Pork Shoulder Blade Chops with Chipotle and Apple Cider Syrup
Many of the cuts of pork that we offer at Chi Spacca are the result of our wanting to use the entire animal. This recipe is borne of that goal. The shoulder blade chop, which comes, obviously, from the shoulder, fulfills the expectations of a typical pork chop, which comes from the loin. Putting a cut like this on the menu introduces our customers not just to a cut they might not already know, but to the idea that there is a whole world of animal cuts out there, many of which they may not have tried. If you want to use the more widely known pork loin chops for this recipe, they will work, too.
If we were playing a game of what-goes-with-what, and you said, “Pork,” I’d say, “Apples.” The apple flavor is incorporated here in the form of an apple cider syrup that we glaze these chops with, something that also satisfies my love of acidic foods. We use Carr’s Ciderhouse Cider Syrup, an artisanal product from the Berkshires that my friend the food writer Ruth Reichl introduced me to when I was at her house in Hudson, New York. I liked it so much that she sent me home with a bottle. If you don’t want to seek out that product, we have provided a recipe for making a glaze using standard apple cider vinegar. Chipotle chiles are dried, smoked jalapeño chiles; they have a wonderful, deeply smoky flavor. If you can’t find chipotle chile powder, use sweet smoked paprika or another quality chile powder.
Ask your butcher for 2 (3/4-inch-thick) pork shoulder blade chops, about 1 pound each.
You will need a large platter to serve the chops.
For the Syrup
(if you are not buying Carr’s Ciderhouse Cider Syrup)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
For the Pork
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder (or smoked sweet paprika or another chile powder)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 (3/4-inch-thick) pork shoulder blade chops (about 1 pound
For the Onions
2 large yellow Spanish onions, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rings
2 cups apple cider vinegar
To make the syrup, combine the apple cider vinegar, apple cider, and balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency.
To prepare the pork, first make the rub: grind the coriander seeds in a spice grinder and transfer them to a small bowl. Add the chipotle chile powder, salt, and brown sugar and stir to combine.
Put the chops in a baking dish or on a large plate. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the meat and use the meat to mop up any rub that falls onto the dish or plate. Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let the seasonings penetrate the pork and for the pork to come to room temperature.
Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. Move all of the coals to one side of the grill so you have both direct and indirect heat. If you have a gas grill, preheat one side for high heat and leave one side of the grill with no heat on; if it is an option, close the lid on the side with no heat.
While the grill is heating, place the onions in a large sauté pan. Add the cider vinegar and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and gently boil the vinegar and onions for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are tender and the vinegar coats them like a glaze. Turn off the heat.
Place the pork chops on the grill over the direct heat and grill for about 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown with dark grill marks. Move the pork chops to the side of the grill where there is no flame and cook over the indirect heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until the meat is firm to the touch. Remove the pork chops from the grill and place them on a large serving platter.
To serve, drizzle the apple cider syrup over the pork chops and lay the onions on and around the pork chops, leaving the meat in the center of the platter visible.
Asparagus al Cartoccio with Butter, Mint, and Parmesan
At one of my favorite restaurants in Tel Aviv, North Abraxass, I was served a dish of spinach stems al cartoccio, or spinach cooked in parchment. The paper packet came to the table unfolded, revealing the cooked green stems that were showered in Parmesan—so simple! It was obvious to me that the same cooking method would work on any long, slender vegetable. When I came home, I tried it with pencil asparagus. Cooking the slender asparagus spears in paper this way protects them from direct heat, so they retain their shape and color, rather than shriveling and drying up the way they do when roasted. They’re basically steamed, but the paper packet gives the dish that “Wow!” factor. It’s like a pretty present.
You will need a large platter to serve the asparagus packages.
1 pound pencil asparagus
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 fresh mint sprigs
Flaky sea salt
Fresh coarsely ground black pepper
A chunk of Parmesan for grating
Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 450°F.
Lay a 13x18-inch sheet of parchment paper on a flat work surface with the long side parallel to the counter’s edge and have another sheet handy. Lay half of the asparagus lengthwise in the center of the paper. Sprinkle the kosher salt and scatter half of the butter cubes over the spears and lay one mint sprig on top. Bring the top and bottom edges of the paper together and fold them over tightly to seal closed. Fold the sides inward like you were wrapping a present without tape and press down hard to seal them closed, so the asparagus are tightly wrapped in the paper. Repeat, wrapping the remaining asparagus, along with the butter, kosher salt, and mint, in the second sheet of parchment paper.
