Sounds fancy doesn't it? But no! It's just pork chops with onion and mustard sauce. After another stressful week, I wanted a dish that was simple, and didn't involve any deep frying of meringue in duck fat, or wrapping quail around bits of foie gras (all that to look forward to, I promise). The pork dishes in the Les Halles Cookbook, however, are all nice and simple and straightforward. I decided to eschew the pork tenderloins with garlic confit and bacon due to their needing to be refrigerated overnight, and chose the next, simpler pork chop recipe.
Pork chops are not something I cook with much regularity. Like brussels sprouts and liver, they were something that my mother didn't like much, and so she never cooked them when she could help it. Dad, however, loves all things pork, and would ask for them at dinner from time to time. Mom had no idea about how to cook pork, though, and pork chops would invariably come out of the oven tough and leathery. My sisters and I would sing "wooooo... woo... woo... can't cut this!" Which, in retrospect was mean, but hilarious.
So, no pork chops for me, and none for Husband J either, as his parent's didn't much like pork chops. But I'm willing to give Tony a chance with a mediocre cut of meat, so let's go!
First, I made some garlic confit for a salad based off of the Ad Hoc at Home valencia salad (frisee, oranges, olives, almonds, and roasted garlic vinaigrette), which has nothing to do with the dish, but made the house smell outstanding.
Next, I peeled the potatoes, and put them in a pot to boil. Meanwhile, I seasoned the pork chops with salt and pepper.
The chops get sauteed in a pan of olive oil and butter, four minutes a side until they are nicely seared.
Once sauteed, the chops go into the oven for eight minutes to cook through. Meantime I had Husband J mash the potatoes, while I boiled a cup of cream and a metric ton of butter. This got added to the potatoes for the mashing process. (I didn't get pics of this, as it's mashed potatoes, for heaven's sake.)
While Husband J mashed, I made the sauce for the chops. I chopped an onion and dumped it into the saute pan that I'd cooked the chops in, and added some flour and white wine to scrape up the fond.
Once the wine reduced, I added some chicken stock and let that reduced. Finally, I whisked in some demi-glace, mustard, and chopped cornichons, and the sauce was finished.
I served the chops with a side of potatoes, topped with sauce:
I just need to comment how not appetizing this looks. The cookbook has some lovely pics in it, but none of them really seem to be of the finished dish. Case in point, this recipe features a lovely browned chop, with no sauce on it. The sauce in my photo is a really peculiar brown with bits of green cornichon, and looks really horrible.
The taste, however, was outstanding. The sauce was absolutely spectacular, and gave the chop a very nice tangy flavor. The chop itself was very tender, and not in the least bit overcooked, but with no pink in the middle. For sure, this is a great way to cook a chop.
The potatoes were...well... mashed potatoes. I snuck in some garlic confit while mashing, and the recipe boasts that they are "just a little bit better," but they're just mashed potatoes, nothing better, nothing worse (even for all the butter I put in). The sauce was great on top of them, though.
And a bonus pic of the salad, which went beautifully with the dish:
I have to nominate this dish "best weekday dish," since it is so easy and quick to make. It's the opposite of the extremely indulgent sea scallops, being relatively low in fat, inexpensive, and easy to cook (and doesn't make your house smell like fish for a month). It has Husband J me sold on pork chops (though I still can't wait for tenderloins, garlic and bacon!)
Lessons learned: Pork chops do not have to taste like leather; a mashed potato is a mashed potato; French food is not all that photogenic, but it sure is tasty.
Next week: Possibly some salad d'onglet!