Hello, folks. Sorry it’s been so long between posts. I was just too bitter and angry to be blogging. I tried writing a few times, but the bile just kept coming through. I didn’t (and still don’t) want that bitterness to ruin my food or my writing, and I certainly didn’t (and still don't) want to lay all of that stuff on you.
At any rate, here’s my first re-entry into the blogosphere. It’s time to get back on track, and to get back to doing what I love.
And so, without further ado, here goes.
Last night, I was talking with a friend over a Smirnoff martini. He complained that no matter what he does, he can’t make a moist pork chop. After listening to him complain, I gave him the following advice and recipe.
One of the problems with commercially produced pork is that it’s too lean. In our zeal for “Lite” foods, we’ve bred pigs that have almost no fat, and are pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones. The males are also immunocastrated (yup, as piglets, they’re given an injection that blocks the hormones necessary to develop testicles). Ostensibly, this is done in order to produce a better pig. It’s supposed to eliminate “boar taint” (a flavor that’s been likened to a combination of sweat, urine, and feces). In actuality, it’s done because it makes the pigs more docile, so that as they’re living in concentration-camp-like conditions they don’t bite each other’s tails off. It also makes them grow larger and the reality of that is: more pig, more profit. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of eating meat that’s got hormone blockers injected into it, particularly those that block the production of testosterone.
If you can, buy your pork from a local farmer who feeds the pigs naturally, and allows them to roam freely on the farm. It’ll be healthier, in general, and will contain more omega 3s and omega 6s than commercially raised pork. It will also have more fat in it, which means it will taste a whole helluva lot better.
If you can’t find locally raised and humanely slaughtered pigs, there are larger organic producers. Organic Prairie is one, and a quick Google search will provide you with others. Either way, you’ll pay a little more, but the taste far outweighs the cost.
Center-cut, bone-in, thick-cut pork chops
Red cabbage (you can also use endive or radicchio, or a combination of the three)
Vidalia or red onions
Tart apples (I prefer Newtown Pippins and Braeburns, but Granny Smiths will do)
Gewurztraminer or riesling (or a good pilsner)
First, brine your pork chops. In a glass, food-grade plastic, or stainless steel container, combine enough water to cover the chops with salt. Use as much salt as it takes so that the water tastes like seawater. Store covered in the fridge for between one and two hours.
Place a flame-resistant casserole or roasting pan in the oven, and preheat to 250 degrees.
Thinly slice the cabbage (or radicchio) parallel to the equator (this produces nice ribbons). If using endive, merely peel the leaves off, leaving them whole.
Thinly slice the onions. You’ll want about two cups.
Core and slice the apple. You’ll want about a cup.
Over high flame, heat a cast iron skillet. Add about a teaspoon of peanut, grapeseed, sunflower, or canola oil, and sear the chops until browned on both sides. Do not turn the chops until they release from the pan themselves (that is, until they no longer stick, and move freely when pushed).
Remove from heat, transfer chops to casserole.
Immediately deglaze the skillet with ¼ to ½ cup of apple cider vinegar (Bragg organic unfiltered). Avert your face, or you’ll choke to death. Allow to reduce slightly, and set aside; you’ll use this later. You can also use red or white wine vinegar, beer, or wine, but never “balsamic” vinegar.
Cover chops with cabbage, onions, apple and ¼ teaspoon of caraway seeds.
Add one cup wine or beer, and place, uncovered, in the oven.
Bake until internal temperature is 140 degrees, adding more liquid if necessary.
Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
Remove cabbage and pork from casserole.
Place casserole over medium flame to heat. Remove from flame and add ¼ cup calvados. Return to flame, and stir and scrape with a wooden spoon. Add reserved vinegar reduction, and stir to incorporate. Add any juices that have accumulated around the chops and cabbage. Heat thoroughly. You can add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, sour cream, Greek yogurt, or butter, if you’d like, but I think that’s overkill.
Pour sauce over the chops and cabbage, and serve with a good Dijon mustard and good rye bread (for god’s sake, don’t buy commercial rye – go to a bakery).