May 6 – May 12, 2019
Monday: Pita and Chickpea Salad with Yogurt and Mint (Fetteh)
Tuesday: Butter-Poached and Grilled Beef Tenderloin Steaks/Charred Broccoli
Wednesday: Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes
Thursday: Black Pig Pork Chops / Atomic Apple Sauce / Roasted Potatoes
Friday: Left-overs for Bill – SWMBO was out with the girls
Saturday: Grilled Chicken Salmoriglio, Charred Broccoli with Pecorino, Polenta
Sunday: Shrimp Fried Rice / Salad
There is a lot to be said for the American diet of the 1950s and 1960s. It would horrify many Gen-Xers to know that we ate meat several times a week and grilled steak on most weekends. And, in a way, it was horrifying – not just the meat, but the Kraft macaroni and cheese, the Jello molds and that fascinating novelty, McDonalds. On the other hand, there was less obesity back in those days. On the other, other hand, life-expectancy has risen since then. But I doubt, though I don’t have any statistics, that the increase in life-expectancy is due to people being more fit. Indeed, I suspect that it’s because modern medicine is simply better able to save us from ourselves.
Which being the case, I implore you to do two things: 1. Take better care of yourself: Go to the gym, watch what you eat and drink, get a good night’s sleep, hang out with family and friends. 2. Do not look the occasional gift pig in the mouth. I mean, don’t worry about indulging in animal flesh from time to time.
And since you asked, or were going to, here’s a good suggestion for your next foray into pork – ‘Black Pig Pork Chops.’ I have no idea why Mimi Thorrison calls these “Black” – the recipe simply calls for ordinary pork chops. But they are certainly pork chops and, if you pair them with my atomic apple sauce you will have as fine a pork feast as can be had, this side of cooking a whole pig on a spit over a wood fire.
Which we could not do last Thursday when the wet spring weather drove us back inside, to the oven and the stove, to cook. But this particular dish was so good, that we didn’t miss the grill at all. Some sunshine would have been nice but, hey, we’re in Pittsburgh, so the rain didn’t come as a shock, nor did the scramble to close and cover the grill or the soaked shirt, but the screen door slamming on my finger was a bit of a wake-up call.
Note: Last week I included a bunch of unlabeled photos. All but one were of various azaleas around our house. The singular non-azalea was a photo of a spectacular red-horse chestnut which grows in the yard of a neighbor and is one of the highlights of Spring (along with the azaleas) in the ‘hood.
This week, I’m including a photo taken by Andrew from the Redhook section of his ‘hood of Brooklyn. You may well recognize the statue in the center. If not, you have failed your citizenship test and will have to wait until the next election cycle to try again.
BLACK PIG PORK CHOPS + Atomic Apple Sauce (an extra from our kitchen)
(adapted from Mimi Thorisson, French County Cooking: Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyards)
Timing: Under ½ hour
Ingredients: Serves 4
4 bone-in pork chops, 1 inch thick
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves unpeeled and smashed
8 sage leaves
2/3 cup dry hard apple cider (we substituted Calvados, an apple brandy, and I’ll bet you could use the crisp, sparkling apple cider sold in what looks like a wine bottle in most grocery stores)
3 tablespoons crème fraîche (this is important – cream cheese will work, but not as well)
5 tablespoons of butter, divided into quantities of 2 and 3 tablespoons each
Fine sea salt (kosher salt will work)
Ground Black Pepper
Turn oven to 325 F (you’ll be cooking on the stove, just using the oven to keep the chops warm while you prepare the sauce)
Score the chops on both sides and season all over with salt and pepper
Slice the shallots, smash the garlic cloves, measure out the butter, the cider (or Calvados) and the crème fraiche.
If using ‘Atomic Apple Sauce,’ pour a jar of good apple sauce into a serving bowl and mix in black pepper and as much prepared horseradish as you like. We like a lot. Cover and refrigerate.
In a large sauté pan (you’ll be cooking all four chops at the same time), heat 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high. [If you have a high-btu burner, you’ll have to go a little lower than medium-high]. Add the chops and the garlic cloves and reduce the heat to medium and cook about 7 minutes per side.
Transfer the chops to an oven-proof dish, top with the sage leaves and spoon the pan drippings over the chops. Put in the oven to keep warm.
Increase the heat to high and pour in the cider or whatever you’re using. Boil to reduce for 2 minutes. Add the crème fraiche, stir until thickened and remove from the heat.
Pour the sauce on top of the chops and serve. And, if you’d like our advice, serve with our atomic apple sauce and roasted fingerling potatoes .