Thursday, October 18, 2007

Last Night's Dinner #42: Cast Iron my ass...

Grilled Pork Chops with Peaches and Balsamic Vinegar
(Served with Broccolini)
Recipe from The Babbo Cookbook
Prep: 5 mins
Total 20 mins
Difficulty: Easy

I bought a new cast iron pan yesterday, to serve as a "grill". I know I just got a pan, but I wanted the "grill" marks =)

You can use the broiler too, but my broiler isn't exactly user-friendly so I opted for pan grilling. BIG-BIG-HUGE MISTAKE!!!!

Yes, I did get the lovely grill marks but that's not all I got from this freakin' pan. It made everything taste like rust, especially the peaches! The heat distribution was non-existent so the pork chops were unevenly cooked and was far from tender.

Lesson learned: never ever buy a cheap "cast iron" pan.

I was so disappointed, I had such high hopes for this recipe.

Thank goodness for the broccolini - it was the only thing that was edible. Why? Because I didn't use the evil pan to cook it.

It's still a great recipe, so here it is. I hope you have better luck with it!

You'll need:
Serves 2
2 8oz, double-cut pork chops (pretty thick cut, bone-in or boneless)
1/4 cup kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/8 cup sugar, plus more to taste
2 fresh peaches, halved and pitted
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
best-quality balsamic vinegar* for drizzling
broccoli rabe with garlic (recipe below)

*If you don't have expensive aged balsamic vinegar, you can fake it. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup of apple juice, 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, and 4 tablespoons sugar. Bring mixture just to a boil and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until liquid has reduced by half, about 20 minutes.

Note: Italians are not known to mix fruit with meat, but they do love the peach and balsamic vinegar combo - so this dish is a melting pot of two different ideas. Batali also uses a brining trick (soaking chops in salty/sugar mixture overnight) that makes the pork even more juicier and tender. The word brining initially scared me, but it's really just throwing in salt and sugar in water -- done.

step 1. In a deep bowl, combine the salt, sugar and about 1 quart (4 cups) of water and mix well. Add the chops and let them brine in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight.

step 2. Prepare a grill or broiler

step 3. Brush each pork chop and peach section with oil ,season both with salt and pepper and set the peaches aside.

step 4. While the second side cooks, place the peach halves on the grill and cook until lightly charred and juicy.

step 5. Place a mound of broccoli rabe (the broccolini looked fresher in the market so I made those instead) on each plate and top with one pork chop. Garnish with the peach halves, drizzle both pork and peaches with the balsamic vinegar, and serve immediately.

I just heated up a tablespoon of olive oil and cooked two thinly sliced garlic cloves for a minute or two (careful not to burn), added a pinch of crushed peppers then added a bunch of broccolini (stems cut off). The original recipe used anchovy fillets but I used a dash of fish sauce instead. If you don't have fish sauce you can simply use salt and pepper for seasoning. You might want to add a splash of water to help create steam if you prefer it more cooked.

1 comment:

Tom said...

hmm, pokpok must be using cast iron - I swear that was the same meal she cooked last time i was in cali.