Sunday, February 24, 2008

Rosemary-Garlic Pork Chops, Roasted Broccoli, and Bulgur Pilaf

Friday night we had rosemary-garlic pork chops, oven-roasted broccoli, and bulgur pilaf for dinner. My most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated had an intriguing recipe for roasted broccoli. Cook's Illustrated is one of the most useful, knowledgeable food magazines available. I trust them completely. If they promised to "transform" broccoli, why, I had to try it. I tolerate broccoli in the best of circumstances; could I find a recipe that would make me like broccoli?

First, though, I had to tend to the pork chops. I bought some thick-cut chops last week at Polly's Country Market which turned out to be thicker than anything even Jeff the Butcher at the New Chelsea Market has on display. OK, so they were more like pork steaks.

Rosemary-garlic rub for two pork chops:
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
Mash garlic into a paste (I used the back of a fork to do so) with a pinch of salt, then stir together with rosemary, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over chops.

The pork chops, rubbed with the rosemary-garlic paste and ready for the grill. We grilled them over medium-high direct heat (gas grill) for about 5 1/2 minutes per side followed by 5 minutes of rest on the counter. They were fully cooked through but not overdone. Take into account the thickness of your pork chops when grilling. There's nothing worse than dry, overdone pork. I rarely cook meat by temperature and only use my meat thermometer when I cook something really large such as a roast. For everything else I cook by time and use the "finger test" for doneness

Now, for the roasted broccoli (recipe for 4 servings):
  • 1 large head broccoli (about 1 3/4 lbs)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and preheat oven to 500 degrees with rack in pace (I forgot this step, and only put the baking sheet in the oven after it had already heated up; it didn't seem to have a negative effect). Cut broccoli at juncture of florets and stems and remove outer peel from stalk. Cut stalk into 2- to 3-inch lengths and each length into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Cut crowns into 4 wedges (if 3-4 inches in diameter) or 6 wedges (if 4-5 inches in diameter). Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper; toss to combine.

Once the oven with baking sheet inside has reached 500 degrees, quickly remove sheet from oven. Transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread evenly, placing flat cut sides down. Return sheet to oven and roast until stalks are well browned and tender and florets are lightly browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Serve immediately.

I left out the stalks and just used the florets when I made this. I think I will use the stalks next time as the end result was even more than I'd hoped for. It was indeed broccoli that didn't taste like broccoli. Even John ate a piece.

The broccoli, tossed with the oil, sugar, salt, and pepper, ready to go in the oven.

Pork chops, off the grill and resting.

I've become enamored of using less common grains as side dishes. Grains such as quinoa, bulgur, and brown rice. Bulgur, especially. Bulgur is cracked wheat which has been essentially left whole, yielding a higher fiber and protein content than other, more refined grains. I like it for its nutty flavor and robust texture. It lends itself well to being mixed with other ingredients. For this dinner I decided to make bulgur pilaf with dried apricots since the recipe was conveniently on the same page of Gourmet Magazine as the recipe for the rosemary pork chops. This pilaf recipe as written serves 4 (I halved it to feed the 2 of us).
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
Heat olive oil in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat, then add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add spices and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add bulgur, water, and apricots, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

The finished product.

Of course, no meal would be complete without a glass of wine and a cat on my lap. Wine: Acacia Pinot Noir (Sonoma, California) 2004. Cat: Darwin.

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