Monday, February 6, 2012
James Beard - Smothered Pork Chops
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...How can you not love a man who when asked about cannibalism said, " I might manage if there was enough tarragon around."
I wanted to take some time this week to focus on another gentleman who was instrumental in the careers of many of the women who are on the Gourmet Live list of Women Game Changers in Food. James Beard is considered by many to be the father of American cooking. Even his detractors will admit he was a champion of American food and his writing reflected his delight in its abundance and variety. He was born in Portland, Oregon to an English mother who ran the Gladstone Hotel and his experience there certainly influenced his love of food and the theater. He went to England at the age of 19 to study opera and then came to New York City to become an actor. He opened a catering shop to keep from starving. The business was successful and three years later he published his first cookbook. He was able to channel his love of food with a flair for the dramatic and used his talents as a showman to bring drama to the American table. He also is credited with being the first food personality to introduce French food to the American middle class. He went on to publish more than twenty books, as well as writing numerous articles for newspapers and magazines. He became a leading food expert, championing American cuisine and helping to place it on a par with the foods of Europe. He was one of the first food writers to appear on television and he opened a new-type of cooking school whose goal was to teach home cooks to enjoy and take pleasure in the food they prepared. He effectively taught Americans, who had survived the Depression and the austerity of war, to have fun with their food and enjoy the abundance of the land in which they lived. His meals were eclectic because he believed that cooks, not culture, made food interesting. In 1986, his house became the headquarters for the James Beard Foundation, a place where chefs from around the world came to showcase their skills. Julia Child, a good friend, assisted by Peter Krump of cooking school fame, spearheaded the effort to raise funds needed to create the foundation. The mission of the foundation is to celebrate, nurture and preserve America's diverse culinary heritage and future. Through events such as the annual celebration of Beard's Birthday and the prestigious Beard Awards for members of the food industry, his foundation has established a generous scholarship fund and a national network of chefs, writers, and restaurateurs. Despite changes in the way America eats, the Beard Awards keep his name alive and within the food community he is remembered with great fondness and respect.
Because he was such a champion of American food, I wanted to feature a recipe that epitomized his style. These pork chops came to mind. They are simple, easy to prepare and decidedly American. When the onions are properly cooked, this recipe is delightful. They should be cooked until they have softened and browned without becoming mushy. The onions should hold a recognizable shape. I found mine needed 15 minutes to cook and release their sweetness. I know that those of you who make the pork chops will be very pleased with the results. Here's the recipe.
Smothered Pork Chops...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of James Beard
4 pork loin chops or 4 pork chops, 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup Madeira or dry sherry wine
1) Combine 1 tablespoon butter and oil in a large heavy skillet. When sizzling add chops and brown well on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
2) Season chops with salt and pepper. Remove to a platter while onions cook.
3) Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter to pan. Add onions and cook until soft and golden brown, turning as necessary to prevent burning.
4) Return chops to pan and arrange onions on top of them. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add wine and simmer until chops are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.
Be sure to stop by tomorrow. I'll be featuring the dish voted to be the most delicious in the world.
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