Will These Be Your New Favorite Pork Chops?

by Anne Maxfield on April 23, 2015

Accidental Locavore Pork Chop and CauliflowerA good looking pair of pork chops caught the Accidental Locavore’s eye the other day, and seemed to be just the thing to put a recipe from bon appetit titled “Your New Favorite Pork Chops” to the test. It requires a little hands-on attention, but you can just do what I did and park the iPad close to the stove to answer emails between flipping chops. Serves 2 or more depending on the size of your chops.

  • 1 tablespoon  vegetable oil
  • 2   1½”-thick bone-in pork chops (8–10 ounces each)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8  sprigs sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon  unsalted butter

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Season pork chops all over (including the sides) with salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until bottom side is golden brown, about 1 minute. Turn and cook on other side about 1 minute before turning again. Repeat this process, turning about every minute, until chops are deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 135°, 8–10 minutes (cooking time will depend on thickness of chops).

Accidental Locavore Favorite Pork ChopsRemove pan from heat and add sage, garlic, and butter, smashing garlic into butter. Tilt skillet and spoon foaming butter and drippings over pork chops, making sure to baste all over. Transfer pork chops to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes (pork will come to 145° as it sits). Serve whole or sliced with the juiced spooned over and enjoy!

My verdict: While I’m not ready to say these are my favorite pork chops, they were awfully good! Done in a cast iron skillet, they were nicely browned, and perfectly cooked, yet still juicy and delicious (even without being brined, which I considered doing). The next time I make the French style ones (which are my personal favorites), I’m going to try cooking them like this (I did and they were great!). And even though they say you’re not supposed to turn steaks more than once, if no one is paying attention, I may give that (or some lamb chops) a try.

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Hot or Not, a Visit to Monte’s

by Anne Maxfield on April 20, 2015

Accidental Locavore MontesMaybe the Accidental Locavore is being overly fussy, but don’t you think that food that is supposed to be hot, should in fact, be hot? And when menus describe something as “seared”, one assumes that it’s going to have residual warmth from the searing process. Such was not the case at a recent dinner at a new “hot” restaurant, Monte’s Kitchen.

Originally I wasn’t going to write about our dinner, preferring to just sit back and enjoy an evening with friends we hadn’t seen in a long time. But the dinner was so disappointing—not bad, mind you, just very sloppily executed, that the company was definitely the high point of the evening.Accidental Locavore Montes Door

It’s a large open space, with nothing but hard surfaces, so as soon as it filled up it was impossible to hear anything. Along with kale, the other must-have for a trendy restaurant has to be the Edison light bulb, which looks great (or did the first fifty times you saw them), but isn’t terribly effective as far as illuminating a kraft paper menu on a clip board (another trendy conceit). In an effort to go against other long-standing traditions, there are weekly specials (a terrible idea at the end of the week…) of pasta (never thought of pierogis as pasta, dummy me), flatbread and dessert.

When the flatbread arrived, it was warm and soggy, weighed down by a nondescript cheese and the inevitable kale. Not special. My husband and one of our friends had the beet salad, which was certainly the most unusual-looking rendition of that dish I’ve ever seen. Small beets of various colors were halved and piled up on one side of the plate, opposite a same-sized ball of (wait for it) beet sorbet, with a slab of feta standing in for the usual goat cheese. Frank said the sorbet was interesting, but it was obvious that the salad wasn’t what they were expecting.

Main courses were a little more traditional. Frank had a steak, which was good, but not close to being rare. Ditto the lamb chops another one of our friends had—grey is not the color of medium-rare meat. The two of us at the end of the table (and minus points for turning a four-top into a six-top by adding chairs at the ends) had the chile-rubbed seared tuna on a bread salad. This is where things got interesting. The tuna was perfectly seared, a little spicy – and stone cold! It was served over a bread salad with a basil dressing, which was just kind of a green mush with lima beans being the dominate note.

Accidental Locavore Montes Seared TunaBecause the tuna was so cold, we gave them back to the busboy and told him they were cold. He look puzzled (but that was pretty much his only facial expression that evening) and went off with them. Not thirty seconds later, he returned saying that the chef said it was supposed to be that way. I get that salad is cold, seared tuna in the center is cold, but the outside (i.e. the seared part) was also cold. My guess is that it’s seared off in the morning and kept in the fridge until someone orders it, when it’s sliced and plated. None of this would have been a problem at all…except no one said that it was a cold dish.

The dessert menu was limited to three desserts, none of them memorable, and the weekly special—a key lime pie cut into rectangles so they could call it a bar…

I’m tempted to be like Monte’s website and not have any photos of the food (which should be a telling sign), but instead will leave you with this terrible shot of my tuna. Thanks to Frank for going back and taking the exterior photos!

