May 20, 2014
Here Is Your Damn Pork Chop Recipe
Happy, when was the last time we sat down for a whole meal? It’s been too long – I’m making pan fried pork chops, smashed potatoes and a cooked salad. Come on over, I made sweet tea!
I set up plates on the dining room table in the kitchen, next to the window. That window has a good vantage point of springtime in Chicagoland well past 7 p.m. these days. I can’t see out of this window in the winter, because it freezes over with ice. Good riddance, winter! The ice has melted, and the trees on the street below are straining to bud. If you listen carefully you can hear them working on Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #5 (following the urge to push). I don’t want to miss a thing.
This spring meal is great for late afternoons or early evenings. Think Sunday. We are going to use thinly sliced, bone-in pork chops, some wee Dutch Gold potatoes, and make Mom’s cooked salad with some hot walnut oil. You ought to like walnut oil – it tastes rich, but isn’t heavy. It’s great for your precious heart, and it’s chubby with antioxidants, those free radicals that keep us youthful and healthy. Pork and renewal – are you in?
Ingredients for the chops:
2 lbs. of thinly sliced, bone-in pork chops (less than ½” thick)
Sea salt and black table pepper
1 c. all-purpose flour
Season salt (whatever you like)
Cayenne pepper (how much can you handle?)
More black pepper
¾ c. walnut oil
2 tsp. butter
Rinse the chops and pat them dry. It’s important to pat the chops with a paper towel, because this will help you get a nice toasty color going when they cook. Sprinkle both sides of each chop with salt and a lot of pepper. Don’t be shy with that pepper! If they don’t look like they’re multi-racial, you did it wrong.
Heat the oil on medium-high, a shade past the middle, in large non-stick pan. If you don’t have cast iron, pick something with Teflon. It’s OK.
Combine the dry ingredients in a resealable bag. Dump that on a flat dinner plate.
When the oil is hot, add the butter and make sure it melts until it is bubbly. Coat the chops in the dry mixture on each side, and shake off the excess flour. Fry no more than two at a time, for 3-4 minutes. Turn, and fry 2 minutes more, until the juices no longer run red.
While this is happening, boil a few-three handfuls of ping pong ball-sized Dutch Gold potatoes in chicken broth. Better Than Bouillon is my favorite, because it never needs extra salt. Cooking time is approximately 25-30 minutes.
When the potatoes are done, mash them with a pastry cutter or a fork. Be a real jerk about it, in that you don’t have to make these smooth. Keep it chunky. Add plenty of sweet cream butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set this golden prize aside in a warm place, because now we’re going to make a hot salad. Quick and easy.
Variations of this salad recipe can be Googled as “wilted lettuce salad.” My mother called it “killed lettuce,” and she used whatever was coming up in her lettuce garden. Killed sounds so much better than dumpy wilted, don’t you think? People will frown on wilted salads, but they will absolutely eat something killed or cooked.
Killed & Cooked Salad with Strawberries
2-3 tbsp. leftover walnut oil, strained
2 handfuls of new arugula, rinsed
2 handfuls of baby spinach, rinsed
1 thinly sliced shallot
¼ tsp. Turbinado sugar (raw or refined sugar will work, too)
3-5 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 doz. strawberries, fresh and sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Reheat the oil in a small pan, to almost-smoking. Strain this into a glass cup, using a fine mesh strainer. We are reusing this because it has crazy amounts of flavor and we are animals.
Put the lettuces in a large glass (or metal) mixing bowl with the shallots. Drizzle in the hot oil, tossing the lettuce leaves as you pour. It will make a slight sizzling noise, and that means you’re doing it right. Keep things moving to cool it down.
Working quickly, sprinkle in the sugar, douse with red wine vinegar and toss in the sliced strawberries. Mix well. Add salt and pepper, run a taste test, and adjust to your liking.
The sweet tea part of this meal is so pleasing. I do what my Mom did – I use tea bags on a string because that tastes like home. Please don’t be me! Do whatever tastes like home for you. Pick a tea that you like and make some. Sweeten it while it’s still warm – with sugar or honey – and then throw in a little more. Pour it into glasses filled to the top with ice and enjoy. With bendy straws.
All that’s left is the screaming about how good everything is. If you time this just right, you get to enjoy your dinner plus the sun coming through your window, and good conversations with people you really like.
I wish we could do this all together, right now. The best of days are ahead.