Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pork chops with cider reduction and parsnip-fennel gratin


Spring cleaning time. I get on these kicks where "I'm totally gonna eat healthy this week and this vedge looks so amazing and I can totally cook it all within the week and none of it will go to waste!" Well, now it's the end of the week (it's been closer to two since I bought all this shit), and I have two drawers of nearly past-prime produce.

What to purge this time? Let's see...never used up that kohlrabi that I mentioned a week ago, had some parsnips, a fennel bulb, and I still had a bit of the broccoli rabe left. In fact, it's getting ready to bloom. In the drawer. The kohlrabi and parsnip are slightly lignified. I also have some cellared apples that need to move on out.

I really wanted to make a gratin. Today was cold and gray after a blissfully nice couple days spoiled me. I didn't want to cop out and make a big soup (again). I needed something golden, bubbly and from-the-oven.

Bechamel is so great because it's fast and easy, and even though you use a knob of butter to make the roux, you can use skim milk instead of cream and it's not that big a deal. Nutmeg and pepper took a little edge to it, and keep it from just being country gravy.

I was feeling extra lazy and used the food processor to slice the vegetables. I buttered the Dutch oven and rustically (read: sloppily) layered the parsnip, kohlrabi, apple, broccoli rabe and kohlrabi greens (pre-wilted in a salt water bath in the microwave) and fennel, spooning bechamel and a bit of Parm Redge in between. It ended up nearly topping up my Le Creuset, but that's fine - bechamel freezes and reheats like a dream.

A gratin this earthy-sweet begged for a pork loin chop brined in hard cider and crushed fennel seed, pounded into a paillard and quick-seared in a hot pan. Cider reduced into a simple pan-sauce - all it took to make a perfect meal.

35 comments:

Peter G said...

The Queen of Pork has spoken! Love the parsnip-fennel gratin Heather...very creative use of your vegies.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Lol! I always end up in the same boat. I buy tons of vegetables with grand plans and then I never have time to use them. A gratin is a terrific idea. It looks wonderful!

Toni said...

My kind of cooking. Open the fridge, find the stuff that hasn't turned moldy (I'm a victim of over-enthusiasm too!) and figure out what to do with it. Parsnip-fennel gratin? I'd eat that by itself!

Peter M said...

You do like pounding the shit out stuff don't cha?

The gratin IS a delight and I hope you're not gonna get stuck with anymore kohlrabi!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This looks totally wonderful. And I sometimes do my best work when things are about to go "off", lol.

glamah16 said...

Great save on teh produce. I get these boxes delivered know and fce thesame problem. If I cant frezze them, then what. But this Gratin looks so good.I wouldnt even need the meat, as I could it it plain.

Jeff said...

I can not tell you how many times I have done this ohh...vegetables I will use you and then a week later going oh crap now what.

Looks awesome and the pork chop addition was a beautiful touch.

peter said...

It's funny how Fall this is... I just used up the last of our parsnips and apples are the only available local fruit, so I can relate.

Syd said...

My mouth is watering at the thought of cider reduction and pork.

You can freeze bechamel? Good to know.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

I love that veggie dish!!! What a great idea on how to use old(er) vegetables. I have a bunch of stuff that I need to use and this would work perfect!

Bellini Valli said...

Your dishes always sound so amazing Heather. I have many arotting vegetable in my crispers...I had better come up with something fast:D

Heather said...

Hiya Petah from Oz - If I am the Queen of anything, I'm glad it's pork. :)

Susan - The road to hell is paved with good intentions, no?

Toni - I have to admit, the gratin was pretty much a full meal alone. :)

Peter the Greek - Heh, I am growing an entire seed pack's worth of kohlrabi in my garden this year, so this is only the beginning. I'll just be sure and pick it small. :P

Jen - Good to know I'm not the only one who benefits from a little time crunch! Now if I can just work on my procrastination problem...

Courtney - I often resort to a quick grill and freeze just so I don't have to toss anything. Sometimes it still ends up in the compost though. :\

Jeff - "Oh crap now what" makes the best gratin.

Jube - If I can't get morels, it ain't spring yet. Mint and peas aren't enough!

Syd - I find it handy to keep a tub of bechamel in the freezer for quick sausage gravy (for biscuits, y'all!). I just rarely end up with any leftover bechamel.

Judy - If you get a chance to check out the cookbook The Silver Spoon, there're a dozen great gratin recipes.

