Tuesday, May 03, 2011

I got your proteins right here!

I have not been a great fan of the pork chop in the past, as I always end up overcooking them and drying them out. But in last month's Bon Appetit, there was a recipe from Mario Batali's restaurant, Babbo, that looked very appealing. The secret is to brine the chops overnight before grilling them. This is a great summer recipe to showcase those fresh veggies from the farmer's market. (In addition to the peppers and onions, I also brought some mushrooms to the party.)

Along with the Babbo pork chops, I made a quick side dish from my local co-op's newsletter. I have had quinoa in dishes here and there, but I had never cooked it on its own. Besides being nutty and yummy, it's SO good for you--a complete protein by itself. With the addition of garbanzo beans, I have a suspicion that this would be an excellent dish either hot or cold as a salad with a vinaigrette dressing. Tonight, I prepared it as my friend Melissa suggested in the co-op's newsletter, so the spice palette was Middle Eastern. With the Italian entree, we ended up with a bit of a fusion meal, but it was delicious blending of cuisines!

Babbo's Grilled Pork Chops with Cherry Peppers, Cipolline Onions and Balsamic Vinegar
(Source, Mario Batali, Bon Appetit, April 2011)

1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
(4) 8-oz pork chops with rib bone
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers, one red, one yellow
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (I would omit this--the cherry peppers are enough for me!)
8 pickled cherry peppers, sliced thin
Aged balsamic vinegar

Brine pork chops overnight in 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup kosher salt. Grill chops till done throughout.

Blanch cipolline onions in large saucepan of boiling water, then peel. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in large heavy skillet, brown cipolline onions, 8-10 minutes. Remove.

Add bell peppers and red onion, saute till softened, about 5 minutes. Add crushed red pepper. Reduce to low and simmer til vegetables are softened. Stir in cipolline onions and sliced cherry peppers.

Place grilled pork chop on plate and top with vegetables. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Quinoa and Chickpeas
(Source: Melissa Hartness, North Country Co-Op Newsletter)

Cook about a cup of chopped onion in two tablespoons of olive oil until the onion just starts to brown, then add two cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute or so. Next add one tablespoon tomato paste (I used about half of a small can), one tablespoon crushed coriander seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, black pepper and salt to taste.

Saute for a minute and then add one cup of quinoa and saute another two minutes. Add one can of drained chickpeas (or 2 cups cooked if using dried, which is far tastier--but you might need extra stock) and two cups of broth/stock. Cover the pot, bring it to a boil then lower heat. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until quinoa absorbs all the water.

Additional items: Add chopped up pieces of roasted red peppers, and/or sauted mushrooms to this. You could add some seasonal greens as well.

Gina's note: This came out with a texture like soft polenta, but the next night, when I reheated the leftovers in the oven, it became fluffy and a bit crispy on the top and edges, and was SO much better! So I highly recommend finishing it in the oven. I think next time, I will do it in my Dutch oven, bringing it to a boil on the stovetop, then popping it in the oven for 20 minutes with the lid on, then a little while longer with the lid off until it fluffs up.


Kitty said...

This sounds gorgeous!!
I love brining meats, it adds so much flavour and tenderness.
I do quinoa quite often, but I've never tried finishing it off in the oven, thanks for that tip!

Kind regards, Kitty

Joy Bugaloo said...

Thanks for the nice comment, Kitty!