Pork Chops and Fried Potatoes – Originally from June 30, 2016
First attempt by the fearless chef
This is now on my blog, TheScrewtopLetters.com, as I am kind of getting it figured the hell out, and up and running.
As some of you know, I was catastrophically injured back in 2004, spent a couple of years going from hospital bed to wheelchair and back again. To cut to the chase, I felt guilty that I wasn’t pulling my weight around the house, so I decided, fuck it – I can cook. So I became the chief cook around here. And I became a pretty good cook, if I may say so; Peg said it was because I was fearless. But really, what’s to fear? If it is good, do it again and try to improve it, if it isn’t, toss it. Grill a burger. No big deal.
Anyway…about two years before she died, Peg convinced me to try a glass of red wine with dinner. To say the least, I was dubious – my personal attitude about various alcohols is that, if I get sick from drinking it, I’m not going to do that again. To this day, I can’t abide rum, from an experience when I was 14 years old. I had an unpleasant experience with wine at seventeen, and had avoided it ever since. But I digress.
Peg convinced me to have a glass of red wine with the medium-rare Tenderloin (Filet Mignon) I had grilled for dinner, along with grilled Asparagus spears. Being empty nesters, we had recently started buying Prime beef rather than settling for Choice. One of the nicer things of cooking for two. The wine she chose was Layer Cake Shiraz 2011, as I recall.
It was, quite frankly, delicious.
I was both surprised and appalled – surprised that wine could taste that good, and appalled that I had been missing out on it for so many years.
So I started buying different wines – always Reds, because Peg couldn’t abide White wine, and always the more full-bodied, tart to spicy, rather than sweet. Shiraz, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, etc. I would buy a bottle, we would try it out, if we liked it, I would buy a case. If we REALLY liked it, I would buy several cases (it helps that the CEO of Costco is an oenophile; they stock EXCELLENT wines at VERY reasonable prices). Layer Cake runs $11 or $12.
So anyway, time went on, we tried more wines, I tried more experiments with food. We gained weight. We also talked, a lot. We got to talking about the different recipes I would come up with, and the new wines we found to go with them, most of them excellent and under $20/bottle, many of them with screwtops. Surprisingly enough, a lot of the quality houses are going with screwtop rather than corks, nowadays. Improved technology, I would assume.
So Peg suggested that I should start a blog, and share my recipes, and also the wines we found to go with them. I replied, “yeah and we can call it The Screwtop Letters.” She enthusiastically agreed. I was just joking, but she took it a bit seriously, and every few months would ask me if I got it started. Well, now I suppose that I have.
So truth be told, now that I am on my own, I am not much a meal planner – I take some meat out of the freezer for the next day or two, put it in the reefer to thaw. When it comes time to cook, hopefully I have the ingredients to make something tasty.
So tonight I had a couple of thick cut boneless pork chops to cook. I have to admit to being a little intimidated; Peg was the pork chop expert – she would fry them up in a cast iron pan, while I made fried potatoes with bacon, onions, and green beans. And she would always make fresh applesauce to go with it. Always delicious.
I was clueless.
Undaunted (well, mostly), I went on the computer and typed in “fried pork chops.” And got a bunch of recipes that talked about spiced batters, dredging through spiced flour, and on and on ad nauseum. So, FIFI to the rescue! (Fuck it and floor it) My default methodology.
I grabbed a 10” cast iron pan, put in about a teaspoon of canola oil, and about a tablespoon of butter (I believe in being healthy, but you CAN take things too far) and started warming it. Dried the chops, spiced them with salt, pepper, and McCormick’s Grill Mates ™ Chipotle and Roasted Garlic spice. Sprayed them with Canola oil, patted them with flour, put em in the pan on a medium-high heat.
While those were cooking, I pulled out a steamed red potato I had left over in the fridge, sliced it up, put it in a pan with EVO oil and a dab of butter. Sliced up some sweet red pepper, some sweet onion, tossed ‘em in with the potatoes. Spices. I look in the produce bin of the fridge – now Peg always used a mix of Granny Smith and ??? for her applesauce. I didn’t have them; hell I didn’t have time – Peg always started the sauce before the chops. But I DID have a honeycrisp apple. Pulled it out, washed it, sliced it up. Put half in with the potatoes, and started snacking on the other half.
Now those pork chops were more than an inch thick, so I did the first side 8 minutes, the second side six. Pulled ‘em off the fire, sliced one open, and damn it! Still pink! I’m thinking, if I fry these much longer, they are going to be dry as dust – what to do? HA! Throw a ¼ cup of water in the pan, the rest of the apple slices, put a lid on and turn it on high – steam them to a finish.
So to go with it, I pulled out one of our favorites, the Guigal Cotes Du Rhone Rouge 2011. 90 points on Wine Enthusiast, which is irrelevant – Peg and I REALLY liked it. Spicy, a little tart, full-bodied without being overbearing. I claim no expertise, I just liked it. Still do. $ 11.89/bottle at Costco, when they have it in.
To make a short story long, it worked. The pork chops were fully cooked but still tender, moist, sweet – another success story for the courageous culinarian. The only negative? I only had one apple. Guilty pleasure/dessert: the apple slices that were fried in EVO/Butter with the chops.
So anyway, as soon as I figure out the blog thing, I will be posting more recipe/wine stuff.
And also my meandering thoughts on love and pain and death and grief and the whole damn thing.