Thursday, 2 October 2014

The French Saved My Pork Chops

I have a lot of misconceptions about French food. Growing up where I did French food was two things: really expensive and always slathered in a heavy sauce. I have marvelled at my friend Toby’s love for the cuisine and have endeavoured to educate myself more on the subject because of his passion. I started heavy with Escoffier. Who may be a genius but I think is a bit of a prick. There is a wealth of knowledge in that book if you can get over the condescending tone of it. I have moved through many other French chefs’ work and above and beyond everything else there is a mad love for food and that I can get behind.  Some techniques are complex and take a lot of time that most of us don’t have and others are so simple that you wonder why you haven’t been using them for years. All of them are worth knowing on a conceptual level at the very least. The recipe that I will share with you is more of the latter.

When I was growing up there was one thing that was a staple in both my Grand and Mom’s pantry: cream of mushroom soup. It was the gravy of my youth and I loved it. One day I was waxing nostalgic and decided to make one of my childhood favorites: pork chops in gravy. I made it just the way that mom did and as I sat down with my meal steaming in front of me. I took my first bite and paused.... It was terrible. This in no way is a reflection on my mom’s cooking. I have tried to get away from processed food stuffs in the past few years and the soup based gravy was not the childhood glory that I remembered but rather a gloopy mess that totally masked the flavor of the pork. This would not do. I wanted pork chops and I wanted them to taste like pork chops. Enter the French. Flipping through a French cook book I found a recipe and was intrigued. I gave it a try and then again adding my own thoughts to the recipe. There was no heavy sauce of any kind and the results were spectacular. So thank you France, ‘nuff said.

Pork Chops in the style of the Butcher’s Wife to the tune of Thank You by Led Zepplin

2-3 high quality pork chops, I used center cuts in the photos
2 big handfuls of spinach
¼ cup diced cornichon, these little sour pickles are awesome and add a bite.
6 cherry tomatoes, halfed
¼ cup red wine
1 clove minced garlic
1 onion finely diced

-In a medium sized skillet sweat the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Push them to the edge of the pan and turn up the heat

-Add your chops and sear. Reduce the heat and allow them to cook through. Once done remove them and let them rest.

-While they are resting add the pickles, tomatoes and spinach to the onions and garlic. Cook for 30-45 seconds until the spinach starts to wilt a little. Remove from the heat and the carry over cooking will finish the process for you. Any longer than 30-45 seconds and everything will turn into a big pile of mush which no one wants.

-Plate up and enjoy. Thanks France.