Last night we actually went out- to a reading, and then dinner at the very good tapas place next door. There are some things that I would do differently, but I feel that way at most restaurants. OK, all restaurants. Having said that, we’re lucky to have an inexpensive place nearby that gets good meat and knows what to do with it. If you know what I mean.
I had some lovely double-cut pork chops in the freezer- cut to order on the bandsaw- and some ideas for how to treat them. To start, the yuzu miso that came in John’s insane birthday gift bag has been torturing me with visions of (among other things) slathering it on some gi-nommous chawps (as they call them in my home town) and cooking them sous vide. So I brined said chops in a random mix of water, sake, salt, homemade watermelon-habañero hot sauce, maple syrup, herbs, ginger marmalade, and soy sauce for about 6 hours, then patted them dry. A good schmear of yuzu miso and a quick sealing, and they were good to go (Kristie will surely have a comment.)
So while the chops sat in a 63˚ C bath for about 2 hours, I steamed some of our red potatoes, puréed the pressure cooked cabbage from a week ago with some of our applesauce, and baked half of our last big kabocha. The potatoes became pommes écrasées- mashed with an egregious amount of excellent olive oil, salt, and the wild garlic chives that have reappeared in our freakishly mild November (65˚ today, with copious warm rain- we haven’t had a frost in weeks.) I can say without exaggeration that this is as good as mashed potatoes get; they are hands down better than with butter or cream, and lest you dismiss my opinion, you can take it from my wife, who is a dairy-loving midwesterner: this way is seriously best. It’s exquisite. Make them for a vegan sometime, and have your way with her/him.
I also mashed the squash, but with just a little salt since it was perfect. Once all the other parts were ready, I sprinked salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence on the chops and seared them hard in the iron pan until good and brown on both sides. This way of cooking meat is genius, really, especially for pork. You just can’t overcook it, so it’s perfectly pink and juicy the way all thinly disguised metaphors should be. Tangy, silky cabbage blended with unsweetened applesauce might be the best sauce a pork chop ever got drunk and went home with on a first date.
And to drink, another 2003 Jaboulet Vacqueyras. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it agin: this wine is everything I look for in an under-$20 bottle. It’s like a weekend in the Castro with Tina; fruit, leather, ass, and tannins still feisty enough to cause a good pucker. Over time, you realize that it doesn’t have the sublime middle palate that makes for a great wine, but by then it’s pretty much moot, because you’re waking up broke, sticky, and confused in a strange neighborhood- and your clothes are gone.