When I was growing up, our family ate lots of pork. Though we never raised pigs, Mom and Dad watched for bargains at the butcher shops and grocery stores and sometimes bought half a hog from a farmer in the late fall. Dad would use his meat saw and butcher knife to cut the side into meal-sized portions and Mom would wrap them in heavy butcher paper.
If the weather was below freezing, we could store the packages in the red shed in the meat chest Dad had made. If it was still warm, he would rent space in the locker plant for a month or two until winter arrived. After Mom and Dad got a chest freezer, they could stock up on meat the way we do now, but for many years, our family lived by the seasons.
Jerri and I gave up on chest freezers after finding a turkey that had somehow escaped our notice for several years in the bottom layer of our freezer. There wasn’t a date on the tag, but the price was twenty-nine cents a pound, so I suspect we were looking at a turkey that was at least five years old when we found it.
I thawed it at the cabin, removed the wire clip that held the legs in place and carried the carcass across the brook. When I checked next day, all sixteen pounds of yellowed turkey had disappeared. Some animal had carried it off to devour at leisure, more evidence that nothing is wasted in nature.
Today Jerri and I have a smaller upright freezer sized for two senior citizens who like to cook and eat. When we find a good price on meat, we buy an extra package or two, and Jerri notes the addition to the larder on her handwritten freezer inventory. Her system works pretty well, and today very little food in our freezer ends up getting taken to the cabin and out into the woods to feed the animals.
At times, of course, her freezer inventory does lead to conflict. Reading the weekly ad from our local supermarket, I may say, “They have a really good price on boneless pork chops. I’ll pick some up and cook pork chops for dinner.”
One might think that Jerri would be grateful that I am offering to cook her a meal. One (whoever that might be) might also be wrong. Grabbing her freezer inventory, she will proceed to inform me that I had bought three packages of pork steak two months ago, two of which still needed my attention.
When this situation arises, it’s nice to have a recipe that works equally well with pork chops or steaks. This recipe serves four, but you can cut it in half if you wish. It tastes fine as a leftover a day or two later, but it doesn’t look as nice warmed up as it does in the photo.
2 lbs. pork chops or steak
1/3 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
1 onion about 3 1/2 inches in diameter
2 large cloves garlic
1 cup water
1 tsp. instant chicken bouillon
1/2 cup dry white wine
Dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
Start by preparing the vegetables. Wash the peppers, remove the stems, and cut the peppers into halves or quarters. Remove the seeds and white membranes and slice the peppers into quarter inch strips about an inch and a half long. Set them aside in a mixing bowl.
Trim the stem and root ends from the onion and remove the dry outer skin. Do the same with the garlic. Cut the onion in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Mince the garlic. Put the onion in the bowl with the peppers. Set the garlic aside in a small bowl or saucer.
Blend the rosemary, black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt with a mortar and pestle. Stir the spices into the flour on a plate.
Trim the excess fat from the meat and cut it into serving-size pieces. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Roll the pieces of meat in the flour mixture and and put them into the pan. Brown them about three minutes per side. Turn the pieces to make sure that they are golden brown on both sides.
While the meat is browning, dissolve a teaspoon of instant chicken bouillon in a cup of water. Remove the meat from the skillet to a plate and set it aside.
Put the peppers and onions into the skillet and sauté them about two minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and sauté another minute or so. Do not overcook the vegetables.
Spoon the vegetables out of the skillet and return the meat to the pan. Add the cup of chicken bouillon, a half cup of dry white wine and the Worcestershire sauce.
Bring the mixture up to a boil, reduce the heat, cover the skillet and simmer for thirty to forty-five minutes or until the meat is fork tender and the sauce is reduced to about half its original volume. Check occasionally to make sure that the sauce has not boiled away. Add equal amounts of water and wine if necessary.
About three minutes before serving, spoon the vegetables over the meat and cover the pan to finish cooking the peppers and onions. This main dish goes especially well with farfalle (bowtie pasta) and a simple green salad accompanied by a glass of the wine you used to braise the pork.
To serve, spoon a little sauce over the meat, vegetables and pasta on each plate.
NOTES: If you are starting with pork steak or bone-in pork chops, you might want to cut the meat from the bones before breading the pieces. You can cook the smaller trimmings in this dish, or you can freeze them for use in a soup or stir fry at a later time.
Instead of the bouillon, feel free to substitute a cup of chicken broth if you have some in the fridge or freezer. Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and vermouth all work well in this recipe, though they do add somewhat different flavors to the final dish. You might want to experiment to find the one you like best.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, crush the rosemary with a spoon as best you can before stirring the spices and salt into the flour.