Friday, April 03, 2009

What's In My Frig?

It’s been awhile since we’ve looked into my refrigerator. But I did some spring cleaning recently and after throwing out some old bottles of pickles and molding capers (I really need to use them more often), I ran across this bottle of Fig and Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrette.

If you’re like me, you probably get a lot of bottles of all sorts of specialty food items from friends and family who know, well, you like to cook. But sometimes it’s hard to use up a lot of sauces when I typically make quick dinners from scratch. So my trick for using up sauces, other than just pouring it as a salad dressing or over grilled vegetables, is to use it as a glaze. Baked chicken or fish. Or in this case, pan-seared pork chops.

So that’s how I came up with my dinner of fig glazed pork chops over artichoke risotto. I decided to make a quick and easy artichoke risotto because artichokes are in season right now. For the pork, I got one of those thick-cut chops so it really looked like a hearty dinner.

See what you have in your refrigerator and see what you can make! Enjoy!

Fig Glazed Pork and Artichoke Risotto

Copyright 2009 by Cooking With The Single Guy

2 pork chops (1-inch cuts), about 1 lb. total
2 T bottled fig vinaigrette (or other similar sauces such as balsamic)
1 large artichoke (leaves and choke removed, using only the heart), diced
½ sweet onion, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1 small glass of dry white wine
1-1/2 cups of chicken broth (or 14 oz. can)
¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T unsalted butter
Extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

Start by making the risotto. In a medium saucepan, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat and add onion and garlic. Cook for about two minutes until onions are translucent, making sure not to brown the garlic. Add rice and stir with onions, letting the heat toast the rice for about a minute. Turn heat to medium and add wine and cook until most of it evaporates. Then start adding in the broth, using a ladle to add two scoops of broth (about ¾ cup) to start. Toss in the artichoke pieces. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon and adding broth along the way as it gets absorbed, until rice is al dente, or almost done. Add salt to taste.

Remove saucepan from the fire and stir in butter and cheese. Let it sit for about a minute, then plate up your risotto with your pork slice.

For the pork, season your pork with salt and pepper (both sides). Then in a saute pan, warm two tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat and then place pork in pan. Sear for coloring for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Then drizzle the sauce of the pork and place in 400 degree oven to finish cooking the pork. (Depending on how thick your pork is, you might need to cook it in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes.) When removing from pan, turn to coat in the thicken sauce before plating. Use some of the leftover sauce for your plate.

Makes two servings. Serve with small green salad.

Pair with a glass of Pinot Noir.

TIPS: If you don’t want your artichoke to look brown when cooked, place your freshly cut and cleaned artichoke pieces in a bowl of ice water with lemon juice while you’re waiting to place it in the risotto to cook.

REVIEW OF RISOTTO: Risotto rice makes this dish unique with its short grain and creamy texture. So you can’t substitute it with the typical long-grain rice or even Japanese sushi rice. But you do have choices. There are three main Italian rice to make risotto: Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano. Arborio is the one most widely available outside of Italy and can be easily found in any grocery store. It consistently cooks in 15 minutes and produces a nice cream. But don’t be afraid to experiment with Carnaroli and Vialone Nano if you spot them on a gourmet store shelf. They both cook a bit longer, but Carnaroli grains keep more of their shape so it’s a nice choice if you don’t like your risotto too mushy. Vialone Nano is creamier if you want to go the other direction.

WHICH SAUCE WORKS BEST: Depending on what bottles of sauce you get as gifts, I find the best are the ones that have some kind of sugar content. The sugar will help create a nice caramelize-type of sauce when cooked. Avoid sauces that may have too much oil because then it’ll just splatter and make a mess in your oven.


foodhoe said...

mmmm sounds delicious! that pork chop has quite a come hither look about it...

Mrs. L said...

I know I have some bottles of stuff that should be used in the fridge. Spring clean the fridge you say? Hmm......