Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 21

On the way home from work tonight, I realized I was in the mood to cook up some protein, but I hadn't taken anything out of the freezer. A quick stop at the co-op would help me decide just what would compliment the market bounty I already had in the kitchen.

I consider myself an omnivore, although I can't eat cow dairy, but that's an easy thing to work around. I do end up cooking vegetarian a good bit just out of convenience and sometimes to save some pennies on what I would be spending on non-veg proteins. I think I eat meat/chicken/fish out more than I prepare it, so it's always a pretty big consideration when I am selecting a protein to cook. I think this month has been the exception because I've been focused on the Eat Local Challenge, and because we have so many incredible farmers offering proteins as well as produce. I'm also trying to stick to a budget, so I decided to let price guide me, within what was available that was local.  

The co-op offered a range of goodies, from fresh trout to chicken to stew meat, but what won the price game was a lovely pork chop from Hickory Nut Gap Farms for just a few bucks. I can't even remember the last time I cooked a pork chop, so that made it more of an adventure.

Stuffing: leeks, shiitakes, prosciutto, garlic, kale, figs, thyme, and olive oil
Home with my chop, I pondered what I'd do. An image of my Italian grandmother serving up a chop with a side of pasta came to mind (in part because I had some leftover pasta with herbs, garlic & olive oil). The thickness of the chop suggested stuffing it, so I took a tour through a few of my cookbooks for some ideas. Deciding to keep the 'Italian' theme, and of course using my market finds from the weekend, I finally settled on a stuffing of leeks, kale, shiitakes, prosciutto, garlic, thyme, and a few of the figs that came off the tree today. Because I hadn't cooked a chop in so long, I went to Jacques Pepin for counsel on technique (I'd have kept it all Italian, but the Marcella book I grabbed had no chop).

The result was quite, quite good - I let the chop rest in a warm oven while I saute-ed up some some sweet onions, market tomatoes and garden herbs in the pan drippings. Deglazed with a little Pale Ale, because it needed something and it was handy. That made not only a nice sauce on the chop, but it helped dress up my leftover pasta. Lovely Sunday dinner.  

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