For some reason, I always veer away from pork whenever I'm conjuring up dinner.
I'm not sure what it is. Maybe I associate The Other White Meat with a super-dried out chop that has virtually no flavor. Or perhaps it's just the opposite—falling-off-the-bone St. Louis-style ribs—which are delicious but ultra-time consuming.
What about bacon, you ask? It's a no-brainer the fatty slabs of meat are amazing. I cook with bacon frequently (I even put it on ice cream, as you may have seen in my "Getting Corny" post), but I just have trouble aligning its awesomness with the same animal as a pork chop.
When I eat pork, someone else is usually preparing it. A few of my favorites off-hand are Michael Symon's smoked Berkshire pork chop at Lola, a good rack of ribs from anywhere that does it right, carnitas tacos, and my mom's bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.
Today proved that a little something extra, such as a sauce, can take a familiar (and awfully boring) piece of meat to the next level.
For the first recipe, we made cotes de porc charcutiere (pork chops with sauce charcutiere). The pork was seared and placed in the oven to finish cooking. Then we turned a bland dish upside-down with a sauce made of demi-glace, wine, onions, mustard and cornichons. The second recipe—rosettes de porc au gingembre, sauce aigre-doux (ginger-marinated pork fillet with sweet and sour sauce)—was also a hit. I took an entire portion home so I don't have to cook Wednesday night.
Despite a long day, which included test No. 4, I came home only to study for our Level 1 final on Thursday. It features a comprehensive written exam as well as a practical, where we're judged on knife skills and basic cooking techniques. I'm worried about the cocottes; apparently we have to turn a potato into eight of them in 15 minutes.
Yeah, when pigs fly.