My Italian gene is rebelling. Grandma Gresio did not go outside in -10 degrees F. It didn't happen! Even in New York City. Oh sure, New York has a day here and there below zero. Every three-to-four years. Minnesota has about 35. Or 40. Who knows? I lost count. But when March comes, there is an expectation that the low is fifteen degrees above zero and the high is maybe even - dare I say it - 40 degrees above zero!
We had a spring tease. I bought salmon and had salad. I cut up vegetables for snacks. I found credible berries and sprinkled creme fraiche on it. (I need to learn how to get the "accents" on blogspot!) And last night, the sleet storm hit. A salad and a piece of poached fish with lemon was not going to do the trick.
When I was little, I adored vinegar. I would drink it straight from the bottle. (I have since graduated to wine.) My sister would eat a stick of butter. I was the healthy one - if a bit sour and vinegary. She is now the skinny one and I am - hmmm struggling to take of my comfort-food-weight. And the uncomfortable weather does not help!
Last night, the dog refused to go outside. The ice pelted the windows. And I came across a recipe of Pork Chops with Balsamic Vinegar. It was one of those moments of serendipity. I had all the ingredients. I would not need to risk life and limb to run to the grocers. And it had vinegar! And I wouldn't need to drink it from the bottle - I could have it as a sauce. I would be civilized. Sometimes it takes so little to make me happy.
So, last night I gathered: (From Giuliano Hazan's How to Cook Italian)
1/2 medium onion
3 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 pork chops, about 8 oz each
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbl red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tbl balsamic vinegar
1. Peel, halve and thinly slice onion crosswise
2. Put olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium high heat
3. While the oil is heating, put flour on a plate and coat both sides of the pork chops with it. Place the chops in the pan and brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and season with salt and pepper.
4. Add onion to the pan, season with salt (I didn't) and lower heat to medium. Saute and stir occasionally until onion softens and turns golden - 8-10 minutes.
5. Add red wine vinegar and let it bubble for 30 seconds. Don't breathe in the fumes,. You will cough. Add the 1/4 cup of water, return the chops to the pan and cover with the lid slightly askew until the chops are cooked - about five minutes. (Mine took 12 minutes)
6. Transfer chops to a platter. The sauce in the pan should be thick enough to coat the meat (it was). If it isn't, simply reduce it until it is! Then, remove from heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Pour the sauce over the chops and serve at once.
7. Leave tablespoonful in the pan for sipping when you clean up.
Good with rice, potatoes, polenta.... Eat and stay inside until the ice melts. In April.