Saturday, January 18, 2014

Braised pork chops (with that divine gravy)

I am tempted to ape the Chocolate Priestess, who refers to her readers as "brothers and sisters." Though come to think of it, I still like Lucia's "dear things" better. Brothers and sisters, dear things, is there, is there any food more divine than mashed potatoes with pork chop gravy? Answer comes there none.

Or rather, answer comes there far too many. Many foods of course are just as divine, which is why there are so many cookbooks and food blogs and good things in the world to eat and drink.

The making of this dinner is very simple. Take four or five thick pork chops, sear them brown in just a filming of olive oil in a heavy skillet, sprinkle on a little salt and pepper to each piece of meat, and add 1 clove of garlic and a scant 1/4 cup water or wine to the pan. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, and place in a 300 F oven for about an hour.

Unfortunately, the tenderness of your pork chops may be an iffy thing. Is is just an urban myth, or has pork has been raised so lean for so long now that it is difficult to find a chop that will cook up really tender? The meat still gives off a good amount of delicious juices, but it's those you must be careful with, if you don't your dinner to boil madly and toughen while it "bakes." Try pouring them off several times during cooking -- this juice is your gravy anyway -- so that the meat steams more gently, and adjust the oven heat if need be. Old fashioned, bone-in pork chops may be better than the boneless kind in any case.

When the meat is done, set it aside for a few minutes while you thicken the pan juices in any style you like -- make a roux first and add the drippings to it, or pour in a few tablespoons of a flour and cold water slurry, or, if you need to make your gravies gluten-free, sprinkle rice flour directly on to the simmering surface of the juices, a half teaspoon or so at a time, and stir until it is all of the right consistency.

Then, then you will ladle this gravy over your mashed potatoes and serve it up beside the (let us hope, dear things), succulent pork chops. The wine you choose to drink beside it could be anything you fancy. A dry riesling. Why not something simple and sparkling -- a cava from Spain? Or why not that bottle of Ornellaia that fell from the sky right into your lap the other day? You know, the 100-point, Wine Spectator Wine of the Year Ornellaia, made by the same extended family that makes the equally legendary Sassicaia in an adjacent valley in Italy? Why not indeed.

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