March 3, 2016

Pork Chops and Not Too Sauerkraut

My mom used to make the best pork chops and sauerkraut—it was my favorite dinner although I was kind of embarrassed to admit it. Sauerkraut was one of those foods like beans or egg salad or onions that made kids go ewww....

Once she sent me into the grocery store to pick up a can of kraut and I ran into a foxy boy from my high school who worked there. He asked me what I was looking for and when I told him he raised his cute little Scandinavian eyebrow ever so slightly and in that gesture I saw my attractiveness stock plummet.  My ardor for fermented cabbage remained but I had to take it underground for awhile surreptitiously tucking it in along the side of my bratwurst bun at barbecues. 


So I was so happy when I saw my beloved pork and kraut in Amy Thielen's cookbook (which I've raved about here before). She elevates it by adding white wine and spice. Those additions just make a good thing better. A key element in the dish is the sauerkraut and in this case, the can won't cut it. You want to look for fresher, crisper versions often sold in bags or refrigerated jars. The only ingredients should be cabbage and salt. It's milder, less sour and better tasting. You cook it all until the pork is fork tender and infused with the flavors of the cabbage, onions, wine and stock. You could probably add another chop without adding more sauerkraut but that's my favorite part so I like to make sure I have plenty. 

Homey and satisfying with a baked potato. 

Pork Chops and Sauerkraut

2 bone-in pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pat butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 cups sauerkraut with liquid
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Pinch thyme

Preheat oven to 325ยบ. 
Heat oil in oven proof saucepan over high heat. Generously salt and pepper chops and sear both sides, about 3 minutes per side until brown. Remove chops and set aside, then drain fat from pan. Put butter in hot pan, turn heat down to low and add onions and brown sugar. Cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and wine. Boil for 3-5 minutes until reduced by half. Add pork chops back in along with cabbage, bay leaf and thyme. Cover partially and put in oven for 3 hours until pork chops are fork tender and sauce is thick. 

February 17, 2016

Broiling in Palm Springs

I've always maintained that Californians have a culinary and health edge with the produce they can snag year-round. Spending the last month in Palm Springs with my daughter while she pursues her equestrian dreams has made me realize I'm right. Take, for example, the grapefruit trees that line the busy street where I run. One after the other, heavy with gold orbs of citrus. At first I just furtively picked up the ones that had fallen on the ground and jogged with one in each hand like they were weights. Then, a few days ago, I saw guy with a bike and a basket picking them off the trees. He said it was OK and isn't it funny that they still sell them in the grocery store down the street? Yes, it is. Now I pick them straight from the tree too, sans cute basket because we're staying in a rental house that is lacking charming portable vessels of that sort. I use my tee-shirt as a hammock instead.

Today I picked more than usual. After cutting one into quarters and eating it right after my run, I decided to broil another for dessert. I love warm, cooked fruit and never tried citrus. Easy and fast. Cutting the segments for easy removal is the most time-consuming part. 

Broiled Grapefruit

Serves 1-2

1 grapefruit
2 heaping tablespoons total of sugar; white, turbinado, brown or a blend
1/4 teaspoon ginger or cinnamon, optional
Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat broiler to high. Take a small slice off the rounder end of grapefruit so it sits level. Cut the whole fruit into two halves and cut the grapefruit carefully around the circumference and around each little wedge so they release easily when finished. Place in shallow baking dish. Mix sugars and salt together with spice, if using, in a small bowl. Divide mixture between the two grapefruit and spread out. Broil for about 10 minutes until slightly colored. Cool a bit and serve warm with vanilla ice cream. 

It looks like paradise and it is beautiful here, but this sport is not for wimps, equine or human. It's 90 degrees and she's wearing a long sleeved shirt, coat, breeches, tall leather boots and a hat that doesn't even shield her from the sun. But they both love to compete and make it look easy.

February 3, 2016

Crunchy Garlic Lemon Chicken Cutlets

Lemon garlic sauce

Last Friday night my friend Lynn and I made this for 35 people. It was kind of hideous. The final product was terrific as was the game party it was served at but, man, it was a lot of work three-step breading and frying all those cutlets. My house had that cooking smell for days. And yet, I had to make it again tonight because it's so dang good. That and I ended up with about 16 extra pounds of chicken. I'm such an amateur. 

But if you're just making it for four people it's a snap. Make the sauce, set up your breading station and it will be dinner in about 15 minutes. The leftovers are great, too. 

Crunchy Garlic Lemon Chicken Cutlets

Makes 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/4 - 1/2" thickness (hint: ask the meat counter to do it for you)
1 cup flour
2 eggs, whisked
1 cup Panko crumbs
4 tablespoons (or more) olive oil for frying

Lemon Garlic Sauce

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Sauce: Combine all ingredients except parsley in small saucepan and boil for 3-4 minutes. Stir in parsley and set aside.

Put flour, eggs and Panko into 3 separate, shallow dishes. Heat large saute/fry pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Salt and pepper chicken breasts, then dredge:

1. Into flour, shake off excess
2. Into egg wash, let excess drip off
3. Into panko, patting to adhere

Fry, about 4 minutes per side until browned, crisped and cooked through. You may need to adjust heat if it's cooking too fast (i.e., getting too dark too soon or not sizzling a little on the sides). Set aside on a plate, drizzle half of sauce over and pass the rest. Serve with pasta, bread or potatoes to soak up the extra sauce.

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