Meet an “honorary” mom to know — Linda Cifuentes, who today donated $500 worth of pork to the Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County as part of her grand prize as “America’s Pork Crock-Star.” The pork provided equals nearly 1,250 meals for families in need.
Cifuentes competed at Crocktoberfest in New York City against four other finalists in the “Search for America’s Pork ‘Crock-Star’,” where her dish for Kapusta Pork (see recipe below) was crowned the
tastiest original pork slow cooker recipe by Candace Cameron Bure (also known as DJ Tanner from TV’s “Full House”) and Hosea Rosenberg, winner of “Top Chef” (Season 5), and some of New York City’s finest food media.
A Chicago transplant who moved to Champaign 15 years ago, Cifuentes is a nurse at Carle Physician Group in Rantoul. She lives on a small farm in Mahomet with her physician husband, and loves to cook, bake and can. When she’s not cooking or gardening, she’s rooting on the Illini or her Chicago Bears.
Linda isn’t a mom in the traditional sense, but we think she’s someone you should know!
Q: Why do you enjoy cooking?
I think I love food in all it’s aspects. I love to eat and I love experimenting with different flavors. I love mixing sweet with salty or spicy things. I like putting fruit with vegetables and meats. I believe cooking is an act of love.
Q: Do you have any tips for how busy moms can get a home-cooked meal on the table for dinner?
I think using a crock pot is a great way for a busy mom to get dinner on the table — you throw everything in the morning and at dinner you just serve. Also using thin pork chops and what ever you have in your fridge, you can fry them up quickly and have a full meal.
Q: What will you be making for Christmas dinner?
I’ll be spending Christmas with my sister and my new great niece and her mother and father–I will be baking the bread.
Q: What was it like to meet these cooking celebs and be featured in the Wall Street Journal?
The Crocktoberfest event was incredible. The pork producers took incredible care of all five of us contestants. Candace Cameron Bure was wonderful –she was very sweet and kind she told me that eating my dish reminded her of being in her grandmas kitchen. Hosea Rosenberg was also very kind and extremely complimentary. I was treated like royalty.
Here is Linda’s winning recipe:
3 lb boneless pork loin
3 cloves garlic/halved, lengthwise
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
3/4 lb bacon; chopped
4 cups cabbage, shredded
14 1/2oz can + 8oz can sauerkraut
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
8 ounces German beer
Cut six slits in pork and stuff garlic slices in the slits. Season with salt and pepper.
Place pork loin in large crock pot. Layer bacon, cabbage, sauerkraut, tomatoes, caraway seeds, and bay leaf on top. Pour beer over all; cover and cook 8 hours on high.
Before serving, shred pork and stir all ingredients.
Serve with the rest of that beer, pop on a polka and you have a great Oktoberfest meal!!