Main course

Grilled Veal Rib Chop with Caponata

This is one of my go-to veal recipes that I whip out at least once a month for my clients. Veal is not cheap, but it’s so tender and full of flavor. I love cooking the veal chops on the grill on the highest possible heat, and getting those outer fatty edges nice ‘n crispy. The rub that I use adds such a beautiful flavor, and goes really well with the roasted eggplant and red pepper caponata that doubles as a vegetable side and a sauce.

Best of all, the caponata tastes even better the next day, over pasta or as I did, on a sourdough crostini with melted gruyere cheese… mmm!

Here we go…

Start by making the rub for the veal chop. You could even do this the day before and let it marinate overnight.

spice rub

Crush all the ingredients with your pestle (or you can blend it in the food processor) until it forms a rough paste, and drizzle in the olive oil. Slather it all over your veal chops.

Ok, 2 ingredients that I needed for this rub mysteriously disappeared from my grocery bags when I got home. I swear it wasn’t forgetfulness, I put them in my cart! I just must of not taken them out of my cart. Either way, you’ll need them for this rub. Anchovies and thyme.

Anchovies. I know that sounds strange in a rub. But trust me, they add a depth of flavor that you’ll appreciate, and yet won’t totally understand. Because whether you’re an anchovy hater or lover, it won’t resemble any anchovy flavor you’ve tasted in the past once the flame of the grill has hit it. Its subtle and yet adds something salty and delicious to a rub. Try it just once… for me… please…

veal chop slathered with rub

Now place it in a ziploc bag, or just wrap it back up in butcher paper and refrigerate.

On to the Caponata…

(Here is me making my lunch with the scrumptious leftover caponata)

start by preheat your oven at 425 degrees F

sliced eggplant

Slice one whole eggplant, then chop into roughly 1 inch or so cubes.

Now put the eggplant in a collander and toss with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. This will pull out some of the moisture in the eggplant and help it caramelize in the oven. You could also just spread it out in a single layer on a paper towel. Give it about 20 minutes, then use a paper towel to dab away any excess moisture on the eggplant.

Now roughly chop the rest of your vegetables: onion + red bell pepper. Try and keep them the same size as your eggplant. Slice the garlic in half and toss the whole vegetable medley with olive oil, another teaspoon kosher salt, and a 1/2 teaspon black pepper. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves, dried are fine here too. I like to add two small pinches of red chili flakes to give it the tiniest bit of heat and some extra flavor.

Place it in a single layer on a rimmed metal baking sheet, and get it into that hot 425 degree oven (400 convection).


(after 20 min)
Roast for 20 minutes and then give it all a toss. Add the can of diced tomatoes, including all the juices. Roast for another 15-20 minutes, until most of the tomato juices have disappeared and the eggplant is nice and tender. The vegetables will cook faster if you’ve chopped them smaller.

Once its done, add capers and 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar. The vinegar will cook down right there on the hot baking sheet. You could also add lemon juice instead, if thats your preference. I like this step because the acidity of the vinegar tastes so wonderful with a meat dish like veal or even a NY steak. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

On to the Veal Chop!

When you’re ready to grill, make sure your veal chop has been out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes, so that it cooks more evenly. Over the highest flame, and on a grill that’s had at least 20 minutes to preheat, place your veal chops. Grill about 4-8 minutes per side (depending on your chop’s thickness), and make sure to turn the chop on its edges to get the fatty sides nice and charred. For my 1 3/4 inch extra thick chop it tool me a total of 15 minutes to get it to a nice medium rare. Use a digital instant read thermometer in the center of the your chop to check when its ready, roughly 120 degrees for medium rare. Remember it will keep cooking once its off the heat. Veal is a pretty lean meat and tastes dry above medium. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Oh, did I tell you yet that this whole recipe could also be used on a good ol’ traditional grilled steak? Well, it could…

Yummy tip: Once its off the grill and resting on a plate, put 1 tablespoon butter and a few drops of lemon juice on top of the steak/chop. As it melts, it will mix with the chop/steak’s smokey juices and create a delicious sauce. Try this with any steak or grilled meat!

On to this Caponata Crostini thing I made the next day…

Simple. Just top your favorite piece of bread (I used sourdough) with a heaping spoonful of the caponata, and slices of a good meltable cheese, like provolone or mozzarella (can you tell I have an Italian theme to uphold here…). Gruyere was just what I had in my fridge at the time, and it was also very nice. You could also top it with fresh ricotta or fresh buffalo mozzarella… for a cool summer version.

Preheat your broiler, and using an oven proof skillet, fry the toasts on medium heat in a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Be sure to wait until the olive oil is nice and hot before adding your toasts. After about 1-2 minutes, peek under the toast, the bread should be nice and brown on the edges, and golden in the center. Place directly under the broiler as close as you can get it. Watch it closely, until the cheese melts.

And now you’re a happy happy person, eating that cheesy, sweet, and somewhat healthy red pepper and eggplant goodness!

