No, I am not referring to myself (I refer to myself as "Your Rotundress"), though I have put on some pounds over the holidays. I'm talking about the delicious pork I purchased from the Mungers of Alma, Michigan. I purchased half of a pig from them (or as the butcher says, "half a hog") for a price so reasonable that I feel like I should send them some extra money. The pig weighed 350 pounds!
There are so many reasons for supporting local farmers by buying their meat, eggs, dairy and vegetables. But consumers should buy pork from local farmers simply because it tastes better, and I'll tell you why. No, it's not that it tastes better because of the local microbes in the soil or the organic feed they consume, although I'm sure those and other intangibles contribute to this pork's porkier flavor. I think the biggest reason that it tastes so good is that the butchers don't add a ten percent solution to the meat like they do with most of the pork you buy in the store now adays. They add it to the chicken, ducks and turkey too. Water's cheap and people don't like dry meat. What ends up happening though is that while it is easier not to over-cook or dry out these types of meat you can never really achieve the caramellization on the outside of the meat necessary for really good sauces and crispy bits. The meat just kind of steams. Even on the grill. So while this pork might be a bit trickier to cook, the results are far superior to the juicy gray blob that is injected pork.
Pork Chops and Gnocchi with Mustard Sauce (adapted from Nigella Lawson)
One pork chop per person
1/4 pound gnocchi per person
Whole grain mustard
Green beans (I used frozen haricots verts available at Trader Joe's and Aldi)
Splash of cider vinegar
S & P
heat a pasta pot of water to a boil. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron pan over high heat and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sear the pork chops for 3-5 minutes per side. Place on a platter in warm oven. Repeat with all of the pork chops. Salt the pasta water and drop your gnocchi. Deglaze the pork chop pan with a bit of chicken stock and a splash of cider vinegar, scraping up all of the yummy bits. Squirt in a healthy amount of whole grain mustard, about 1 tablepoons per pork chop. Add a splash or more of heavy cream and stir to combine. Adjust seasonings. Pull your gnochi from the pasta pot when they float and toss them in the mustard sauce. Add the haricots verts to the pasta water. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Toss green beans and gnocchi in the mustard sauce. Spoon some of the sauce over the pork chops and serve.