From our Escape From Provence series
Dinner for a Summer Afternoon
- Grilled Berkshire pork chops
- Peach and nectarine chutney
- Ginger garlic romano beans
- Corn on the cob
Summer means grilled meats, fresh fruit, local corn on the cob and lighter wines. Unlike Peter Mayle who surely spends his summers chained to his word processor in Provence, we Kalebergs make the most of the season. Ranging free, like chickens, we wander from the Farmers' Market to Nash Huber's farm stand where we collect our fruit and corn and Berkshire heritage hog. All this and some bright rosé to wash it down, and our summer afternoon dinner is complete.
The Farmers’ Market offered Romano beans, corn, and stone fruit today, so we snarfed up a selection and went home to plan a menu. We still had some pork chops from the Berkshire pig Nash Huber raised for us, so we prepared the following meal: grilled marinated chops, spiced peach and nectarine chutney, grilled corn on the cob, and ginger garlic Romano beans. The meal took about an hour and a half to prepare, and it tasted like a carnivore’s dream of summer.
(This recipe was adapted from a recipe provided by organic farmer Mas Masumoto in his touching NYTimes Magazine article about the work involved in organic farming. He called for crushed dried pomegranate seeds and maple syrup, which we did not have, but the chutney was spectacular anyway).
Put the spices and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add fruit and cook gently until mixture is as thick as you want it. Taste it, and adjust the spices as you cook. It is good enough to eat right out of the pan, but it is incredible with the following:
(As we have written elsewhere in this website, we purchase half a pig from local organic farmer, Nash Huber, once or twice a year. These pigs are Berkshire Blacks, a heritage breed with great flavor and softer, more heart healthy, fat than commercially available pigs. The animals Nash raises lead lives of piggy glory in cabbage fields until their one bad day. We have watched them roaming unfettered ‘round the fields and being fed the leftover vegetables from Nash’s farm stand, and they truly do live in hog heaven. If you have qualms about eating meat, we understand, but keep in mind that this breed of pig would be extinct without ethical and humane farmers like Nash. As the folks at Heritage Foods say, “You gotta eat ‘em to save ‘em.”)
Before grilling the pork chops we marinate them, for perhaps an hour, though you can marinate them longer, in a mix of:
If this isn't enough liquid for six pork chops, add a bit of water to dilute it. Vinegar is pretty strong stuff. The most important ingredient is pomegranite molasses which you can get at Kalustyan's, if you can't find it locally. Turn the pork chops so that both sides get nicely flavored.
We just grill up the chops on our trusty Weber. The trick is to only make half a fire. That is, only put enough coals in the grill to cover about half of the cooking space. That way you can sear the chops and render the fat, but when they are crisp enough outside (or burning), you can just move them over to the cooler part of the grill. Even heritage pork is best cooked through.
You can intensify the flavor of the marinade if you wish by waiting until the chops are almost cooked. Then, remove them in turn from the grill and slop them around in the marinade. Then return them to the grill, but not over the hottest part of the fire. The marinade will thicken and form a glaze. (Do be careful and cook the chops for a bit after cooking since the marinade did have raw pork in it).
Blanche the romano beans, pods and all, in boiling water until they turn bright green and just tender. Remove them from the stove and drain them. Heat 2 tbsp sesame oil in a skillet over high heat and the add beans. Toss frequently and char them slightly. You really do want to burn them a bit. Add 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger, toss for three minutes and add 2 tbsps coarsely chopped Farmers’ Market garlic. Remove from heat, so the garlic doesn’t get overcooked and bitter, cool slightly, and add soy sauce to taste.
We have always heard that the way to grill corn on the cob is to soak the corn, husk and all, then sort of steam it on the grill. This does not seem to cook the corn very well, even on a very hot fire. Eventually, the husks burn off, and the corn does get cooked, but it seems that we have an extra step. What we do now is much simpler. We just husk the corn and put it right on the rack over the hot coals. This requires some attention, a good set of heat proof gloves and a pair of tongs. We keep rolling the corn around while the kernels cook and turn bright yellow. If a few get a bit burned, no matter. The high heat gives the corn an extra sweetness and a great smoky flavor.
We washed down our wonderful summer meal with a bottle of Akakies Rosé, 2005 produced by Kir-Yianni. This is a Greek wine, and we don't get to drink all that many Greek wines except at Molyvos in New York. They make wonderful wines in Greece, but they are under-appreciated here in the United States, but they are perfect for the warmer months.
This summery meal called for a dry, flavorful rosé, NOT a big, high alcohol Robert Parker style “fruit bomb.” Call Pike and Western Wine Shop in Seattle and ask the incomparable Catharine to choose some rosé for you. She will handle everything, and you will get the perfect wine in as little as two days. We had tasted a rather good Grande Cassagne Rosé at Palace Kitchen, so we'll say thank you, Tom Douglas, for letting us know about the rosés at Pike and Western Wine.