i've always felt bad for pork. it's kinda like that kid who's always the last to get picked for the team (er, me). admit it, you've looked at a menu line-up and been guilty of committing pork under-appreciation more times than you can count. you'll choose the filet first; then the lobster; maybe third choice will be the duck confit; fourth will be the salmon and bringing up the rear will be the sad little pig. i don't quite understand how pork became the stepchild of meats, but i declare 2009 the year to make pork a first draft pick and am kicking the year off with an ode to the other white meat. in case you haven't noticed, we are in a recession (check your portfolio lately? if not, make sure you've got a bottle of cheap wine next to you when you do - it'll hurt your wallet and your heart less). so say "bye bye" to your savings as well as over-priced (and often over-rated) indulgences and "hello" to pork. but not to worry, there will be no sacrificing of quality with the lower price tag. pork, more so than any meat (in my humble opinion), takes on the flavor of whatever it's cooked with in the juiciest of ways. it'll certainly be enough to make you say, "oink."
pork, pork and more pork
pork chops with date & prosciutto and brussel sprouts with bacon
for the pork chop:
1/2 pork rib roast / rack of pork (should yield 4 pork chops)
salt, pepper & sugar
2 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil
8 strips of prosciutto
2 cups of chicken stock
1/4 cup of apple cider
8 medjool dates, sliced in half
for the greens:
1 lb. of brussels sprouts, sliced in half
salt & pepper
6 oz. of applewood bacon or pancetta, diced
1 cup of chicken stock
although presenting a pork rib roast in it's entirety is absolutely stunning, i prefer the pork chop approach. that way you can sear each side and get the additional texture and caramelization flavor from the searing. so, start by slicing along each bone to separate the rib roast pork chops. season with salt, pepper and sugar, cover with saran wrap and bring to room temperature.
preheat an oven to 375 degrees and wrap a baking sheet with aluminum foil (we'll finish the pork chops in the oven after they've been seared).
heat a large stainless steel frying pan over high heat. add olive oil and distribute evenly over pan. then place pork chops one at a time onto pan and then leave them untouched to ensure maximum searing effectiveness. sear on high-heat for 3 minutes and then flip, searing the other side for another 2 minutes. place on foil lined baking sheet and wrap each pork chop with two slices of prosciutto. cover with foil and roast in oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, until internal temperature of the pork reaches 144 degrees (yes - pork can be served medium these days without trichinosis scares!).
while the pork chops are roasting, deglaze the pan with chicken stock & apple cider to remove all the juicy pork bits from the frying pan over medium-high heat. let the the chicken stock & cider boil until the liquid's been reduced in half. add dates and cook for another minute, and serve sauce over cooked pork chops.
while all this pork goodness is going on, brussels sprouts can also be prepared simultaneously. fill a medium-sized pot with about an inch of water and place a steaming basket over the water. bring to a boil and place brussels sprouts in the steamer basket. sprinkle with salt, cover and lower heat to medium-low. steam for about 8 minutes or until tender enough to be pierced with a fork.
heat a medium-sized saute pan over medium-high heat. saute bacon pieces for about 2 minutes and then add brussels sprouts to pan. pour in chicken stock and saute until chicken stock has been completely absorbed. season with salt & pepper to taste and serve alongside your juicy pork chops.