Thursday, July 24, 2008

2 crazy nights, 1 good meal

I was ready to give you the recipe for flatbread with tomatoes, roasted garlic and basil since we are talking about summer tomatoes. But my Tuesday and Wednesday nights were so crazy, I have to tell you what happened. And a good meal came out of it.

In Alabama we have great produce, but we also have great big storms and Tuesday night was the biggest one in a long time. It started out sunny and bright around 5pm. My husband and I were out in the backyard watching the dogs play. We decided to grill out hamburgers and I went inside to start preparing. Around 6:00 Jesse lit the grill and came inside to get the meat. The sky looked kinda dark, but lately we have gotten a lot of big black clouds but no rain. In fact we even watered the garden knowing we would not get any rain. And for further confirmation, the weatherman on the 6pm news said nothing about rain in our area….all those signs should have been a warning of what was to come.

At 6:30 Jesse put the hamburgers on the grill. It was beginning to sprinkle, so he ran back inside. Just to be on the safe side, we gave Teddy (our Lab/Great Dane) a Benadryl. He is afraid of storms and the thunder was rumbling in the distance. By the time the burgers were ready to flip, the rain was coming down very hard and lightening was popping in the skies. The thunder grew louder and closer. Just before the heavy stuff came down, Jesse had grabbed our dinner and was safely inside but very wet. The skies broke open.Rain was coming down in sheets at first and then buckets. Lightening was everywhere and the thunderboomers felt like they were hitting the house with every crack. Teddy was on his second Benadryl. We turned off the TV and ate our burgers in silence, waiting for the storm to pass and praying the power stayed on. Just then a huge gust of wind took the screens off the front window. I dropped my plate and without thinking I ran out front to grab them so they would not fly down the street. Within 5 seconds I was completely soaked, but the screens were safe. My husband was looking at me like I just saved a puppy.

The storm eventually passed, about 2 hours later. We never did lose power and Teddy finally calmed down. That leads me to what happened Wednesday night.

I took pork chops out for dinner but did not know how I was going to prepare them. I didn’t want to go to the store and knew I had stuff at home to use. I decided on pan fried chops with a fig sauce and a side of buttered herb rice. I began the prep work for dinner and Jesse played with the dogs. Seemed like a normal night until the skies got dark again. Benadryl was dispursed and we waited for the worst. But it was just a rain shower. No light show, or thunder just a good soaking rain.

I was ready to serve the dinner.The fig sauce came out great. I didn’t know I liked figs until last weekend. We were visiting Jesse’s family in Pensacola, FL and they have fig trees. His Mom made preserves but also gave us a couple of bags of fresh figs. I had never cooked with them before, but found a very easy recipe on a website and adapted it to what I had on hand. Recipe to follow.

Jesse asked me what I wanted to drink with dinner and went out to the frig in the garage to fetch something. He was never coming back. I poked my head out and asked if everything was o.k? No answer….I went deeper into the garage and asked again. “NO” he said. Both the side by side refrigerator and the deep freeze are off. Apparently the power to both was not working. He could not figure out what happened, but we quickly assessed that most of the deep stuff was not thawed, but the ice cream was toast. We pulled out the top stuff, attached a long extension cord and plugged them both into the kitchen outlets. We ate dinner once the power started back to both. I had turned off all the food before I went out to the garage, but I think the pork got a little overcooked. It tasted good, but I know it should have been served 10 minutes ago. Oh well. Jesse enjoyed it and really liked the use of figs in the sauce. You will come to find out that his food pallet is just beginning to develop. He was a 43 year old bachelor when we met. He had never been married and thought Outback was at the top of the fine dining list. He has come a long way since we first met. He is always up for trying new foods, even if he has never heard of them. (fodder for another blog)

So, we figured out we must have lost power the night before when the thunderboomers sounded like they were hitting the house(perhaps one did). The outlet needed to be tripped and the power came back on to both units. However, we did lose a lot of food. The lesson we learned from this…after a big storm, check all electrical outlets, especially those connected to refrigerators and freezers.

Pork Chops with Fig and Chipotles

The spicy sweetness of the chipotle pepper blends beautifully with the figs to give a little kick to the pan gravy which is also flavored with onions, garlic, and thyme. However, you may omit the chipotle pepper if you wish. Prepare all your ingredients in advance. This goes together quickly.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
4 (about 8 ounces each) boneless pork top loin chops, 1-1/2 inches thick
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle peppers, or to taste (see Notes)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup minced onion
2 large cloved garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup diced fresh figs

Preparation: Place each pork loin chop between sheets of plastic wrap and pound down to a 1-inch thickness. Season with salt, pepper, and ground chipotle. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Sear pork loin chops until golden brown on each side, turning only once. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Reduce heat, add onions and saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute an additional 1 minute. Carefully pour in red wine and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up browned bits. Cook 1 minute, then add chicken broth, thyme, and figs. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes, stirring often and mashing the figs until the sauce is thickened. Return pork loin chops to the pan, along with any juices that have accumulated on the platter, and coat both sides with sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes. Serve pork loin chops with the fig sauce.

Yield: 4 servings Notes: Ground chipotle pepper is available in the spice aisle of most major grocery stores.

This is the site for the above recipe:

I peeled and cubed the figs.
I did not have chipotle chili powder so I used ancho chile powder.
The recipe called for boneless pork loin chops. I substituted chops on the bone(because that is what I took out of the freezer, so I adjusted the cooking time.

Please try this recipe and let me know what you think, even though it's not mine.

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