Food Processors: Part of the Process

Most folks think a food processor is about as necessary in the kitchen as an espresso machine. But a food processor is no longer a luxury. And for quick meals it’s a necessity. That’s why I keep my food processor right on the counter next to my cutting board and chef’s knife.

A number of people have told me they don’t use the food processor because they don’t want to clean it after chopping an onion and a few cloves of garlic. I tell them about this new invention called the dishwasher. You just put the soiled bowl and blade in the machine and it actually cleans them for you. Others say, “I can chop just as fast with a knife.” Oh yeah? I’ve been a professional cook for over 20 years and a food processor chops faster than I do.

The key is how you use the machine. I use the stainless steel, S-shaped chopping blade 90 percent of the time for chopping, pureeing, and making dressings and sauces. When chopping onions, first peel, then cut the onion in quarters (sixths if very large). Then put the pieces into the bowl of the processor. Use the pulse bar, not the on switch, to do the chopping. Hitting the pulse bar quickly 10 to 20 times creates perfectly chopped onions. If you press the on switch and walk away, you’ll return to a bowl full of onion slush.

You can chop garlic as you would onions. However, for more finely chopped garlic, drop the garlic down the feed tube or chute of the food processor with the motor already on. I often drop garlic and ginger root down the chute together for an Asian stir fry or salad. Mince garlic and anchovies together for Caesar salad.

The shredding attachment of the food processor makes short work of cabbage for coleslaw. The slicing attachment does wonders with mushrooms, carrots, and many other vegetables.

In the recipe below, I also use the food processor for mashed potatoes. Critics say the food processor makes mashed potatoes gluey. True, if you let the machine run wild. But by using the pulse bar, mashed potatoes (or any other mashed root vegetable) are a breeze. You’ll also note in the recipe that the food processor is used three times without cleaning. Learning to use the machine in this fashion is also a tremendous time saver. Just make sure you mash the potatoes after you slice the mushrooms.

Quick Pork Stew with Golden Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, as large as possible
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 2 pork tenderloins, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds total
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, about 8 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 11/2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter

1)Peel the potatoes and slice lengthwise. Then cut crosswise into thin slices. Run the hot water tap while you put the potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt into a large saucepan. Barely cover the potatoes with hot water and put over high heat. Cover and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes.

2)Meanwhile, put the oil in a 12-inch saute pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cut the tenderloin crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices at the widest part. Increase the width to 1 inch toward the narrower end. Season with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and increase the heat to high.

3)With the slicing attachment to the food processor in place, slice the mushrooms in 2 or 3 batches. Set aside. Turn the pork over to brown on the other side.

4)Refit the food processor with the chopping blade. Peel the garlic. With the motor of the food processor running, drop the garlic down the chute. Meanwhile, peel and quarter the onion. Stop the motor of the processor, add the onion and pulse until chopped. Scrape the onion and garlic into the pan with  the pork. Add the mushrooms and stir well.

5)Chop the rosemary if fresh. Sprinkle the pork mixture with 2 teaspoons of the fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon of the dried rosemary (crushed with your fingers), and the flour. Stir well. Add the chicken stock and soy sauce. Stir well, cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover and cook for about 3 minutes or until pork is just tender. (Do not overcook.) Season with salt and pepper to taste and add remaining rosemary, if desired.

6)Meanwhile, warm the sour cream in a microwave oven at half power for 30 seconds. As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain and put into the food processor with the sour cream, butter and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse just until combined but not completely smooth. (Do not overprocess.) Serve with the pork.

Serves 4.

Per serving: 694 calories, 37 grams protein, 98 grams carbohydrate,  19 grams fat,  3.8 grams saturated fat,  73 mg cholesterol, 441mg sodium.

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