A few recent meals before I continue with the Argentina travelogue…
Yet another absorption pasta
First of all, I don’t usually post my absorption pastas at this point–it has become a favorite midweek meal, usually involving broccoli and sausage, but a recent one was so easy and tasty that I thought I’d toss it in the ring. I sautéed a couple chopped up slices of pancetta until nice and crispy, put them aside, sautéed a sliced up summer squash for a few minutes, set *that* aside, then cooked the pasta and added the squash and most of the pancetta back in towards the end. I chopped up some really firm feta and sprinkled it on top, then finished with the rest of the pancetta, for crunch. 20 minutes, completely delicious, and rather pretty, too! (This is my contribution to the Everything Yellow design trend currently sweeping the internet.)
Cured pork chops, Goin style
My brother brought his new girlfriend over for dinner a couple weeks ago, and I made a real dinner for them instead of presenting poor Tom with whatever I happened to be cooking that night. I made the cured pork chops from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, starting the day before by making the brine (juniper and allspice berries, fennel seed, fresh fennel, onion, carrot, dried pepper, thyme…) and soaking the chops for 24 hours.
That left the chops really fat and juicy with brine–I wish I had weighed them before and after; next time I’ll do that to see how much they suck in. See how shiny and plump they are?
To start the meal we had another Goin suggestion, roasted asparagus with prosciutto and mustard crème fraîche. I should have grilled the asparagus (as she suggests), but we were low on propane so I used the oven. It could have used the extra shot of flavor from the grill.
I boiled a million marble-sized new potatoes and buttered them, and sautéed spinach as a bed for the chops. Ben grilled the chops to perfection—he has gotten so good on the grill! The meat was juicy and flavorful; I will definitely do this again. Compared to Goin’s other recipes, the brine is really simple.
I made rhubarb compote (again, from Goin) for dessert, to serve with ice cream. Sigh… The rhubarb at the Coop was uninspiring; I should have scrapped it. But I forged ahead, making a caramel with a vanilla bean, then cooking the rhubarb in it, etc. It turned out ok but not great, since the flavor of the rhubarb was not great to start with. Pretty, though:
I adore rhubarb and was looking forward to eating a lot of it this year; I don’t know why I haven’t been able to get any. Dessert plans for a dinner tonight were shot down, too—a rhubarb crisp had to give way to brownies due to a supply problem!
Simple sausage dinner
Mmmm, I really am a sucker for the simplest food. I finally made the roasted shredded brussels sprouts that we’d eaten at our friend Greta’s house months ago. I crushed some garlic and let it sit in olive oil while I ran the cleaned sprouts through the cuisinart (using the shredding blade), then when it was almost time to eat I tossed the sprouts in the oil, spread them out on a baking sheet, and baked them at around 400 degrees until they got crispy. You have to power through the moment when you think you’ve killed them and want to pull them out: Before getting crispy they wilt a bit, which is scary.
I made an emergency box of couscous, and Ben grilled sausages. All together it was a great combo of flavors and textures, and a very satisfying weeknight dinner.