Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits and Quick Chow Chow

Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits, Quick Chow Chow
One of my favorite things to do culinarily is to attempt to mimic a meal from a favorite restaurant. I try to make the same meal, with my twists. Maybe I add a little more of this or less of that. An example is a visit to The Lazy Goat (a favorite in downtown Greenville, SC) I had a brilliant lunch. Serrano Wrapped Halibut with Haricot Verts and Duck Fat Fries (best in the world…duck fat, enough said). This inspired me to make Prosciutto Wrapped Halibut with Haricot Verts and Baked Duck Fat Fries. I switched the prosciutto for the Serrano because I like it better and I baked the fries because I don’t have a fryer.

Earlier this year on a pilgrimage to Charleston, SC we visited a newly opened restaurant for dinner. Husk, a Sean Brock (admittedly one of my favorite chefs) restaurant, offers local southern inspired cuisine. As a matter of fact, none of the food served in the restaurant can come from north of the Mason-Dixon line (seriously). That night I had a Fudge Farms Pork Chop with Crispy Pig Ears, Bacon Braised Cabbage and Speckled Butterbean Chow Chow. Yes, I said with crispy pig ear. It was amazing, the pork chops were perfectly cooked, and the broad beans add a nice creamy balance against the sour and heat of the chow chow. Oh, and then there is the pig’s ear. I tell you, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It essentially tastes like bacon. I love when Chef’s use the whole animal, I think it respects the animal to discard as little as possible. I digress; the pig’s ear was crispy, smoky, sweet and salty. It really did finish the dish perfectly. On last thing, if you aren’t familiar with chow chow, it is a spicy southern relish that is usually used down here as a condiment.

So that was my inspiration for Pork Chops, Creamy Grits, Chow Chow and garnished with crispy turkey bacon. On a visit to Whole Foods, we just couldn’t decide what we wanted for dinner. Jen suggested that we hadn’t had pork chops in a while. They had the biggest chops I’d seen, fresh, local, organic, thick cut chops. I’d never made chow chow before. A quick Google search gave me some ideas, but I am WAY to impatient to wait 6 hours to 2 weeks as most recipes suggested. I decided on a “quick” chow chow instead. The creamy grits tied this dish up nicely. I could probably have found some fresh pig’s ears (I actually had a bag of smoked ones for my dogs) but…umm…I’ll leave that to the professionals. I usually would have used my go to Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon, but I’m embarrassed to say, I was fresh out. All I had was Jen’s turkey bacon. All in all, this meal was very nice.

The chow chow was amazing, crunchy, sour, salty and spicy. We still have some in the fridge, I imagine it will be all the better in a few more days. I have talked in previous posts (like making quick kimchee and quick pickles) about my impatience in the kitchen. I have an idea and I want to eat it that night, not in a week or heaven forbid TWO WEEKS. The chow chow is the same deal. Most traditional chow chow are pickled and set for weeks or longer. My answer to that is below. Also, my jalapenos weren’t quite ready for harvest so I substituted Srirachi (my favorite condiment). This gave it a little Asian twist, which we liked.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 thick cut pork chops
  • Anson Mills Grits (you can use quick grits but NOT instant)
  • Niman Ranch Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • Half and half (milk or heavey cream)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cheese (your favorite cheese that melts easy)
  • 1/2 head of savoy cabbage
  • 2-3 green tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper cubed
  • 1 small vidalia onion sliced thin
  • Vinegar (I used a mixture of red, white and cider)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar to taste
  • Sriracha to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS

