Thursday, May 24, 2012
Chef John Foster: When it comes to cooking, respect past but make mark on the present
Pork Chops Nutrat
(My first recipe found on a yellowed piece of wide-ruled paper, circa 1972.)
6 medium pork chops
2 sage leaves
1/2 cup milk
¼ lb butter (1 stick)
6 cloves garlic
Mix milk, 1/2 stick butter and ground sage leaves together in saucepan and put to low boil.
Take garlic and brown lightly with butter in a large frying pan.
When milk and butter and sage mixture is blended, strain excess leaves out and retain liquid.
When garlic is browned, drop three pork chops into the pan and cover them with part of the milk mixture, cover frying pan and cook until brown. Drop in remaining pork chops and cover with remaining liquid.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines generation as “The average time interval between the birth of parents and the birth of their offspring,” and it leaves us wondering what we would have done in a different generation. I listen to one type of music; my sons listen to another. I can barely use my Tracfone; they skim through their IPhones like champion channel surfers. The one area that provides any common ground is food. Food in all its many permutations is a common goal every generation pursues, mainly because it sustains us all in the same way.
That’s not to suggest that every generation eats the same way or even cooks the same food. Certainly, the cultural, historical and situational differences that define generations could change the balance for each group. World wars, depressions, the generation gap all define a certain point in our recent history, and in each, our diets differed. Haute cuisine, fast food, soul food, hippie food all differ from each other in their makeup and their promise. Their one connection is in the use of raw goods, generally locally grown or at least grown and raised in America.
We are now locked in a battle (drawn along somewhat generational lines) as to how that food should be produced, but certainly the food itself is not the focus of the debate. We still eat meat, and lots of it, just like my family did in the ’60s and ’70s. Potatoes, corn, green beans are consumed with gusto at most dinner tables. Dairy, eggs, cheese continue to fly off the shelves much the way they did when my Mom took us grocery shopping and made us bag (in paper only). We’re still in love with chocolate and coffee and beer, and the list goes on.
There is really no new food that I can think of, only techniques that require liquid nitrogen, centrifuges and a chemistry set to produce. And that may be the most generational difference of all; it’s not the raw goods, it’s our need to be different from the last generation, our need to seek out our own way to do things. These differences appear in every walk of life from politics to religion, banking to manufacturing. While we respect the past, we want to make our mark on the present, so that our future may serve as a signpost to mark in some way or guide the next generation to their epiphany.
How would my sons make Pork Chops Nutrat today? I have no clue. But if I had a do over, knowing what I know now, it would go something like this;
Pork Chops Nutrat
6 thick cut Stone Cross Farm Berkshire Pork Chops
2 leaves of sage from my winter garden
1 cup of half and half (local)
2 tablespoon butter (preferably Amish or local, unsalted)
6 cloves of Blue Moon garlic
Lightly flour the chops with seasoned (salt and pepper) flour and shake off the excess. Brown the chops in the butter, being careful not to burn them. Chop the garlic and add that to the pan, browning the garlic as well. Remove the chops and the garlic from the pan and drain the excess fat. Deglaze the pan with the half-and-half and add the chiffonade sage leaves. Place the chops back in, along with the garlic, and simmer, covered until the internal temperature of the chops is 145. You will need to turn the chops periodically.If you need to add moisture during the cooking process add more half-and-half or if available some chicken stock. After the chops are done, pull from the pan, cover and reduce the remaining sauce in the pan until it coats the back of your spoon.
John Foster is an executive chef who heads the culinary program at Sullivan University’s Lexington campus. A New York native, Chef Foster has been active in the Lexington culinary scene for more than 20 years. The French Culinary Institute-trained chef has been an executive chef, including at the popular Dudley’s Restaurant, and a restaurant owner.