A good pork chop and a good pasta that don’t mix… but nevertheless a good dinner!
Ok I was allocated to cook this evening with no further exams in the way. Sigh… but failed it though so will have to resit in October…. another £600 down the drain. I urge whoever is even contemplating a career in Medicine to fully understand that there is a high possibility that you will be taking exams up until the age of 30!
Sidetracking and ranting aside, let’s talk food. So I had some parsley in my fridge that was wilting, and I had an overgrowing sage plant in my garden… herbs based cooking it was then… Italian. Fancied some pasta which I could also leave extras for the Mrs to eat at work the following day for lunch. It was also rather warm in July 2010 and so this was a fine choice.
After being sick of tomato pasta which I have been making for the past couple of months, I decided to attempt a cream based one from another Ramsay recipe. However I needed more meat than simply pancetta, so opted for grilled pork chop cooked in an Oliver like style.
Pancetta, leek, and mushroom Conchiglie
Always loved my mums chinese-come-western boiled macaroni with garlic and spare ribs as a kid. Silky smooth pasta with delicious tenderised slow cooked pork ribs. I don’t eat shelled pasta very often though, tending to prefer the silky smooth and refined look of linguine. This has changed my opinion though as shelled pasta has a much more substantial doughy taste which enables the chef to mix it with much stronger flavours. So for this dish I just parboiled the pasta in slightly salted water until al dente (I messed up here by leaving them in the boiled water for too long after turning off the fire…. so a bit overdone!). Whilst that was cooking I pan fried thinly sliced pancetta until crispy/golden in a little olive oil. Finely sliced leek and chestnut mushrooms were than added to the pan and slow fried until soft. At the last minute I added creme fraiche (reduced fat of course!) as well as some seasoning. In with that went the cooled and well drained pasta (otherwise gets soggy) followed by some seasoning. Presto and you have a delicious creamy pasta dish that is done in less than 15 mins! Oh, sprinkle some finely chopped parsley to finish…..
Roasted Pork Chop
Pork chop was even simpler. Hmmmmm…. I was astonished in ASDA when looking for some they’re all so lean these days! Why are farmers depriving their pigs of food! The term fat pig doesn’t seem to show in the cuts of meat on offer there. This is a real shame as the classic roasted pork chop is so delicious when you have a nice crispy layer of fat to moisten the rest of the meat. Oh well I managed to find one with about 1cm of fat around the outside.
So after washing the meat I just made cuts transversely into the fat along the entire length of fat as a sort of scoring technique. It was then seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper before pressing sage leaves into the eye of the chop. It really surprised me how much a difference this made to the taste of the pork, as fresh sage penetrates and marries with pork meat fantastically well. At last I found a use for my overgrown sage plant!
The pork was then seared on a hot pan with a little oil before being finished in the oven in a pyrex dish. I needed to overcook mine a bit as the Mrs is pregnant, but usually it’s great to have it just ever so slightly pink in the middle. I appreciate this is somewhat tricky though. I also made an ultra quick sauce by using a wooden spoon to scrape all the bits off the pan and adding a squeeze of lemon juice. The resultant acidic juice stirred up the appetite during eating!
I was surprised how well the dishes were cooked actually. Fine the pasta was overcooked slightly, as was the pork albeit intentionally, but the flavours were spot on. I was particularly pleased with the sage flavour in the pork. That’s a nice touch that I will definitely use again. Indeed the combination of the pork with pasta didn’t really go, but then on a weekday where everyone’s busy and tired from work just wanting to munch down some nutrients… I don’t think either of us were particularly bothered.