19 February 2007

Christmas Lima Beans & Pork Chops

In my continuing search for new ingredients, I've been hitting the dried beans recently. The cannelinis were a big success, and so for this week I picked up a bag of Christmas Lima Beans, also known as Chestnut Lima Beans. These are really pretty heirloom beans--I had to set aside a few to photograph, and I don't know whether to save them or plant them.

To prepare them, I decided to go with succotash, a traditional Native American pairing of lima beans with corn. After soaking the beans overnight, I minced a shallot and some garlic and cooked them in some diced salt pork. I tossed in the beans, added chicken broth and some water to cover, a bunch of thawed frozen corn kernels, and let it simmer until tender.

I've mentioned before my quest for the perfect pork chop--I've had a couple in my life that were moist and tender and full of flavor, but have had little luck replicating this at home or finding such a specimen in restaurants. I used Alton Brown's brining recipe, but I didn't stuff or grill the chops. Rather I brined them, cooked them for five minutes on each side in a hot stainless steel skillet, and them finished them in the oven at 400° for about 15 minutes. I deglazed the skillet with some beef broth, added in red wine and Dijon mustard, about a half cup of dried cherries, and finally a little flour to thicken. I let this reduce to a smooth consistency while the meat rested.

Lovely combinations all around. The meat was almost perfect, and the beans were so savory and rich that I completely forgot to dash a little hot sauce on them. The chestnut flavor really does come through, and though the colors aren't spectacular in the above photo, it was a great winter meal.

The wine selected for the evening's meal was the 2002 Colimoro Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, a great little wine that ran about $9. The cherry aromas and flavors matched well with the sauce, and an hour of decanting time made it nice and smooth.

3 comments:

Fredric Koeppel said...

We've had good luck with pork chops from a recipe in Mark Bittmann's book The Minimalist Cooks At Home. You coat the porkchops with a mixture of ground cumin, chili pepper, salt and pepper and sear them on top of the stove in some garlic. Then you sprinkle cilantro and lime zest and juice on them and put them in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. Maybe it's 15 minutes; this is from memory. It never fails that the pork chops come out moist, tender and flavorful. We've done this many times. They're great with hearty, rustic red wines

Benito said...

Fredric,

Thanks for the tip, I'll definitely give it a try. I probably ought to buy a half dozen (they're cheap, after all), and experiment with various techniques over the course of a week.

fredric koeppel said...

I did err yesterday. That recipe, which we have cooked dozens of times, was from Food & Wine, January 2003.