Veal Rib chop and Rub recipe:

for 2 thick 1 3/4 inch veal rib chops

1.5 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 large garlic clove
1 anchovy fillet
1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Kosher Salt

Instructions:

Combine first 8 ingredients and with a mortar and pestle, mash into a paste, add olive oil in a slow drizzle to incorporate. Likewise you can use a food processor. Slather all over veal chops and refrigerate 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Preheat your grill on high for at least 20 minutes or up to 40 minutes, or make sure your charcoal bbq is nice and hot, coals broken down and glowing. Season your chops with kosher salt.

Grill the Veal chops for about 7 minutes on each side, for an extra thick chop like the one I used in this recipe. Make sure to move them around every 2 minutes, so that the grill marks get imprinted all over the chops. If your chop is thinner, reduce the overall time. Also make sure to let the chops sear on their sides so that the fatty edges get nice and crispy. To know when its done, using an instant read digital thermometer is always your best bet. It should read between 120-125 degrees F at the center of your steak, for medium rare. Also, the center of the steak will always be cooked less than the edges, so rest assured even if the center of your steak is a low 120 degrees, the edges will be higher. I always take my steaks off a little under their desired temperature range because they continue to cook even after they’re off the grill. Let it rest on a plate for about 5 minutes. Top them off with a small slather of butter and a little squeeze of lemon juice, and presto you’ve got even more flavor!

Warning: veal is lean and tastes dry when cooked to well done. Ideally, its final target temperature is 125-135 degrees. Only eat this type of chop if you can handle the pink!

Caponata recipe

4 servings

1 large eggplant, roughly chopped 1 inch pieces
1 large red bell pepper, roughly chopped 1 inch pieces
1 medium sweet onion, thickly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, sliced in half
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt, additional to taste
1 tsp black pepper
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, or canned cherry tomatoes if you can find them
1/3 cup olive oil, more for drizzling if desired
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar, or lemon juice
1 Tbsp rinsed capers
1/2 cup torn basil leaves, more for garnish

Instructions:

Add the chopped eggplant to a colander with 1 Tbsp kosher salt. Let sit at least 20 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels. Toss with bell pepper, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, a little more salt, black pepper and the olive oil. Spread in one layer on a metal baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, toss the vegetables and add the tomatoes including their juices, toss again. Roast for another 20 minutes until juices have evaporated and eggplant is tender. Time may be more or less depending on how large or small you chopped the eggplant. Once out of the oven, immediately add the vinegar or lemon juice and capers. Add the fresh basil and toss before serving.

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Main course

The best pork chop you’ll ever have…

Yes, I know I’ve made a pretty big claim. But I’m pretty convinced I can win you over.  Well, thats unless you’ve had a pork chop from, say, Thomas Keller, where he performed some type of laborious sous vide technique and then perhaps bathed the whole thing in butter. Even so, I still think this pork chop would be pretty tough competition!


(one of the photos in question)
About a month ago I wrote a post on a similar pork chop recipe, but I decided to redo it for 2 reasons. First I only had 2 grainy photographs taken in really low lighting.  I had made this dish and photographed it months back, before I started this blog. So I wasn’t prepared to show a step by step process in photos.  And second, I made this pork chop 2 days ago and after a few changes, tweaks and improvements to the recipe, I wanted to fill you in.  I added a rub that was just so delicious, the sauce was almost unnecesary.  But  I can’t help myself, I love sauces!! So one of my favorites is included below as well.

So here are my rules for the perfect pork chop:

1. Buy an extra thick 2 inch pork chop, on the bone. If your butchers has one, get a porterhouse chop, this has the tenderloin on one side of the bone and the traditional pork chop on the other. So delicious!!
porterhouse

2. Grill your pork porterhouse until the thickest part reaches 145 degrees or medium-well. This is a totally safe temperature to cook your pork. If you don’t have a good digital meat thermometer, gently pierce it with a knife in the thickest part of the chop towards the end of the cooking time. You should still see a bit of rosy pink in the center.

3.  Use wood chips in your grill.  The smokiness the wood chips add to the pork, make the crispy fatty edges of the chop taste like bacon. yum.

These three steps in themselves will give you a tender piece of pork, but if you want to take it to that next level of deliciousness…

3. Brine it for 6-24 hours. Brining adds moisture to your meat, and it also imparts the flavor of whatever aromatics you put in the brine.  Even if you overcook your meat a little, it will still turn out juicy.

But you know what… as much as I love to brine, I usually just do it for special occasions and not for my everyday dinners. Its just too much work for me, and I bet most of you agree with me. On a day to day basis, my food motto is keep it simple, or, uh, simpler (cause sometimes I just get carried away, and can’t quite do simple). So just to give you another quick option, try this incredible spice rub that I made a few nights ago.  Oh it was good!
pork rub

So here is my recipe for an incredible pork chop.  I’ve included a recipe for the brine, the rub, and one of my favorite sauces: Romesco.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of trying romesco before, its a delicious and unique sauce that originates from the Catalan region of Spain. Its really like nothing you’ve ever tasted.  The smokey, nutty, spicy flavors taste delicious spread on toast or with grilled vegetables, fish, seafood, poultry, pork, well just about anything! It has the consistency of pesto, and best of all it can keep in your fridge for up to two weeks, so you can experiment again and again.

