0430 First Cookout of the Season

Cat on a leash, originally uploaded by sukisuki.

Over the winter, we bought a grill off a guy on Craigslist – Shane really needed was the propane tank, but for $25, we got a nice gas grill with all the rocks and racks, plus the nearly full tank that alone would’ve cost nearly $25. I mention this because it was unexpectedly gorgeous today, and at the last minute, we invited a couple of friends over to grill out and break in the firepit (which didn’t end up happening).

While Shane and Aaron wrestled the grill into shape, Suz let Basil drag her around on his leash (hence the photo courtesy of Suz). The little dude LOVES being outside, so this was pretty much the best thing ever for him. He ate grass, rolled around in the dust, and generally claimed the yard as his own. Too bad he isn’t better behaved on said leash or we’d let him out more often.

This being the first cookout of the year, it’s fair to say that our technique needs a bit of work. It took two dudes with at least five combined college degrees to light the grill, and once lit, parts of our pork chops were a little overcooked, while parts of the veggie dogs were cool when served. I put water on to boil for asparagus, then went outside and got distracted – the asparagus ended up a little overcooked as well, but I did my best to disguise it with a vinaigrette. Everything was great – but not the pinnacle of grilling cuisine – pretty much what you’d expect at the beginning of the season.

As if the spring evening couldn’t get more picturesquely Midwestern, after dinner we walked to Dairy Queen in the gathering dark and ate our cones on sidewalk benches. A totally happy evening if I do say so myself.

0217 Pan-to-Oven Pork Chops and Amazing Broccoli Rabe

Pan-to-Oven Pork Chops + Broccoli Rabe with Goat Cheese, Onions, and Pine Nuts

I’m fixating on broccoli rabe these days.  I don’t know why – other than that it is delicious and lends itself to nice friendships with garlic, goat cheese, and savory soft onions.  This recipe came from Urban Italian, which has moved to the top of my wishlist after producing two show-stopping dishes.  This rabe was blanched, then sauteed together with garlic, a Vidalia onion, and sun-dried tomatoes, then topped with toasted pine nuts and soft goat cheese right before serving.  Each bite was savory and sweet, with a really lovely mouthfeel.  I can’t wait to make this again, though maybe I won’t sweat making a fancy protein to go along with it since really, we just wanted the rabe.

On the side, then, we had pork chops prepared using a technique from The River Cottage Meat Book – the chops were seared a bit on the stove, then roasted in the oven with a head of garlic.  Our oven runs hot and the chops were on the thin side, so they made it to the table a little dry and tough – which made me doubly glad that we had a savory and amazing bit of veg to compensate.  Better luck next time!

Pan to Oven Baked Pork Chops from The River Cottage Meat Book
Broccoli Rabe with Goat Cheese, Onions & Pine Nuts from Urban Italian