Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Juniper oregano braised pork chops

Pork chops braised in juniper berries and fresh oregano, served over mixed wild rice with dried cranberries and watercress salad

I based this on a recipe in Donna Hay's Flavors. She uses pork loin and roasts. But when you see thick, lascivious-looking pork chops at the Coop modest little loins loose their appeal. I retained the woodsy aroma of Hay's original recipe, though.

I started by toasting about 1 T juniper berries in a dry pan before crushing them. Then I heated a little olive oil, added the crushed juniper, and browned two chops. I removed the chops and poured 2 T mezcal (gin would have been better, of course, but I didn't have any) and about 1 1/2 cups water along with a big bunch of oregano and some salt before lowering the heat and putting the chops back in, arranging in the dish so they were nearly parallel (equal distribution in the fluid). Then I simmered, covered for about 30 minutes or so, until the chops reached 60 degrees.

When they were finished cooking I removed them again, skimmed off the scum (sounds worse than it is), and reduced the pan juices. I served each chop atop some mixed wild rice with dried cranberries, which makes for a somewhat lighter side than Hay's recommended mashed potatoes. The salad was just watercress with chopped green onions and a little lemon juice.

I know I just used juniper berries the other day, but I love them. My absolute favorite use of juniper berries is a deep, dark venison stew from Saveur Magazine a few years back. I made it for Lane's birthday. I've made the juniper and oregano pork loin many times, but I think I like my chops better.

Unfortunately, Jasper didn't like any of this. I cut his pork into tiny pieces and he stuffed them all into his mouth at once, chewed for a while, and then spit the whole wad back into his plate. This is actually standard procedure for most meats. He'll chew and swallow sausage, sometimes. He loves rice, but this rice was just too complicated. He wandered from the table, then covered himself with an afghan and sang to himself for a while. Then he threw a fit -- just started crying and freaking out. What was going on? Finally it hit me. He was THIN.

THIN is an acronym our friend Andrea invented, standing for tired, hungry, irritable, nasty. This is the red zone for many of us. Jasper's appetite has increased lately, so though he rejected what I served him he was still hungry. Thus the freak out. Finally, proof that he's my son. I've been known to do the same exact thing. Annie's mac and cheese, coming right up.

More perplexing is the way Jasper has been nurturing one of our Christmas tree ornaments. I have a miniature violin he's taken a shine to. This afternoon he cuddled it into a blanket and started talking softly to it. I ended up pretending it was crying and so I could sooth it by singing rock-a-bye violin. Little Baby Violin. It's our new favorite toy. Don't you wish you had one?


Anonymous said...

Anders has been THIN a lot this past week--must be a growth spurt coming on, plus probably also pre-signs of the cold he woke up with this morning.

And venison! I was just going to ask you for ideas, because my dad left a bunch in my freezer when my parents came for Thanksgiving. He butchered it himself this year, so it's lean and clean. Send me the stew recipe, please?

Lane said...

This is a fantastic blog. This is particularly nice post. Congratulations.

And thanks Janne Anne for being such a loyal reader.

Co said...

I like that acronym THIN. L and I refer to that as the "grumpy girl" phenomenon because I can literally turn into a different, insane person when I am over-hungry.

BTW, I appreciate all the photography these days. Very nice. I was noticing the colorful napkin in the lefthand corner and how the simple, white plate contrasted nicely with the pork and wild rice. :)

Adriana Velez said...

Yes, thanks to everyone who reads my blog and especially those who comment. I love hearing about your experiences and ideas, too!