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Porcini pork chops and Pinot
About last week's onions
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Porcini pork chops and Pinot

As regular readers of The 30 Second Wine Advisor will have noticed, I've been on a bit of a Pinot Noir kick this week, working my way along the viticultural regions of the U.S. West Coast while enjoying with delight this noble grape's amazing affinity with food.

The other night, with an interesting Santa Barbara Pinot Noir up for tasting, I decided to craft a dinner that I hoped would go particularly well with the wine. Pinot loves earthy flavors, and some of its most amiable companions, in my opinion, are salmon, pork, root vegetables and mushrooms. I couldn't see bringing all of these together in a single dish - pork'n'salmon is not my idea of "surf and turf" - but with a couple of fresh, naturally grown and locally produced pork chops on hand from a nearby farmer's market, three out of four wasn't bad.

The pork chops were thin (1/2 inch) and didn't require long cooking, and a quick dried-porcini sauce added richness without fat and made the dish even more Pinot-friendly. Alongside, a simple dish of mashed potatoes and carrots whipped together, and a ration of pencil-thin spring asparagus made a perfect meal.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

For the pork chops
2 pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon (15 grams) olive oil
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry red wine
1/8 ounce (4 grams) dried porcini mushrooms
2 teaspoons (10 grams) cornstarch

For the potatoes
1 large baking potato
2 medium carrots
1 clove garlic
Black or white pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup cream, half-and-half, milk, skim milk or potato water


The pork chops:

1. Put the porcini (1/4 ounce should be about enough to fill your palm) into 1 cup hot water, and let stand for 20 minutes or until the dried mushrooms are reconstituted.

2. Mince the onion and garlic together; the yield should be about 1/2 cup. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

3. Drain the mushrooms through a strainer lined with a paper towel, reserving the liquid. Rinse the mushrooms to remove any remaining grit, and chop them coarsely.

4. Put the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat, and when it's sizzling, brown the pork chops, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove them to a plate, reduce heat to medium, and sautee the minced onion and garlic until they start to brown, adding a bit more olive oil if necessary. Put in the red wine and stir to "deglaze" the pan, heating until the wine has reduced to a scant, syrupy glaze.

5. Put the pork chops back in the pan, turn them once or twice, then add the strained mushroom soaking liquid and the mushrooms. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to very low and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in a little warm water and use it at the end, a little at a time, to thicken the sauce to your liking. Check seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

The potatoes:

1. Peel the carrots and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Put them in a small saucepan with a large peeled clove of garlic, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are cooked through. Using a stand or stick blender, puree the carrots and garlic with a small amount of the cooking water.

2. Peel the potato and cut it into 1-inch chunks. Put them into a saucepan with salted water to cover, and simmer covered for about 15 to 20 minutes or until just cooked through.

3. Mash the potatoes with the butter and liquid (ranging from a bit of the potato water if you're counting calories to heavy cream if you're not), using a beater if you like them creamy, or a fork or hand potato masher if you prefer to keep a little texture, as I do. Stir in the pureed carrots until well blended, taste and add salt (if needed) and pepper (white pepper if you're a perfectionist about appearance).

WINE MATCH: The dish was made for Pinot Noir, and the bold "cherry-cola" flavors of Artesa 2000 Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County were fine. Watch tomorrow's 30 Second Wine Advisor for my tasting report as we wrap up a week of Pinot.

Talk about this (and other recipes) in our online forum:
If you have comments or observations about today's topic, please feel free to drop in on our interactive online Food Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic titled "RC: Porcini pork chops and Pinot." To read the replies, and join in, point your browser to:
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About last week's onions

I apologize for carelessly neglecting to include the chopped shallot or onion and garlic in the Procedure section of last week's recipe for pork with carrots. As many of you figured out, they should be added to the skillet and lightly sauteed immediately after the pork chops are browned.

Let us hear from you!

If you have suggestions or comments about The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter, or if you would like to suggest a topic for a coming edition and recipe, please drop me a note at I really enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail if I possibly can.

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Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Two French-inspired dinners (May 22)

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Thursday, May 29, 2003
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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