Sometimes I am so busy that I don’t have time to cook for almost an entire week. I’m hoping that most of you are staring at your computer screens in complete shock. Elizabeth, not cooking? C’mon! Okay, so you’re probably not thinking that, but on the rare occasion when I go a stretch of several days without making a satisfying meal, it feels really weird. The kitchen is my happy place where the acts of chopping, dicing, and frying soothe me and help melt away the stress of the rest of my life. This is why I decided that last night, after a week of just being too darn busy to make anything satisfying, I decided that I needed to make a proper meal – even if I was going to be the only one there to eat it. Well, that’s not entirely true. There are always The Boys to deliver to! After I had eaten and cleaned the kitchen I packed up a to-go box and rolled down to the bar where the boys were hard at work. My reward was a delightful glass of chardonnay. I feel like it’s a fair trade!
The best thing about this meal is that it only took about an hour to put together. Not too shabby if you ask me. Here’s the menu…
Green Beans with Garlic and Almonds
Braised Red Cabbage
Pork chops and green beans are something that my mom made all of the time when I was a kid, but cabbage is a new addition to my culinary list of “likes”. The first braised cabbage I ever had was this past Thanksgiving at “Chocolate’s” parents’ house out on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. It was beautiful red cabbage braised in duck fat and it was insanely good. The version here is not nearly as decadent, but the mess of purple deliciousness that it creates is enough to get me reminiscing.
Pork Chops with Green Beans and Braised Red Cabbage
First up: Cabbage
½ head of red cabbage, shredded
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp bacon grease (if you have)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ cup red wine
½ cup chicken stock (I used my homemade stock)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1-2 tbsp dried fruit like cranberries or chopped pruned or apricots (optional)
Salt and pepper
Combine butter and bacon grease in a medium pot over medium heat. When melted, add onion, and cook for 1-2 minutes until slightly softened. Add shredded cabbage and toss to coat with onion and butter mixture. Season with salt and pepper, then add vinegar, wine, stock, sugar, and dried fruit. Toss, cover, and reduce to very low heat (but still enough to keep it slightly simmering). Cook for 30-40 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal. It’ll be done by the time you are.
Second: Green Beans with Garlic and Almonds
¼ to ½ cup sliced almonds
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
½ shallot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, papers still on
1 lb of French green beans (haricots verts)
½ to ¾ cup chicken stock or water
Note: Use a large sauté pan with a lid. If you don’t have a pan with a lid then use the biggest lid you have. The goal is to cover the beans completely so that they steam.
Start by toasting the almonds in a dry pan (same pan you will cook the green beans in) over medium heat. It should only take a minute or two for them to start browning lightly and to release a nutty aroma. As soon as they do this, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add butter and olive oil to the pan and wait until it’s melted. Add shallots and whole garlic cloves, cook for 2 minutes, then toss in green beans. Stir together, season with salt, add liquid, and cover with lid. Reduce heat slightly and steam green beans for 5 minutes until they are tender and slightly flexible. Remove lid and allow the rest of the liquid to evaporate. Find the garlic cloves, which will have steamed as well, remove the papers, and gently mash them in the pan so that they break apart into a paste or small pieces. Add almonds back to pan and toss everything together. Set aside until time to serve.
And Finally: Pork Chops (This is the absolute easiest recipe ever)
4 boneless pork chops (or bone in, whatever you prefer)
Salt and pepper
Rub shops with oil, salt, and pepper and place in a hot pan so that they sear. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side, the flip and cook on the other side for 3-4 minutes. Time will depend on the thickness of the chop, but essentially you want to cook it until almost all of the pink is gone on the inside. Keep in mind that they will continue to cook even after you remove them. When they are golden on both sides and you can see on the side that it is almost cooked all the way through, remove to a plate and tent with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 4-5 minutes before serving. Juices will collect in the plate that you can pour over them when serving.
Assemble a plate with green beans, braised cabbage (which should be tart and lightly sweet by now, but still have a little bit of crunch), and a pork chop with drippings. Devour.