Thursday, September 3, 2009

How Can You Love Pork Chops if You've Never Tasted Them?

So... It was go to the aquarium day, and we are walking through Pike Place Market (It's just a place to buy fresh food, get over the FETISH now, Please?). The Fish Boyz are throwin' the same tired salmon for the next bus load of tourists, and my son is really over it. But in the next stall is a gorgeous butcher case. We and the butcher are walking around the cases talking about the meat. Stew the crazy shoulder cuts, what is - and what to do with veal? Chicken is already old news but always open to possibilty... but this is a "cornish game hen" and THAT is a quail.

For some reason the Pork Chops capture him.
"I love pork chops," enthuses my son.
"When did you have pork chops?" After the lamb disaster, I had hung back from pork chops.
"I don't remember. A long time ago."
This is actually a valid answer from my son. At 6, it is unclear what you haven't done, and what you don't remember. It gets harder when you think you should have done something, or are pretty sure you want to have done something. (YES, grammar people, at 6, this is a valid collection of tenses.)

So, tonight was the cooking-of-the-pork-chops. This was remarkable for 2 reasons. I, after several failures, actually cooked really good pork chops (see below if you are curious). And he ate half of his with plenty of starch and Orange & Purple salad (see also below). What made it interesting is he asked to have the other half for lunch.

I guess if your fancy takes you, you CAN love Pork Chops even if you have never tasted them. And thus the opposite holds water. If you decide to hate something, you just do, and there is nothing one can do about it sanely. (Thus, sometimes insanity and the ridiculous are effective... but never something reasonable.)

*My First Personal Best Pork Chops*
(Good only for meat eaters. If you don't eat meat... go back to the tomatoes, and wait until I get around to yogurt cheese. Though I am beginning to suspect Very Firm Tofu would react well to this treatment. )

1. Get your paws on GOOD pork chops. To do this find a butcher, or at the very least, get up the courage to ask your grocery store butcher. They are most likely DYING to answer you questions. They know a lot, and no one ever asks them ANYTHING. Make their day.
2. Marinate
3. Sear to produce flavor and texture. (This "sealing in the juices" thing is BUNK, but searing IS super tasty.)
4. Cook the middles covered and over LOW low heat.
5. Serve with something sweet and sour.

More specifically - This recipe is for 2 pork chops. Double, triple and do appropriate fractions for more meat.

2 pork chops
Marinade: In a non-reactive bowl or zip top bag combine....
1 teaspoon sweet (not spicy or smoked) paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
4 cloves garlic smashed against a knife and peeled of skins
2 Tbs olive oil
About 1 Tbs soy sauce - for salt
and a few grinds or shakes of black pepper

Mix together, smear over the pork chops, and add -

Enough red wine (up to 1/2 cup) to get everything really wet - fruity if you've got it

Let this sit in the fridge at least an hour... but feel free to have it marinate up to 8 hours.

When it comes time to cook, heat a cast iron skillet or other heavy pan (and I mean HEAVY... is it hard to lift with 1 hand?) over medium high heat with a little oil. Sear each side 3-4 minutes - until it develops a little brown color.

Now turn the heat to LOW, low and Cover Tightly. Cook for another 6 minutes (3 minutes each side if you feel compelled to flip. But at low heat flipping is not essential. When cooked through, but still moist and tender, serve (can keep warm covered with foil, on a plate.)

Serve with Slaw. Slaw? What Slaw? Remember the Orange & Purple salad... here it is.

*Cabbage, Onion and Vegetable Bin Slaw*

This takes advantage of the fact that just about any hard vegetable grated is pretty edible. And any hard vegetable grated and slightly sauteed in somewhere between Very Edible and Down Right Delicious.

Ideal Recipe (This means Totally Adjustable to Current Realities) -

1 Food Processor with grater blade
1/2 head or approximate equiv. of a large cabbage grated, and set aside. (I had purple... thus the Purple)

Grated and mixed together:
1 small or 1/2 large red onion
1 apple quartered and cored - slightly tart and firm preferred, but what you have will do
About 1/2 to 1 cups worth of something crunchy from your vegetable bin (I had golden beets, thus the orange. But celery, carrots, fennel, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash ... whatever! will do).

Dressing: The real rule is TRUST YOUR TONGUE. But if you are saying, sure, but where do I start?

Try: red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (& a squirt of honey out of a honey bear if it seems like a good idea.) Stir this together with a fork or whisk. Then stir and add some good olive oil (maybe a little sesame oil if you have it/ feel like it). Stir together. If it tastes good, but too strong, it is just right.

In a hot skillet (hopefully the one that you used for the pork chops?) that has a little oil in it...
briefly saute the grated onion apple and misc. hard vegetable.
Toss with the cabbage and dressing. Taste. Add a little salt and pepper, a little at a time, get it Just Right.

Eat the Pork Chops and Slaw together with some toast or left over Mac 'n Cheese or some other handy starch.


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