Thursday, October 14, 2010

Paris, Pork Chops & House Guests

I love everything about food.  Learning about, shopping for it, experimenting with it, peeling it, chopping it, braising get the idea.  I love the textures, tastes, smells, colors - my very own nightly "Moveable Feast, minus the fact I'm not slurping delicious metallic oysters with extremely creative people in 1920's Paris, but I digress.  Of all the reasons to be connected to your food, I think human interaction is one of the most satisfying.  Food brings people together in a way that caters to our basic need to sustain life, and most of the time if you have good friends and good food in a room, you'll have a memorable time.   I cooked this recipe from the Les Halles cookbook (with a few modifications of course) for my friend who was visiting from New York City, and I hope she flew back the East coast with fond memories of our shared meals and catching up on old times.

The original recipe "Palette de porc a la biere" is from Les Halles, which is a phenomenal cookbook (and I'm not saying this just because I have a huge crush on Anthony Bourdain) for classic French bistro fare, but it's also a great place to get tips and tricks to improve your technique. 

Season pork (the recipe calls for a 4lb shoulder, but I used pork loin chops I already had in the fridge) with salt and pepper.  Heat a couple tbs olive oil and 1 tbs butter in dutch oven.  Once it's hot, sear both sides of your pork until sides are brown.  Remove from pan.  Add some fresh oil to the pan, and cook 2 small chopped carrots, 1 small diced onion, and 4 garlic cloves until soft.  

Stir in 1/4 cup of cider vinegar and 12 oz beer, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan, and cook until the liquid is reduced well past half.  Add 1 cup chicken broth, bring to a boil, and return the pork to the pot.  Cook covered on low for 2 hours (for a large shoulder) or about 20 minutes (for loin chops).

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, remove finished pork from the pot and brush with 2 tbs mustard.  Then press flaxseed meal (or finely ground walnuts) into mustard covered pork.  Place in the oven until tops are browned.  While that is on the oven, reduce the liquid/veggies in the pot and whisk in 1 tbs mustard.  

Serve pork with sauce, grilled apples, and mashed turnips. 

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