Sunday, December 11, 2011

dark days challenge, week two

i think simple food is easier with the dark days challenge meals. this is a meal i would prepare regardless of whether i was trying to source my food locally or not. when the ingredients are good you really don't need to do much to it. this week i made pan seared, oven roasted pork chops from kookoolan farms, steamed cauliflower from happy harvest farm, and kale from gee creek farm. it's pretty much a guarantee that every one of my dark days meals, really every home cooked meal, that i'm going to make is going to have meat from kookoolan farms in it. this summer we got serious about eating good, pasture-raised meat and bought 1/2 of a pig, 1/8 of a cow and 20 chickens from kookoolan farms. so now instead of going to the grocery store, or the farmer's market, i just walk down to the basement, open the freezer and pull out what i want to make the night before to let it thaw in the fridge. sure, there are times that life gets crazy and i forget to defrost something and then we eat beans and rice for dinner, but that's really just a matter of planning. it is the best meat i've ever eaten. i was really worried that the beef would be gamey because it grazed on the pasture instead of eating corn, but it isn't gamey at all! the chickens have a richer flavor than super market chicken and also a denser texture that, i think, requires brining before roasting. there was a bit of a learning curve with the chickens, but now i can make an amazingly good pasture-raised roast chicken. i'm sure it will be one of our dark days meals soon. my favorite meat though is the pork. in fact i think my favorite meal overall is pork. these kookoolan pork chops are so good. so simple and juicy. my husband used to request applesauce with his pork chops until he realized that these weren't dry and didn't need it.

the steamed cauliflower was topped with tillamook butter. i used this recipe for the kale. the red wine vinegar for the kale isn't local, but i'm hoping to make my own soon! pork chops and greens are one of my favorite combinations. once i have finished searing the pork chops i like to wilt the greens in the pork chop skillet. so yummy!

below is the pork chop recipe from cook's illustrated. i typically only make two chops, but use the same amount of brine. i pepper one side of the chops when they are in the pan searing. i also lessen the amount of time they spend in the oven since my chops are 3/4" thick.

Oven-Roasted Thick-Cut Pork Chops from Cook's Illustrated 


  • 3/4cup dark brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1/4cup kosher salt (or 1/4 cup table salt)
  • bone-in rib loin pork chops (12-ounces each), 1 1/2-inches-thick
  • 2tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. 1. In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve sugar and salt in 6 cups  water. Add pork chops, then seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible; refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour, turning bag once. Remove chops from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  2. 2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, place shallow roasting pan or jelly-roll pan on oven rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. When oven reaches 450 degrees, heat oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Place chops in skillet; cook until well-browned and nice crust has formed on surface, about 2 minutes. Turn chops over with tongs; cook until well-browned and a nice crust has formed on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Using tongs, transfer chops to preheated pan in oven. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each chop registers 125–127 degrees, 8 to 10 minutes, turning chops over once halfway through cooking time. Transfer each chop to platter; cover loosely with foil (be sure not to wrap foil tightly around meat), and let rest about 5 minutes. (Check internal temperature; it should register about 145 degrees).

1 comment:

  1. I like that you keep your meals so simple and short in ingredients to stay local. I mean to start out that way and then I get distracted by my pantry and start adding non-local ingredients before I remember what my goal is with this challenge ...

    The Italian Favorites IS one of those "special edition" magazines you find in the check out lane. I found mine at Zupan's I think. I just love Cook's Illustrated.