Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pork chops braised in dried cherries and leeks over brown rice with sauteed green beans

A few months after Allan and I started dating, he somewhat timidly revealed to me that he didn't really like pork chops. When I came to, it was hashed out that he didn't like dry pork chops, and I will certainly give him that. I don't like dry pork chops either. Thus; we have embraced the braise.

This recipe is from one of William-Sonoma's "Food Made Fast" cookbooks called "Simple Suppers". I really dig the series, there hasn't been a single dud among the recipes I've tried, although I always do make tweaks like to any other recipe (and would make a minor tweak or two to this one as well).

I had leftover rosemary from the chicken I made on Sunday, so this seemed perfect. Looks like I'm going to need to get a rosemary transplant for the garden. Back to Calloway's this weekend!

One tweak I will definitely make is using those thin little pork chops next time. These were too thick to get really fall apart-y in the time I was willing to wait to eat, but those super thin ones would have been perfect. A minor adjustment. The cookbook recommended braise time was much shorter - I automatically quadrupled it, I don't want to have to use a knife to eat it. Increasing the time means it ain't gonna win any beauty contests, but the flavor was great. 

2 packets instant brown rice (I like the Success brand ones)
some sort of green vegetable (I had green beans and a few leftover sugar snap peas)

1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 leeks, halved and sliced thinly, tough upper green portions discarded
1/4 cup port or red wine
1/2 cup dried cherries (or, if you love them, a cup - I'll definitely do a cup next time)
1 tbsp rosemary, minced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups chicken stock (enough to cover the pork chops)

8 or so thin little bitty pork chops, or 4 larger ones

Rinse and pat dry your pork chops, then season on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, heat a little olive oil with your tablespoon of butter (the olive oil raises the smoke point of the butter so it won't burn). When the foam subsides, brown your pork chops on both sides. Remove and set aside. Then add your leeks with a pinch of kosher salt and allow to sautee for 4-5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the wine, scraping up all the browned bits from your pork chops, then add the rest of the braise ingredients. Add your pork chops back into the pan along with any juices that may have accumulated, cover, turn the heat to low, and allow to cook for at least an hour. Thin pork chops would probably be good to go after an hour but the thicker ones will take a bit longer. 

While the pork is braising, cook your rice packets according to the package directions. I love these things, no more waiting 45 minutes for crappy sticky brown rice - 10 minutes and these babies are done, and one packet serves two people perfectly to boot.

After an hour or so, stick a fork in one of your pork chops and see if it's ready to break apart. If not, braise a little longer. It'll get there. Once it's close, take the cover off to reduce the braising liquid into a sauce while the cooking finishes. Adjust the seasoning as needed - take care not to add too much salt when you're reducing something because it will concentrate the saltiness. 

While that's happening, heat a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet and sautee up your vegetables over a medium-high flame. I like to add just kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of red chili flakes.

Plate up a mount of your rice and smother with a pork chop and that lovely leek and cherry sauce. Pile your veggies up on the side.

Serves 4, takes maybe an hour and a half, but the majority of that is cocktail time during the braise.

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