Valli - I just cook regular food but give it fancy names. That's my secret! :D

Norm Schoen said...

Heather,
Hook that Pork chop and Gratin up with a Burgundy or an older vintage (earthy) Oregon Pinot and RING.....the dinner bell

Brittany said...

Mmmmm! Tasty looking gratin! and everything is better with a slab of pork sitting next to it. makes this shitty weather (we're having the same crap in Seattle) seem kinda nice

kittie said...

Great gratin!

Can you believe I've never cooked a pork chop in my life?

Here's to using a food processor to be lazy - and also to the 'rustic' approach to cooking.

tammy said...

I want to eat that for breakfast this morning.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That gratin looks great and doesn't show that its a fridge-purge. My fridge purges aren't quite so well put together and mysteriously are never photographed, lol (they're a step beyond rustic, but I can't think of a good enough euphemism). The pork chop sounds like a great pairing

Nilmandra said...

That pork chop and grain looks beautiful. Hey there's plenty of veg in that gratin, what more could you ask for? ;)

Zoomie said...

Big wow, what a delicious looking and sounding meal!

Núria said...

Hey Heather! Great dish! I think you should sell the idea to Simpatica, only the name makes my mouth water... adding the pictures is getting painful! Que bueno, chica :D

Mary Coleman said...

Heather, that gratin looks outrageous..as do the pork chops and the onions.
great ideas here.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

Hey Heather I just passed an award onto you. You can pick it up on my blog!

Leigh said...

yeah i usually have a 'this week i'm only gonna drink with food week' - like that's going to happen...great recipe though, great use of cider!

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Robin said...

I love gratin for all those past-prime vegetables... I have a lot in my fridge this week since I've been binging on sushi nearly every night.

Heather said...

Norm - I was thinking Burgundy. Too bad I didn't have any! :( Nest time, my friend.

Brittany - Hasn't it just been shitty? I was in Lacey for a couple days this week and the sun broke exactly twice.

Kittie - Well, you had better learn to cook a pork chop if you ever want to find a husband! hahahaha you shoulda seen the look on your face when I said that.

Tammy - Feh, why not? It's got all the food groups - butter, vegetables, pork and salt.

Mike - Do your fridge purges turn into "bakes" or "surprises"?

Nilmandra - Having all that veg makes it okay to eat that much butter in one sitting, yeah? :)

Zoomie - Thanks! It felt wonderful too. So warm and squishy.

Núria - Is there a Spanish-style gratin that you should share with me?

Mary - Fried onions makes everything taste better. ....except chocolate cake.

Judy - Uh-oh, a tag? Frick! Norm got me too. I might hafta play along. :)

Leigh - I thought of your bock gravy when I made the cider reduction. It was reeeaallly good.

Danno - You actually looked at my br0g! It was great hangin' with you and Christy last week!

Heather said...

Robin - Sushi all week? Poor thing. ;)

Norm Schoen said...

Think of wine and food this way: "If it grows together it goes together". Earthy Gratin=French=Burgundy.
I need to come up with some kind of mathematical equation for wine pairing...

We Are Never Full said...

Nice one... fennel is probably one of the best veggies ever.

michelle @ TNS said...

my fennel's destiny has been revealed. (i have several bulbs, because for two weeks in a row i said "that fennel looks great, and i'll totally use it!", conveniently forgetting that i had not yet used the *last* several bulbs)

why do i have to type in a word verification? like you're so damn fancy.

cook eat FRET said...

oh how i can relate
which is my i quit the csa.. it was too much alla the time. now i buy as i need. although it was forcing me to be 'creative'. but i'll just hit the farmers market and pick and choose...

the gratin looks great. fabbo combo.

Brittany said...

Of anything I have read about you making, THIS looks the most amazing to me. Seriosuly, just so organic and juicy!

Emiline said...

Oh. Nice. Very creative.
I'm so glad you used up all of that produce. I love gratins, too.

Heather said...

Norm - I will use that mneunomonic device.

Amy - fennel is great - I've just started to appreciate it roasted.

Michelle - I'm just fancy enough that spambots read my blog.

CEF - I really want to support my farmers and join a CSA, but I can't eat all that produce!

Brittany - Wow, thank you! I should stick with rustic food. :)

Emiline - Gratins are great-in! Okay, that was pretty weak.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That sounds really great and comforting, Heather. I love the use of all those veggies!