Thursday, October 6, 2011

Baking at Work

Today I'm making pork chops with wild rice & mushrooms. Right now. At work. Something that requires a couple of hours in the oven & can be shared with some folks coming over towards lunchtime. It's nice to have a kitchen at the office!

I don't know how long I've had this box of Minnesota Wild Rice in my cupboard, but I've been saving it for this. Last weekend I picked up the remaining ingredients, save for the butter, which was already in the fridge at work. I even bought a disposable baking pan, to fill a void in my office kitchen. Today, finally, I got it all organized in one of those zip-up cooler bags they sell at Sam's Club and hauled it to work.

Here's what I brought to work with me today: the wild rice, 4 small cans sliced mushrooms, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, a pillow-pack of 4 pre-cooked, bone-in pork chops, and a shaker of blended seasonings. Plus a carefully folded length of aluminum foil & a 9"x13" aluminum foil pan. And, of course, the photo album full of recipes my stepmom put together when I went away to college. And finally, fingernail clippers. You'll know why in a bit.

Already in the fridge at work: sticks of butter. When I had time to take a break from my morning duties, I quickly breezed through the following steps...

Step 1: Warm a cube cut off the end of a stick of butter in the microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power, just to soften it a bit. Then holding it in a paper towel, smear it around the bottom of the pan.

Step 1.5: Pour a pot of water into the coffee maker, drop in a filter & pour the wild rice into it, then brew a pot of wild rice water. Pour the water down the drain & dump the contents of the filter into the greased pan.

Step 2: Use a coffee cup to measure 1.5 cups of water & pour it over the rice.

Step 2.5: Open the cans of mushrooms & pour them over the rice, juice and all, so that the bottom of the pan is evenly covered with mushrooms.

Step 3: Open the can of cream of mushroom soup & drop spoonfuls of it onto the mushrooms, distributing the glops evenly throughout the pan. There is no need to try to spread it around.

Step 3.5: Shake a generous amount of your spice blend over everything in the pan so far.

Step 4: Arrange the pork chops on top of everything else in the pan. They will probably take up almost all the room.

Step 5: Didn't I mention preheating the oven to 350? Oh, well. Do that now while you unfold the aluminum foil & cover the top of the pan, crimping the edges so that there is a tight seal all the way around. It won't hurt to let the mixture sit on the counter while the oven finishes preheating.

Step 6: Set the microwave to do a 90 minute "kitchen timer" countdown, starting when the pan is in the oven & the door is closed. When it beeps, set the timer for another 30 minutes. Or, you know, make a mental note of the time, add 2 hours and look for it to be done then.

Step 7: You forgot to bring potholders, you ass. All you have is 2 hand towels, one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. You're going to need them both to get this thing out of the oven.

Step 7.5: Clip your fingernails. (That's why you brought the clippers.) You don't want to scratch yourself when the delicious aroma of baking pork, rice, and mushrooms begins to drive you crazy.

Step 8: Hide the recipe album. Your guests don't need to know that you didn't invent this culinary masterpiece. Heck, you're in Missouri; they've probably never seen wild rice, which used to grow, like, wild where you come from.

Step 9: Take small bites to make this food last. This may be the hardest step, because the meat and rice will be so tender, and the flavors of mushroom, pork, and wild rice so perfectly blended, that you'll be tempted to inhale it.

Step 9.5: Make a mental note to bring 6 chops next time. Then you can enjoy the leftovers as well. This recipe also works with fully-cooked chicken or turkey breasts, by the way.

No comments: