Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spring Awakening: Rhubarb and Ramps

                               “Pork chops…. and applesauce. Ain’t that swell.”

Is that embedded in your psyche? Peter Brady and his sibilant Bogart impression? That brief television moment from a Brady Bunch episode remains so ingrained to this day that Florence Henderson brought grown up Peter, Christopher Knight, onto her cooking show to make (what else?) “pork chops….and applesauce.”
It’s spring, so what about pork chops….and rhubarb sauce? Rhubarb’s  sweet/tart dual nature makes a flavorful counterpoint to the richness of the pork.
Served along with the pork chops is a savory bread pudding with ramps, another early spring arrival. The bread pudding could be served with something other than pork of course; it could even as a stand alone along with a salad.
While this is for two servings, it can easily be scaled up for more.

Pan Seared Pork Chops with Rhubarb Sauce and Ramp Bread Pudding
For two servings:
2 pork chops

Rhubarb/Ginger Sauce
2 cups sliced rhubarb
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1. Combine the rhubarb with the sugar and ginger in a mixing bowl. Place a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat. Add the rhubarb mixture, scraping the bowl clean and add the orange juice. Cook the rhubarb, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb has broken down and the sauce has reduced and thickened. Set aside when finished. Taste and adjust for sugar, if necessary. The rhubarb sauce should be sweet and tart. This can be made in advance and refrigerated until needed.

Ramp and Cheddar Bread Pudding
1 cup day-old bread cubes, about ½” in size
½ cup chopped ramps (bulb and leaves)
2 eggs
¾ cup half and half or light cream
salt and pepper
4 Tablespoons grated cheddar cheese
olive oil, for cooking

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 6-ounce ramekins (or other oven-proof baking dishes) and set them aside.
2. Place a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the ramps and sauté until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. Place the eggs into a bowl and whisk to break them up. Whisk in the half and half, season with salt and pepper, and blend together. Add the bread cubes to the custard mixture and mix with the custard. Let the bread soak in the custard for several minutes, depending on how dry your bread is. When the bread is tender, mix in the ramps and cheese.
4. Divide the bread pudding mixture between the two ramekins. Place the ramekins into a baking dish. Fill the baking dish with hot water so it reaches half way up the side of the ramekins. Carefully place the dish into the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the custard has set. Remove from the oven.

Cooking the pork chops:
Before cooking, pat the chops dry with paper towels.
If the chops are 1” thick or so, start the chops on top of the stove. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat an oven-proof sauté pan over high heat. When hot, swirl in a tablespoon of olive oil. Season both sides of the chops with salt and ground black pepper. Place the chops into the pan and sear them until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chops and then transfer the pan into a 350 degree oven to finish cooking for another 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the chops to a plate rest before serving.
If they are thinner, cook them on top of the stove. Depending on their thickness, they should only need a few minutes cooking per side over high heat.
The USDA says that pork can be cooked to 145 degrees internal temperature. If uncertain, use an instant read thermometer. Pork no longer needs to be cooked until well done, unless you prefer it that way.

To serve: Divide the rhubarb sauce between two plates. Place the pork chops atop the sauce. Run a knife around the outer edge of the bread pudding, invert, and place on the plates.  

                         “Pork Chops…with rhubarb sauce. “Ain’t that swell.”

No comments:

Post a Comment