Pork chops. Probably the easiest thing in the book for me to get ahold of and cook, right? So why did I drive two hours -- twice -- to get them?
I met the pig first.
After dinner at the Refinery in Tampa one night, chef Greg Baker and I were talking about where to get good pork. He told me that they were getting theirs from a small farmer in Brooksville and gave me her name.
I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to buy at that point. Initially, I thought I'd get all the pork pieces I needed for the book, and maybe a couple other things to play with. But then I started exchanging e-mails with Rebecca Krassnoski of Nature Delivered in Brooksville.
She sent me a "cut list," which I didn't really know what to do with. I studied it, and thought that maybe it was like an order form. Turns out, that wasn't what it was. It was more like instructions to the butcher on how to break the animal down. When it came to the "order form," there were only really three choices: 1/4, 1/2 or whole. Meaning, that was how much of a pig you were buying. The rest came down to how it got cut up.
So, the process by which the pig went from a pen in Brooksville to my freezer in Clearwater (and the final parts made the trip to Washington and are in my tiny freezer here) will be chronicled elsewhere one day. Suffice to say, I was there for its final moments, and I went back a couple days later when it was broken down and wrapped up for me to take home. For the purposes of this dish, I pulled four thick, pink, gorgeous pork chops out of the freezer. They get brined in a sugar-salt water for several hours and then hit the grill. I like it when a recipe ends up with things hitting the grill.
The peaches get grilled briefly, then hit with some balsamic vinegar. Better than applesauce.
Notice how the pork chops seem to have tails? That's all in the butchery. What it is is a little chuck of pork belly hanging off the end of the rib. So, basically, there was bacon hanging off the pork chop. They should cut all pork chops that way.
The recipe calls for broccoli rabe as a contorni, which I previously made for the osso buco. I made it again, but I also made the scallion barlotta as a contorni. I'm a fan of barley. Scallions, however, are pretty much a nice garnish to me, and this was a dish that they starred, so not my favorite.
The pork chops were amazing. The texture and the flavor of the meat -- it had flavor -- was like tasting pork for the first time. It made me less interested in ever buying meat at the supermarket again. It was so good, I don't know if it even needed the brining, but it didn't hurt, I'm sure.
Up next: asparagus with duck egg