When you get to be an old timer in the kitchen like me, you can tell by osmosis who is who in the world of food blogging. Yes, there are beautiful sites with gorgeous pictures but, frankly, they are more for show than substance. On the other hand, there are some where the photos may not be as professional (who wants the food to get cold!) but where you know the recipe they are sharing will be great. Most of them, like me, have a good nose for good recipes from other sources. They may tweak here and there but why fool around with perfection.
To name a few of my favorite real cooks, there is Martha's Lines From Linderhof, Penny's Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen and Carolyn's A Southener's Notebook. Both Carolyn and Penny are friends of Lindaraxa's country blog My Kitchen By The Lake. Martha is a friend of both and her baking is to die for!
Last week I noticed that Carolyn had posted a recipe from one of my favorite Italian cooks, Lidia Bastianich. When I lived in New York, I used to go to her restaurant, Felidia's, for one of the best Italian meals in town. Later on she started her own show on PBS and I was just transfixed. Everything I tried was not only good, it was spectacular.
This recipe is probably one of the best pork chop recipes I have ever tasted. The three of us, including my daughter and my favorite neighbor, were just in awe of what we were eating. No words can express how good this recipe was. Like Carolyn, I served them with artisanal egg noodles made in Tuscany, something I have been keeping for a special occasion, and a simple Italian salad. Tiramisu for dessert. I am still marvelling at the combination.
Don't make any substitutions. I went to the local deli and asked them to cut the provolone in 1/8 in slices which I lay on top of the chops.
This is nirvana. A simple, no fuss dish that is out of this world and perfect for a Sunday family dinner; but do get the right ingredients and make no substitutions. By the way, as there were only three of us, I halved the recipe.
Carolyn, I owe you one. In the meantime, you might want to try the recipe she cooked for the Pope when he came to this country...Goulash
Pork Chops Shepherd-Style
6 bone-in pork loin chops, about 1 inch thick, 6 to 8 ounces each
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
3 plump garlic cloves, sliced
6-ounce chunk provola or provolone, preferably imported from Italy
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup grated pecorino
Recommended Equipment: A heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet or saute' pan, 12-inch diameter or wider.
Trim excess fat from the pork chops, leaving only a thin layer on the edges. Season both sides of the chops with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Spread the flour on a plate, and dredge the chops, lightly coating both sides.
Meanwhile, pour the olive oil in the skillet, and set it over medium heat. Shake excess flour from the chops, and lay them all in the skillet in one layer (depending on the size of your pan, you may have to snuggle them in). Gently brown the pork on the first side, about 4 minutes; turn the chops over and brown the second side, another 4 minutes. Remove the chops to a plate and keep warm.
Scatter the onions and garlic in the skillet, stir them around the pan, season with the remaining salt, and cover. Cook the onions slowly, stirring occasionally, and scraping the pan bottom to mix the crusty browned bits with the onion juices.
Meanwhile, if you'll be finishing the dish right away, set a rack in the middle of the oven and heat it to 400*. Slice the provola in 6 or more thick slices about the size of the pork chops.
After the onions have cooked for 15 minutes or so, and are quite tender and colored with the pan scrapings, uncover, and push them all to one side of the skillet. Lay the pork chops back in, one at a time, spooning a layer of soft onions on the top of each chop. When they're all in the pan, lay the provola slices over the onions.
Raise the heat, and when the meat is sizzling again, pour the wine into the skillet (in the spaces between the chops, not over them). Swirl the pan so the wine flows all through it, and bring to a boil. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of pecorino on each chop, then carefully move the skillet from the stove to the oven.
Bake the chops for 10 minutes or so, until the cheese toppings are bubbly and crusty. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, and let the chops rest in it for a few minutes. To serve, lift out each chop with a spatula, keeping the cheese topping intact, set it on a dinner plate, and spoon some of the skillet juices and onions around it.