Monday, January 12, 2009

Pork chops with pepperonata

Do you ever get tired of...cooking? It doesn't happen to me very often, but right now I'm in a little bit of a slump. To break out of my rut, I've decided to ditch my cookbooks and grocery lists for a few weeks and just buy whatever appeals to me. On Saturday, I started at the farmer's market for produce, moved on to my local grocery store for meat, and ended at Trader Joe's for staples. Yes, I do shop at multiple grocery stores every week!

I saw these heirloom italian sweet peppers at the farmer's market and bought an assortment of shapes and colors.


I feel lucky that my local grocery store has a great meat counter. It was an easy decision to go with some nice bone-in pork chops. I already had some winter squash in the pantry that needed to be used up, so that became my side dish.

I brined the pork chops for 24 hours before I cooked them. If you've never brined pork chops before, I encourage you to give it a try. It's a little more work, but makes a huge difference with the taste and texture of the meat.

For the pepperonata, I sliced up all the peppers I bought with a few cipollini onions. I sauteed the peppers and onions in olive oil with some salt, black pepper and a healthy pinch of french espelette pepper. I cooked the mixture at medium heat for about 30 minutes. I added a handful of chopped parsley for color.

After the pork chops came out of the brine, I dried them off and sauteed them in a little olive oil until they were cooked through to about medium-well. I topped the pork chops with a generous dollop of pepperonata and served them on a bed of mashed kabocha squash. To make the kabocha squash, I simply microwaved both halves of the squash until tender, scooped out the insides, and mashed it with butter, salt and pepper. This was a great meal - delicious, easy and healthy. It was nice to just do my own thing without having to refer back to instructions in a cookbook. Stay tuned to see what other impromptu meals I come up with!

45 comments:

5 Star Foodie said...

Beautiful peppers and the resulting pepperonata! Thanks for your comment about the cheese tasting on my blog :)

Elra said...

Which farmer's market did you get this Sara? They are so beautiful.
And the pork chops sound delicious too.
Cheers,
Elra

Bridgett said...

That is a great idea to brine the pork chops! I've never thought of that! The peppers are gorgeous.

Joie de vivre said...

The cooking slump is over! Beautiful meal. I laughed as I read your little profile description of having 55 cookbooks. I'm afraid to count mine now because it's probably well over 55. Cookbook addictions are a lot better than some though!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Brining is an oft neglected process.

Those peppers were beautiful.

Amber said...

Hi. One way to solve the slump is to go out to eat. So many bad places, isn't there? My trouble is that it is just myself, so cooking means eating it for quite a few meals. I don't mind the extra desserts quite as much. Go figure.
I always brine turkey now, so I am a believer.
And check this out. I live in Michael Chiarello's home town, and two of my sisters remember him from high school since one of them was in the same grade. The other one lives in Napa and he lives somewhere there. We were at Tra Vigne getting a sandwich at the outside part and talking about Turlock, when someone behind the counter said who's from Turlock? Our owner is from there. Then we put it all together. I love a lot of his recipes, but he is such a cute dork on TV.
So now you and I have almost something in common. Ha ha.

Marissa said...

I *LOVE* heirloom tomatoes!!

soulchocolate said...

I love a juicy pork chop anyday! Peppers are the perfect accompaniment for your dish!

Natashya said...

What great looking peppers! So colourful.
I have yet to brine anything... I hear such wonderful things about it.

VeggieGirl said...

Gorgeous peppers!!

Amanda said...

Great recipe.

I, too, get into cooking slumps. They can last for a few days, or a few weeks. I find the cure is finding foodie inspiration--and that takes work. Cookbook reading, watching tv chefs, eating out all have helped me in the past.

Diving into a completely foreign cuisine is a fun way to come out of the foodie doldrums, too, though my husband was horrified during some of my african meal phases. I like it. He doesn't!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That's the kind of meal I like! Delicious looking!

Cheers,

Rosa

j & j dish it out said...

Omgoodness, look at the color on those pork chops...YUM! Love the blog, I'm sure I'll stalking by soon again!

Katherine Aucoin said...

You have inspired me, I think I will brine some chops or a tenderloin this weekend! I wish I could find an open farmer's market around here that had gorgeous peppers like you found!

Vanessa said...

Hi Sara,
I'm so sorry for taking so long to reply to your lovely message - it was really interesting hearing about your career path. Thank you for having taken the time to write.
Your recipe, as ever, looks delicious! And I agree about the orange - olive combination... I'm going through an olive craze right now!
Take care, and thanks,
Vanessa

Michelle said...

Hey Sara!

Thanks for coming by and congratulating me on my 100th post! These pork chops look DELICIOUS! You're a wonderful cook and your pictures are fabulous!

ThePeachTree said...

Now that looks SO good :) I miss the abundance of our summer farmers markets!

