Year-Round Comfort

Several years ago I posted one of my favorite recipes for a Baked Cabbage Soup; it is an addictive combination of pancetta, bread, cabbage, and cheese.

More recently, Susan (from the Provence WineZine) shared a recipe for Pork Chops Gratinée, which really reminded me of the soup. I was eager to make it.

She got the recipe from Susan Tipton, co-proprietor of Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards, who got it from Linda, an Acquiesce wine club member, who got it from her parents’ restaurant in France. It’s like the story of Chicken Little without the sky falling…

This is straight-up comfort food. And that makes most people think of winter. But I made - and relished it - on a bright, sunny, 95° day, and served it with a bottle of Acquiesce Winery's 2015 Belle Blanc, their homage to a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. To read more about the pairing, visit the Provence WineZine.

Yes, this is comfort food, and well-timed for readers south of the equator, but as it turns out, I would eat this any day of the year! It is year-round comfort food.

The recipe was written the way many handed-down recipes are: some of this, a little of that, add a bit more as you need... While that method works for some, I know many home chefs who would prefer a bit more precision.

That is what I have done here. I have tested and codified the amounts, times, procedures. (Confident free-hand cooks can tinker at will.)

I may never have the opportunity to eat this dish at Susan or Linda's or Linda’s parents’ tables, thus I may never know if this is how theirs turned out. (I'm guessing it is pretty close...) Whatever the case, I do hope I have done justice to their recipe.

Sure, it's summertime, and it might be hot where you are, but don't let that stop you from trying these chops!

~ David

Côtelettes de Porc Gratinées
Pork Chops Gratinées

2 thick cut, bone in pork chops (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
tablespoons lemon olive oil, or regular olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine, more as needed
1 small head Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cream *
4 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Pat the pork chops dry using paper towels; season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown chops well on both sides, don’t worry about not cooking them all the way through, as they will finish cooking later. Remove chops and put them in a baking dish; set aside.

Sauté onions in same olive oil as chops, so that it gets some of the pork fat in addition to the lemon oil. Once they are soft and slightly browned from the drippings, add white wine ** and bring to a simmer. Add the sliced cabbage. Don't let the pan burn dry; if you need a tablespoon or more of wine, add it.

Once cabbage is wilted, reduce temperature to low and add the cream. Reduce the liquid until it is thickened. Spoon the mixture over pork chops. Sprinkle with grated Gruyère and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake until cheese is bubbling and golden brown – about 20 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes, allowing juices in the pork to settle.

Serves 2

      My notes: 

           * I will used crème fraîche instead of cream in the future. 
              It is my guess that this is what is used in France.
         ** At this point, I might add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard 
              to round out the flavors.

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