Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Pan-cooked porkchops (Χοιρινή μπριτζόλα στο τηγάνι)

This dish should be called 'easy-peasy no-frills pan-fried porkchops' because it cooks all by itself with very little help from the chef! Today, Agios Vasilis (St Basil, the Greek version of Father Christmas) brought us some gifts that we wanted to pore over, leaving us very little time to cook. My husband got a book describing the instructions given to British servicemen on what to expect in France during WWII (his main interest in history), Aristotle got a pair of binoculars, Christine got a kaleidoscope, and Mummy didn't get anything, because she had already bought many Christmas presents for herself (as well as all the family's). There were also books about the Amazon, marine life, famous buildings, what's under the ground, the artist Matisse and how certain technological achievements are produced; all of this left us very little time to cook, so here's the quick and easy recipe for porkchops, served with cabbage-and-carrot salad and (leftover) pilafi rice.

I cannot provide a cooking time with this sort of recipe. Every gas or electric element cooks differently, and most importantly, the meat you use plays a significant role: was it free-range or battery-style meat? What did the animal feed on, natural ingredients (eg fresh grass, hay) or mechanically-produced animal feed? Never go by cooking times in (especially) meat recipes; always ask yourself questions about where the meat was bought from and how it was produced. I've already experienced this kind of problem with chicken. If I cook free-range chicken to make Cretan pilafi, the meat may need at least an hour of boiling till it becomes tender. Yet, if I roast a supermarket battery hen in the oven, it needs only an hour and a half till it's crispy.

For this kind of cooking style, you need a large frying pan, even though the meat is not going to be fried at all. Fit as many porkchops as you can into it; mine took three large T-bone porkchops. Season them with salt and pepper, pour over a little olive oil and squeeze a little lemon juice over them. Then put about 10 tablespoons of water into the pan. Set the heat on very low, and let them cook on one side, with the pan uncovered. When the juices have been absorbed, turn the meat over onto the other side. They will have lost their pink colour and may even have started to brown. Season them in exactly the same way as the first side, using all the ingredients mentioned above. Let them cook in the same way as the first side.

When the juices have been absorbed once again, pour a little red or rose wine (about 10-12 tablespoons) into the pan. Let the meat absorb the wine. It will take on the colour and smell of the wine. When the juices have disappeared and the meat is browned, it is ready. Serve each porkchop on individual plates, or chop up into smaller chunks and serve as part of a buffet.

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