Thursday, 23 April 2015

Cornmeal-fried pork chops with goats' cheese smashed potatoes

Good evening my discerning readers! This evening I have the most delicious recipe to share with you, which I tried out this week. It's from the actually rather famous website Smitten Kitchen, owned and written by Deb Perelman, which, I must admit, I only recently stumbled upon online, although I had heard of it some time ago. There are some severely mouth-wathering recipes to be found there, in fact, Deb must be one busy lady to make time to experiment with all those dishes. I believe some are her own invention and others are reviews of other cooks' recipes, as is this one (details in the recipe link).

The recipe I made was Cornmeal-fried pork chops with goats' cheese smashed potatoes, and if that title isn't self explanatory, I don't know what is, but I can assure you that the flavours in this dish will blow you away. So simple yet rich; few ingredients yet the way they play off one another is delicious.
 I clearly wasn't thinking when I started this dish, as I haven't taken my standard "ingredients" photo - alas! The ingredients are listed on the recipe page linked to above, so please click there for that information.

The first step of this simple recipe is to bash out your pork chops to about 1/8" thick. Bash bash bash! I just used my marble chopping board as a base and covered over only the tops of the chops with clingfilm before giving them a good bash. The chops I used were already reasonable thin, and I also found them considerable easier to bash out than chicken breasts, which are really the only other meat I've pounded flat.

The next step is to marinate the chops in buttermilk for at least four hours, preferably overnight. I only had two hours, but this seemed to work fine. Once marinated, the chops are removed from the buttermilk, the residue removed, and they are seasoned before being dredged in a bowl full of cornmeal (I used polenta, I believe it was a fairly coarse grind).

Unfortunately I seem to have another omission here, as I don't have a photo of the polenta dredging stage, but let me assure you that the buttermilk enables the polenta to adhere beautifully to the chops, and they transfer fantastically well to the frying pan, losing barely any crumbs. The recipe recommends using two frying pans, oiled and preheated, and a bit of faffing around with changing oil when the chops are turned over. I managed to fit four chops in one pan, snuggly admittedly, but there was no excessive charring or making of crumbs, as the original recipe creator seems to have feared.I made three chops for Husb and meto share, and one for the boys to share between them.

I used rubber ended tongs to place the chops into the pan and also to turn them over and remove them, which definitely helped reduce the risk of losing slabs of beautifully crisp polenta coating to the depths of the pan!

 I'd put the potatoes on to boil so that the end of their cooking co-incided with the pork being ready. As this is the UK, and we don't have such an ingredient as "half and half" as specified in the recipe, I went with Deb's suggestion of using half milk and half double cream, so also prepared this mixture, having brought it to the boil ready to pour over the smashed potatoes.

Now I must tell you, smashed potatoes are not like generic mashed potato. Because they are still reasonably intact, their flavour is preserved. Also, the type of potatoes one would use the smashing (or crushing) method on tend to be baby sized, with their skin still on, and flavoursome. I used Charlotte potatoes for this recipe as those were the baby sized potatoes thay were available in Tesco, and I often use them because of their slightly sweet taste. They were perfect!

 I wish this photograph could convey the pleasingness of the tastes found therein; the meltingness of the butter, the richness of the goats' cheese and cream, the freshness of chives and the saltiness of seasoning. It does, in fact, look like a rather uninspiring photo of a bowl of potatoes with something white chucked over them, with a few flecks of green. Let me assure you though, that, in this case, a picture does not speak a thousand words, and that you are missing out if you do not eat this meal.

I didn't accompany this dish with anything green or leafy, and, surprisingly for me, even with hindsight I don't know that I would accompany it with anything next time I make it. Certainly I absolutely love salad and jazzed up green beans, for instance, which I might have made had I had my brain been switched on, but this dish is so rich and flavoursome that I don't feel any addition to the plate would be necessarily beneficial. Having said that, something refreshing your mouth every so often from the richness of the flavours could be welcome. It is also filling, due to its richness, and even though the portions were not huge by any means, I had definitely eaten my fill by the time I'd finished. Perhaps this dish would be best followed by a pallette cleansing sorbet, and that is said in no way to disparage the recipe, which I urge you to go and make as soon as you possibly can!

So coming up on the blog, I have home made cereal bars to share with you. A quest, in fact, for the perfect home made healthy snack, and some more baking with vegetables, besides many more meal recipes, of which I am rapidly accumulating photos.

Happy cooking; embrace the freedom of creating in your kitchen!

x Sam

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