Posts Tagged ‘Strafford Vermont’

Pork chops, like buttercups, are my Proustian objects.  At the taste of a chop, especially one brined in cider or served with applesauce, I’m back on Old City Falls Road, at the big yellow house in Strafford, Vermont.  Up the steep hill behind the house and barn—a catch-all space housing tools, lumber, a VW bus, my Dad’s darkroom, a sauna—was the pond where I learned to swim and skate, and the pig pen.  My parents, on the run from suburbia back to the land, had set up a small homestead with a vegetable garden, chickens, pigs, a goat, and two little girls running around in Wonder Woman Underoos in January, because the wood stove kept the living room so hot.

The pigs, Gruntly Squatwell and Squatly Gruntwell, were contented animals until that particular date when my uncle and a few other guys would show up in their pickup trucks for the big pig roundup.  Then the pigs ran around and around their pen squealing for their lives, though they didn’t know it.

The result was a freezer full of pork.  For some reason, I remember the chops best of all.  Sweetish and salty, for me the essence of pork—until I tasted pancetta, but that’s a different kind of experience.  The best, more recent, pork chops I’ve had were grilled by our friend Donia, the energetic and lovely Palo Alto chef and writer.  Her cooking—whether in her restaurant or home—is less a performance than an expression of her nurturing nature.  The food is loved and cared for, as are the friends she feeds.

The technique here is so simple, it barely warrants the formalization of a recipe, but here goes:

Donia’s Pork Chops

In the morning, place four thick-cut bone-in pork chops (organic if possible) in a large baking dish, and pour in a fruity red wine—a Beaujolais, or a zinfandel, perhaps—just to cover them.  Turn them over once or twice during the day.  Just before grilling—preferably over charcoal—season them liberally with salt and pepper.  Grill to mid-rare over moderate heat.  Throw some perfectly ripe buttered halved peaches onto the grill too, for a taste sensation.  Donia also served cornbread and salad, outside on the deck.  What a memorable meal!

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