Friday, January 25, 2008

Breaking Away With the "Other White Meat"

I'm going to be taking a little blogging break for the next week to refuel the ole noggin' and take a breather after the week I just finished.

While I'm away a few posts will automagically appear to keep you entertained, including this month's post from that huge group of Daring Bakers, now over 400 strong!

But before I go, I want to share an unbelievable pork chop I made last weekend before all hell broke loose at Chez Breadchick.

I've been wanting to blog about this cookbook for almost a year and I've been remiss about doing so. The cookbook is The Good Home Cookbook: More Than 1000 Classic American Recipes edited by Richard J. Perry.

This is one of those all around cookbooks that I often get asked to review. I thought the book was pretty well laid out and stayed very true the idea of good home cooking hitting on the solid basics of the "classic American recipe" like breakfast, lunch, all the meats as well as chapters on pasta, veggies, desserts, etc. I did like the "Appendices" where Mr. Perry discussed cooking terms, equipment, and even a very good section on canning and pickling. All in all a solid cookbook. Still, my only complaint was once again a broad based general cookbook obviously meant to be the all inclusive cookbook that makes up the center of many home cooks cookbook collection was woefully lacking in illustrations when a technique was described or a specific prep of an ingredient was necessary.

I've made quite a few recipes from The Good Home Cookbook over the past year. I haven't had any issues with any of the recipes (that weren't of my own making) and if I was asked by a stranger in the cookbook section at The Strand for a recommendation of a cookbook that encompassed the depth and breadth of American cooking, I probably would include this as one of the choices.

One of the dishes I have made oh about twenty times and had nothing but stellar results is the Pork Medallions with Madeira. This is a quick and easy dish that ends up tasting like you spent hours on the pan sauce. Here is all you need!

Well, all that and a really good butcher! I'm fortunate, I have one less than two blocks away who cuts my chops for me as I stand there and wraps them in that wonderful butcher paper. While they aren't medallions, I find this sauce tastes just grand on a nice pork chop.

Especially when the chops look like this!

Yes, I have found pork nirvana with these not over lean, nicely marbled, full flavoured chops. In other words pork the way it was meant to be and not those overly bland and dry hunks of sorta pink meat you normally find in this country.

So, here's how you make a million dollar pork chop...

Start by sprinkling kosher salt, pepper, and some dried rosemary on both sides.

I like to press the rosemary into the pork and then loosely cover them and let them hang out for about 20 minutes.

Then heat some olive oil in a large pan and sear the chops for about 2 minutes on either side. Reduce heat and let the pork chops cook until slightly pink in the middle (about 6 - 8 minutes on each side). Remove them from the pan and keep them warm while you make the Madeira sauce. Drain the fat from the pan and add the onion and garlic and saute until softened. Stir in the wine, some water and the vinegar and bring to a boil. Then you reduce the sauce and finish with some butter.

Put the chops on a plate and top with the sauce. Served with a good homemade Ceasar salad (dressing recipe from The Home Cookbook) and you have a restaurant quality meal made in less than 20 minutes.

Pork Chops with Madeira

2 thick cut pork chops
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup Madeira wine
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (note: I've used white wine vinegar with no adverse affects)
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp chopped parsely

Sprinkle chops with rosemary, salt, and pepper on each side of the chop. Let sit for about 20 minutes. Heat oil in large pan over medium high heat. Sear both sides of the chops then reduce heat and let the pork chops cook until slightly pink in the middle (about 6 - 8 minutes on each side). Remove them from the pan and keep them warm.

Drain the fat from the pan, add onion and garlic and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in wine, water, and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/3 to 1/2 a cup. Whisk in the butter until melted.

Plate the chops and pour the sauce over the chops. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.