Bill Siever reports:
I don’t get to eat pork as often as I’d like to, because my wife doesn’t eat it. But last night I went out and bought three pork chops and am anticipating a tasty porcine feast for one very soon. A (somewhat) funny thing caught my eye on the label, by a major pork provider: “[Brand name withheld]: pork: always tender or naturally raised.”
Good to know it’s either/or!
I know, I know, I should be buying local pork: but the fit seized me while at the supermarket. I’m not the best cooker-of-pork in the world, because I tend to get so excited about the prospect of eating it that thoughts of cooking it creatively are soon scattered.
One thing I do know how to cook with well, though, is garlic, because my wife and I grow it (with varying degrees of success) and it thrives in our New England soil. Last year we managed to ruin almost 90% of our crop by going on vacation while it was drying in what we thought was our dry basement. (Apparently it was not dry enough!) Here’s one of my favorite recipes, for garlicky linguine, which I’ve adapted from Mark Bittman’s wonderful cookbook How to Cook Everything. My copy of it is spattered with food: always a good sign in a cookbook. It’s REALLY good – perhaps as good as a tender or naturally raised pork chop.
1. Boil a big pot of water.
2. Meanwhile, slowly heat 1/3 cup of olive oil on low heat in a heavy pot. (This will seem like a lot, but trust me: it’s gooooood.) Peel and smush (with the back of the knife) 10 or so cloves of garlic – more if they’re small. Cut them in half and add them to the olive oil. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes on low, stirring occasionally, until they’re all brown.
3. Drain half of a 32 oz. can of whole plum tomatoes, and save the tomato juice for some other use. (Bloody Marys!). Take 8 or 9 plum tomatoes out and add them to the olive oil and garlic. Chop them roughly with a spatula or a spoon. Cook 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper, and hot pepper flakes if you want.
4. Cook the linguine until it’s almost done but still somewhat crunchy. Add 1/2 c. – 3/4 c. hot pasta water to the tomato/garlic sauce. Don’t worry if it seems watery: the starch in the pasta water will thicken things up.
5. Add a handful of chopped basil or parsley (both are good) to the sauce. Parsley is surprisingly tasty in this; I used it as a substitute for basil because we have a ton of it in our freezer, and it worked quite well.
6. Take the drained linguine and toss it into the pot with the sauce, and stir around. Put the lid on and let it sit for two or three minutes, until the linguine absorbs the sauce.
7. Top with grated parmesan and serve with bread and more olive oil.
The whole thing takes less than half an hour, and it’s easy and cheap!