Friday, January 19, 2007

Olive-and-Herb-Crusted Pork Chops with Collard Greens and Goose-Fat-Fried Potatoes

So, we've been kind of quiet this week, mostly because both of us have been fighting off a nasty flu. We finally kicked it with a little leftover avgolemono, but almost an entire week has gone by since we ate this dinner.

I'd tagged a recipe on Chow that came from the Niman Ranch Cookbook. It was for lamb chops with an olive-and-herb crust, and it sounded totally fantastic. Cut to us with some rotted lamb a couple of days later, either the result of a bad batch from Whole Foods or else we just waited too long to freeze and thaw it after leaving it in the fridge for the first few days.

But I'd already mixed up the bread crumbs and the olive paste (incidentally, both took about 5 minutes in the Cuisinart, and the taste far exceeds the effort). And so we went back to the supermarket, this time opting for some bone-in, center-cut pork chops. We followed the cooking instructions in the recipe, which called for a little searing on the stove and a longer cooking time in the oven. We've seen this on America's Test Kitchen before, and it really is an easy way to get the meat cooked pretty evenly (see below).

To accompany them, I thought we'd use some of our reserved goose fat and fry up a couple of new potatoes. If you ever have reason to cook a goose, I can't recommend highly enough the use of goose fat on potatoes. They fried to a perfect golden brown, and the outside had a superb crispiness that I've never gotten before with oil.

To cut through the meat and fat, I cut up an onion and tossed it into a fry pan with just a tad of oil. Once it cooked all the way down, I splashed in a little leftover claret (which stained the onion red) and stirred in a bunch of chopped collard greens. Then I put a lid on the pan and turned off the burner. The remaining heat cooked down the greens and helped infuse them with some of the oniony wine flavor.

Now, the pork chops cooked pretty well, though we found some reddish spots near the very middle (despite our digital thermometer telling us we were well cooked). If/when we make this again, I'd use smaller chops so I could better manage the cooking time. Also, I think I was too gentle on the chops when pressing the olive mixture into them. We ended up losing a little bit in the pan, which I scraped off and piled on top for extra flavor (surprisingly, it didn't char), but it would have been better seared into the chops.

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