Monday, September 01, 2008

Pork Chops with Onion Marmalade (Page 480)


  • Date: Tuesday, August 26, 2008 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+

My special gentleman and I are making an effort to eat more meat these days. Strangely, the section of The Book that I am faring worst on as of now is the Poultry section, and not far behind is the Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb section. So this fall is going to be meat-intensive. Luckily (seafood aside) it is easy to get your hands on some good meat in Bloomington! To kick off our all-meat-all-the-time plan we made pork chops for dinner last week. In theory this recipe should have been both easy and delicious. The method was simple enough. Pork chops were rubbed with rosemary and browned and then set aside while onions were cooked with balsamic vinegar and red currant jelly. After the onions were tender the pork was returned to the pan with the onions, covered, and cooked on the stovetop until done. I was extremely hungry by the time we made dinner, and I was thinking longing thoughts towards those cooked onions. But instead of being delicious, as I had hoped, they looked like this:

What is that black sludge, you ask? That is the "onion marmalade." Here's what happened. The Book indicated that it would take about 12 minutes for the pork to cook through, and that "if liquid evaporates before pork is cooked through, add 1 tablespoon water to skillet to keep onions from sticking." Well there was plenty of liquid -- we had no problems with evaporation. So we didn't add any water. But we turned our back for a couple minutes (minutes 8 and 9 of the indicated 12 minutes) and instead of evaporating, the liquid caramelized. Now, any of you out there who have ever made caramel probably know that there is a fine line between caramel and nasty burntness. Since we were not expecting caramel, we were not on the lookout, and it wasn't until we smelled burnt caramel that we were clued in. We went running towards the stove, and rescued the pork out of the pan, but it was too late for the onions. Caramel (even burnt caramel) hardens like a rock, and harden it did indeed. So we had a sheet of burnt red currant caramel studded with onions. Sound delicious? It wasn't. The pork came out relatively unscathed. It had a thin sheet of burnt caramel firmly attached to the bottom, but if you cut that off, the pork had a decent flavor. There was too much rosemary for me (Matty agreed on that point), but the touch of currant and onion that it picked up from the sauce was nice. In my opinion this dish really had potential, so it was sad to see it end up as one plate of meat and one plate of black sludge. If I dared to make this again, I would definitely shorten the cooking time on the onions before putting the pork back in. That may have saved us from some serious culinary disappointment.

The recipe in The Book is the same as this one, except the one online calls for much shorter cooking times, which may well have eliminated the problems described above!

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