The plastic handle of my spatula melted onto the surface of the stove last night because I was trying to write the previous blog post while cooking dinner. I will miss that nimble little spatula. She was my favorite. If you ever see one of those flexible old granny spatulas with the super-thin, corroding metal edges and half-melted plastic handles at a garage sale, buy it. If you foolishly don’t want it for yourself, send it to me and I will reimburse you.
As previously mentioned, I decided to compare the pork chops and roasted cauliflower recipes from Prune and Sean Brock’s Heritage in anticipation of the upcoming Piglet. I suspected this might not be the most exciting blog stunt and now, having cooked the pork chops and cauliflower from Prune, I am sure. But I will stick to the plan.
Gabrielle Hamilton’s recipe for salt and pepper pork chops is so simple and stern that I couldn’t imagine it would work. This is a recipe borrowed from her revered Italian mother-in-law, Alda, to whom Hamilton devotes a whole chapter in Prune. There’s a lovely paean to Alda and her old-school cooking here, though I can’t promise you won’t hit a paywall. I’ve said it before: Gabrielle Hamilton can really write.
|Do you have your magnifying glass out?|
To make these chops, you heat a dry skillet until blazing hot, season sirloin pork chops with salt and pepper, put them in the pan and cook for five minutes, flip, cook eight minutes more, remove to a platter and smear with soft butter. Hamilton: “Do not garnish.”
How were they? Plain. Appreciated. No weird spices, no questionable sauce. There’s a lot to be said for plain food served at an old dining room table on a mid-winter Monday night after a long hard day of school, work, and looking at Oriental rugs on eBay. If I ordered these pork chops in a special restaurant like Prune, though, I would be bummed.
Hamilton’s whole roasted cauliflower with fried capers and brown butter bread crumbs was also very easy. The name says it all, but here’s the two sentence blow by blow: Roast cauliflower whole with a lot of olive oil for 50 minutes then transfer to serving bowl. Fry some capers and breadcrumbs in butter and scatter this over the cauliflower.
How was it? Zingy from the capers, crunchy from those buttery breadcrumbs. Appreciated. If I ordered this in a restaurant like Prune I wouldn’t be overjoyed, but I would be satisfied. It’s a good one.
As a bonus, I “whipped up” Hamilton’s pizza rustica, an Alda recipe that I was curious about because, like the pork chops, it looked so plain I couldn’t imagine how it could possibly be good. You make a dough of flour, egg, and butter, put half of it in the bottom of a pan, top with fresh mozzarella season with salt and pepper, top with the other half of the dough, and bake. You do mess up your counter when you roll out the dough, but otherwise, a cinch.
How was it? Warm, it was plain in the most wonderful way, a soft, unchallenging, buttery, cheesy pastry. Cold, it was plain in a bad way, inert and flavorless. So eat it warm. Recipe here, though again, there might be a paywall.
Tonight: Sean Brock’s version of this same meal, minus the pizza.