5 weeks ago
Thursday, January 29, 2009
This week's CEIMB recipe for Sage Rubbed Pork Chops with Warm Apple Slaw was chosen by my friend Jennifer of Jen B's Cooking Carveout, another one of my work buddies. Yup, we are pretty much just working our way around the 31st floor of the Wachovia (Wells Fargo?) Tower here at CEIMB. We promise we'll stop before we get to 32 -- you'll thank us, really (just kidding, 32! We love ya!).
So I was cooking up the pork chops one night earlier this week when I heard the garage -- David was home! Woo hoo!! It's the most exciting part of the day for all of us! Once again, I failed miserably with meeting the standards set forth in the famous 50s housewife guide for ensuring a pleasant homecoming for husbands: the clutter not cleared; I was not wearing makeup and there was no ribbon in my hair; I was neither gay nor interesting; the children's hair was not combed; I immediately started sharing my problems and complaints; noise was maximized rather than minimized; and I completely forgot to give David a cold drink and suggest that he lean back in a comfortable chair while I remove his shoes. But by gosh, I planned ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal on time!
David greeted us happily, even though he could not have possibly felt that he had reached a haven of rest and order. Then he peeled the kids off of himself, walked straight over to the vent fan over the stove, said "PHEW!," and turned the fan onto "high." Oh yeah, nothing says "mmmmm MMMMMMM, whatcha got cookin' for dinner, honey?" quite like making a beeline to the fan to ventilate the smell of dinner out of the kitchen, pronto, upon entering the house. I have a cold and can't really smell anything, but David said that the smell of cabbage and vinegar cooking was no joke. But we remained optimistic that we'd enjoy dinner.
The pork chops themselves had all kinds of potential, but I ruined them by (1) not browning them enough, and (2) overcooking them. Is there anything less appetizing than meat that is not well browned? It just looks so gray and pitiful. David did not think that the pork chops were overcooked, but David was wrong. They were most definitely overcooked. I didn't actually break out the meat thermometer or challenge him to a duel or anything to settle things, but there is NO doubt that those suckers hung out on the stove for a good five minutes too long (BTW, I used boneless, not bone-in, pork chops, and completely lost track of the cooking time when I was called on to break up a fight over who was touching whom. I am sure that the cooking times stated in the recipe are accurate if you actually adhere to the recipe). Other than that, the garlic/sage/salt/pepper rub provided the pork chops with a nice flavor.
But moving on to the elephant in the room: the slaw. The recipe says to make the slaw by coring and slicing a green cabbage, and shredding up three carrots. But if you look closely and read the fine print, it says that you can use a 16 ounce bag of cabbage/carrot "slaw mix" instead. Ding ding ding! "Slaw mix" went onto my grocery list. The slaw gets combined with shredded apples, apple cider vinegar, and salt -- then you turn on the stove, cover the pan, and commence the process of making your entire neighborhood smell like cooked cabbage. After 5 minutes, you add some chicken broth and return the pork chops to the pan to finish cooking (or overcooking, as the case may be).
I really couldn't get past the essential slawness of this dish. I didn't hate it, the flavors weren't bad, but what can I say -- I found myself avoiding the slaw in favor of my Near East couscous. David seemed to like this a little bit more than I did, but at one point, he provided me with some useful feedback that immediately earned a spot in the "damning with faint praise" Hall of Fame: "You know, if I were forced to eat warm, vaguely German-style slaw every day, this would definitely be the slaw I'd want. But I'm glad that I'm not forced to eat warm, vaguely German-style slaw every day." I couldn't have said it any better myself, honey.
So, I think at the end of the day your opinion about this recipe will depend on whether you are a slaw person or not. We are not slaw people and therefore did not care for the slaw part this recipe (loved the pork chop rub, though!). But I bet all you slaw people out there will LOVE this!
Thanks for picking this, Jen! You know how much I love it when I can kill both a blogging group assignment and a weeknight dinner obligation with one stone. I'm glad that we gave this one a try. Fun choice, my friend!