Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Farm Fresh Pork Cutlets and Beaujolais

I am checking to see whether you and I prefer this look for the blog - its certainly a little brighter than the brown.

I love the Grand Army Plaza Farmer's Market. Almost all year round, BrooklynLady and I get amazing produce there, great bread, honey, eggs, fish, and sometimes meat. There used to be this lady who ran a yarn booth. She had bright colored scarf and hat samples hung everywhere, pattern books scattered all over her table, and a small cooler sitting under her table full of frozen lamb.

I started with a package of simple loin chops and never looked back. She sold lamb only when it was time to slaughter, and I used to fill my freezer when the time came - butterfly leg roasts, all kinds of chops, shanks, and these great little bone-in rib pieces that I used to stew with yellow split peas in a curry.

She is gone, vanished without a trace, and I mourn her lamb. But last Saturday I discovered that the farmer who sells great fresh herbs and heirloom tomatoes also sells fresh pork for 2 months out of the year. They have only 12 or so pigs, and slaughter 2 or 3 at the end of the summer. I noticed this only because they had a little chalkboard up next advertising bacon, chops, etc. Its as if they don't want you to know.

I bought a package of smoked thick cut bacon, another of 4 center cut bone-in loin chops, and a pound of pre-sliced cutlets. I have never actually made pork or veal cutlets, but how hard can it be? Bread them (or don't), fry them, some lemon, salt, pepper, garlic, herbs...not too much to think about. I got some dark purple mustard greens too, and some butternut squash.

The rinsed cutlets are on the left. I wanted to lightly bread the cutlets in something flavorful, but I didn't want to distract from their freshness and porkiness - not to mask them in other words.

I used breadcrumbs I bought at A&S Pork Store, added some chopped parsley, lots of salt and pepper, and some grated Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses. Dipped the cutlets in an egg and water mixture, rolled them in the breadcrumbs, and fried them in canola oil. Here is the breadcrumb mixture.

So, one thing I didn't count on is the fact that breading sticks a little bit to a hot pan, and therefore the first batch of cutlets is the prettiest. Subsequent batches are flecked with the dark burnt splotches of cooked breading from earlier cutlets.
No matter, I can pick off the splotches and scrape the pan, and present the cutlets with their photogenic side face-up.

I diced a piece of the bacon, added some crushed garlic, and braised the mustard greens. BrooklynLady carmelized the butternut squash in brown sugar and butter in the stove.

All said and done, a quick and easy dinner for a Monday night - 45 minutes total - perfect amount of time for rehashing the day while sipping a 2005 Domaine de la Voute des Crozes Cote-de-Brouilly, $15.

Disappointing wine, though, sad to say. I love the spicy and aromatic fruitiness of beaujolais. I feel like the wines are incredibly versatile too, pairing well with all sorts of food and all seasons. A chilled Fleurie is great with grilled fish on a summer evening, and a room temperature Moulin-a-Vent or Cote-deBrouilly should be great with light meat or chicken dishes on a fall evening.

This one was not that wine, though. There are so many good cru Beaujolais to taste, and most are under $20. I have had some great ones this summer and fall - I will share some favorites soon. This one had faint cherry smells, but none of the spice I am used to, and a vegetal palate with very reserved fruit, very thin mouth feel, and almost a chalkiness to it. I left the bottle alone for over an hour and it barely improved. Off bottle? Maybe, but I have no experience with this producer.

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