I finally did it. I broke the spell and actually cooked. I don’t mean reheated, or cold poached or relied on default memories of pastas long loved. I mean sat down, thought it out and created a completely original recipe using all of my faculties.
I had my synapses working in both directions. And we all know that synapses are essential to neuronal function, and without neuronal function there would be no such thing as really good cooking. Because neurons are specialized cells that pass signals to individual target cells. And neurons use synapses as the means by which they pass along pertinent information.
Information such as: “Gosh these pork loin chops look fabulous”. And because the neurons I was using to view those loin chops at the meat counter this morning were able to share that information with other neurons in my brain the inkling of a recipe was born.
And I want you to know that without synapses the information I gleened by staring at those beautiful loin chops would have just sat in the receiving neuron never actually meeting its destiny. And in this case the destiny of that information may have started with a mere visual cue, but that cue was able to travel back and forth between neurons, telling my body what actions to take to transform those fabulous pork loins into the luscious, delicious, (if I say so myself) recipe that required all my cognitive skills to bring to you today! I think I even spelled it all correctly…
And to further prove that Sup’s! brain is fully functioning, I have decided to do the wine pairing for this dish myself. Those duties usually fall to my brother Sip! because he is much better at it than I am.
Still, I do know a thing or two about wine and my rule of thumb is–“ if it’s good enough to drink, it’s good enough for the sauce. Or do I mean– if it’s good enough for the sauce, it’s good enough to drink? In either case it doesn’t take a wine genius to decide to bring to the table the very same wine that I used in the red wine reduction sauce. Duh…
That is if there’s enough left over after the sauce and the nip or two the cook took! Hell, let’s open another bottle. This is the kind of meal that is meant to be savored.
After all, my neurons and synapses have worked hard today. I think they deserve the kind of break that only a little too much red wine can bring!
So here you are, the first real cooking from Sippity Sup in 2010.
- 3 T olive oil
- 3 clv garlic, lightly smashed
- 2 lb swiss chard, center veins removed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 sli bacon cut crosswise into 1/2â€ strips
- 1 c day old rustic style bread, crust removed and cut into rough pieces varying between 1/4â€ and 1/2â€
- 3 T pine nuts
- 8 pieces of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes cut into 1/4â€ dice
- 8 sage leaves, cut crosswise into very thin strips (chiffonade)
- 1 1/2 c fruity red wine (such as a chianti)
- additional sage leaves, left whole
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 T italian parsley, chopped
- 20 small round red potatoes
- 2 medium shallots, peeled and cut in half
- 1 sprig
- 2 boneless pork loin chops, 2 inches thick
- 4 additional slices bacon (left whole)
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 2 more sage leaves, finely chopped as garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves to the hot oil and swirl them around the pan. After a moment, remove the garlic cloves and discard. Add the Swiss chard, and a little salt and pepper. Cook stirring and tossing continuously until it is barely wilted, about 4 minutes. Put the chard into a colander to drain. When slightly cool use a paper towel to press out as much moisture as possible. Chop the chard and add it to a mixing bowl.
Using the same skillet, wipe the bottom and sides with a paper towel and set it over medium heat. Once the pan has reheated Add the cut bacon strips to the pan, stirring occasionally. Once it begins to brown, but is not yet crisp remove it to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Reserving the bacon fat in the skillet still set over medium heat.
Add the bread cubes and pine nuts to the skillet and cook giving the pan all of your attention until everything is toasted and golden brown. Then add the bread, pine nuts and cooled, cooked bacon to the same bowl as the Swiss chard. Add the diced sun dried tomatoes, sage chiffonade, and a pinch of pepper (salt is probably not necessary, but check). Set the stuffing aside.
Add the red wine, one whole sage leaf, one sprig of thyme, and chopped parsley to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and cook until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Strain the herbs out and set the sauce aside.
Put the red potatoes, shallot halves, the remaining sprig of thyme, the sprig of rosemary and a good amount of salt into a large pot. Add enough cool water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches. Bring the pot to a boil and cook about 10 minutes. The potatoes should be cooked through, but still quite firm. Drain the potatoes and then immerse them in cool water. Set aside in the cool water while you prepare the pork.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Working with one pork chop at a time, lay one on itâ€™s side in front of you and insert the tip of your knife into the center cutting a pocket into the chop. Making sure to leave 3 sides intact. Season the insides with salt and pepper and fill its cavity with about 1/4 of the chard stuffing. Press the meat closed around the mixture, pressing to evenly distribute the stuffing. Lay the chop flat again and top with four or 5 whole sage leaves. Wrap the pork with 2 strips of raw bacon, covering the sage leaves and winding the bacon around the chop slightly overlapping. Make sure you enclose the stuffing completely. Use toothpicks to secure the ends of the bacon slices. Continue until both chops are stuffed and wrapped.
Find a pan with shallow sides (such as a cast iron skillet) that is ovenproof and large enough to hold both of the chops and all the potatoes. Use this skillet to warm the vegetable oil on a burner set to medium. Lay the chops in the pan in a single layer; cook 6-8 minutes, turning the as needed to assure even browning of the bacon. Add the potatoes to the pan surrounding the chops. It’s ok if the potatoes cover the chops somewhat. Move the pan to the preheated oven and cook another 5-7 minutes, until the pork has reached an interior temperature of 140 degrees F for medium rare. Move the chops to a cutting board and let them rest about 8 minutes. In the meantime put the potatoes on a warm serving platter.
Once the pork has rested, slice each chop on a diagonal, across the grain into 1/2-inch thick slices. Top the potatoes with the sliced pork and drizzle about 1/2 of the Chianti sauce over the chops and toss the chopped sage across the platter. Serve warm with the remaining sauce passed at the table.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD
Stuffed Pork Loin Chop with Swiss Chard, Bacon, Sage and Chianti Sauce