Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pork chops, sherry, and dates

For the last three Turkey Days I have been evolving a squash, date, and walnut dish that inevitably leads me to have excess dates on hand. The only dish I have in my culinary arsenal is wrapping them in bacon, drizzling with honey, and roasting them into succulent nuggets of pristine gastronomic delight. And while that is a solid way to consume said dates, it just doesn't feed the masses. This year however I am putting an end to that silliness.

I plunked around in my cookbooks and came up with a date and Madeira wine recipe for guinea fowl in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. I am fresh out of guinea fowl and Madeira, but I do have some sherry on hand. Hey, they're both fortified wines right? I also have some pork chops from Windy Hill Farms in the freezer as well. Close enough in my book.

So like most other protein with pan sauce recipes we start by getting the pan hot and then getting a nice brown on the chops and fond in the pan. When I flipped the chops I also buried a couple of cloves and bay leaves under them and put the pan in a 350F oven. After 8 minutes or so (really I have no idea how long, but "8 minutes or so" sounds much better then the truth) the pan came out of the oven and the chops removed to a plate to rest. I feel slightly tempted to make a very bad pun about the chops being tired from jumping around in the pan, because saute translates into jumped. But I won't do that.

Now we move on to the pan sauce part. I put a couple pieces (half inch by one inch) of orange zest and half a cup of Sherry into the hot pan and deglazed the fond (repetition technique here, I am embedding fond into your subconscious) using the zest as a sort of organic scrubby pad. This also does a nice job of distributing the oils in the zest throughout the dish. The same idea as wiping a martini glass rim with a twist. Once this boiled a bit I added some turkey stock, chopped dates, and a few small pieces of cinnamon stick and let it all reduce down. Once the sauce came together I plated it all up and we dined.

Three things:
1) I used turkey stock because we just had Turkey Day and the carcass was used to make stock. If you didn't do this or make soup with it then shame on you. *finger waggling*

2) The original reason why I had dates in the first place is for a squash, walnut, date dish. I needed sides to go with the chops so we had sauteed onions and arugula in a walnut vinaigrette and roasted butternut squash.

3) In all honesty this came out okay. Not superb or tear-inducing. I admit I was neglectful of the sauce. I should have reduced the wine down more before adding the stock, and the seasoning was underdone. Next time...


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