Usually I am a pretty healthy eater. I eat a lot of raw veggies, dine frequently on farro and try to avoid fried foods (unless I’ve been drinking *ahem*). So when I pulled a pack of ground Kobe beef from my freezer a while ago, I had already made my peace with eating some seriously fatty meaty goodness. And when you’ve come that far, it’s best to just don a pair of sweatpants and embrace it.
So I did exactly that.
While the beef thawed, I rooted around in my massive recipe binder for something new to try. It seemed sinful to waste Kobe beef on something like burritos or spaghetti, though I have no doubts it would have been delicious in either. Then I found the perfect recipe — one I had been dying to make for quite some time and had just been waiting for the heat of summer to dissipate. Which, let me tell you, has certainly happened here in rainy Portland. If there was ever a time for some “hibernation food,” it’s now.
So I set to work on making this masterpiece: Meatloaf with Creamy Onion Gravy from the Nov. 2011 issue of Food & Wine. And oh, sweet Jesus, am I glad I did. I thought I made good meatloaf before — I always make it with sautéed onions, carrots and celery and I often use grated Parmesan cheese in it for extra goodness.
But this meatloaf…it was divine. It was magical. I used the entire three pounds of meat and I think it was gone in a two days. I don’t know what happened. Oh wait — I know. It looked like this:
Pork chops do not need to be special occasion. I know this. I have been eating pork chops with applesauce since I was a kid. Yet I was intrigued when I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit last July called Father’s Day Pork Chops. If I had known they would turn out this beautiful, I would have been making them all winter long. The story in the magazine did not do these things justice.
I guess the reason I hadn’t made these yet is that I rarely think to buy pork chops. I swing more in the easy direction of pork tenderloins. But my boss had bought a few sample loins from a farm nearby and had them cut into chops so we were all able to take a couple home. They was a mad dash to the cooler and out we walked with two fat, 12 oz bone-in chops in our hands.
My co-workers were full of talk about how they were going to prepare theirs, but I didn’t have any good ideas, figuring I’d dig through my binder of recipes at home. Two recipes caught my eye as I flipped through the pages looking for anything mentioning pork chops. I studied the first one, Roasted Pork Chops with Lemon, with interest and then confusion. I’m sure it’s delicious but it was literally roasted pork chops served with lemon wedges. I have no idea how that rated good enough to keep. Maybe there’s a recipe for a chocolate coconut pie on the other side of the page?
The second recipe was for the Father’s Day Pork Chop. And even though it seemed decadent and not-at-all healthy, it beckoned me to give it a shot. After all, a fried pork chop would be a nice treat for my husband to find when he came home from work. A night off from chicken — wooo!
My husband scoffs at the idea of comfort food — to the point where if I even see that phrase, I can hear him sardonically asking what foods actually make people uncomfortable. This would be a better point except that a few foods have been known to make me extremely uncomfortable, like brains, fish heads and the occasional mushroom. I, on the other hand, love comfort food — dishes like beef stroganoff or chicken casserole that make you feel warm and happy are eternally appealing to me.
So it should come as no surprise that I was mesmerized by this recipe in a Martha Stewart magazine. It was actually part of a small collection on paillards (basically a fancy term for cutlets). I tore out that whole section so fast I’m surprised I didn’t get a paper cut. There was a recipe for chicken paillards with lemon and butter and another one involving veal and sherry. But the first one that I was determined to try was the pork. It was something about the sour cream sauce that did me in.
First comes the pork tenderloin, cut into medallions and pounded thin. I may be married to a chef and own a ton of kitchen utensils, but I have never owned a meat pounder. Luckily I have a small very heavy sauté pan that does the job just fine. A word of advice though — do not pound your meat late at night when it could disturb your neighbors…or early in the morning for that matter. Meat pounding can be loud and you don’t want to have to avoid eye contact the next time you take your trash to the curb. Unless you don’t like your neighbors, of course — in that case feel free to pound away at all hours.
Disclaimer: I have never been one of those people to shy away from eating animals just because they’re cute. And while bunnies may be adorable, fryer rabbits are not. They are mean little suckers who are not fluffy and cuddly. But, as I learned at a fairly young age, they do make for some good eating!
DB and I needed a project and since we were having a hard time coming up with something new, we decided to recreate a dish we hadn’t had in years: Braised Rabbit with Spaetzle, Créme Fraiche and Dill. I first had this dish at a restaurant in Portland called 23 Hoyt, back when my husband was the sous chef there. I instantly fell in love and forced many of my friends to join me at the restaurant to share a plate of it.
One of those friends was, of course, DB and we both became equally obsessed with it. Long after my husband (and the original executive chef) left the restaurant and the dish was no long on the menu, we would reminisce about how good it was. The spaetzle was firm yet tender, browned in butter, and the sauce was creamy but balanced. The braised rabbit added a little something different while the fried shallots on top were just an added bonus. It really was a dish to crave, especially in this cold rainy weather.