Mar 3, 2009

bouquet of asparagus and hearty pork chops

i've been storing my asparagus in the fridge like this. it really works. stays fresh way longer. i trim the ends ever so slightly when i bring it home. then stick it in a bit of water in a ramekin. fabulously fresh when i remove it several days later. no more dried up stems and mushy tops. seems silly. but works.

by the way. it snowed over a foot yesterday. r broke his wrist in two places in a showdown with a snowplow while hiking to the train. new cast. bright blue. now this morning it is 11 degrees. winter is toying with us. we will not be deterred. and maybe next time we will let the snowplows plow a bit more before he sets out. stamina. perseverance. hearty sustenance required.

now, we don't eat a lot of meat. we eat meat or fish maybe once a week. some of us less than that. but hearty food is desired right now so that we can power through the last bit of winter and maybe heal our broken spirits (bones). yet spring is around the corner. lightness and heartiness. hmmmm. what to serve for supper? i came up with couscous (with lemon scallions and cherry tomatoes), asparagus (with lemony mayonaise sauce), and sauteed pork chops. we love pork the most of all the meats. but, i have to warn you, pork chops cooked in this manner are indescribably delicious. tender. juicy. not at all dry or stiff. yet cooked thoroughly, carmelized, succulent. but i don't want to oversell. try it. maybe it will taste alright.

secret technique. first you must bury the pork chops in a blizzard of salt for a while (30 minutes to an hour) like this:     
good gog that is a lot of salt, you are thinking. and you are right. underneath and on the sides and all around. these pork chops, they must be completely surrounded by salt (but please, don't worry we are going to rinse it all off a bit later). for some reason which is unknown to me, this salt blizzarding technique tenderizes and transforms the pork. some things just work like magic. this is one of those things. 

now, while the pork is resting in all of that salt, prep the rest of the dinner. asparagus rinsed and trimmed. check. scallions trimmed, rinsed and chopped. check. cherry tomatoes, rinsed and chopped, check. lemons washed, squeezed and juiced. check. time to fire up the stove.

wash. trim ends. fill skillet or saute pan with 1 to 2 inches of water. bring to boil. add 2 teaspoons salt. when boiling, add asparagus, cook until tender and bright green. around 3 to 4 minutes unless quite thick-stemmed. in that case cook at a lower temperature for a bit longer so the outside doesn't overcook while the insides remain crunchy. serve with lemony mayonnaise sauce.

1 cup whole wheat couscous (may vary follow package directions for ratios)
2 cups chicken stock or salted water
16 cherry tomatoes, chopped
3 scallions, sliced
juice of 2 lemons
4 TBSP olive oil
marinate tomatoes and scallions in 3 TBSP of the olive oil and the lemon juice. bring 2 cups chicken stock to boil. add remaining 1TBSP olive oil to water. add 1 cup couscous according to package directions (generally pour into boiling liquid, stir, remove from heat and cover. let sit for 5 minutes. stir and fluff.) add tomato/scallion/olive oil mixture. stir to combine.

pork chops
3 or 4 large boneless thick cut pork loin chops
1 or 2 TBSP olive oil
a lotta salt
salt thoroughly on all sides. allow to rest for 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. rinse salt off with cool water. pat dry with paper towels. heat skillet to high. add olive oil to pan (i saute most things in olive oil unless cooking at super high heat in which case i use rice bran oil). saute on high heat for 1 minute. then turn to other side. cook for one minute more on high heat. immediately reduce heat to low. yes quite low. turn over and cook for another 2 to 6 minutes per side depending on thickness of your chops. the clock will tell you how long. 1/2 inch thick chops will require 2 or 3 minutes per side. 1 inch thick chops will require 3 to 4 minutes per side. 1 and a half to two inch chops 4 to 6 minutes per side. six minutes is only for those super duper thick chops. you will have to gauge it. but watch the clock. it takes out all the guess work. it is the only path to success. when are they done? when both sides are nice and browned, when the top is firm to the touch. but not too firm. now the hard part. let the meat rest in the pan for 10 minutes before serving. this will be hard because family members' olfactory senses will most likely be tingling, and they will be milling about the kitchen hungrily. the resting is absolutely required. serve the couscous and asparagus several minutes early with some fresh italian peasant bread and some olive oil to dip. that will whet their appetite. maybe just maybe they will eat way more vegetables this way. this meal is easy on the cook, it doesn't take long at all to prepare. 


  1. That asparagus idea is genius! I just bought some and will use the ramekin method immediately. Sorry about the snow plow showdown. I too wish spring would hurry a bit. ; )

  2. Yes, I like the asparagus storing idea...and good tip on using rice oil for high heat cooking!!! I might even try salting pork chops-never heard of it but it makes sense--good tips!!

  3. i'm going to try that pork chop salt idea..... very interesting... nothing better than pork.... all the other meats are just pauses between pork dishes. xo, Stacey