Saturday, April 7, 2007



I saw this phrase while waiting for my takeout pizza in a local pizza/Italian restaurant. It means, "We do not age at the dinner table." I'm all for embracing that philosophy! How lovely to live longer just by spending long evenings over a wonderful meal and wine.

My husband and I don't dine out much anymore. I think we've eaten out only three or four evenings in the last year, and two of those were at a local truck stop! (But they do have a great prime rib/broasted chicken buffet, and Dan can order liver, which I will not cook at home.)
However, it doesn't really matter to me that I am not able to go out and have fabulous gourmet meals, because my husband is a fabulous gourmet cook. Last night he made "Pork Chops With Soy-Orange Sauce" from Martha Stewart's Quick Cook Menus book.


1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
8 sprigs fresh thme (we use dried thyme, to taste)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons safflower oil
8 lean (1/2-inch) thick loin pork chops
(we use four thick-cut butterfly or boned chops

1. Combine orange juice with the soy sauce, sugar, garlic, pepper, and thyme sprigs. Set aside.

2. With a very sharp knife, score the pork chops 1/8 inch deep in a crisscross pattern on each side. Place in a glass stainless steel dish in a single layer. Pour the marinade over chops. Drain and reserve the marinade.

3. Heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy skillet until hot. Add the chops in a single layer and saute over high heat for three minutes on each side, browning them well.

4. Reduce heat to low and pour reserved marinade over chops. Cook until done, about 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove chops to a heated platter.

5. Reduce the marinade in the skillet to 1/3 cup. Pour over the cooked chops and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

NOTE: These pork chops are also excellent grilled over hot coals. Reduce the marinade separately in a saucepan and pour over the chops after removing from grill.

You can tell this is a great recipe, because that page in Martha's cookbook is covered with spatters and spills. That always means a recipe is good, because it's used so much.
The photo above, which I took from Easy Home Cooking Magazine, features a similar orange juice and herbs chops recipe that uses oil instead of soy sauce for a marinade. Because of the soy sauce, our marinade gets even darker than the sauce pictured, and there's no green onion in it. This sauce is piquant. I didn't think I'd ever use the term piquant but it best describes the flavor. Dan made this dish last evening. We cheated and had boxed garlic potatoes with it, but usually I make my French Bistro Potatoes, for which I gave the recipe in a January post. We like those potatoes with the chops because the meat sauce mingles so well with the cream from the potatoes.

However, there's an unspoken rule in our household. If only one person is preparing the meal, there will be only one gourmet dish. If two people are preparing the meal, then we can have two gourmet dishes. Therefore, tonight I have already made my bistro potatoes, and Dan will make spicy Southwestern chicken. These potatoes go well with this dish too, but for a different reason. The cream and the cheese help put out the fire!

This dish isn't for the faint-hearted. If you're in the kitchen when it's cooking, the fumes can give you coughing fits. In addition to your wine you need to have big glasses of water nearby. But we love it. It's made by a friend of ours who has talked to people about marketing it. It's that good. He never lets us pay for it, just mixes up a new batch for us. And the newer the batch, the hotter and spicier it is! These days we tend to only make this dish for the two of us. We used to serve it to guests, until a friend told me the spices had burned her lips - literally. She didn't tell me until years after the fact, but I was still mortified. That has never happened to us, but to be on the safe side we've taken it off our guest menus.

Second Photo from the Tuscan Italian Cafe, Las Vegas

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