Friday, December 20, 2013
In search of pork heaven
In my family pork is the food of the gods. Although I usually make a turkey for our official feasts, pork gets served at other important times. So when my son invited a guest for Christmas and we discussed what to serve, he opined that pork would probably be a good choice. Well, actually he opined that sauerkraut would probably be a good choice.
She, like me, is a sauerkraut lover from a family where sauerkraut was reviled. I'm always willing to serve sauerkraut, especially to impress my guests, but you have to have pork to go with it.
I could fix a lot of porkchops in two separate frying pans on the stove -- in fact, that's what I did on Thanksgiving Day for other pork-loving guests (don't worry, we had the official turkey the next day) -- but I'm looking for ways to minimize the last-minute fuss. So I thought about my mother's old favorite, pork chops baked in milk.
How nice, I thought, to have the fancy dinner in the oven, needing nothing than to be taken out and borne to the table. But this preparation is one that I haven't been successful at in a long time. I never had a written recipe, Mom is dead, and pork has changed. After the last attempt, a couple of months ago, I wondered if it was the fault of the milk -- skim doesn't give you much culinary enhancement.
So this week I decided on a dry run. If it worked, that would be our Christmas dinner. I bought a nice porkchop and a half-gallon of whole milk. I looked online but didn't find any recipes that resembled Mom's; most of them involved canned soup and other adulterants. So I just found a little dish that the meat fit snugly into, poured the milk on top and put it in the oven at 375, as the online recipes seemed to agree on.
I checked every now and then and decided to take it out after 35 minutes. Notice the beautiful brown edges on the dish -- that's what the meat is supposed to look like. But no beautiful brown on the chop, just a layer of whitish curds that tasted good but looked nasty. And the meat was dry (not that I didn't eat it, but still... not ready for prime time).
So I guess we'll have a turkey.
And if anybody out there knows how to fix pork chops baked in milk, please let me know. There will be a Christmas again next year, I hear.