Always looking for a little extra help with ringing in the New Year correctly, if quietly, I have turned to eating luck-giving food. I would consider 2007 a very good year, since I didn't die as I had supposed I would, on or before my last birthday. I'm not going to attribute my good fortune directly to the eating of Hoppin' John, but I won't entirely discount it either.
So I am continuing my consumption of pork in the New Year, given the fact that pigs are symbolic of good fortune and prosperity. Since most of the ones I've seen end their short lives being consumed by humans, I don't feel that their luck is personal, but rather that it radiates from within their own pot bellies, only to find its way into other pot bellies-- ours. There are, of course, notable exceptions, like Babe, Wilbur, and Arnold Ziffel. If our pig friends are aware of these porcine super-stars, I do not know. I can only imagine that it might lead to unrealistic expectations of salvation and celebrity lifestyle on the part of the pig, but who am I to judge? I still believe I am going to win the lottery and meet a special someone who isn't crazy.
The scientific reasoning behind pork's luckiness stems from the fact that, unlike fish that might swim away with your fortune, or fowl who could very well likely fly away with it (and are thus to be avoided), pigs tend to root out treasure, aiding in your well-deserved prosperity. Not being one to question science, I am upping my pork consumption next week. It seems to be working for my neighbor across the hallway. She looks as though she has spent a lifetime eating nothing but pork several times a day. Judging by the headboard-banging and fascinating vocalizations emanating from the other side of my bedroom wall at this very moment, she seems to be a very lucky woman indeed.
Recipe: Pork Chops with Apples and Thyme
This is a recipe taken (but is not exactly duplicated) from a cookbook I worked on several years ago called New England by Molly Stevens, which was part of a series called New American Cooking by the folks at Williams-Sonoma. I was the food styling assistant on this book and was initially disappointed that we didn't photograph this recipe. Given the rather monochromatic nature of this dish, I now understand the wisdom of that decision. What this dish lacks in color, it definitely makes up for in flavor. It's seriously good.
4 or 5 fresh sprigs of thyme
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
2 large tart apples, like Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and sliced
4 center-cut pork loin chops I chose the bone-in variety and, oh, 1 to 2 inches thick
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
salt and ground (fresh) pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1. In a frying pan large enough to hold all four chops, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add apples and sauté, shaking often (the pan, though if you've got the DT's this dish might help. Just pour yourself an extra glass of cider.). When apples have some lovely browning to them, remove them from the pan and transfer to an awaiting bowl.
2. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Put the flour on a shallow plate and place chops in the flour. Coat on both sides of the pork, shaking off any excess flour.
3. Return your pan to medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the pork chops and brown evenly on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per sides, but no more than that, please. Add cider and vinegar, then turn heat to low. Add garlic and thyme. Cover tightly to cook. turning them once half way through the process. Cook until done, of course, which will take you anywhere from 14 to 18 minutes, depending upon the thickness of your chops. A slight rosy pinkness in the center is idea. In the center of the pork chop, that is.
4. Transfer the chops to a plate and keep warm. I suppose that might relate to both you and your chops. Remove thyme from the pan. Raise the heat to high, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve any caramelized bits, and add the cream. Boil until the liquid in the pan is reduced by half. Stir in the apples. Taste and adjust your seasonings.
5. Spoon apples and sauce over the pork chops and serve immediately.