Thursday, June 19, 2008

4. Pork Chops (and Chicken Breasts) with Mustard Crumbs (p. 482)

I'm not sure how she did it. There are more than 1,000 recipes in The Book, but when I asked my wife what she wanted for dinner last night, she managed to come up with the two dishes that The Book has no recipe for.

"I'm in the mood for mustardy chicken and minty potatoes." (Give her a break, she's pregnant. Specific and peculiar food cravings come with the territory.)

I couldn't believe it. Not a single recipe with chicken and mustard. Nothing with potatoes and mint either. So we settled on chicken breasts cooked using the recipe for Pork Chops with Mustard Crumbs, and this recipe for Herbed Potato Salad from Cooking Light (I substituted mint for the dill and parsley in the CL recipe).

Now's as good a time as any to mention a special challenge facing me as I work on this project. My wife doesn't eat beef, pork or lamb. Not ever. With the exception of a cheesesteak at Pat's King of Steaks in Philly, occasional inadvertent bacon consumption in restaurants, and possible pork consumption during a dim sum outing in Boston's Chinatown, my wife hasn't eaten animal flesh other than poultry and fish since she was a teenager.

So, as I go through the project, I'll sometimes make substitutions in the meat dishes where appropriate. In other cases, I'll have to find carnivorous friends to share some of the dishes with. (You can't exactly make Chicken Wellington, can you?).

For this recipe, I decided to try it with both chicken and pork. Of course, the chicken and pork had to be segregated during cooking (note the aluminum foil DMZ in the photo to the left).

This was a great recipe. It was not too difficult. The Book calls for the chops to be seared on the stovetop, with the cooking finished in the oven. It is an extra step, and extra pans, but it's worth the extra effort.

The mustardy, crumby crust was excellent. I had some misgivings at the outset, however, because my local supermarket bakery department didn't have any fresh-baked rye bread, and so I had to use mass-produced, packaged sliced rye bread. I used Beefsteak brand rye, and I was pleasantly surprised that it produced nice flavorful, chunchy breadcrumbs once they were toasted on the stovetop with the oil, garlic and sage.

The pork was excellent. It was cooked perfectly (it tasted more like veal than pork, it was so good). And the mustard crust was a really nice flavor to accompany it. The chicken breasts worked well with this recipe too. They were very moist, even though I cooked the heck out of them. My wife and I are paranoid about undercooked chicken, and because I don't have a good instant-read thermometer, I usually err on the side of overcooking. This dish satisfied my wife's "mustardy chicken" craving (she even said that it was better than one of our favorite "everyday" restaurant dishes, Not Your Average Joe's Mustard Crusted Chicken), so, I'd say that it was a great success.

Date Cooked: June 19, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A


Kevin said...

You could have tried the Rabbit with mustard sauce ( which The Book inexplicably lists as poultry, or the Coriander and mustard seed chicken ( The rabbit is very mustardy, but not very chickeny. The chicken is chickeny, but not too mustardy.

EILEEN said...

The pork chop looks delicious. I really enjoy reading your blog. I'm glad that I found you at the beginning of this project. I feel like I'm taking this whole journey with you along the way haha.... Looking forward to the 1,000+ more dishes to come! ^^


Kiki said...

And this did the trick -- it satisfied a major mustard craving on my part. The mustard was very strong but good.