  1. First we’ll make the chow chow. Heat a large pot over medium. Because this is the “quick” version, I put the green tomatoes into my food processor and pulsed them about 10 times. I wish I would have only pulsed 5-6 times; it would have left a few more visible chunks. Add a touch of olive oil and drop in the onions and bell pepper, mix for a minute. Add green tomato and juice from processor. Mix all together and add salt, vinegar, sugar, sriracha and bring to boil. Reduce to low and simmer until vegetables are cooked through but still have some crunch. At this point I just removed from heat and let sit until I was done making the other components. Traditionally you cool and put in the refrigerator. I was deliberately vague on the amounts for this recipe. Just add to your tastes, if you like more heat add more sriracha. If you like it sweeter, add more sugar.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 420 degrees.
  3. If you have “real” grits, they may take up to 40 minutes to cook. If you have quick grits, that time will be more like 5-10. As for “instant” grits, it is just not right, don’t do it. 🙂 Prepare the grits per the pack, but I usually replace half of the water with half and half, heavy cream or milk. When the grits are done, add cheese and butter (if you like). Also, on this day, I poured the drippings from the pork chop pan in. That added most of the seasoning. Keep warm.
  4. For garnish I used turkey bacon brushed with molasses, but I just can’t recommend that to you all. Use smoked bacon. Put the bacon on a sheet pan and place in the oven. Cook until crispy.
  5. For the pork chops, season with salt and pepper and in a large oven proof pan sear both sides. Place in the oven until the chops reach the appropriate doneness. I think the rule is 145 degrees. I like them a little pink, I usually target 130-135 degrees and let the carry-over cooking, when removed from the oven, bring them to a safe temperature.
The “sauce” you see in the photo above is actually the pickling liquid from the chow chow. I was very pleased with my decision to serve the chow chow warm. While eating, the sauce mixed with the grits and was delicious. I like the vegetables being sour with good heat and still having some crunch. The chow chow was nice this way although not traditional. Let me know what you think.
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Local Pork Chops, Creamy Grits and Quick Chow Chow

Serrano Wrapped Halibut at The Lazy Goat

I go to The Lazy Goat in downtown Greenville, SC all the time. It is literally next door to my office. I have already reviewed the Sausage Fennel Pizza, but I am sure, with time, I will have reviewed every thing that is on the menu. On this particular lunch visit I had the Serrano Wrapped Halibut with Haricot Vert. Oh, almost forgot that I always order their Truffled Pommes Frites with Asiago Cheese (which by the way, might be the best “French fries” ever!

On this day, the fish of the day was halibut. I love halibut; it is one of my favorite fish. Wrapping it in salty Serrano ham then grilling it is almost unfair. I will say that my fish was just a bit dry for me, but still very good. The haricot verts or French green beans were the surprise of the meal. Chef Vicki must have fire roasted the tomatoes dropped them in the beans, added some crushed red pepper and vinegar. That process made like vinaigrette that covered the beans and tomatoes. I remember thinking this is awesome but for me I would have liked a little more heat.

The pommes frites are just ridiculous. I kid you not, they may be the best fries I have ever eaten. Fried in duck fat (that is enough to put them on a short list), truffled and then grated asiago cheese takes these off the chart. Then, as if that all wasn’t enough, they add homemade ketchup. I don’t even like ketchup, but I eat this stuff. It’s not as sweet as most ketchups and has A LOT of horse radish in it so it has a kick. This causes me much conflict. The fries are amazing all on their own, they don’t need condiments. But, the ketchup is SO good I can’t resist it. If I was at home I would be tempted to get a spoon for the ketchup.

I am a fan of The Lazy Goat and highly recommend their food. Lunch is very affordable at around $10-15 depending on if you order appetizers. Dinner is a little pricier but I have never been disappointed with their food. The ambiance is amazing, located right on the river in downtown Greenville. These days the outdoor sitting is great if you get there early enough for the shade or late enough for the sun to be down, otherwise best to sit indoors.

Serrano Wrapped Halibut at The Lazy Goat

Sausage Fennel and Caramelized Onion Pizza at The Lazy Goat

The Lazy Goat Fennel Sausage PizzaI had lunch the other day at The Lazy Goat in downtown Greenville, SC. I go there often because I work in the next building so it is terribly convenient. I usually get something (it doesn’t really matter) and the Truffled Pomme Frites (which are arguably the best “fries” in the world) but today I got the Fennel Sausage and Caramelized Onion Pizza ($10). It was amazing, I ate almost every bite. Usually caramelized onions are a bit to sweet for me but they nicely balance the heat from the fennel sausage. The crust is rustic, thin and crunch, exactly the way I like it. I have had the pizza many times before so it was not a surprise that I enjoyed it. The picture to the right is half eaten so you can see it is a nice portion for the price. I will be writing much more about The Lazy Goat and especially their Pomme Frites so stay tuned.

Sausage Fennel and Caramelized Onion Pizza at The Lazy Goat