1.29.2013

Pan Roasted Pork Chops and Cabbage Braised in Cream

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Sometimes, before even starting a meal, you know it's going to be good. But even I misjudged how good this meal would turn out. I also misjudged how long it would take. So, when we sat down to eat, at nearly 9 pm, I was a little tipsy, my hand was bandaged up from the worst burn I've ever experienced, and I couldn't be happier. 

My plate looked amazing, the house smelled amazing, and there was still amazing wine left from earlier in the evening, when we patiently sat in our dinning room, waiting and drinking. And even though I could barely hold my knife to cut my pork chop, and knew I would spend the next two hours soaking my fingers in ice water, I felt the dinner was a real success, and mentally gave myself an A+, while waiting for the husband to shower me with compliments. 

Not only did I received the compliments I was looking for, but at some point, watching me struggle, the husband even offered to cut up my meat and do all the dishes. That's romance. If you're looking for something special to cook this Valentine's Day, I'd recommend this menu (winky face).
Once again, Bon Appetit was a source of inspiration. I couldn't resist trying their pan-roasting, oven-baking, butter-basting method. I strayed from the recipe just a tad by adding some shiitakes to the mix. All for the husband. So here's what I learned from this, when you baste your pork chop with butter, you get one delicious chop. 
The braised cabbage recipe came from one of my favorite food blogs, Bon Appetempt. I figured if I was basting with butter, I might as well bathe my cabbage in cream and just drink juice for days after. The result of slowly cooking your cabbage in cream is that you end up with an incredibly sweet and melty finished product. It was the best cabbage I've ever had.
I didn't have time to brine the chops according to the recipe in the magazine, so I just brined them in salt water that morning, and they were tender and juicy. I imagine though, their version would make the pork even more delicious. So don't be lazy like me, and try their brine.
If you're going to play the waiting game, might as well do it with a fine Sangiovese from Napa. 
This whole stove-top to oven to stove-top method equals one VERY HOT cast iron pan. Watch your fingers. But, check out how pretty those chops look, surrounded by garlic, rosemary and thyme.
Pan-Roasted Pork Chops
via www.bonappetit.com

1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 unpeeled cloves for basting
2 large sprigs thyme
2 large sprigs rosemary
1 2-inch-thick bone-in pork chop (2 ribs; about 1 1/4 lb.)
2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Flaky or coarse sea salt

The Brine
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add kosher salt, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, halved head of garlic, and 1 thyme sprig; stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Transfer to a medium bowl and add 5 cups ice cubes. Stir until brine is cool. Add pork chop; cover and chill for at least 8 and up to 12 hours.

Cooking the Pork
1) Preheat oven to 450°. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Remove chop from brine; pat dry. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet. Cook chop until beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Turn and cook until second side is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Keep turning chop every 2 minutes until both sides are deep golden brown, 10-12 minutes total.

2) Transfer skillet to oven and roast chop, turning every 2 minutes to prevent it from browning too quickly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center of meat registers 135°, about 14 minutes. (Chop will continue to cook during basting and resting.)

3) Carefully drain fat from skillet and place over medium heat. Add butter, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, and remaining thyme sprig; cook until butter is foamy. Carefully tip skillet and, using a large spoon, baste chop repeatedly with butter until butter is brown and smells nutty, 2-3 minutes.

4) Transfer pork chop to prepared rack and let rest, turning often to ensure juices are evenly distributed, for 15 minutes (yeah right I was going to wait that long! I gave them 5 minutes). Cut pork from bones, slice, and sprinkle with sea salt.

Cream-Braised Green Cabbage 
via www.bonappetempt.com, via Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life


1 small green cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)3 tablespoons unsalted butter1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste2/3 cup heavy cream1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1) Prep the cabbage by pulling away any bruised leaves and triming its root end to remove any dirt. Cut the cabbage into quarters, and then cut each quarter in half lengthwise, taking care to keep a little bit of the core in each wedge. (The core will help to hold the wedge intact, so that it doesn't fall apart in the pan.) You should wind up with 8 wedges of equal size, no thicker than 2 inches.
2) In a large (12-inch) skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage wedges, arranging them in a single crowded layer with one of the cut sides down. Allow them to cook, undisturbed, until the downward facing side is nicely browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Make sure to get good color here, so that they have a sweetly caramelized flavor. Then, using a pair of tongs, gently turn the wedges onto their other cut side. When the second side has browned, sprinkle the salt over the wedges, and add the cream. 
3) Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and reduce the heat so that the liquid stays at a slow, gentle simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and gently, using tongs, flip the wedges. Cook for another 20 minutes, or until the cabbage is very tender and yields easily when pierced with a thin, sharp knife. Add the lemon juice, and shake the pan to distribute it evenly.
4) Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes more to thicken the cream to a glaze that loosely coats the cabbage. Serve immediately, with additional salt at the table.





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