Cooking the Book: Pork Cutlets with Mustard-Cider Sauce, Maple-Cayenne Roasted Carrots & Parsnips
Paging through the stlil-un-made recipes from my self-imposed Cooking the Book project (which are far more numerous than I care to admit), I realized that I have been sort of neglecting the chapter on side dishes. This is particularly ridiculous since side dishes are one of the biggest leftover culprits when cooking for two. While it’s easy enough to only buy two chicken breasts, it’s not like anyone is going to make half a box of mac n’ cheese or do the math to make a quarter of a box of StoveTop (am I the only one who remembers just a few years ago when StoveTop came in a resealable canister, with instructions on making it for 2 or 12?? Man, I miss that canister!).
So I tried to approach dinner that night from the “total meal” perspective. With selections from the book’s main and side dish chapters (plus a little help from some left over dinner party mashed potatoes), I think this comes together for a nice — but still quick and easy — fall meal.
This recipe uses of on my favorite slightly obscure cuts of meat, boneless country pork ribs. Don’t be fooled by (part of) the name — boneless pork country style ribs (aka pork country-style ribs, pork country-style loin ribs, country pork ribs and pork blade end country spareribs) these have nothing to do with actual ribs. They’re actually strips of meat are cut from the blade end of the loin, close to the shoulder and include a big hunk of more flavorful, darker red shoulder meat, a little bit of tender but sometimes flavorful loin and a minimal amount of fat and connective tissue. They come pre-cut into long “ribs” and are usually dirt cheap and packaged into perfect for-two portions. If you’re feeling particularly industrious, you can also purchase a pork shoulder or butt roast and cut it into “ribs” yourself and freeze the rest for grilling or braising later.
For this recipe, the “ribs” are cut again, in half lengthwise this time and pounded evenly flat. This produces, with very little extra work, “cutlets” that are considerably more flavorful and moist than the dry, tasteless pork loin cutlets you can get pre-cut in a package. Go for it!
I have to say that the sauce was a little meh on the entree. I was expecting more deep cider action, but the mustard was definitely dominating. While it’s not enough to deter me from giving this one a second chance, I might increase the amount of cider that goes in the sauce (and reduce it longer to concentrate the flavor/get the same consistency) as well as be very accurate with the mustard measurement on a second go-around.
I may have gotten a bit carried away with the cayenne on the carrots and parsnips; be careful! Also, on the side dish, we found it to be a bit too much for us. Next time I think I’ll go with 2 carrots and 2 parsnips. And, from the department of Do As I Say, Not As I Do, be sure to use a non-stick skillet, lest all that yummy maple glaze ends up on the bottom of the pan and not on the veggies!
Pork Cutlets with Mustard-Cider Sauce
from Cooking for Two, 2011
If the pork is “enhanced,” do not brine. If brining the pork, do not season with salt in step 1. Look for ribs that are about 3 to 5 inches long, but them in half crosswise before slicing them lengthwise to ensure more evenly sized cutlets.
12 ounces boneless country-style pork ribs, trimmed of excess fat, cut and pounded into cutlets, brined if desired
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon unbleached AP flour
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh sage, parsley or thyme
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Pat cutlets dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle sugar evenly over each cutlet. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add 1 piece butter, let melt and quickly add cutlets. Cook cutlets until browned on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer cutlets to large place and keep warm in oven while making sauce.
Add shallot to fat left in skillet and cook over medium heat until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in broth, cider and sage and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Off heat, whisk in mustard, remaining 1 piece of butter and any accumulated juice from pork. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste, spoon over pork and serve.
Maple-Cayenne Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
from Cooking for Two, 2011
When buying parsnips, choose those that are no wider than 1 inch — larger parsnips are likely to have tough, fibrous cores.
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 small carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick on bias
1/2 cup warm water
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
salt and pepper
3 small parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick on bias
Heat oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in carrots, water, syrup and 1/4 teaspoon salt and over. Cook, stirring occasionally until carrots begin to soften but substantial amount of water remains in skillet, about 5 minutes.
Uncover, add parsnips and increase heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until water has completely evaporated and vegetables are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Off heat, sprinkle with cayenne, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.