Today, two recipes from Michael Ruhlman’s intriguing new “Ruhlman's Twenty,” as promised previously in Taste of Orange County. (Read the review post here.) Taken from the “Fry” and “Roast” chapters, they’re straightforward, even familiar-seeming—pork chops and green beans, for goodness’ sake—but are far from pedestrian.
I’ve panko-coated and fried scallops of pork many times, for Japanese tonkatsu and similar schnitzel-like preparations, but the use of a thick, bone-in chop instead really sets this dish apart. Using superior pork chops from new-old-fashioned Los Angeles butchers Lindy & Grundy certainly made a huge contribution, but the method would benefit any good-quality chop. (Relatedly, GREAT news on the Lindy & Grundy front—O.C. delivery is on the horizon. Might be on the far horizon, but, it’s coming! I’ll keep you posted as things develop.) The simple sauce lightly bathes the crispy chops with piquancy, and the whole is just delicious.
If you try the roasted green beans, I’ll bet money it’ll become your go-to preparation for this dependably available vegetable. I have roasted just about every vegetable passing within an inch of my oven, including green beans. But I’ve never roasted them alone, as I do asparagus, for instance. Ruhlman’s suggested seasoning is excellent, but you can see how many different directions it could take. After using neutral grapeseed oil and Ruhlman’s cumin, garlic, and red pepper flakes, I did them again two days later with olive oil, garlic, and anchovies. I foresee others… many others.
Panfried Pork Chops with Lemon-Caper Sauce, from “Twenty”
The best way, to my taste, to cook a pork chop, the method here somehow brings out its porkiness. Try to find a local source for pork. Your efforts will be repaid with superior flavor. Otherwise, try to find a store that sources humanely raised pork, such as Whole Foods. The generic grocery store pork often has very little flavor. But if that’s the only option, this is definitely the way to cook it. The breading adds flavor and crunch and serves as a barrier to the pork loin, which will dry out if overcooked. I recommend using pork chops that are between 1 and 1-1/2 inches thick. If they’re too thin, they will overcook before a good crust develops. The chops are complemented with a simple sauce.—Michael Ruhlman
(Makes 4 servings)
4 bone-in pork chops
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (about) all-purpose/plain flour
1 egg, beaten with a couple of tablespoons of water
1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
Oil for panfrying
6 tablespoons butter
4 lemon slices, each about 1/8-inch thick
3 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
About 1 hour before cooking, remove pork chops from refrigerator and season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.
Put flour, beaten egg, and bread crumbs in separate dishes. Dredge each chop in flour and shake off any excess. Dip in egg, then dredge in panko.
Heat ¼- to ½-inch oil in wide sauté pan over high heat. When oil is hot and ripply, lay pork chops in pan and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove to rack while you make sauce. (Chops can be held in 200-degree oven for 30 minutes; if holding this long, cook rare to medium rare, so that they finish in oven.)
Put butter in small sauté pan over low heat. When it begins to melt, add lemon slices in single layer. Add capers. Raise heat to medium-high and swirl ingredients in pan. When butter is piping hot and frothing, add parsley. Remove from heat and stir.
Top each pork chop with sauce, lemon slice, and capers.
Spicy Roasted Green Beans with Cumin
(Makes 4 servings)
In the summer, I boil green beans. In the winter, I roast them. Here, I add red pepper flakes and cumin. If I have some bacon fat on hand, I use that as the cooking fat, which adds another dimension.—Michael Ruhlman
3 tablespoons canola oil or rendered bacon fat
1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
5 or 6 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a knife
1 pound green beans, stem ends removed
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, or 425 degrees if you’re concerned about smoke.
Set ovenproof frying pan over high heat, add oil, red pepper flakes, and cumin seeds. When cumin and pepper flakes begin to sizzle, add beans and toss until coated.
Slide pan into oven and cook beans, removing once or twice to stir, until nicely colored and tender, about 20 minutes. Season with three-finger pinch of salt midway through cooking. Serve hot from pan.