Simplicity, Italian style
If you ever thought Italian food was just about red sauce and pasta, read on. In fact, America's Shakers had nothing on the Italians when it comes to the gift of simplicity. Bold and direct flavors, put together in combinations that showcases but never mutes their natural goodness: That's Italian, whether you use tomatoes or whether you don't.
Let's move briskly along to today's recipe as a case in point. Translated in language but authentic Italian in style, it comes direct from the kitchens at ItalianMade.com, the informative food-and-wine Website of the Italian Trade Commission's offices in New York. This site is well worth browsing for in-depth information about Italian wine as well as a good, quick overview of Italian food and cooking, including several dozen authentic recipes - like this one - that demonstrate the joys of real Italian regional cookery.
You'll find no tomatoes in this simple dish, a feast of thick pork chops quickly skillet-cooked with garlic, and a light blanket of Parmigiano added in the last few moments of cooking. Its Italian name, Spuntatore di Maiale, seems to be used interchangeably for pork spareribs and pork rib chops ... in the case of this recipe, the latter.
INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
2 cloves garlic
1. Peel and smash the garlic cloves and saute them in the olive oil over high heat in a black iron skillet. When the garlic is aromatic and golden, remove and discard it.
2. Put the pork chops in the skillet and sear them in the garlic-scented oil, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, uncovered or partially covered, until they're just cooked through - about 10 to 15 minutes depending on their thickness. It's OK to leave pork a pale rosy-pink in the middle - really! But if you want to be on the safe side, check the temperature at their centers to ensure it has reached 155F (70C), and if the idea of slightly rare pork still makes you nervous, let it go to 165F (75C).
3. Season the chops with a little salt - don't overdo, as the cheese will add more saltiness - then scatter the slivered or grated Parmigiano on their tops, cover the skillet, and warm over medium low heat for another minute or two, just until the cheese melts.
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Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005
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