Brined Pork Porterhouse Chops with 5 Spice Garlic rub and Romesco sauce

Start by preheating your gas grill on high or lighting the coals for your charcoal bbq. Soak your wood chips in water.

brine

To make the brine…

In a medium/large pot, add crushed juniper berries, crumbled bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar to a cup of water.  Bring to a simmer and then let stoop for 10 minutes.  Add the remaining  4 cups cold water, onion and crushed garlic. Add pork chops and refrigerate for 24 hours. If I have less time (say 6 hours), I’ve made the solution more concentrated by adding another 3 Tb salt and another 4 Tb sugar.

Next, once your meat has run its full course in the brine.  Rinse it off, and pat dry.

So on to the rub…

rub on chop

These spices are incredible on pork.  It has spanish smoked paprika, which I’m kinda obsessed with; think of bacon in a spice… that’s what it reminds me of! The cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and black pepper, just give it this sweet yet savory flavor. I looooove it! And honestly people, I know we’re still getting to know each other here, but I don’t say this about just anything. I’m a selective lover, so to say.

garlic spice thyme
Next you’re going to crush 3 cloves of garlic to a paste. Using my microplane for this makes it so easy; it grates the garlic with such little effort. Chop a few sprigs of thyme. Fresh or dried rosemary would also be wonderful. Now drizzle the chop with a little bit of olive oil, and rub it all over with the thyme and garlic.

I’ve used this rub on lamb and chicken as well, and its excellent. You can add 1 tsp or so of cumin if you like. It works well with these spices.

Back to the Pork chop…

Let it sit for 20 minutes or so if you’re going to grill it right away, or you can wrap it in saran wrap and chill if for up to a day in the fridge.  Just make sure you let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before you grill it.  This helps the pork chop cook more evenly.



Place your soaked wood chips in a metal dish or wood chip holder (pictured)on your grill grates. I always sprinkle a big handful on the coals as well. If you’re using a gas grill, you can place the metal dish under the grill grates by the flame. Then, on high heat, grill your pork chops on each side for 5 minutes, or until you get really nice grill marks. Turn off the burners on one side of your grill, and move the chops over to that side. You want to cook the chops over indirect heat, so that they cook evenly and don’t dry out. Grill for another 15-20 minutes depending on the interior temperature of your grill. Keep the lid closed.

*If you’re using your stovetop, heat a skillet (cast iron prefered) on high for a few minutes. Add a little olive oil and sear on both sides for 2 minutes. Sear the fatty edges as well until they start to crisp up. In a preheated 350 degree oven, roast the chops for another 25 minutes or so. This is for a 2-inch pork chop, if your pork chop is thinner, adjust the cooking time.

Remove the chops from the grill, or oven, when the temperature in the thickest part reads 145 degrees, or if you poke it with a knife, when the  thickest part is still a bit pink.  Let them rest on a plate or cutting board, covered loosely with foil for 5-10 minutes.  This helps the meat reabsorb the juices, so when you cut into it the juices don’t all run out.

For the Romesco

fried bun

Fry 2 slices of country white bread in 1/4 c olive oil.  Once browned, remove crusts and break into chunks.  I was out of bread, so I had some hamburger buns in the freezer and just used those… improvisation is 50% of what happens in my kitchen.


add the crushed garlic and fresh thyme to the hot pan. Add a little more oil if needed. Saute for 1 minute.



Soak the chilies in 2 cups of near boiling water for 10 minutes until soft. Remove and cut off stems, remove seeds and pat dry.


Meanwhile, toast almonds and hazelnuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees, for 4-6 minutes or until fragrant. Place the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel, and roll them around to rub off the bitter hazelnut skins.


Cut up 1 whole ripe tomato, you only need about 1/2 a cup.


Crush with your hands to break them up and help release some of their juices.


Add the chilies and the canned tomatoes to the sauteed garlic and thyme. Cook on medium until most of the juices have evaporated, 4-5 minutes. Add a little salt to season.



In the food processor, add the nuts and bread chunks, and pulse until finely chopped.


Add tomato-chili mixture and pulse several times, then blend on high until mixture is smooth.


Add 1 cup of olive oil in a slow stream. Don’t worry if the mixture separates from the oil, its kinda like a pesto.



Transfer to a bowl, and add chopped parsely, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika (I could write a whole post on smoked paprika,
don’t substitute with regular paprika, its totally different) and a few drops of lemon to season as desired. Smother the pork chops with the sauce. Enjoy!

Ingredients

4 2-inch thick bone-in Pork Chops ~ if you can get Pork porterhouse chops even better.
Brine: (from Suzanne Goin)
1 tablespoon crushed Juniper berries
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
5 cups water

5 Spice Rub with Garlic and Thyme
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp smoke paprika
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground black pepper
9 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 2 tsp dried

Romesco Sauce (from Suzanne Goin)
1/2 ounce raw almonds (about 12 nuts)
1 ounce hazelnuts (about 32 nuts)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 ounces (about 1 thick slice or so) thick slice chewy white peasant style bread, crusts cut off
5 ancho or pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
1/2 cup canned peeled whole tomatoes, crushed in a large bowl with your hands
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon

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