Grilled, brined pork chops, broccolini, and farro risotto – 30 May 2011

Our houseguests M&N pretty much cooked this meal (except for R’s dessert), and we learned some neat new stuff.

We took out some frozen Costco pork chops, which are boneless and very thick, and brined them overnight in the fridge. In fact, M&N put the frozen chops into the brining liquid immediately, and let the water encourage them to defrost more quickly, then a few hours later tucked the bowl into the fridge for overnight. The brine was water with sugar, salt, juniper berries, chilis, and crushed bay leaf (recipe doubled for 5 chops). The recipe is from the Zuni cafe. The chops can actually be left to brine in the fridge up to three days.

Awfully pretty meal, wasn’t it?

The chops were removed from the brine, patted dry, and allowed to come to room temperature before being brushed with olive oil and grilled on the Viking grill. M started them at high, but turned them down to medium. They were covered by our grill cover, which R made us as a gift. Not sure how long the chops were cooked in total, but it would be about 10 or more minutes. The centers were still slightly pink – really perfect. This is an outstanding way to cook pork, I must say.

For the farro risotto: 1 ½ cups farro soaked in cold water 20 minutes, drained, rinsed, and parboiled in 8 cups water with 2T oil (no salt) for 10 minutes. This was less than the recipe they were looking at called for, but it was correct, since the farro was going on to further cooking. They carmelized 1 thinly sliced red onion by sauteeing with about 1T butter, drained and added the farro, added 1 cup of red wine, let it boil down, and then made into a risotto using Costco organic chicken broth. Near the end of cooking, they added chopped fines herbes form the garden – thyme, sage, parsley – and also grated parmesan, which was also provided on the table for grating over the top (you can see a bit of the white Zeiss rotary grater at the top of the photo on the left).

The broccolini, which was (were!) perfect, were boiled for about a minute, drained, and tossed with oil, garlic, and grated lemon peel. My favorite part of the dinner 🙂 Except…

R made a galette with apricots D had gotten at the Grand lake Farmers’ Market, which turned out not to be great for eating, but which we expected would be good for cooking. He added in some peaches, also from the market, since there weren’t enough apricots. It was scrumptious!

Wines: way too many… We had a “cooking wine” (wine to drink while cooking) of Domaine Sorin 2007 Cotes de Provence, but decided it would go well with the meal and stopped drinking it halfway through. That’s the left glass in the top picture. We opened a 2003 Villacreces Ribera del Duero, which was also great with the meal. That’s the right glass.

Then I guess we also ended up with a good bottle of 2009 Chateau Saint-Sauveur Cotes du Ventoux, a house favorite, and a total deal at $8.95. Oh hey! It says simply “Ventoux” now! Interesting. Oh and then there was the single malt whiskey. Just a little. It was good, and I have never found Scotch to my liking before, so it was an interesting experience.

{Begun the 30th, edited over a few days, posted the 5th}

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