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COOKS’ EXCHANGE

Cooks' Exchange: Pork recipes highlight how colliding cultures create new culinary treasures

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When a request arrived from Georgia Brassard requesting pork recipes, I decided to reach for Martin Elkort’s book “The Secret Life of Food” to learn more about feasts, folklore and facts.

Although 30 years have passed its publication, each page is a delicious adventure reminding the reader that cuisines of the world have become the fingerprints of time, imprinted by the cultures that swirled around the world in delicious fashion to nourish the mind with the romance of food. Elkort’s 212-page historical gem includes Anthelme Brillata-Savarin’s heart-warming words regarding the “discovery of a new dish meaning more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star.”

Food described as being an unending horizon for a nation of gourmet and food adventurers also sheds light on what our country has benefited as a melting pot of immigrants for recipe enthusiasts seeking out new food styles and methods of preparation.

Pilgrim Pork Chops

Here is a recipe from Junior League of Madison’s “Mad About Food” cookbook published in 2004 featuring “a collection of recipes from a city that’s mad about food” at a perfect time of the year.

6 pork loin chops, ¾ inch thick

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

16-ounce can whole berry cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons chili sauce

1 tablespoon minced onion

2 teaspoons mustard

½ teaspoon ground ginger

6-ounce package stuffing mix

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper

In large frying pan, over medium high heat, melt butter and lightly brown pork chops; add 2 tablespoons of water, cover tightly, reduce heat and cook for 45 minutes or until pork chops are tender. In a medium bowl, combine cranberries, chili sauce, onions, mustard and ginger; pour into pan with chops. Prepare stuffing mix to package directions. Place ¹⁄³ cup stuffing mix on each chop. Cover and cook on medium-low for 12-15 minutes. Remove chops to warm platter. Drizzle chops with cranberry sauce; serve remaining sauce on the side to pass.

Serves: 6

Note: Marinades improve texture and flavor of foods that are soaked in it. Wine, vinegar and fruit juices are some of the more common marinades. When combined with oil, it leaves a moisturizing coating for cooking. Garlic, spices, herbs and salt are common ingredients for flavor. Never marinate food in aluminum, which will leave a metallic taste.

Pork Chops and Apples

One of many delicious recipes from “Easy Recipes of California Winemakers” cookbook with a suggestion that wine flavor could be intensified by using all wine, no water.

8 medium pork chops

½ tablespoon oil

½ teaspoon salt

¹⁄8 teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ cup California Sauterne

¼ cup water

6 apples, pared and cored

Brown chops well in oil and pour off any excess fat. Return to low heat, add seasonings and liquids. Simmer ½ hour, covered. Add apples sliced ¹⁄8-inch thick, arranged on top of chops. Cover again and simmer about 10 minutes, or until apples are cooked through.

Note: E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto adds the importance of garnishing with crab apples and parsley for the tart apple flavor that goes so well with pork.

Pork Chops alla Mama Di

Mama is Giovanna D’Agostino who has been well-known for her Mama D’s Restaurant in Minneapolis.

3 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 green peppers, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

6 center-cut pork chops

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ cup dry white wine

Heat oil in large frying pan. Add onion, peppers, garlic and mushrooms; sauté until onions are transparent. Add chops and brown on both sides. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary. Stir in wine. Simmer, covered, over low heat until chops are cooked, about 20-30 minutes.

Pork Chops ’n’ Pilaf

Here is a recipe with Tex-Mex flavors from Mike Repas.

6 loin pork chops, ¾ to 1-inch thick

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

¾ cup uncooked long-grain rice

¼ cup white or yellow onion, chopped

1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped

15-ounce jar of salsa (see note)

¼ teaspoon each of basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, crumbled and blended

Grated Parmesan cheese (see note)

In a large skillet, brown salted and peppered chops in the oil, about 5 minutes each side, then remove and reserve. To the same skillet, add rice, onion and green pepper and cook, mixing, until rice begins to brown and veggies wilt. Stir in salsa and water and bring to a simmer, stirring all the while. Stir half the seasonings into the skillet contents; arrange chops over all and sprinkle remainder of the seasonings over the chops. Cover skillet and allow to gently simmer for 35 to 40 minutes. To serve, spoon a layer of the skillet mix on a plate and top with a pork chop “dusted” liberally with the cheese.

Note: Use salsa to taste … mild, medium or hot. Tex-Mex style recommended. Try a grated cheese blend for the final stage … a Mexican blend or a combination of Parmesan, Romano and Asiago.

Cuban Pork

Duval Street in Key West is famous for its nightlife and assortment of restaurants serving everything from boneless pork loin to key lime pie.

1 boneless pork loin or tenderloin, 4½ to 5 pounds (see Step I)

1 head garlic, separated into cloves

¼ cup dried oregano

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt, divided

8 turns freshly ground black pepper

1 cup orange juice

1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 teaspoons garlic powder

The day before, trim pork of excess fat and place it in a roasting pan. Halve or lightly crush garlic cloves with the side of a heavy knife. Pierce pork all over and insert garlic into slits. Rub pork all over with oregano, 1 tablespoons salt and pepper. Combine orange and lime juices and pour over pork. Cover and refrigerate overnight, turning roast at least once and basting with juices in the pan.

The next morning, remove roast from refrigerator and preheat oven to 280 F. Set covered pan in oven and roast, basting occasionally, until meat is very tender, 3½ to 4 hours. Remove from oven and remove roast from the pan. Set aside pan and allow meat to sit until still warm, but cool enough to handle. Pull meat into tender shreds and return to the pan with the juices. Sprinkle shredded pork with garlic powder and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Cover roasting pan and bake, stirring once for 30-40 minutes. Serve with black beans and white rice.

Serves: 6

Chinese Pork Chops

Here is a simple recipe from a “Southern Living Cooking for Two” cookbook.

4 (½-inch-thick) pork chops

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Sugar

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons dry white wine

Steamed spinach or cabbage

Remove bones from pork chops and pound to ¼-inch thickness. Sprinkle both sides of each slice with soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Place slices on a large plate. Pour beaten egg over pork slices; toss with fork to combine and coat. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok until very hot. Add coated pork slices. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes, turning to brown on both sides. Add wine; cover and cook about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with steamed spinach or cabbage.

Yield: 2 servings

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at greenbush4@aol.com.

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