Very few things make me happier than discovering a dinner that:
a) does not require every pot and pan in the kitchen.
b) runs no risk of instigating a whinefest at the table.
c) can be prepared in the same amount of time (or less) that it takes for my second and third graders to do their homework at the kitchen table.
I’m not sure this last point was what Giuliano Bugialli had in mind when he dreamed up the delicate braciole de maiale con cavolo nero (Pork Chops with Kale) in his 1977 classic Fine Art of Italian Cooking. Unless he was cooking for high schoolers who had a full load of AP courses — because his version takes over 60 minutes and this adaptation takes under 30. Is it as good as it would be if I made it the way he instructed? Of course not. Is it a sacrilege to subject the recipe from a master to my compulsive corner-cutting impulse? Definitely. Will I be corner-cutting this recipe again soon on a night when I must get something delicious on the table quickly? Absolutely.
Pork with Kale
Adapted from Fine Art of Italian Cooking
Wash and cut 1 bunch of kale into 2-inch pieces. Boil for 15 minutes in salted water. Meanwhile, heat a few glugs of olive oil in a deep skillet. Add 1 garlic clove and cook over low heat, just enough to flavor oil without burning, about 2 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add 4-6 pork chops (butterflied, or pounded thin) that have been salted, peppered, and sprinkled with a little fennel seed (optional) and brown for 2 minutes on each side. Using a metal measuring cup, scoop out 1 cup of hot water from the kale pot and pour into a heatproof bowl. Whisk 1 tablespoon tomato paste in the hot water then add tomatoey liquid to the pork chops. Cover skillet and simmer until pork is cooked through, about 15 minutes. In final 5 minutes, add kale to skillet and let it drink in the liquid. Serve with brown rice if you need it. (The Trader Joe’s fully cooked kind to make life easier.)
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Tags:bugialli pork recipe·giuliano bugialli·italian recipes·pork recipes·quick dinner·skillet meals
My aunt Patty was the first great home cook I ever knew. She would get up at 5am, run a few miles, come home, make a big pot of coffee, and start making the gooiest, butteriest challah french toast you’ve ever seen. (At holiday time, she made it with egg nog. And she always added a dash of vanilla, a tradition we’ve continued with our own kids.) She’d clean up breakfast, and start in on lunch: maybe a wild rice salad with cranberries, maybe some egg salad sandwiches with onion and celery, maybe some chicken Milanese (she dredged in corn flakes crumbs). She’d clean up lunch, and start in on dinner. She’d stuff roasts with egg and pancetta and marinate butterflied legs of lamb in great, plastic tubs; she’d make fresh ricotta cheesecakes and tiramisu with real lady fingers and freshly whipped cream; and she would always, always turn down any offers of help. “Cooking is my therapy,” she’d say, tossing another pot onto the pile in the sink, and I remember not believing her.
Of all the things Patty would cook for us when we visited, there was one meal I looked forward to more than any other. It was based on a recipe from a woman named Marcella Hazan, a name that meant nothing to me at the time. Patty called it “pork in milk,” and she would make it just for me; it got to the point where I could sniff it out the moment I walked into her house.
“Pork in milk?” I’d say.
“How’d you know?” she’d respond.
When it was ready, she would take the pork out of the pot and slice it, put it on a platter, and bury it in mounds of nutty, slightly disconcerting-looking, sweet-smelling clusters of milk — the remnants of the braising liquid — that she spooned over the top. “Make sure you get enough clusters!” she’d say. “They’re the best part. Do you have enough? Here, take more!” I assumed, because she was Patty and because everything she did in the kitchen appeared to be designed for maximum complexity, that this “pork in milk” was difficult to make.
Turns out, it’s not.
“Pork in milk” is now one of our go-to weekend meals (and also one of the dishes enshrined on our recipe door). Our oldest daughter eats it with clusters, the younger one without, but they both eat it — and happily — which is a victory in and of itself. As for the difficulty: it’s seven ingredients and one pot, with a total hands-on time of maybe five minutes. – Andy
Click to the jump for the recipe.
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Tags:braised pork·family dinner·italian recipes·marcella hazan·pork loin·pork loin braised in milk·pork recipe·pork recipes