Thursday, May 13, 2010

maiale in agrodolce e peperonata

This gorgeous recipe comes from Saveur's April issue, which featured an absolutely inspiring spread on Roman food. Nathan's co-worker turned him on to it, and he insisted we make the cover recipe, and even though it was fantastic we've put off blogging it for quite awhile now.

the classic Roman porkchop

Impressive, no? Well, ours didn't look nearly as picture perfect, but it was still a damn tasty meal. The ones in the photo have been frenched, which looks fancy, but really just means you're cutting off all that tender meat along the bone, which is one of the two best tasting parts of the chop. Therefore, we didn't have any regrets about sacrificing Saveur's dramatic presentation for the sake of MORE MEAT.

To start, we seasoned our chops and drizzled them with olive oil. The recipe called for letting them sit like this for half an hour, but I can't recall if we listened or not. Basically, I'm sure resting the chops with the salt makes then more tender (that's almost like brining, right?), but the agrodolce glaze you're about to make is so good that it probably doesn't matter. Also unnecessary? A grill. We cooked our chops on Nathan's griddle, which has grill ridges on one side, but a regular skillet or pan would be fine.

For the sauce, we reduced ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of honey in a small pot. You want the sauce to get nice and syrupy, but don't let it get too thick. If it's getting to the point where it's so viscous that you're scraping, not stirring, you've reduced too much. This happened to us, but we just added more balsamic and it loosened back up. To finish the sauce, melt in a half a stick of butter and the leaves from one sprig of rosemary.

We then cooked the chops on medium high heat, basting with the sauce and turning them over every so often. They should be done after 12 to 14 minutes. The recipe instructs letting them rest for five minutes before serving, but these smell so good that it'd be understandable if you cracked before that.

As you might have expected, these are awesome. The balsamic honey glaze is more sweet than sour, but the rosemary really gives it a depth of flavor. It was my first agrodolce, and it won me over instantaneously. Cooking down the balsamic really mellows it out, and the sauce tastes wonderful with the pork; (I love pork so much and I love finding new ways to cook it).

Saveur's suggested serving these beauties with peperonata, which turned out so good that it rivaled the main dish. The onions and peppers become sweet and delicious, and the red wine vinegar finishes it off with a nice tang. So good, and so simple.

Simply chop up 4 assorted red, yellow and orange bell pepper, 4 cloves of garlic, half and onion, and cook them in a pot with a little hot olive oil. Add a quarter cup water and some salt and pepper, and just let them cook for about an hour, stirring every so often. Stir in 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar at the end, and you're done. Perfection!

hearty Roman fare

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