Tuesday, May 29, 2012

bacon blue cheese quinoa/porcini rubbed pork chops

I've always been extremely, extremely skeptical about quinoa. That's like health food, right? No thanks, I'll pass. So what made me pick up a bag? A recipe where the other ingredients are bacon, blue cheese, spinach and cannellini beans, obviously.

You might argue that this totally defeats the purpose of eating healthy, good-for-you quinoa, but I disagree. If the purpose is to eat something delicious, (and really, that's almost always my purpose) then you're totally set.  Plus, maybe the healthy quinoa somewhat offsets the bacon and cheese? A little? A girl can dream, right?

And guess what? The quinoa itself wasn't half bad. It definitely was a bit of a blank slate, taste wise, but it added some interesting texture to the dish. Maybe it's just got a bad rap. The rest of the dish was really, really good. The richness of the bacon and blue cheese was just the thing that the quinoa needed, and the mushrooms and spinach helped balance it all out. If you want to venture into the scary world of health food, this dish is probably a good way to ease into quinoa and mung beans or whatever.

I also made myself a porcini rubbed pork chop to go with the warm quinoa salad. It was an interesting method (dried porcinis ground up and blended into a flavorful spice rub) that yielded a moist, umami-rich final product. If porcinis weren't so dear, this one would jump straight into the pork chop preparation rotation.

White Bean and Spinach Quinoa Salad with Bacon, Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Blue Cheese in a Bacon Pan Sauce Dressing
adapted from closet cooking

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
4 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup red onion, sliced
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small clove garlic, grated
salt and pepper to taste
1 (6 ounce) package baby spinach
1 (19 ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup mild blue cheese, crumbled
Cook the quinoa as directed on the package. Meanwhile, cook the bacon until slightly crispy and set aside to drain on a paper towel, reserving 2 tablespoons of bacon grease.
Caramelize the onions and mushrooms in the remaining bacon grease, about 20-30 minutes, and 
set aside. Add the vinegar to the pan and deglaze it. Mix in the reserved bacon grease, sugar, mustard, garlic and season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and white beans and cook until the spinach wilts, about 2-3 minutes and remove from heat.
Stir the quinoa into the pan, then mix in the bacon, onions and mushrooms. Serve garnished with blue cheese.

Porcini-Rubbed Pork Chops
adapted from Friday Night Dinners by Bonnie Stern (by way of Serious Eats)

3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup ground porcini mushrooms
1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon black pepper

4 bone-in thick-cut pork chops

In a small bowl, combine oil, mushrooms, salt, and spices. Season pork chops, then rub spice mixture onto both sides of the chops. You can refrigerate for up to 4 hours, if you have time. Otherwise, preheat a grill or cast-iron skillet over high heat. Grill chops over medium-high heat 5-8 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Allow to rest, then serve.

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