Place the asparagus packages on a large baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes, until the paper is golden brown and the butter is bubbling out of the packages. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the packages cool for 1 minute on the baking sheet.
To serve, lay the packages on a large platter. Cut a slit lengthwise down the middle of each package, being careful of the steam that will arise.
Peel the sides of the parchment apart to expose the asparagus; remove and discard the mint sprigs.
Crush about 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt between your fingertips over the asparagus inside each package and grind a few turns of pepper into each package. Use a fine Microplane to grate a generous layer of Parmesan over one side of each package of asparagus, leaving one side free of cheese so you can see the asparagus.
Little Gems with Herb Bread Crumbs, Bacon Vinaigrette, and Grated Egg
In 1979, the chef Jonathan Waxman hired me for my first pastry job at the legendary Santa Monica restaurant Michael’s. Jonathan is a master with vegetables and salads, and at the time, he was making a salad that was his spin on the classic French bistro frisée salad, which consists of lettuce, lardon, a poached egg, and a warm mustard dressing; I couldn’t get enough of it. I make mine with a grated rather than a poached egg, Little Gem lettuce, which is a new variety of small romaine lettuce whose crunchy, sturdy leaves hold up to the thick, tangy, mustardy dressing it’s tossed with. It is so satisfying and has so much flavor. As with Jonathan’s salad forty years ago, I could eat this every day.
I am very specific about how I like hard-cooked eggs. If I am grating them, as I do for this salad, or making egg salad, I cook the eggs just long enough so they are cooked all the way through, but not so long that the yolks are dry and dusty or have a gray ring around them. The recipe makes more bread crumbs than you will need; store them at room temperature and use them in the week ahead on other salads, pasta, or roasted vegetables.
You will need a large platter or large wide-mouth bowl to serve this salad.
For the Vinaigrette
12 ounces applewood-smoked slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (or thick-sliced Applewood-smoked bacon)
1/2 cup peeled and minced shallots
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the Herb Bread Crumbs
Half of a 1-pound loaf of rustic bread
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
For the Eggs
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 extra-large eggs
For the Salad
4 heads Little Gem lettuce (or 2 baby romaine or hearts of romaine)
2 large scallions
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
To make the vinaigrette, adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the bacon on a baking sheet and cook it in the oven for 16 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is cooked but not crisp, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through that time so the bacon cooks evenly. Create a bed of paper towels. Remove the bacon from the oven and transfer it to the paper towels to drain and cool. Leave the oven on.
Pour the bacon fat from the baking sheet into a small saucepan. Leave one-third of the bacon on the paper towels (you will use this for the salad) and finely chop the remaining bacon. Put the chopped bacon and shallots in the saucepan with the bacon fat and cook over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft. While the bacon and shallots are cooking, fill a medium bowl with ice and place a small bowl in the ice.
Turn off the heat and transfer the bacon and shallot mixture to the bowl resting atop the ice. Add the vinegar and mustard and whisk for about 1 minute to combine and cool the ingredients. Slowly add the bacon fat and extra-virgin olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify the vinaigrette. Let the vinaigrette rest over the ice for about 10 minutes to cool, whisking every few minutes to keep the dressing emulsified. (If it is not cooled over ice, the dressing will separate.)
To make the bread crumbs, pull the inside of the bread out of the crust in 1-to 11/2-inch chunks and put the chunks on a large baking sheet. (Reserve the crusts to snack on or discard them.) Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt, and toss to coat the bread chunks. Spread the bread chunks out on the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the bread chunks are golden brown and crispy, stirring them and rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through that time for even browning. Remove the croutons from the oven and let them cool slightly. Transfer the croutons to a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until they are fine bread crumbs. Transfer the bread crumbs to a medium bowl. Add the chives, tarragon, and parsley and stir to combine. Return the bread crumbs to the baking sheet and return the sheet to the oven to bake for 2 to 3 minutes, until the herbs are brown. Remove the bread crumbs from the oven and set them aside to cool to room temperature. (You will use 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs for this salad; store the remaining bread crumbs in a covered container at room temperature for as long as 1 week.)
To cook the eggs, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat and add the salt. (The salt does not penetrate the egg shells and season the eggs; it helps the whites to solidify quickly if there is a crack in an egg.) Carefully lower the eggs into the water and reduce the heat so the water is gently simmering. Simmer the eggs for 5 minutes, turn off the heat, and let the eggs sit in the water until the water comes to room temperature. Peel the eggs under a gentle stream of running water.
Copyright © 2020 by Nancy Silverton. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.