Médaillons de Porc à la Sauce Robert
(Boneless pork chops with Robert sauce)
This is a classic French way to serve pork chops. In French cooking, a “médaillon de porc” is a pork chop that has had the bone trimmed off – an “America’s cut” more or less.
I’ve simplified this dish to make it easier in an American kitchen. It’s an old friend: I’ve been making it since I worked out the recipe in graduate school, when I was learning French cuisine to impress my dissertation advisor.
One of the great things about this dish is that the sauce can be frozen (though you need to do that *before* you add the parsley), so you can take any extra and keep it for later. Pour the sauce into a Ziploc bag, push out any trapped air, and put it in the freezer. When you want to use it, just thaw the sauce over low heat in a saucepan. Be sure to flambé the chop-drippings every time, though – the more cooked-down Cognac you add, the deeper the flavor.
When I serve this dish, I like to have a side of roasted sweet potatoes, which go especially well with the sauce. Just cut some sweet potatoes into ½ inch dice, toss them in salt and pepper and ¼ cup of olive oil, arrange them on a sheet pan so they have a little space between them, and cook them at 450 degrees until they are tender and lightly browned (20-25 minutes). The sauce is also great with mashed potatoes or green beans (call them “haricots verts” for an extra jot of class) and some crusty bread to sop up the rest.
A hint for singles, especially men: this is an excellent dish to make if you’re having someone over for dinner who you want to impress. You can make the sauce a day in advance, put it in the fridge, and then reheat it when you are serving the meal. The chop-cooking and sweet-potato roasting can happen once your guest has arrived.
Above all, be sure that he or she is there and watching when you ignite the cognac. Once you get the knack, you’ll be able to generate either a gentle blue flame (if the pan is cool) or a raging fireball (if the pan is hot) – and either way, it’s quite impressive. It certainly worked for me, since the woman I first made this for 18 years or so ago is now my wife! (And yes, she got a pretty impressive fireball.)
Wine-wise, this is good with either a lightly-chilled, good quality American pinot noir or a Chardonnay.
For the sauce
1 cup beef stock
1 ½ tablespoons demi glace or “better than boullion” beef concentrate
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in 1 ¼ tablespoons cold water
1 small onion
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¾ cup dry white wine (try “Barefoot Pinot Grigio” in the 4-pack from Hy Vee)
1 or 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (to taste)
4 or 5 sprigs parsley
For the chops
2 pork chops
1 ½ tablespoons butter
¼ cup cognac (doesn’t need to be fancy)
Make the Sauce
Combine the stock and demi-glace or “better than boullion” concentrate, and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium. Once the stock is gently boiling, whisk in the arrowroot-water mixture, stirring vigorously until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon. Take off the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Finely chop the onion. Combine it with the wine and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over high heat, and reduce the liquid by two-thirds, which will take 5 minutes or so.
Add the reduction to the pot of thickened beef stock. Simmer the mixture until it has thickened enough to lightly coat a spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes. You might need to reduce the heat to keep the simmer even.
Take the thickened mixture and pour it through a strainer to remove the onion pieces. Return the strained sauce to the saucepan, and whisk in the mustard. Taste after adding 1 tablespoon, and add more to taste.
Set the sauce aside.
Cook the porkchops and finish the dish
Pat the porkchops dry with paper towels and season them with salt and pepper.
In a skillet large enough to hold the pork chops, heat the butter over high heat. Once the butter is melted, add the pork chops. Leave them for a minute on one side to brown them, then turn them over.
Cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10-12 minutes, until the chops are firm and cooked through.
Transfer the chops to a plate and cover them with foil.
In the pan, turn up the heat to medium-high and reduce the pan juices to a glaze. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool a bit, 30 seconds to a minute. Pour in the cognac, light a match, and ignite the alcohol. As the alcohol burns, shake the pan. Once the flames die out, use a wooden spoon to dislodge any remaining browned bits. When the process is finished, pour the cognac and pan-dripping mixture into the saucepan with the thickened stock and wine-vinegar-mustard reduction. Add the chopped parsley, and stir to combine. Transfer to a sauce boat.
Serve the pork chops with the sauce and the roasted sweet potatoes, or other side of your choice.
Recipe serves 2, but you’ll have enough sauce for four to six chops.
Ginger pork burgers with black-bean mayonnaise (adapted from Blue Apron)
These are very tasty, and work well with any kind of vegetable as a side dish.
1 pound ground pork
2 potato buns
A few sprigs of cilantro
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon Chinese black-bean garlic sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1-inch piece of ginger
Finely mince the ginger, ideally in a food processor.
Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems.
Thinly slice the cucumber and put it in a bowl with the vinegar. Leave to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Combine the mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon of the black bean sauce.
Cook the dish
Combine the ground pork, ginger, and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the black bean sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and then form the mixture into two ½ inch thick patties. Heat two teaspoons of peanut oil over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet until shimmering. Cook the patties, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 3 to 5 minutes per side. The patties should be browned and cooked through. When cooked, transfer the patties to a plate and set aside.
Put the buns in the pan you used to cook the patties, cut sides down. Toast the buns for 1 to 2 minutes, until browned.
Spread black bean mayonnaise on the bottom buns, then place the patties on top. Arrange some marinated cucumber slices on top of each patty (you’ll probably have extra cucumber), garnish with the cilantro, and then put on the top buns to complete the burgers.