Monday, April 26, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays

We've had so many rainy weekends this spring, conspiracy theorists have started to foam at the mouth.
Usually, I love rainy days, their being such a novelty for a SoCal boy. But my day job depends on, if not sunny skies, then dry ones, and I've had to cancel too many softball games already this season. One more rainout and we'll have mutiny on our hands. Our university board of trustees frowns upon that sort of rebelliousness.
Rain will keep me from walking to the market from work as well, and I'm left to reply upon my own devices. That's a good thing!
Oven-roasted pork chops with orange & peppercorn glaze
Roasted root vegetables
Creamy herbed farfalle pasta
Start by preheating your oven to 425° F. In a baking dish, give a couple of peeled carrots, yellow onions and some garlic a rough chop and toss together with a splash of olive oil and a couple pinches of salt. Place on the center rack of the oven and roast for 45-60 minutes. Give them a toss half-way through the roasting time.
Pick some fresh herbs for the pasta and chop fine. I went with tarragon and just a little thyme. Fresh herbs are a lot more intense than dried, so temper that heavy hand when seasoning with the fresh stuff.
Once the roasted vegetables start to show a little caramelization, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to a hot, oven-proof sauté pan. Set pork chops in the hot oil, season with freshly cracked black pepper and leave the chops undisturbed for 4-6 minutes, allowing them to develop a nice brown sear on one side. Flip the chops, season the browned side with more cracked pepper and place the pan in the oven to finish off with the vegetables for about 10 minutes. Let the chops rest on a warm serving platter while you finish the meal. Pour off most of the cooking fat from the sauté pan and add the juice of one orange and bring to a simmer. With a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits that have collected on the bottom of the pan. Let the sauce reduce by about half, and ladle onto the chops just before serving.
Meanwhile, add a half pound of farfalle noodles to boiling, salted water and cook about 6 minutes or so. The pasta should be just under-cooked. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to a skillet, add a couple heaping tablespoons of crème fraîche, the chopped herbs and just a pinch of red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer. If your sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta cooking liquid a tablespoon at a time. Once the pasta is al dente, remove from the heat and stir in two generous handfuls of grated parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
I got extra thick chops from my Italian butcher earlier over the weekend. The time they spent in the oven left the faintest trace of pink, and plenty of moist tenderness to the flesh. The orange and cracked pepper reduction went wonderfully with the meat and the roasted veggies, and you all know how much I love roasted vegetables! What can I say about fresh tarragon? It has a sweet, licorice-y taste all its own. It's marvelous in a cream sauce.
So let the rain come down. I'll be snug in my apartment listening to the traffic whish along the wet streets, and whipping up wonders in my New York City kitchen. Insurrections be damned!
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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