Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back in the Kitchen

It is always a good sign when I am ready to start cooking again. The pump came off on Friday, and while some level of fatigue continues, I did have enough energy and desire to prepare a nice meal with Frank last evening. The April issue of Saveur has a great article about Classic Roman food, which left me ready for a trip to Italy. Lacking that, the next option was to try a couple of the recipes. The cover photo was two pork chops prepared in agrodolce (sweet and sour). They looked great, so that was our choice for the evening. Here is the recipe direct from the Saveur website (link to recipe by clicking on the recipe name). The recipe calls for grilling, but I do not have a grill. So the only change I made was to initially seared the chops in a saute pan, then finished them in a 400 degree oven, basting and turning every few minutes until they were done. Amazingly good even without a grill.

Maiale in Agrodolce

4  10-oz. bone-in pork chops, frenched
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1  sprig fresh rosemary, torn into 1" pieces 
1. Put pork chops on a plate; drizzle with oil; season generously with salt and pepper; let sit for 30 minutes
2. Meanwhile, build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high heat. Combine vinegar and honey in a 1-qt. saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced to 1⁄4 cup. Stir in butter and rosemary and set aside.
3. Put pork chops on grill and cook, occasionally turning and basting with balsamic mixture, until browned and cooked through, 12–14 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. 

Our salad, which Frank prepared, was a caprese salad dressed only with olive oil, salt, and pepper. For the "contori" or side dish, Frank prepared the Broccoli Strascinati from the same article. It was a very simple, and extremely tasty accompaniment for the pork chops. Again, direct from the Saveur website:

1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch broccoli (about 1 lb.), 
   stemmed and cut into florets
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1⁄2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
Kosher salt, to taste
1. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add broccoli; cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Sprinkle in 2 tbsp. water; add garlic; cook until golden, 2–3 minutes. Add chile; cook until toasted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt.
SERVES 2 – 4

Don't be afraid to let the broccoli start turning deep brown in spots with caramelization. That creates another level of flavor to the dish. 

Tomorrow evening, I plan on making Spaghetti alla Carbonara with a slight change. The very first time I had carbonara was on my first visit to Rome with my good friend Deidre. Her brother, who had lived in Rome for a couple of years (lucky you, Dennis), recommended Abruzzi, not far from Trevi Fountain. I was amazed by the carbonara which I had ordered with rigatoni instead of spaghetti (both options were on the menu). So, with found memories of my first dish of carbonara, I will prepared it with rigatoni. 

As is typical with many Italian dishes, good ingredients, simply prepared, yields good eating.


Piglet's Buddy said...

OK now I've read it. I, too, am glad you found your memory. Now you won't need that map to get to work and back!!!

Dick said...

Very funny, my friend. Good to see you this evening. There you go, mentioning work again...Mr. Short-timer.

Liz said...

Okay, a couple of comments. First of all, it's about damn time you posted recipes for all those yummy dishes you and Frank make! Second - you got an iPad? OMG, I am SO jealous! And finally - thanks for the DC update. Eric will be living there again this summer, so a trip is in our future. Definitely appreciate your restaurant recs!