Tuesday, July 31, 2007
The Alternative White Steak
Making new discoveries. As a child every time I made a new discovery, I could remember the excitement, that "Oh! Wow!" feeling I got. To this day I get that feeling from learning, and in my travels it seems like everyday I get to experience that feeling.
One particular moment of eureka I can recall from my childhood involved none other than pork chops. Allow me elaborate. No better feeling than coming home from school or where ever and no matter what mood I was in, the scent of my mom's pork chops would put a smile to my face and drive my taste buds in to a frenzy. Being the boy or man of the house (loosely used term) I often got an extra chop. I would bite down like on cannibal on a leg and tear every morsel down to the bone. Always satisfied with my lips and finger tips glistening with alternative white meat juices.
Sometime during my teenage years in the US, my family was shopping in one of those big wholesale, giant beef-o-rino stores and found something that would change my life forever. Boneless pork chops. All chop, no bone. A large pack of them no less and at a wholesale price. Granted, skepticism was my initial feeling, no bone, no handle to hold and maneuver during my eating ritual. But, fork and knife in hand attacking at a full meat surface area was also not bad. Needless to say it was all I hoped it would be.
Recently I was craving for a piece of meat and went looking for a nice piece of steak. Beef being a luxury around these parts, I couldn't find a good cut for a decent price. And with a spark of rare genius, I bought boneless pork chops.
In the US, chops for some reason go with apple sauce. Not my cup of tea, but I decided to marinate the chops in apple vinegar.
Apple Vinegar Pork Chops
2-4 boneless pork steak/chop
shallots/large clove of vinegar
In a metal or glass bowl pour in some apple vinegar and soak the chops. The more vinegar, the more "vinegar-y" the flavor but also the meat becomes more tender. Mongolians would put their meat in a leather sack and put it under their horse's saddle and after riding for a day the meat would be tenderized from the pounding and the sweat of the horse. Now, unless you have a horse and enjoy the flavor of sweaty meat, you can pound the meat with a kitchen mallet to soften it. I prefer not to pound it down because I like a thick cut. After you soak it a bit in the vinegar (you can do it overnight or for several hours in the fridge), dash your salt, pepper (I like white on pork, but black is ok too) and paprika on it. Cut your shallot(or garlic, but for me the shallot works best) and lay the large slices on the chops.
Heat a fry pan on med-high flame with either light olive oil or I found this great no cholesterol soybean oil, drop the chops in and cover quickly(the vinegar might make the oil splatter, but you want that initial shock of heat to cook the chops). After a few minutes, the vinegar will dry up and you can take off the lid and turn the chops over. Lower the heat to low-med flame, cover and let the chops cook for 5-8 minutes so that they cook through. Remember like chicken, you have to cook pork well, but once the meat starts curling up on the edges, you've cooked it too long.
Uncover, bring the heat back to med-high and try to get a little "golden color" on your chops and on the shallot/garlic. Once they get a bit gold, turn heat off and that's it. Serve it with potatoes(mashed or Puerto Rican style: boiled then served with olive oil and spice). I made sauteed zucchini and asparagus in olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes and after the green veggies were done made a quick tomato "paste" with a large, cut beefsteak tomato in the same pan while it was still hot. I also cut a side of avocado (aguacate in Spanish or abogado in Japanese) with light olive oil, pepper and soy sauce. I served it with a German cherry wine, that was not as sweet as it sound, but very tasty.
Now, nothing beats mom and home cooking, but bringing a little blast from the past to where ever I am in the world, takes me back home to my teenage years, where the chops would be waiting in a brown tinted glass, Corningware frying pan.