Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17: Oregon-Style Pork Chops with Pinot Noir and Cranberries; Oregon Hash with Wild Mushrooms, Greens, Beets, Hazelnuts, and Blue Cheese; Charred Whole-Grain Bread with Butter and Chives

4 boneless pork loin chops, 1 ½ inches thick
   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks
½ cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 cup Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir
1 cup chicken stock or broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup hazelnut or filbert pieces
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 pound cremini (baby Portobello) mushrooms, sliced
½ pound shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 bunch of kale, chopped (4 to 5 cups)
1 15-ounce can sliced beets, drained
8 ounces crumbled Oregon blue cheese

1 loaf crusty whole-grain bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons chopped chives

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chops with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the EVOO to the hot skillet and then add the chops. Cook the chops for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

While they cook, split the leeks lengthwise, slice in ½-inch half-moon pieces, and wash them vigorously under running water in a colander to release any sand. Shake to dry.

To make the hash, preheat a second large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the nuts to the skillet and brown for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove and set aside.

Remove the chops to a warm plate, tent with foil, and set aside. To the skillet, add another tablespoon of EVOO and the leeks.

Cook the leeks until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and Pinot Noir to the pan.

Scrape up the pan drippings with a wooden spoon and stir in the chicken stock. When the sauce comes up to a bubble, add the chops back to the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer. Finish cooking the chops through, about 10 minutes.

To finish the hash: To the skillet used to toast the nuts, add the tablespoon of EVOO and 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the shallots and mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, then add the kale. Wilt the kale into the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. When the kale is hot and wilted, add the beets and gently combine. Adjust the seasonings.

Preheat the broiler.

Pull the chops from their sauce and reserve on a clean, warm plate, Raise the heat and bring the sauce back to a bubble. Cut off 4 thick slices of the whole-grain bread. Char the bread under the broiler on each side while you finish the sauce. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the sauce to give it gloss and weight, and turn off the heat. Spread the charred bread with the remaining tablespoon of butter and sprinkle liberally with chopped chives.

Pour the sauce over the chops. Serve the hash alongside the chops and toasts and top with crumbles of blue cheese and nuts.


This meal has a lot of elements to it. Rachel calls it "Oregon on a plate: From Willamette Valley Pinot Noir to cranberry bogs and filbert trees, this menu celebrates one great state!" The chops are smothered in leeks and cranberries. The recipe calls for Oregon Pinot Noir. I just did not want to spend $15 on a bottle of wine that we wouldn't be drinking, so I used the $2.99 bottle of Shiraz that I already had. It's all the same to me. The wine is good in the leek sauce. I did not use 1 1/2 inch thick pork chops. Mine might have been 3/4 inch. We just can't eat that much meat.

The beets and the blue cheese go together very nicely in the hash. The recipe doesn't say what to do with the nuts after you've toasted them, so I said to top the hash with them along with the blue cheese crumbles. My husband doesn't like sauces on his meat and he's not a big fan of Kale, or mushrooms, or beets for that matter. But he's learning to appreciate it. He actually ate a spoonful of the hash tonight. He didn't have any sauce on his meat, but he put a lot of blue cheese on it. It's funny... since we moved to Wisconsin I can't find cheese that's not produced in Wisconsin. So... we had Wisconsin blue cheese (Gorgonzola, actually) instead of Oregon blue cheese. I hope it's not too different.

So I really like this meal and the elements all work together. Some of the things I really wouldn't eat plain, but all together they are delicious.

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