One of my deep-seated (and largely irrational) kitchen fears is cooking bone-in meat for guests. I trust myself when I'm cooking for just me, and I'm starting to get there cooking for me and Devin, but I hate over-cooked meat as much as I dread seeing a guest cut into their pork or chicken only to find it under-cooked at the bone. I realized the other day that this is pretty much the entire reason I got in the habit of cooking pork tenderloin rather and boneless chops rather than bone-in pork chops (and it is an irrelevant fear now because sous vide allows me to cheat on final internal temperature). After cooking this meal, I see that it's a crying shame I left this ingredient out of my repertoire for so many years. The inspiration was a couple gorgeous double-cut Carlton Farms pork chops that found their way home with us from Laurelhurst Market. The result was one of the best simple meals we've sat down to in a long time...
When I think of pork, I think of thyme, mushrooms, and mustard, and aged cheese. The sauce and brine started coming together in my mind, and I just needed to figure out what to serve it with. I wanted a hearty dish, so polenta seemed like the perfect option. I dug through the rice-&-grits bin in my pantry, and found 6 ounces of Anson Mills Coarse Rustic Polenta Integrale. Yay! The only problem was, I wasn't in the mood to do the whole "stirring frequently" for an hour part of the Anson Mills recipe. A little poking around on the internet confirmed that (of course) you can totally cook polenta sous vide.
I added 3 1/4 cups of my intense homemade chicken stock and a couple tablespoons of butter to a vacuum bag, sealed it up, and let it cook at 195°F for about 2 1/2 hours. I rapid chilled at the end of that time and set it aside to re-therm and season at dinner time. Looking at in in the pot where I seasoned it, you'd never know it was made with almost no effort (and definitely no frequent stirring).
Next up, I suppose, is the meat. I combined a couple tablespoons of sugar, a tablespoon of salt, a small handful of peppercorns, and a large pinch of dry thyme in a bag with the pork, vacuum-sealed, and allowed it to brine overnight.
While pre-heating the polenta water bath to 195°F, I heated the other to 13°F for the pork. When the water baths were ready, I rinsed the pork and sealed it back up with a pat of butter before cooking at 143°F for about 2 1/2 hours. So pretty... Why have I not been cooking with these?
As with the polenta, I rapid-chilled the pork at the end of the cooking time. Instead of re-therming, though, the pork would be seared to develop a crust while it warmed through. Before the pork hit the pan, though, I made the sauce... I started with a basic sautée of shallots and fresh thyme leaves in a mix of bacon fat and butter.
Here I was fortunate to have half a pound of sautéed chanterelles in the freezer. (A friend had brought me a haul of these gorgeous mushrooms while they were in season, and the ones I knew I couldn't eat in time ended up sautéed in butter with basic seasoning, then vacuum-sealed in the freezer...) I gave them a rough chop, then added to the pan with the shallots and thyme. After a bit of cooking, the pan was deglazed with some bottom-shelf bourbon.
When I was happy with the mushrooms, in went a spoonful of dijon mustard and a glug of heavy cream...
The sauce simmered and reduced on a back burner while we worked on the pork. Before we got down to searing, I thought the edges (which wouldn't hit the pan) could use some work, so we broke out the Searzall (which, if you haven't tried one, is a super-cool kitchen toy that is perfect for people who love cooking sous vide).
Fire! Anyway... After browning the edges, we started to sear the pork in a bit of butter, then added a handful of minced shallots and fresh thyme.
I brushed the top side of the pork with a thin layer of dijon mustard before flipping and letting that side sear...
... then deglazed with a little more bottom-shelf bourbon and let the pork continue to cook, waiting for the center to get up to around 140°F.
I poured the pan drippings into the sauce and stirred to combine while the pork rested for a second... Then it was time to spoon a dollop of polenta onto each plate and top with a pork chop, chanterelle cream sauce, and a light grating of Parmesan...
This was ridiculously good, and it turned out that two of the above plate ended up being four servings... I could see doing this again any time with some creminis or whatever random mushroom struck my fancy at the store, and I will never again hesitate to bring home bone-in pork chops when they cross my grocery-buying path in the future...
You're back! How serendipitous for me. :) I came back looking for the sous vide caramelized onions and here you are!
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