September 27 – October 3, 2021
Monday: Summer’s End Sweet Corn Soup with Cheese Bread
Tuesday: Olive Walnut Pasta with Salad, App of Olives and Cheese
Wednesday: Skillet Pork Chops with Blistered Grapes
Thursday: Dunnings Night
Friday: Crispy Salmon with Salad
Sunday: Roast Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Salad
When October runs to chilling rain and your gutters fill with leaves (and/or myriad, tiny wild cherries, like our gutters) and you’ve begun to wear sweaters or jackets and need more than just a sheet at night and your local grocery store has begun to sell classroom size bags of Halloween candy – well, I don’t know about you, but my thoughts turn to pig.
Come to think of it – I’m pretty much a year-round pig fancier. Hotdogs and ribs in spring and summer. Chops and roasts and sausages and the occasional choucroute in the fall and winter. And, of course, bacon all year round.
But say it’s a weeknight. You can’t possibly cook a hot dog for your fashionable, svelte significant other. Marinating and cooking ribs would take until midnight, and a roast until 9:00 or 10:00. And BLTs, although the finest food in the world, are not really dinner fare.
That’s when you need the recipe below for Pork Chops with Blistered Grapes – a dish which creates its own unique gravy. Add some roasted or mashed potatoes or a good rice pilaf and a salad and you could open your own diner. But diners are difficult to staff these days with so few parents naming their daughters Flo or Gladys or Doris. So why not settle for a simple dinner like the one we cooked last Tuesday? [The pasta with walnuts and olives was just as good, but Beez didn’t like it as much and it is she, after all, Who Must Be Obeyed.]
Post-Script: If you live in Pittsburgh and, for all I know, elsewhere, you will have noticed certain inadequacies in your local grocery store. Our local is Giant Eagle and has been declining in quality for some time [Please Wegman’s, look into the Pittsburgh market.]
In the last month I have brought home the following from Giant Eagle: A tasteless baby watermelon and then a rotten one (complete liquid inside but firm on the outside), several mostly rotten onions, a rotten zucchini, a plastic container of lettuce that rotted in one day, a chicken that was nearly inedible, and too many other disappointments to list in fewer pages than the Reconciliation Bill. And they’ve been out of Kosher salt for months and missing other staples for weeks at a time.
If you are busy, young parents, I don’t know what to tell you – but if you have any slack in your schedule, please take my advice and avoid these losers. Patronize smaller and specialty stores (Wagner’s, our local family-owned market has the salt and paper towels that Giant Eagle can’t seem to stock). This will be better for your health, your temper and the local economy, including farmers. It will be somewhat harder on your pocketbook and I can understand going to Giant Eagle to save a bit of money – but there is no other reason to patronize stores with impolite workers, bad produce, inferior meat and an inability, in spite of computers and too many vice-presidents, to keep a consistent or adequate stock.
Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I do feel sorry for the friends I’ve made at the deli, the bakery, and the butcher and the check-out counters. But my feeling for the owners and managers mirrors my feelings for Vladimir Putin, President Xi of China and the Unibomber.
SKILLET PORK CHOPS WITH BLISTERED GRAPES
(adapted from The New York Times “Cooking” section, 9/26/21)
Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4
4 bone-in, 1-inch thick pork chops [Note: as noted above, our local butcher is Wagner’s Market, and it has only boneless chops that are maybe ¾-inch thick – you can work with them as well]
1 ½ cups seedless grapes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove minced
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
¼ cup dry white wine
2/3 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
1 tablespoon heavy cream or butter [we used cream]
Trim chops, if needed, then pat dry and season heavily with salt and pepper
Chop thyme and mince garlic and shallot
Measure out wine and chicken stock
Make sure that cream or butter, flour and grainy mustard are handy
Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet (it has to hold all of the chops) and heat over high.
When oil is hot, add chops and cook 5 minutes per side. Transfer chops to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
Now add the grapes to the skillet and sauté until brown in spots – 2 or 3 minutes.
Remove the grapes (with a slotted spoon) to the plate with the chops and recover.
Reduce the heat to medium and wait a bit (you don’t want the next ingredients to burn) and then add the shallot and garlic and cook about 2 minutes, until softened. Stir in the flour and thyme and cook for a minute.
Add the white wine now and cook, stirring for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock and mustard and cook, stirring often, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Now add the chops, grapes and any juices back into the skillet and cook about 3 minutes until warmed through.