Thursday, February 21, 2008

CSA week twelve - green bean-smothered pork chop

The Italian preparation of green beans isn't really much different from the Greek minus forty minutes cooking time and plus a good bit of herbs. I made a few changes myself though. My original plan was to just add some pork sausage but I seem to have run out. I did have a pork chop left though. Ideally, for proper smothering, I'd want one rather thicker which could cook along with the sauce. One as thin as this is fully cooked when it's done browning so this is more properly green bean-sauced than smothered. An inch thick pork chop would have been just right.

Also, if I had had any on hand, I would have liked to served the dish over gnochi. The soft pasta would have contrasted nicely with the firm crunch of the beans. The best substitute I had available was spaetzle whose chewiness worked well in its own way.

So I started by blanching the green beans for a couple of minutes. That way they keep their nice bright green color and don't have to cook nearly as long in the braise with the tomatoes.

The next step was to brown the pork chop at high heat in some olive oil (after brining it for an hour to make sure it stayed juicy under this sort of treatment and seasoning it with pepper and basil). A couple minutes on one side and one on the other cooked it through so I just set it aside until the vegetables were done, but I left as much of the drippings in the pan as possible.

Turning down the heat to medium, I added three large cloves of garlic and fried them briefly. If I had remembered, this would have been the right time to add onions, mushrooms and/or peppers. But I forgot so after about 30 seconds I dumped in a can of chopped tomatoes and a couple Tablespoons of fresh oregano. Fresh tomatoes would be better, but all I've got are the grape tomatoes and I'm not going to try peeling and seeding those little things. If I had used fresh, I'd have cooked it for a while so they'd start to break down and release their juices, but the canned start out that way. So I only cooked them for a couple minutes before adding the beans. (and, if it weren't already cooked, I'd return the pork chop at this point too.)

I gave the pan a stir, covered it, and let it cook for around ten minutes before checking for doneness and for the amount of liquid left in the pan. I wanted it to work as a pasta sauce so I wanted it a bit wetter than if I were just making a side dish. I believe it took around fifteen minutes for the beans to get as tender as I wanted and then I finished it off with a large drizzle of balsamic vinegar, put the pork chop on the pasta and added the sauce. A garnish of shaved Parmesan would have been nice, but I couldn't be bothered. Even without, I think the combination of flavors and textures worked well. I think it will survive freezing better than the Greek green beans did, too.

Next time we get green beans, I'm thinking cajun-style.

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