Anatomy of a Pork Chop Dinner (A Three Part Series)

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9:24 PM, Friday, October 30th. The scene? My kitchen. In attendance? Myself and Craig. The event? The creation of one of the best plates of food I’ve ever made.

It started like this, see, I was at the farmer’s market, taking pictures with my new camera when I spied these Jerusalem artichokes. Or was it at the butcher shop when I asked the butcher to cut me two thick-sliced pork chops? No, wasn’t it on the couch reading The Barefoot Contessa’s roasted apple sauce recipe in her new cookbook?

Look officer, maybe I’d do better to split this into separate posts; that way future generations can piece together this pork chop dinner using the links I provide. Here they are in sequence:

Roasted Apple & Pear Sauce

What To Do With Jerusalem Artichokes

The Secret To Killer Pork Chops at Home.

And that’s my full confession. Haul me away, if you must, at least I know I did what I thought was right.

Jambalaya

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My dad used to watch a cajun cooking show (yes, my dad, who’s probably never cooked a meal in his life, watched a cajun cooking show) where the host would yell out with his thick N’awlins accent: “Spiccccy cajjjun fooood!”

(Did you ever see that show? I think it was on PBS and the host had white hair and glasses.)

Surprisingly, in my six years of running this site, I’ve never cooked a cajun dish. Shocking, I know, and deeply irresponsible. Cajun food, like jazz music, is one of America’s great indigenous art forms and the fact that it’s taken me this long to finally cook something cajun should be cause for mass rebellion amongst my readers. But I’ve repented with the dinner you see above: two nights ago I made that Jambalaya and I bet even that white-haired guy from the Cajun cooking show would’ve loved it.

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The Best Meatloaf I’ve Ever Had

It’s hard to get excited about meatloaf. That is, unless you’re standing in the kitchen at Craft in New York and Chef Damon Wise (Tom Colicchio’s right-hand man) is mixing together ground beef, pork, crisp shitakes (that taste like bacon), golden soffrito, soy sauce, fresh oregano and Parmesan cheese. The resulting meatloaf–which Chef Wise called “Umami Meatloaf”–was, without question, the best I’ve ever had. And then, as you’ll see in the following Food2 video, I went and recreated it at home. All the proportions and ingredients and steps are listed in the video, but, just in case, I’ll share them after the jump. And now, without further pause, here’s one killer meatloaf:

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How To Make Fried Chicken

The undisputed master of fried chicken here in New York City is Chef Charles Gabriel of Rack n’ Soul and now Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken (there’s a big article about it in today’s New York Times.) Chef Gabriel is such a master, it was an absolute privilege this summer to stand at his side in his Harlem kitchen watching him pan fry chicken the way it’s been done in his family for generations. What follows is our latest Food2 video, which not only gives you the recipe for Chef Gabriel’s legendary chicken, but also shows you my efforts to recreate it at home (with some comedy thrown in):

The only note I’ll add here is that, in the video, it doesn’t mention that Chef Gabriel also puts the spice mixture on the raw chicken too, so it gets seasoned on three levels: the chicken, the batter and the flour. I’ve now made this chicken several times and it really cant be beat.

Sunday Gravy

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The thing about Thanksgiving is that people have expectations. They expect some kind of squash soup, they expect turkey, of course, and stuffing and taters (mashed and sweet) and all kinds of pies for dessert. Maybe that’s why I don’t like cooking it: the element of surprise is fairly limited (“Oooh look, he put cranberries in the stuffing!”) and even if you half-ass it, people will still enjoy themselves as long as there’s plenty of wine. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the challenge? It’s not just the tryptophan that makes Thanksgiving dinner a sleepy affair.

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Perfect Steak

I don’t want to toot my own horn, so I won’t: I’ll toot the horn of Chris Lim of BLT steak. In our latest Food2 video this genius chef teaches me a technique for making steak at home that is so perfect, so dead-on that I will never ever ever make steak any other way again. It’s a brilliant technique, an industry technique that steakhouses across the country use to make steak that forces you to say, “Why can’t I have steak this good at home?” But now the secret’s out and steakhouse quality steak is yours for the making. You can thank us later!

Tuna Noodle Casserole

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The chat went something like this.

Craig-At-Work: What’s for dinner?

Me-At-Home: I’m thinking of making a tuna noodle casserole.

Craig-At-Work: Ugh. If I never eat a tuna noodle casserole again for the rest of my life, that’d be ok.

Me-At-Home: Well I’ve never had one before so I’m going to make it, just for the sake of writing about it.

[Silence.]

Me-At-Home: Are you there? Hello? HELLO?

Craig-At-Work is no longer online.

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Make Your Own Chicken Burrito

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Running on the treadmill, it’s useful to dangle an image carrot in your brain: something you can run towards, something to look forward to, a reward for all your hard work. And last week, for me, that was definitely a chicken burrito. I was craving one, hardcore.

The problem is that where we live in Park Slope? The chicken burritos leave much to be desired. Craig is very much NOT a fan of Los Pollitos; I think it’s passable, but certainly not a reward for burning millions of calories on the treadmill. No, if I wanted a good chicken burrito, I’d have to make one myself.

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