Saturday, September 8, 2012

Random Cookbook of the Week - Ruhlman's Twenty

(No pictures with this week's effort, since they all turned out blurry.)

Ruhlman's Twenty is an unusual cookbook. Rather than being organized by ingredient or course, each of its chapters features a technique (e.g. braise, poach, fry) or building-block ingredient (e.g. butter, onion, egg), each beginning with a discussion of its importance and how to work with it.

The recipe I chose to make was a two-parter, beginning in Chapter 2 (Salt: Your Most Important Tool) and winding up in Chapter 19 (Fry: The Hottest Heat).

I began with...

Sage-Garlic-Brined Pork Chops

- 1 1/2 T kosher salt in 3 3/4 c. water
- 1 large shallot, diced
- 10 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 packed T fresh sage leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 T black peppercorns, cracked in a mortar with a pestle or on a cutting board with the bottom of a heavy pan

- 4 bone-in pork chops, each about 8 oz (I used 6 smaller boneless pork chops)

In a medium saucepan over high heat, combine the salt water, shallot, garlic, lemon, sage, bay leaves, and peppercorns and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow the brine to come to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold.

Submerge the chops in the brine and refrigerate 6-8 hours.

(I had problems with this step because I didn't quite have enough brine. I kept shifting the chops around during the brining process in hopes they'd each get enough salt, but they didn't turn out quite as tender and juicy as brined meat usually does. I'd thought since my chops were smaller it wouldn't matter, but if I do more than 4 again, I'll double the recipe.)

Remove the chops from the brine, discarding the brine. Rinse the chops and pat dry with paper towels. Let them sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before you cook them. They can be sauteed, breaded and panfried, pan-roasted, or grilled.

At Ruhlman's recommendation that pan frying was best, I then went to...

Panfried Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce

- 4 bone-in pork chops
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- About 1 c. plain flour
- 1 large egg, beaten with a couple of tablespoons of water
- 1 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
- Oil for panfrying

Lemon-Caper Sauce
- 6 T butter
- 4 lemon slices, each about 1/8 inch thick
- 3 T capers
- 1 T finely chopped parsley

About 1 hour before cooking the pork chops, remove them from the refrigerator and season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.

Put the flour, beaten egg, and panko in separate dishes. Dredge each chop in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip in the egg and then dredge in the panko.

Heat 1/4 to 1/2 inch oil in a pan over high heat. When the oil is hot and ripply, lay the pork chops in the pan and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pork chops and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 more minutes. Remove to a rack while you make the sauce. (The chops can be put in a 200 F oven for 30 minutes if you want to hold them or need to cook them in batches; if holding them for this long, cook them rare to medium-rare, so that they finish in the oven.)

Make the sauce: Put the butter in a small saute pan over low heat. When it begins to melt, add the lemon slices in a single layer and the capers. Raise the heat to medium-high and swirl the ingredients in the pan. When the butter is piping hot and frothing, add the parsley. Remove from the heat and stir. 

Serve, topping each chop with some of the sauce, including a lemon slice and some capers.

This is an excellent recipe. It made a delicious dinner, along with mashed potatoes and salad, and the leftover chops were still good in my lunch the next two days. I'll definitely make again.

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