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Pasta With Oxtail Ragù and Horseradish Breadcrumbs

by Anne Maxfield on April 16, 2015

Accidental Locavore Pasta With Beef RaguPrepping for this pasta dish the Accidental Locavore came across three separate jars of horseradish, which ended up being the inspiration for the horseradish taste test. The motivation came from having a couple of “weird” cuts left from our beef share that we had vowed to experiment with. Adapted from bon appétit, this served 4:Accidental Locavore Seared Beef Shank

  • 3  pounds oxtails or 2 ½ pounds beef shanks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4  tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2  garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2  cups  dry white wine
  • 2  cups  chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons  finely chopped rosemary, divided use
  • 1 cup coarsely torn breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish (or more to taste)
  • 12  ounces strozzapreti or other short pasta

Preheat oven to 350°. Liberally season the oxtails or beef shank with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat and cook the meat until deeply browned all over, 15–18 minutes; transfer to a bowl.

While the meat is cooking, finely chop the onion, carrot and celery by hand or in a food processor.

Accidental Locavore Beef RaguIn the same pot cook the vegetables, stirring often, until soft, 5–7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Return meat to pot and add wine, broth and 2 tablespoons of the rosemary. Meat should be just covered; top off with water if needed. Bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to oven. Braise, checking after an hour to make sure oxtails are covered at least two-thirds of the way up. The meat should be falling off the bone, about 2–2½ hours. Remove meat from liquid. When cool enough to handle, shred meat and return to sauce; discard bones. This can be made up to 4 days ahead. Cool and refrigerate if not using right away.

Accidental Locavore Breadcrumbs for ToastingWhen the meat is out of the oven: on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the breadcrumbs with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, squeezing it to help it absorb oil. Bake until golden brown, 5–7 minutes; let cool. Stir breadcrumbs, horseradish, and remaining 1 tsp. rosemary in a medium bowl.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente (pasta will still be opaque and very firm in the center). Drain pasta, reserving 1½ cups pasta cooking liquid.

Bring ragù to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add pasta and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, tossing often and adding more cooking liquid to help finish cooking pasta, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve pasta topped with horseradish breadcrumbs and enjoy!

 

Accidental Locavore Horseradish BreadcrumbsMy verdict: This was the recipe that inspired the horseradish taste-off and it was delicious! I used a beef shank that I had from Brykill Farm, which added a lot of flavor to the dish. Don’t let the oxtails prevent you from making this. Beef shanks, short ribs–anything that would work well with long braising will be great! The next time I make this I’ll probably double up on the sauce and freeze half, since it is a lengthy cooking time. A slow cooker or sous-vide machine would probably work well here too. I’m sure there was much more than 2 teaspoons of horseradish—more like 2 tablespoons, but we love the taste of horseradish! The crunch of the breadcrumbs gave a nice contrast to the softness of the meat and would probably be great on any number of dishes (mac and cheese, roast beef, rack of lamb, Brussels sprouts, etc.). What would you use them on?

 

 

 

 

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A Taste of Horseradish

by Anne Maxfield on April 13, 2015

Accidental Locavore HorseradishAs much as the Accidental Locavore loves horseradish, it’s always been something that I grab at the supermarket, without giving it much thought. It popped up on my radar lately when I was reading a recipe on Love, the Secret Ingredient and Mary was raving about some Polish horseradish she’d gotten in Brooklyn.

Recently I was in Queens, at Muncan’s, a butcher that specializes in Eastern European sausages and salamis, and I picked up a jar there thinking it was going to be Eastern European, if not exactly Polish. Of course, if I had my glasses on and bothered to read the label, the good news (for a locavore) might have been that it was a lot more local than that—hailing from Pennsylvania.

In the midst of trying a pasta recipe that enticed because of the addition of breadcrumbs toasted and tossed in horseradish, I thought a quickie taste-test might be in order. There were three contenders: the one from PA (Old Country Packers Original White), Gold’s Hot Style, and an unmarked jar we picked up at Morse’s in Maine.

The Old Country Packers was whiter than the other two. It was quite sharp and assertive—certainly the hottest of the three, with a good flavor.

The one from Morse’s had great flavor, it was probably the most flavorful of the three, but not nearly as sharp as the Old Country. Consider it horseradish for wimps.

Gold’s Hot Style totally lacked heat and style. I thought for a minute about keeping it for emergencies and then quickly talked myself out of that! As I was dumping the jar, I noticed the expiration date: 2011—oops!

Accidental Locavore Bottled HorseradishThe clear winner was the Old Country, but it’s also the newest (and expires in April, so time to start using it up!). For flavor, the one from Morse’s was great and would probably be the winner if it was a more recent jar. I’ll give Gold’s another shot, if there aren’t any other options, but no matter what, I’m checking dates!

Of course, there’s always the homemade option…

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