Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pork Chops a la Normande

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. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mere's Texas Gumbo

Mere's Texas Gumbo

1/3 c flour
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 lb andouille sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 bay leaves
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t paprika
1 t ground thyme 
6 c chicken stock
1 large tomato, chopped 
1 bag frozen okra
1 lb frozen, peeled & de-veined shrimp
1/2 c parsley, chopped
2 c white rice, cooked
3 green onions, chopped
Hot sauce

In a large dutch oven or stockpot, start with the roux.  To make it go a little faster, I first brown the flour in the pan - over medium heat, stir until it's golden brown.  Remove from pan to small bowl and add the sliced sausage.  Cook until most of the the slices are brown and crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate, keeping any brown bits and oil in the pan.  

Add the flour and oil.  Stir and keep stirring until it's a deep chocolate brown color.*  Add the onion, peppers and bay leaves.  Season liberally with S&P.  Cook four or five minutes until the veggies are softened.  Add garlic and spices** and continue to cook another minute until fragrant.  Add chicken stock and reserved sausage, stirring to get any bits off the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low for at least 30 minutes, up to an hour.  

Check seasoning again and adjust if necessary before adding the tomato and okra.  Cover and cook another 15 minutes (or until right before serving).  Right before serving, add the shrimp.  Simmer until they're cooked thru (not long at all, 3 - 4 minutes at the most).  Add parsley and serve it up over rice with green onions and extra parsley sprinkled over top with as many dashes of hot sauce as you like.  Enjoy!  

*If it looks a little lumpy, give it a good whisk.  Once it cooks any lumps will dissolve.  Watch it once it starts to turn - it'll burn fast if you walk away.  If it burns, your soup won't thicken properly and it certainly won't improve the flavor!

**This is a very mild gumbo - if you like it spicy add more hot sauce at the end OR up to a teaspoon of cayenne with the other seasonings