Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Late Summer Cooking--Waste Not, Want Not

There has been some good cooking going on around here. Erik made delicious carne asada for dinner tonight. We made homemade Pho following the recipe on the nikwalk page, adding a little bit of water to balance out the fish sauce. I made, for Zoe's birthday, carnitas (pork butt, rubbed with smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground dried adobos, and celery salt seared and then braised in beer in water in the oven for 4 hours at 300 degrees.), pineapple salsa, roasted pepper salsa, and not-homemade-tortillas. I rolled skirt steaks around boletes and made, for a different dinner, a zucchini gratin. But the highpoint so far has been the pork chops.

These ones Erik brought home from Randall's the butcher. Bone in and an inch and a half thick. I'm wary of thick pork chops. Erik won't eat even pinkish pork and the bone makes them tricky to cook. And like everyone else on the planet, I lament the lack of fat in the meat. So I brined them in a bath of 1.5 tbsp of salt (OK. Not entirely sure. Either 1 tbsp or 2 so I'm splitting the difference. Same with the sugar.) 1.5 tbsp of sugar, garlic powder (a little. I don't believe in powders and yet, so simple, so saturating!) and 1 cup apple juice. Put the brine in a plastic bag (I don't believe in wasting plastic bags but this provides the best full coverage) and let the chops brine for 4 hours, turning every hour or so.

Erik grilled the pork chops slowlyish--350 to 400 degrees for 6 minutes a side. He also sliced broccoli and coated it in olive oil, sprinkling salt and pepper on it and grilling that for a bit. We also grilled peaches.
Probably the best dinner of the summer at our house, knocking out even the carnitas which were good but when you're having a party, do you taste the food?

Unfortunately, you taste the food when it's just you and Zoe and Erik. We made pizza using Alton Brown's 24 hour dough-raising method. The dough was salty and tough to stretch out. We didn't have tomato sauce so I reduced a whole 28 oz can of tomatoes. We used like 1/4 of it and now the rest goes to waste in the fridge. But the worst part? We cooked the pizzas at 500 degrees just like Alton Brown suggested. But he didn't suggest the grill which we thought would be a great idea. It might have been. If we'd turned the burner off.
The first pizza was black all over the bottom. The next pizza, we turned the burner down. The third pizza, we turned the burner off. The first one was so burnt but something about it was delicious. The second one was OK. The third one, the cheese wasn't super melted like I like.
I liked the first one the best, because the crust was the crunchiest and the cheese the meltiest. But it was black. I wrote the whole dinner off as a waste until Erik reminded me that it was just an experiment. We'll try again next time.


  1. Running son is trying a vegetarian challenge for a month, and I feel I should support him--so worthy a challenge!--but I would sneak over to your house and have some of that pork chop, although possibly I would have to wrestle with you over the bone, because it sounds delicious. Too bad your house is not within sneaking range.