SriLekha said...

looks scrumptious and cant stop craving it!

Pearl said...

it looks so pretty!

Karin said...

Yes, I'm very tired of cooking. After three weeks of cooking for many Christmas guests - breakfasts, lunches and dinners, I got unenthused and tired.

I am not tired of food itself, only meal planning, grocery shopping and food preparation. Now, I take a look at what I've got in the fridge, freezer and cupboard and make up my mind about what to cook.

The Blonde Duck said...

I get tired of my husband preferring peanut butter sandwiches to my cooking because he doesn't feel like a meal. Snarl.

Sara said...

Elra - I picked these up at the farmer's market in my town. I highly recommend the farmer's market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco if you haven't been before, it's a fun experience!

Joie de vivre - I actually have more like 60 now, got some new ones for the holidays.

Amber - We had lunch at Tra Vigne with some friends over the summer, we really liked it!

Amanda - I actually have some new international cuisine cookbooks - chinese, spanish, malaysian/indonesian, etc. I just need to get motivated to buy all the specialty ingredients.

Katherine - My local farmer's market is open every Saturday year round, rain or shine. Some days it's pretty small, but it's better than nothing!

Vanessa - You're welcome. And I love olives too, I always have at least a few varieties in the fridge.

Peggy said...

I'm absolutely drooling over the chops! I also get into these slumps but when I do, I just dine out! :)

Amanda said...

Good point on the specialty ingredients; take a look at health food stores--a lot of times they have the oddest herbs & spices in bulk. My husband and I took a drive to a university town nearby and discovered the tiniest hippie shop and literally hundreds of little bins of all manner of spices--now I can buy a few tablespoons at a time to try out new ones!

biz319 said...

I love brining pork chops! They stay so juicy somehow!

Lucky you have a farmers market to go to - mine doesn't open until June!

Culinarywannabe said...

I think we are all probably a little worn out on cooking lately, giving all the hoopla of the holidays. You're so lucky to have such imagination to come up with such a beautiful dish on your own!

Helene said...

What a great plate. You always seem to have beautiful meals.

Karen said...

This looks like a delicious meal. I'm with you - brining is the only way to go. I don't think I'll eat a pork chop without brining it first now. It's amazing the difference it makes in the texture of the meat!

Selba said...

Sounds perfectly yummy! I love peppers :)

Melissa said...

Mmmm...Pork Chops! These look great!!!

Maris said...

Sounds like a good one! The pepperonata looks great and I would have never thought to serve it with pork chops!

Dragon said...

Whenever I need inspiration I go to the farmer's market as well. I love the sea of colours and smells. I love your pork chops. Great job!

Reeni♥ said...

Those peppers are gorgeous!!The final dish looks great!

Priscilla said...

I get in those same ruts too. They are bad! Can't wait to see what you come up with Sara!

Cakebrain said...

Yes, I always get tired of cooking...but not baking. Making real food to eat everyday is a chore. Thinking of stuff that'll interest everyone's palates (including the kids) is hard. Baking is fun. I wish we could subsist on cupcakes!
Your chops look lip-smacking good!

Mochachocolata Rita said...

same thing happens to me too...i'd brainwash myself with cooking shows to get inspired :)

thanks for the inspiration, i havent cooked pork chops with peppers before ^_^, great idea!

Jamie said...

Though I never ever get tired of baking, I very often have no desire to cook. Simple, no-fuss, delicious recipes are always needed! And great blog!

pigpigscorner said...

I love brining pork chops, so much flavours and makes them very juicy. Love the colours of the peppers.

Ana Powell said...

Mind blowing.
Beautiful combination of flavours and colours.
Must have been delicious x

Donna-FFW said...

LOVE this recipe. Just discovered your blog. Can't wait to dive in!!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

WOW, that looks delicious! I know what you mean too about sometimes needing to ditch the grocery lists and just go with your gut! Looks like it worked out for you this week!

Lo said...

Works for me!
I also find that the best way to get myself out of a cooking rut (or an uninspired moment) is to break away from the usual recipes. Looks like a fine segue away from your slump!!

ChefBliss.com said...

This looks absolutely wonderful! We love pork chops and these look great. I am so glad I am not the only one with a bazillion cookbooks. I'm trying to tame my addiction! :)

Jan said...

Oh, the beauty of living in California, you can still get fresh heirloom peppers in the dead of winter. We grow peppers all summer long, but alas they are long gone.

Great recipe, Sara. Sometimes it pays to wing it a little. :-)

Chef E said...

Oh, I am behind on your posts...this looks good...I have cut back on port, but this I must make the next month...

I was just telling hubby we should start looking for a place to buy if we are staying in NJ, but we need a master bedroom for our rather large book collection, and almost half are my cookbooks...you would probably faint...I cannot let go...family gives me old and new ones each year!