Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Celebrating Mardi Gras

When I went to the butcher shop this weekend, I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't any andouille sausage; I had really wanted to make some chicken and shrimp gumbo for Mardi Gras this week.

Instead, I found a nice package of four pork chops. I immediately thought about a meal I made before the kids were born. I believe I saw the recipe in James Beard's "American Cookery" cookbook, but I know that I adapted it to my own and Sandra's tastes.

Remembering that I liked that recipe, I decided to try to re-create it once again, this time doing it straight from memory. I had all the necessary ingredients, and asked Sandra if she had any packages of the "yellow rice" we both like (Carolina's Yellow Rice, packaged just right for the two of us with a hint of saffron).

This gave me a great opportunity to use my (relatively) new Calphalon pot, a 4.5 quart "Slow Poke" Saucier that I got for Christmas. It was the perfect size to saute four pork chops without crowding the bottom.

Sandra helped by making the Saffron Rice, substituting the water in the package directions with a can of chicken broth (for additional flavor).

The meal took about 45 minutes to accomplish (including preparation and cooking), and we each had a glass of Pinot Grigio to accompany the meal.

I won't claim that this meal was the next best thing to a pot of gumbo or to being in New Orleans watching the revelry, but it was a nice, relaxing meal for the two of us.

Would we do it again? Well, if I can get andouille sausage next year, I might just make a gumbo, but if I can't find them, this might good enough for the two of us!

Creole Pork Chops with Rice

Yield:2 servings (2 pork chops per serving)

Pork Chops

4 medium sized pork chops

Extra-virgin olive oil

One half of a large, sweet onion, slice thin

Flour (for coating pork chops)

2 tsp Cajun seasoning

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground thyme

1 dash Accent flavoring (MSG-optional)

1 10 oz can Tomatoes and Green Chiles (Rotel)

¼ cup red wine (dry or sweet)


1 package Carolina Yellow Rice

1 tbs butter

1 15 oz can chicken broth

On a stove, put 2 tbs olive oil into a large sauce pan (4.5 quart) on medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and saute for about 5 minutes until they get translucent.

Meanwhile, combine flour, Cajun seasoning, cumin, thyme, and Accent (if using) into a 1 quart Ziploc bag, and mix thoroughly. One by one, add a pork chop into the bag, seal, and then shake to coat the chops with the flour mixture. Set aside.

Remove the onions from the large saute pan and add floured pork chops, adding additional olive oil as needed. Saute over medium-high heat for 10 minutes a side until nicely browned on both sides (do not burn).

Prepare the yellow rice by bringing the can of broth and 1 tablespoon margarine to a boil in a medium (2 quart) saucepan. Stir in rice mix. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

When pork chops are all browned, add the can of tomatoes and green chiles, the onions that you have set aside, and red wine. Mix thoroughly together, moving the pork chops so they are setting on top of the tomato mixture. Cover pan, and simmer at medium-high heat until the sauce starts to bubble, and then reduce heat to medium. After ten minutes, turn the pork chops over and mix the sauce again, adding water or additional wine if the sauce starts to reduce too much. Lower heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to set for an additional 10 minutes.

To serve, fluff rice lightly with fork and then spoon rice onto two plates. Next, add two pork chops per pate, dividing the sauce over the four chops.

Serve with a dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay).

Bon Appetit!

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