presented itself. I guess I’ll just have to go back!

Not for the feint of heart, pig hunting has been tackled by some of our most adventurous “foodies,” including Anthony Bourdain of “No Reservations” and Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Foods.” But my personal favorite is an account documented by “The Wild Within” host and fellow graduate from the University of Montana-Missoula, Steven Rinella, (I’m currently reading his book, Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine). It’s about as up-close-and-personal as it gets, and it embodies why I hunt when he says, “Everybody eats bacon but no one wants to stab the pig.” Here’s the video (warning, it's intense):

Now when you catch a wild boar, there’s always plenty tender, flavorful meat. However, with any wild game, the flavor of the meat can be greatly affected by the diet and the circumstances in which it was hunted. Brining the meat is an excellent way to tame any residual strong (aka. ‘gamey’) flavor and has the added benefit of tenderizing tough cuts of meat. Boars are large animals, and can provide a bounty of meat. This recipe is a great way to use the chops and can be prepared in a crockpot or with a skillet.

Hog Chops with Wild Rice
4 – 6 Wild Hog Pork Chops
Brine (salt water solution) to cover (see below)
1 T. Oil
1 Onion, chopped
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of diced tomatoes w/ chilies
Salt and Pepper, to taste
3 c. Water
1 c. long grain white rice
¼ c. wild rice

First you’ll want to brine the pork chops for 20-30 minutes. To create a salt solution for brining you’ll need to do the following:

Boil the first 2 c. of water and 1 c. of salt for every gallon of brine you are making, adding in more water after the first two cups have boiled. Usually you’ll want about 1 c. of salt per gallon of water. Once the water is boiling, add the salt and stir until it’s dissolved. Turn off the heat and add the remaining cold liquid. Refrigerate the brine until cold.

Add the pork chops to the cold brine, cover and let them soak for at least 30 minutes (longer is better!). After 30 minutes, thoroughly rinse the pork chops of all residual brine and pat dry with paper towels.

Place a skillet, preferably cast iron, on the stove and turn the burner on to high heat. Add the oil.

Once the oil is warm but not hot, add the chopped onions and cook until opaque, stirring constantly.

When the onions are finished, leave them in the skillet and add the pork chops, cooking until brown on both sides. To this, add the can of cream of mushroom soup and the can of diced chilies and tomatoes, including the liquid from the cans.

Add salt and pepper to taste. This is also where you could add any of your favorite herbs if you wanted to get creative.

Stir the mixture, combining the ingredients well, and turn the burner heat down to medium. If the mixture stats to boil over, turn the heat down until it is simmering nicely. Let the mixture cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. The pork chops should be fork tender when they are done.

While the pork chops are cooking, prepare the rice. Bring the 3 c. of water to a rolling boil in a medium pot. Add all of the rice and place a tight cover on the pot. Reduce the heat to simmer (low). Let the rice cook for 20-30 minutes, without lifting the lid of the pot unless absolutely necessary. Once the rice is cooked, use a fork to fluff it.

Serve the pork chops over rice and ladle plenty of sauce over the top for an incredible and filling meal. Some great sides to serve with this are green salad and rolls.