Returning to the Fold…

…Or more precisely, the land of the other white meat: PORK. For many years I didn’t eat any pork products. No particular reason that I can remember, just didn’t do it for over a decade or so. Then one fine pig roast up in the Poconos at the White Water Rafting company annual picnic, my ex-husband (who was the official “Pig Master”) persuaded me to try the cheek meat, and after one tender, juicy, perfectly-seasoned mouthful, I was hooked!

300.lb.pig
A picture of a 300 lb. pig being prepared for the annual pig roast back in the mid-80’s.

While not planning to do a pig roast anytime in the near future, this Sautéed Pork Chops Normandy Style recipe comes from The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly. It describes a master recipe where the secret to successfully cooking center-cut pork chops is not to overcook them. For best results and flavor, the internal temperature of these chops should reach 150° F but go no higher than 155°, retaining a faint pink tinge. (Ignore all cookbooks that tell you to cook pork to 18o° F.)

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The seared chops without the sauce.

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Reducing the pan sauce with apple, onion and cider.

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The chops smothered in pan sauce.

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Plated meal with pork chop and sautéed cabbage.

The meat is aromatically enhanced with a pan sauce made up of onions, apples, apple cider, brandy and dijon mustard… tasty indeed. Now what to have with those pork chops??

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Poor cabbage. Alternately viewed as a pauper’s vegetable or a dieter’s frenemy, cabbage is still considered boring and bland at best and mushy and smelly at worst. Here, it’s reputation is restored by highlighting its mild sweetness and maintaining a crisp-tender texture.

To turn the cabbage into a bona fide side dish, onions are added for depth, while parsley and lemon add vibrancy. A precooking step of soaking the cabbage reduces bitterness while providing extra moisture to help the cabbage steam. As simple as it is to make, we were pleasantly surprised how very good it was!

Sautéed Cabbage with Lemon and Parsley
By Sandra Wu from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients

  • 1 small head green cabbage (1 1/4 pounds), cored and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced thin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions

  1. Place cabbage in large bowl and cover with cold water; let stand for 3 minutes. Drain well and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer onion to bowl.
  2. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat until shimmering. Add cabbage and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, without stirring, until cabbage is wilted and lightly browned on bottom, about 3 minutesStir and continue to cook, uncovered, until cabbage is crisp-tender and lightly browned in places, about 4 minutes longer, stirring once halfway through cooking. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in onion, parsley, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste, transfer to serving bowl, and serve.
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