Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bistecchine de Maiale Ubriache

A few weeks ago we were at Borders in Silver Spring and they had a table of these giant, regionally themed cook books from Williams-Sonoma. They were on sale as well. 2 for 3. So I picked out three. Savoring Spain & Portugal, Savoring Provence and Savoring Tuscany.

They are alright books. Not great, but not horrible either. I found one recipe in particular I wanted to try. Here it is:

Bistecchine de Maiale Ubriache
Drunken Pork Chops
Tuscans are wonderfully poetic abou their food. These flavorful pork chops are ubriache, or "drunken," because they are cooked in wine.
4 center-cut pork chops, each 1 inch thick
1 1/2 TB freshly ground pepper
2 TB fennel seeds, crushed, plus 1 tsp whole seeds
2 TB olive oil
1 cup, crushed, canned plum tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup young red wine

Generously season both sides of the chops with the pepper and crushed fennel seeds. In a frying pan large enough to hold all the chops, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Lay the chops in the pan, turn them over when the meat becomes white and sprinkle with salt. Raise the heat to high and add the tomatoes and wine. After 1 minute, reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and let the chops and sauce simmer, turning once, until the chops are well browned on both sides and pale pink in the center, about 15 minutes.

Transfer the chops to a warmed platter. Toss the whole fennel seeds into the sauce and cook for an additional 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve immediately.

Flavor: Initially, I like the flavor. But after a moment of two, the fennel becomes too strong for my tastes. When you taste your first bite, it almost tastes like a mild italian sausage, but then the fennel smacks you in the face. We are of differing opinions here, I would want to not season the chops with the fennel and just add some to the sauce. J-lo likes it on the meat, but wouldn't add extra to the sauce. We'll see next time.

To kick the flavor up a touch, I added about one tsp of balsamic vinegar and one tsp of red pepper flakes.

Cooking: As I was making the dish and up until this moment when I typed up the recipe, I thought the author/editors were nuts. My instinct is to say, get your pan and oil searing hot. And quickly sear your chops, remove to a plate, make the sauce and then put the chops back in to finish cooking for that last five minutes. I started the pan over medium heat and when it started turning white and not browning, I turned the heat up and tried to brown the chops. Didn't really work. Ooops.

Overall: Not bad, but I'm not dying to make it again.

1 comment:

Dancer in DC said...

I love fennel seed, and the smell from the kitchen while this was cooking was divine.

Definitely liked it, but I agreed that you could cut back on the amount of seed.