Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cuban picadillo inspires recipe for slow cooker pork chops

I've heard picadillo referred to as Cuban sloppy Joes, but that doesn't begin to do the dish justice. It's a delicious sweet-sour-spicy-savory ground meat mixture, sweetened slightly with raisins and studded with green olives, traditionally served over white rice.

I was trying to decide how to cook a couple of pounds of bone-in pork chops when picadillo popped into my mind. I borrowed many of picadillo's classic ingredients, combined them  in a slow cooker, and came up with this this simple recipe that's a riff on a Cuban classic.


Yield: about 8 servings

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
2 pounds 3/4-inch thick pork chops (about 8; see note)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1 large bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons raisins
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed whole green olives, drained
1 to 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar 
Salt, optional
Hot cooked rice, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the in slow-cooker insert (if it's safe on the stove) or in a large nonstick skillet. Pat chops dry with paper towels. Working in batches, brown the chops on each side. Remove to a plate; set aside.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the hot insert or skillet. Add onion; cook, stirring, until soft and starting to brown. Stir in bell pepper; sprinkle with paprika. Add bay leaf, tomato paste, tomatoes and their juice, chicken stock and raisins. Stir well. If using a skillet, transfer to the slow cooker. Add pork and any juices, nestling the pork into the liquid and spooning some of the vegetables over the top. Cover and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low.

Just before serving, stir in olives and vinegar and salt to taste. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Note: You can use thicker chops; increase cooking time if necessary.

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