Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sweet As Pie: Pork Chops with Garlic and Wine

When we moved last year, it was almost immediately after we got here that I started work.  As you all know, the entire year I felt behind the 8-ball and never caught up with anything.  (Case in point: the kids still don't have a playroom.  That's my project in the coming days!)  Anyway, it didn't take long for me to also fall behind in my cooking club responsibilities.  I'm trying to make up for that now that the bar exam is over, and I don't have to tell myself that I'm procrastinating if I spend the afternoon cooking.  It feels so good to be back cooking -- and eating!

This was a recipe that actually wasn't too delinquent.  It's from July, and it is a Pioneer Woman recipe from her blog.

Here you go ...

Pioneer Woman Pork Chops with Garlic and Wine

Verdict:  Very good, but not quite what I expected.
Cook it again: Probably ... it would have to be a weekend or an "open" weeknight without activities
Cost factor: Pork chops typically go on sale.  The rest of it all we keep on hand.

This is an easy recipe, but it was surprisingly time consuming.  Be prepared to stand at the stove for about an hour.  Actually, that's not that time consuming.  But you can't really multitask very well with this one, so it wouldn't be an ideal weeknight recipe for us.

First, peel 18 garlic cloves.

Do you see the size of these cloves?  Monstrous!
For some reason we had the biggest non-elephant garlic I've ever seen, so I counted a few double and didn't peel 18 cloves.

Also, if you don't have one of these and you cook with garlic a lot, you need one.  It's a stainless steel "bar of soap," and you wash your hands with it.  The smell of garlic magically disappears.  It's amazing.

But back to the recipe.  Then you sear your salted-and-peppered pork chops.  Thank goodness for Bobby Flay -- because of him, I know that your food will tell you when it's done.  The hardest part of cooking is waiting, and the more you mess with it, the worse it is.  I think I've grown a lot in terms of being patient and letting the food cook without checking it 99 times.  (Wow!  There's a teaching analogy there!  Let's let our kids learn instead of testing them 99 times.  Not to turn a food post into an education rant, of course ...)

See?!  What a pretty sear.  Thanks, Bobby Flay.

Point of fact: I realized after the fact that PW used tenderloin center-cut chops, so hers were boneless.  And hers also were much thinner cuts than ours.  I was very pleased with our chops, but I think if we'd used boneless chops, they'd have all fit in the pan at one time ... which became important at the end of the recipe.
Anyway.  Once all the chops (we had six, and could fit three in the pan at one time) are seared, you set them to the side and brown your garlic and then add your wine.  I think I used a touch too much oil for the searing, so it was a little more liquid-y than I expected at this stage.  Of course you reduce down the wine.  Once it's nice and thick and sauce-y the recipe says to add beef broth and set the pork chops all back in the pan so they are "swimming" in the sauce.

Again, so pretty!

I hate this part about recipes.  It took me two full pan-fuls to get all the pork seared.  How am I supposed to get the pork chops all in the pan swimming in a half cup of sauce?  The chops are supposed to finish cooking at this point, so I was afraid that if I didn't have them "swimming," they'd dry out and be undercooked.  So I said "oh well," poured in about a cup and a half of the beef broth, which meant that the chops were swimming, but my sauce just never thickened back up the way it was supposed to.

No worries.  It wasn't the prettiest plate ever, but it was a really tasty meal -- especially so since it's been about a week since I cooked a real meal, and I miss that.  I think if the sauce had been thicker, it might have been richer (it was diluted by the beef broth, of course).  But the pork stayed moist, the sauce was flavorful, the whole garlic cloves were tasty and not overpowering, and the wine had cooked off nicely -- something that always worries me.

I paired it with potatoes I'd tossed in light olive oil and then roasted with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and grape tomatoes I roasted with salt and pepper.  They don't much go together (or, for that matter, make a pretty plate photo), but man -- they were delicious!  In retrospect, I think the plate would have benefitted from a green -- maybe, as Pioneer Woman suggests, a crispy green salad.


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