|The Eiffel Tower|
|Stephané Reynaud's Pork&Sons|
To heat up for the trip I cooked a France-inspired dish the weekend before. As I probably mentioned before, I have vigorously studied the cook books of Stephané Reynaud, who is a popular French chef. His first book, Pork and Sons, was published 2007 and became quite popular. And since then he has authored a few cook books which are all particularly tasteful. Although, in my opinion, the first is the best of the bunch. Pork and Sons is comprised only of pork recipes and is in a way an ode to Pigs. The introduction to the book where he explains the butchering process, sets the tone for the recipes which are exceptionally appetizing. After repeatedly browsing through the book - the following recipe came into being.
|Meaty porkchops with a large rind|
It was also a lot of fun going into town and shopping for this dish. We cycled down to Saluhallen (the market hall where my favorite butcher is located) and bought a few pork chops from my friends in Holmgrens. I just had to buy one slice with the bone still attached to it. I then strolled over to the cheese-stall and purchased a few slices of goat cheese - chevre. Goat cheese is of course not for everyone but I really like it, especially when it has been cooked - chevre chaud.
The spring and early summer is of course the season of Asparagus here in the north. At that time asparagus is at it's very tastiest, and there are many farmers that grow asparagus close to Lund. You can cycle to their farms and purchase freshly grown asparagus straight from the farmer - brand spanking new! It is easy to learn to recognize fresh asparagus - the stem of the asparagus is still fresh and hasn't hardened like on the ones you get over the winter time.
|New Asparagus from a farm near my house|
Fried Pork Chops With Chevre Chaud, New Asparagus and Perfect Roast Potatoes
I began by putting the pork chops in brine for 2-3 hours. This is done both to add flavor to the meat but also to re-introduce liquid into it that it might have lost - in order for the meat to remain nice and tender. Brine is simple to prepare - 3 liters of water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup salt and then herbs of your own choice. I added herbs that I think are perfectly well suited for pork; freshly ground fennel seeds, bay leaves, sage and a few peppercorns. Place the meat into the brine and allow it to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.
|The pork chops were placed in the brine|
The pork chops are then removed from the brine and thoroughly dried with paper towels. I cut slightly into the fat before I fried them in order to hasten the cooking process. Many would remove the fat entirely. I believe though that it is better to cook the meat with the fat to prevent the meat from drying, and then you can personally choose to cut it away once it is on the plate. Fried pork fat is of course (arguably) damn good food, so to humor the sinful hedonists it is wise to allow it to linger.
Next melt a little butter/oil in a pan and fry the pork chops on medium temperature for a short while or until they are lightly browned on each side. Then I transferred the meat to an ovenproof dish and placed into a 180 degree hot oven for 15-20 minutes.
The next step was to grill the asparagus on a griddle. Moments before I had tossed the asparagus in a tiny bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then placed them on the hot griddle. Once done, transfer to a plate and sprinkle Parmesan cheese over.
|Served with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil & parmigiano cheese|
We made the infamous perfect roast potatoes, the recipe for which you can locate The Perfect Roast Potato. We used new potatoes that we bought from Båstad, and the result: the potatoes were even more perfect - nothing beats a fresh harvest!
|My brother peeling some potatoes|
When the pork chops are close to being ready, it is time to fry the chevre cheese. The cheese I bought was simply traditional French goat cheese. "Chaud" means that you serve it hot - this time fried on a pan! I sliced it into generous slices and placed on a dry pan. The cheese is quite fatty so it melts easily and hence there is no need of adding fat to to the pan to aid the cooking process.
|Chevre chaud cheese and fried sage|
I also fried a few leaves of sage in a dash of oil, just for a brief moment, they pop slightly and become crispy in a matter of seconds. The food was then stacked in an attempt to create a beautiful presentation. First the pork, then a slice of chevre, and finally a few leaves of crackling sage - asparagus and potatoes on the side. These flavors - pork, chevre and sage are an orchestra of taste - a match made in heaven!
With the food we of course enjoyed some French wine. This time we had a bottle which I have had kicking around since we traveled to France a couple of years ago. Chateau Teyssier Grand Cru from 2006. It is a wine from St. Emillion in the Bordeaux region which lies in the South-West part of France. We didn't pass through that region this time, but that is no reason fro not grabbing a few bottles of that delicious wine. The wine, which is mostly made from Merlot grapes and then mingled with a little bit of Cabernet Franc, is indeed very tasty. Dark wine, aroma of matured fruit and oak and the same is perfectly transferred to the flavor.
|Dinner is served!|