Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pork Potpourri

January 16: Dinner

The title may be misleading. I didn't cook a potpourri of pork, but a pork dish with a potpourri of other ingredients. Hell, I may be using the word potpourri completely improperly. Feel free to comment with a correction if it bugs you.

As I did earlier in the week, I chose another one-dish dinner from Giada de Laurentiis’ cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen. Since pork chops were on sale this week and I adore them, I chose this recipe of pork chops with fennel and caper sauce. It looked light and delicious, as well as a nice incorporation of some of my favorite dishes.

I immediately varied from the recipe by using bone-in pork chops instead of boneless, as the recipe suggested, because I bought what was on sale at my grocery store. I also cut the recipe in half. Sue me. Everything else I tried to do as suggested.

Basics: Cooked seasoned pork chops (salt and pepper) for four minutes per side in a hot, olive-oiled pan, then removed and covered. Added sliced fennel, shallot, and parsley to the pan, cooked for about five minutes, then deglazed the pan with white wine. Stirred in can of diced tomatoes with juice, put chops back in the pan, cooked on medium heat about 15 minutes. After removing pork, added capers, lemon zest, and more parsley to the mixture, then spooned over chops.

After cooking yet another dish that resulted in cooked yet unbrowned meat, I’ve determined that I’m not heating the pan thoroughly enough before adding meat. I’m not sure where the fear of burning down my kitchen comes from, but I need to realize that heating the pan will likely not start a fire if I’m watching over it. But being too anxious prompts me to add the meat too early and stare at it while it cooks…but doesn’t brown. Thus, my pork chops doesn’t look like pictures of browned pork chops. Heavy sigh for the presentation fail.

It was the taste I sought - light but filling with a lovely blend of flavors. The capers at the end provided the perfect zing, and the tomatoes worked well with the fennel. With the exception of the browning letdown, the dish was quite good. It was easy to prepare and the perfect size portion for one dinner and another leftover meal.

After trying fennel for the first time last year, my adoration for it grows with each use. It’s easier to prepare than I ever thought it would be, doesn’t scream of a licorice taste, and it pairs well with meat or pasta. Go fennel!


  1. What kind of pan are you using? Non-stick or stainless steel? Both will brown, but it will be easier to brown in a stainless steel pan, not a non-stick.

  2. Using a non-stick. I've been considering a stainless steel pan, but some people told me it wouldn't matter. I think it might, though.

  3. It definitely matters. And one of the best things about a stainless steel pan is that you can SEE things that you can't see in a dark pan. I've never cooked port, but I think it's safe to assume that it's like cooking a boneless chicken breast. If so, I know I definitely get a better browning with stainless steel, vs. non-stick.

    You want to get the best pan you can, in my opinion, All-Clad. Yes, they're pricey, but it makes a difference, and you can have the pan for the rest of your life. You can get them at BBB, with a 20% coupon, if you like. Or go check them out at Williams-Sonoma or BBB and then stalk eBay for one.

    I'm a firm believer in having the right tools for the job.

  4. Jen, I use Calphalon stainless steel pans. Those are sold at bbb as well. They are also comparable to All Clad. Keep in mind that you'll need a strong arm for cleaning!