I am a sucker for “What to Cook This Week” from the New York Times. Here’s one reason why.
Very often this email from the NYTimes is the work of Sam Sifton. Sifton is billed as the founding editor of NYT Cooking. And Sam is frequently the author of the recipes he recommends. That’s the case here. Sam gives equal credit to Mario Carbone. He’s the chef of the eponymous Carbone in Greenwich Village (181 Thompson St. nr Bleeker St., 212-254-3000 www.carbonenewyork.) He writes that Mario taught it to him. I am guessing this was around the time Sifton gave Carbone 3 stars in 2013. A bone-in pork chop is topped with a spicy-sweet and fragrant sauce, an agrodolce, made with Pepperazzi, a squat red Peruvian chili pepper, and lots of slices of garlic. The chop is served atop a bed of buttered Spaghetti and Parmesan Cheese. Sifton says the sauce works on steaks, veal chops, and chicken—even used on Tofu. At Carbone, a variation is used to make Cherry Pepper Ribs. But who doesn’t love a great pork chop? But what’s this about Peru?
Carbone, both the Restaurant and its Chef, a resolutely Red Sauce Italian.
It’s hard to remember when all the Italian restaurants in the country were what’s now called “Red Sauce Italian”. The first Italians to settle in the US were overwhelmingly from the south of Italy. They brought with them a penchant for tomato-based sauces—marinaras, meat sauces—all using tomatoes. They adapted these and created their own culinary vocabulary. Carbone’s use of Peruvian Red Peppers is one example. The Pepperazzi used here are often served in Red Sauce restaurants as antipasti, stuffed with creamy cheeses, chicken –even tuna salads. Of this recipe, Carbone himself is quoted as saying “It’s a flavor that’s purely Italian-American,” Carbone told me. “You won’t find it in Italy, no way.” Here is the recipe. After it some links to Sifton’s other contributions to Chewing The Fat.
Sam Sifton's Pork Chops with Cherry-Pepper Sauce
- 1 (16-ounce) jar pickled hot cherry peppers
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 bone-in pork chops, cut about 1-inch thick (approximately 10 ounces each)
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
- 2 tablespoons cold salted butter
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Step 1 Make the sauce: Drain the cherry peppers, reserving 1 cup brine, then stem, halve, core and seed them. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and swirl the olive oil into it. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic, and sauté, stirring frequently, until it begins to color, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the peppers, the reserved brine, and the white wine, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the liquid has reduced by slightly more than half, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat. (The sauce can be made a few hours ahead of time.)
- Step 2 When you’re ready to cook the meat, season it aggressively with salt and pepper. Place a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, and swirl the neutral oil into it. When the oil begins to shimmer, place the meat in the pan, working in batches if needed, and sear until the meat has browned, formed something of a crust and cooked through to medium-rare, 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Transfer the chops to a warmed platter.
- Step 3 Simultaneously cook the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and add butter and parmesan to taste.
- Step 4 Add the sauce to the large, heavy-bottomed skillet in which you seared the meat, and warm over medium-low heat. Whisk the butter into the sauce until evenly distributed and the sauce develops a velvety sheen. Put the chops atop a bed of buttered Spaghetti. Spoon sauce over chops, and garnish with parsley.