In my long lost youth,when I was very thin, I read the dictionary when there was nothing else to read, now I read cookbooks, needless to say, I'm no longer thin!
I have read that it's not a good thing to read while eating, but I do. Occasionally, I just turn the pages of the latest New Yorker magazine and read the cartoons but mostly I read about food while I'm eating. Not only do I enjoy the meal in front of me but I use the time to gain more insight into the magical world of food preparation which never ceases to intrigue me, pique my imagination and assure I never have a dull moment. If I'm not shopping, prepping, or cooking, I'm reading about it. That's a bit of an exaggeration but close to being right on the money!
A couple of years ago, I discovered the remarkably simple yet soul satisfying methods of Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers of the London River Cafe in their eye appealing, easy to follow volume, Italian Easy. Their treatment of a humble center cut pork chop became my favorite way to cook a chop and I shared it with all my cooking friends - probably shared it with lots who think I'm daft going on so about the marvels of a simple chop with lemon juice!
My 'at the table' reading this past week has been Pierre Franey's compilation of columns he wrote for the New York Times back in the '70's, The Sixty Minute Gourmet. If he were writing it today, I'm sure the sixty minutes would be pared down. Think Rachel Ray or better yet, stick with the French who have made cooking one of the greatest of the performing arts. Jacques Pepin will delight you with his easy yet elegant, Fast Food My Way. If you need a technique resource book to give you some confidence with handling a saute pan from stove top to oven and out quickly with a variety of pan sauces to impress any guest, add How to Cook Without a Book to your arsenal. Master some simple techniques for meats, veggies and accompanying sauces and salad dressings that will put a fine meal on the table in 30 minutes or less using whole foods, skipping cans, prepared sides or swings through the ubiquitous drive-in window. Use the freshest whole foods, choose organic, free-range meats, poultry and eggs along with fresh vegetables and prepare them simply with a minimum of cooking to preserve the flavors and nutrients. It's fun and makes for some delicious eating as well.
The Simple Pork Chop
Adapted from Italian Easy and Sixty Minute Gourmet
Heat oven to 350 - Use saute pan that can go from stovetop to oven
(Use 8" pan for 1 - 2 chops, 12" pan for 4 chops)
Center cut boneless pork chop - 1/2" thick (1 per person)
Dredge chops in Wondra flour w/ salt & pepper, shake off excess
Saute chop(s) in 1 tbs olive oil & 1 tbs butter over med heat for
approximately 3 - 4 minutes until one side is nicely browned.
Flip over and squeeze juice of a lemon wedge (1/4 of lemon)over each chop.
Toss rind(s) into pan and place pan in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Remove chops to warm plate, squeeze juice of 1/4 lemon per chop into hot pan along with 1 TBS butter, swirl to melt and mix then pour over chops on serving plate.
While chops are cooking prepare a salad and a steamed green veggie and you have another fabulous meal on the table in less than thirty minutes. Who says there's no time to cook great meals?