Pork Chops a la Normande and Cauliflower Gratin
For the Cauliflower:
1 medium head of cauliflower chopped into florets
4 T butter, divided
2 T flour
2 C milk
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1 C grated parmesan
1 C grated Gruyere
1/2 C panko breadcrumbs
Chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 375, butter a medium casserole dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drop in the cauliflower for 4 - 5 minutes until it just starts to become tender. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, get going on the sauce. In a medium saucepan melt 2T butter. Add flour and whisk over medium heat for at least a minute, up to 3 - 4. You want the roux to cook a bit but not turn super brown, just barely golden. Add milk and seasonings and whisk vigorously over the heat - bring to boil and cook a few minutes until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in half the cheese. Season to taste. Add cauliflower to the casserole and pour the sauce over the top. Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs and sprinkle over top. Dot with remaining butter. Bake 30 - 40 minutes until bubbly, brown and crunchy on top. Allow to cool slightly before garnishing with parsley and serving.
For the Pork Chops:
4 thick cut, bone in pork chops (you'll likely need to get these from the butcher, you want them at least and inch and a half thick or more)
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 t grainy dijon mustard
1/2 C Calvados*
1 C heavy cream
2 T fresh thyme leaves
Preheat a very large, heavy skillet over high heat until nearly smoking. While that happens, prep the pork. Using a sharp knife, score the chops on both sides, making sure to score through the fat cap. Season liberally with S&P. Add your butter and olive oil to the pan then arrange the chops so they fit. Leave that heat up and DO NOT MOVE the chops around for at least 5 minutes - 7 if they're really thick. While they sear, throw in the garlic. Flip the chops and sear on the other side for another 5 - 7 minutes. They should be super brown and crispy. Remove the chops and garlic to a plate and cover with foil, leaving all the pan drippings and crispy bits. Drop the heat to medium and add your mustard. Using a whisk, pull up aforementioned crispy bits. If you're working on gas, turn off the flame and add the Calvados. Turn the heat back to medium and whisk until reduced by about half. Pour in the cream and continue to whisk and cook until the sauce looks thickened slightly. Turn off the heat, add the herbs, stir then nestle your pork chops in to warm up. Serve with crusty bread for sopping up that yummy sauce. Bon Apetit!
*This is a very strong apple liqueur made in Normandy. In a pinch, if you don't want to go to the liquor store, a not-too-sweet hard apple cider will mimic the flavor. Last resort - dry sherry or brandy but the apple flavor is what makes this dish a la Normande!
P.S. This is super with gnocchi...but my people hate gnocchi so we go with baguette.