This wasn't the Filet Mignon dinner I had planned for my first "official" dinner in my new apartment, but I was in two markets and the Filets looked terrible (those pre-packaged things wrapped in bacon, nothing fresh cut), and I saw the chops were buy one / get one, so I picked up two 3-packs and threw one in the freezer.
For those of you who don't know my back story, I grew up between Boston and Cape Cod, spending my summers on the Cape and then living there for a few years before moving to New Orleans in 93. Hurricane Katrina was enough to send me running back east, and I briefly had temporary housing on the Cape, but kept running into stumbling blocks there. First of all, I couldn't find a job (at least not right away). Secondly, nobody would rent to me. Everywhere I went, it was the same response ... you need to have at least a six-month work history before you'll be considered. Hmmm ... I'm pretty sure I'm not the first person to move to the Cape, and where was I supposed to live for six months with this as yet unfound job that pays enough to cover the exorbitant rents in the first place? On to Plan B. After I moved to New Orleans, my sister and her family moved to New York, so that was my next stop - literally at their house. I have been invading their space ever since.
It was great from a food perspective, since I never really cooked when I was living by myself in New Orleans. I had a roommate the first few years, but he traveled a lot, so I didn't even have him around to cook for. When I came here, we sometimes had an army to cook for, but there were always at least two of us. Between my sister, brother-in-law, nephews, their friends, etc., I loved having a cheering section in the kitchen. It was kinda sad cooking tonight with nobody to share it with. [I should probably get out more, huh?!?]
Anyhow, since I couldn't find the filet I wanted at the first two stores and refused to make a third stop, I decided that to make my first foray into cooking in my new digs a little special, I would break down and use my secret stash of fennel pollen on the pork chops ... and pop open a bottle of wine. I usually don't do that when I'm alone either, although being 40 something, my doctor would tell me to have a glass every night.
The chops turned out great. The only thing I would do differently next time is to increase the fennel pollen slightly. All I had left was a teaspoon. It definitely served to heighten the dish, and if you didn't know what was in it, I can imagine heads tilting as a diner is trying to identify that secret ingredient. I just wish I had a bit more. By the way, the fennel pollen is the "fairy dust." I keep seeing it referenced that way on different websites and get a chuckle out of it every time.
3-4 pork chops
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1/4 c seasoned bread crumbs
1 t fennel pollen
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, and fennel pollen in a dish/bowl of sufficient size for dredging your chops and set aside.
Trim the fat from the chops (If I was pan searing them, I would leave at least some, but not for baking), and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
Slather each chop with about 1.5 teaspoons of Dijon Mustard, and coat with the crumb mixture, pressing to adhere.
Set the chops on a rack over a baking sheet and top each with a sliver of butter.
Bake for about an hour until golden and cooked through. It took an hour in my oven, but I haven't gauged it yet to see if it's set properly. I'll have to stick a thermometer in there to check it out, but along with several other things, my thermometer seems to have disappeared.
|See how juicy? Love it!|
I feel a bit like I just stepped out of the Twilight Zone thinking about how many things I'm missing. I have absolutely no idea how/when that happened. A lot of it is pretty random, too, like my wine opener. I had to pick up a cheapy at the market yesterday because I didn't recall seeing mine in with the rest of the utensils or kitchen gadgets. Sure enough, it's nowhere to be found. Needless to say, I couldn't figure out how to use the one I picked up. First the cork started going INTO the bottle, then I started to unscrew the cork itself! I finally managed to get it out without leaving cork in the bottle or giving myself a black eye when it finally popped out. Yay!
So far, I can't figure out what happened to my microwave, blender, corkscrew, muffin pans, frying pans, most of my pots, my wooden rolling pin, electric can opener, curtain rods, bath mat, and I can't remember what else at the moment. I know that I lost a lot of stuff to Hurricane Katrina, but I remember having these things in my temporary housing on the Cape after that. Since it was my brother-in-law and one of my nephews who moved me from the Cape to NY rather than a moving company, it's not like there was another family's stuff on the truck that some of my boxes got mixed in with. I rented a U-Haul and was there with them at the time. Very strange! There is a possibility that I still have stuff hiding in their attic, but my things were pretty identifiable based on a lot of it being in U-Haul boxes and almost everything else in clear plastic containers with white tops, and it was all stacked together at one end of the attic. It's kinda like sock-in-the-dryer syndrome. L
Anyhow, given that I'm at least semi-functional in my new place now, I'm hoping to get back to cooking/baking/posting on a regular basis. Hopefully I'll meet some hungry neighbors. J