...Seriously, what? Are you eyeing that beautiful, perfectly cooked, thick, center-cut pork chop? yeah, I mean, pork chops are great and all, sure, and the brown rice upon which it sits is good too, but OH MY JESUS GOD, IS THAT SOME BROCCOLI RABE I SEE?!?!
Yes it is.
Broccoli Rabe is the most convincing argument I've heard for proof of the existence of God (although that banana guy
made the close second). Broccoli Rabe stirred up a lot of controversy in the Muslim world because everyone thought it was the prophet Mohammed. Broccoli Rabe is the love child of Buddha, Bulbasaur, and Jim Morrison.
"But Charles," I can hear you saying: "I want to learn how to cook a pork chop that beautiful and moist! The pork chops I had as a child were always so dry and unpleasant!" Well, reader, that's because up until the '70s (are my readers all that old?), pork products were always cooked to an infernal 180˚F, for fear of trichinosis
. But for the past ~40 years, pigs have been raised to just not carry the particular worm that causes that disease. Some pigs are just raised in a cleaner and more controlled environment -- romping through one's own shit is an easy way to pick up a bug or two -- and others (read: most) are raised with so many damn antibiotics pumped through them that no one needs to bother cleaning up all that pig shit (it can also be contracted if the pig happens to eat meat, such as dead mice accidentally mixed in with their slop). So: cook pork a little more liberally than your grandmother would have. This here's medium rare.
I brined my chops (I had 2) overnight in this: 1qt water with 1/2C kosher salt dissolved in it, ~1t black pepper, 1/4C brown sugar, 1/4t ground allspice, and 1 sprig fresh rosemary (honestly, you could skip the herbs and spices. They don't lend that much, all things considered). When it came time to cook, I rinsed and dried them off and let them come up to room temperature while I put my cast iron skillet in a cold oven which I set to 500˚ (I do this because it just takes less time for the oven to heat up with the pan than it does for the oven to get back up to temp with a cold pan in it). When the little light on my oven went off, I knew that my oven and pan were at 500,˚ so I pulled it out, put a teeny bit of oil on my pork, and put them chops in that screamin' hot pan. 2 minutes on each side, then into the 500˚ oven (right in the pan) for another 3 or 4. I then pulled them out and took pictures of one of them while the other developed self-esteem issues (don't worry, it worked them out when I ate it a few days later).
OH GOD THAT DAMN BROCCOLI RABE. If you require an explanation as to why Broccoli Rabe (or Rapini, to be pedantically correct) is so damn magnificent, then call me. I'll give you hours of lectures, but I don't think everyone else would want to read all that, and it would obscure the point. What I did to this mouth-watering cousin of mustard is as follows:
-Sauté 1/2 an onion (small dice) and 2 cloves of garlic, minced, in olive oil until the whole world smells like garlic.
-Turn down the heat to mid-low and add 1 bunch of Broccoli Rabe, thicker stems removed and discarded (don't use them for stock, they're too bitter for that particular application) and 1/2C chicken stock (if you're vegetarian, don't be afraid to use vegetable stock, mushroom stock, or water).
-Cook your Rabe low until the liquid is almost entirely gone from the pan. Then add ~2T of red wine vinegar, S+P to taste.
-When the vinegar has almost completely evaporated, you're done.
-Enjoy (as if you have a choice).