So, tonight’s meal started out as a black box that Mike put together for me. Black Boxes are fun because I like not knowing ahead of time what I am cooking and Mike is pretty good at picking really nice, interesting ingredients.
I was excited to come home from work on Friday and find out that the ingredients were, thick-cut pork chops, pears, butternut squash and gnocchi.
However, in the end things turned out that it was not really a black box since we had a PVRed episode of “In the Kitchen with Stefano” that included a meal with pork chops, pears and butternut squash. (The gnocchi was an addition.) After watching the show, I thought it was good idea to follow Stefano’s recipes.
I only made one modification. I substituted the water in the pear sauce with apple cider. Like Stefano said on the show, “pork goes well with lots of different fruits.”
Oh yeah, that reminds me. I did everything on the BBQ, but using it like an oven. And – I used cherry wood chips. The smoke combined with the spice rub made things smell really good as they were cooking. But, I forgot to take pictures of things cooking on the BBQ. I even boiled the water for the gnocchi on the side burner. It was nice to be cooking outside again.
After draining the gnocchi, I added some butter, asiago, salt, pepper and fresh arugula. Really simple. It was lovely.
I went online to find the recipes for the pork and squash on the CBC website and I have copied them below. Thanks Stefano! I also included links to the CBC website.
- Spiced Pork Chops
- 4 thick cut pork chops, bone in (about 1 1/2-inch to 2-inches thick)
- 1 tbsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp. peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp. dried rosemary
- Coarse salt, to taste
- 2 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
- Pear Sauce
- 5 ripe pears, peeled and diced, such as Forelle, Bosc, Anjou pears
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch ground cloves
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Water, to cover (David Modification: I used apple cider instead of water.)
- Spiced Pork Chops
- Remove pork chops from fridge about 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking. (The thick pork chops will cook more evenly if at room temperature.)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds and rosemary to spice grinder. Pulse to grind. Mix in the coarse salt.
- Coat pork chops with spice mix.
- (David note: also sprinkle some olive oil on the chops while they are coming to room temperature - Stefano did this on the show too.)
- Heat extra large fry pan over medium high heat. Add oil to pan. When oil is hot. Sear pork chops until browned on either side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Brown pork chops in batches, if needed.
- Transfer pork chops to baking sheet. (David note: I just used a cast iron fry pan on the BBQ for both searing and baking.) Bake pork chops until just a blush of pink remains in the centre, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness of pork chops. Serve with Pear Sauce.
- Pear Sauce
- Add pears, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and lemon juice to saucepan. Add enough water (David Modification: I used the Pipsweak cider instead of water) to cover pears about halfway. Cover with lid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook until pears start to soften and break down, about 10 to 15 minutes, (this may depend on how ripe the pears are.)
- Mash sauce with immersion blender or potato masher until smooth. Continue to cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened about 5 minutes. The recipe makes enough to serve with the Spiced Pork Chops and to make the Pear and Ginger Fool. (Makes about 2 cups.)
- Yield: 4 servings.
- 1 small to medium butternut squash
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tbsp. finely chopped sage
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 to 2 tbsp. maple syrup, for finishing
- Handful toasted pumpkin seeds, for finishing
- Shaved pecorino cheese, to taste, for finishing
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and then cut into 6 pieces.
- Add squash, olive oil, garlic, sage, allspice and salt and pepper to large bowl. Toss to combine. Transfer to baking sheet.
- Bake until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. (David Note: if you don't cut into such small pieces like I did then it will take longer to cook.)
- Drizzle with maple syrup, pumpkin seeds and pecorino cheese.
- Yield: 6 servings.
THE WINE, WELL, CIDER
Ahna from Sherbrooke agreed to help me with this blog. She is our cider expert and has recommended some that she enjoys. There’s even a link to her own blog about ciders. Thanks Ahna!
David had originally paired this meal with Pipsqueak cider (one of my favourites!) but it’s currently unavailable. Not to worry, though! We have a rapidly increasing selection of ciders in the cooler and, because I am the selfless and altruistic martyr that I am, I have taken it upon myself to try the lot (you can read about my ci-dventures here.)
The spread David outlined above calls for a fairly mellow, well-balanced cider. Anything too tart or sour would overpower (or oversour?) the delicate –yet complex– flavours of the squash, gnocchi and pork. Anything too sweet would hamper your ability to taste all the subtleties in the dishes. In this case (in the place of Pipsqueak) I would recommend the Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie – it’s quite a mouth full(!). It’s my latest acquisition, and promises to become one of my favourites.
The cider is sweet –just sweet enough– not cloying. It’s apple-forward, and the apples taste fresh, not over-ripe like many ciders. It’s slightly tart. A lovely, light mouthfeel, reminiscent of a nice sparkling wine. There’s enough flavour and presence to stand up to the meal, but not so much as to take away from anything else. And, I mean, if nothing else, the cork and cage make the bottle seem fancy and lend a certain “specialness” to the occassion.
David’s Music Selections:
One of my favourite artists right now is Passenger. I mixed a few of his songs with some by Daughter and London Grammar; all British artists I enjoy right now. I particularly like the three pre-release songs available from Passenger’s new album Whispers. The rest of the album is expected to come out on iTunes June 10, 2014.
I also mixed in a few songs from Matt Corby even though he is from Australia, I think his music mixes nicely with Passenger. In fact, Matt is featured on a track from Passenger’s Flight of the Crow album. Matt’s recent Live On The Resolution Tour – EP is a nice addition to the collection of songs from his other two EPs available here.
Ahna’s Music Selections:
I tried to choose music that complemented the cider specifically (stick with what you know, right?), so I landed on some pieces that I feel have a “bubbly” quality, without straying into pop. Mellow-bubbly. That’s a thing, right? Anyway, I would pair this cider with Arcade Fire’s latest, Reflektor. Or:
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – 40 Day Dream
Beck – Defriended
Phantogram – Fall in Love
Broken Bells – Holding on for Life
Hi – My name is David Middleton. I work at Sherbrooke Liquor in Edmonton, Alberta and I’m passionate about sharing good food, wine and music. My Friday afternoon ritual is the highlight of my week! Here’s how it goes: • pick out a cool recipe • pair with a nice bottle of wine • mix some new music – I make a lot of playlists in iTunes! • set out my mise en place and start cookin’ Hope you enjoy!
Ahna, our cider expert at Sherbrooke, joins me this week with some cider recommendations and music selections. Her contributions are in italic above. Thanks Ahna!