By Emily Weinstein, The New York Times
People have many unlikely sources of cooking inspiration, including movies, TV and books. Then there’s jury duty.
In response to a recent query about what inspires cooking, one NYT Cooking reader recounted her experience on a jury, during which a witness testified as part of her recollection of a particular evening, that she had shouted up the stairs to her husband, “Come get your pork chop!” It took all her willpower to stay focused for the rest of the testimony, she said, and, “You better believe we had pork chops for dinner that night at my house.”
The recipe for pork chops here will help if her tale inspires you. Those chops also happen to be perfect for a small Easter celebration.
1. One-Pan Pork Chops With Feta, Snap Peas and Mint
Brawny and golden brown, these seared pork chops make a hearty one-pan dinner that’s rounded out by sweet sugar snap peas and loads of fresh mint. The feta, added at the end, melts into the pork and peas, spiking the sauce with its brininess. Be generous with the fresh lemon juice at the end; this rich dish gains a lot from the tang.
By: Melissa Clark
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
Total time: 25 minutes
- 2 (1 1/4-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops (about 1 pound each)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
- 2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint or basil, plus more for serving
- Large pinch of red-pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- Lemon juice, for serving
1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high until shimmering.
2. Add the pork chops to skillet and sear, without moving, until dark golden, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Lower heat, cover pan and cook the pork chops for 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate.
3. Return the skillet to the stove and reduce heat to medium. Add butter to remaining oil in skillet, then add scallions and cook until lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add snap peas, mint, red-pepper flakes and a pinch of salt, stirring everything to coat with pan juices.
4. Making space in the skillet, return pork chops to pan, surrounding them with snap peas. If necessary, you can mound snap peas on top of pork, but make sure the meat sits directly on the bottom of pan. Scatter feta over pork and snap peas. Cover and cook over low heat until pork chops are just cooked through, 3 to 6 minutes longer.
5. Drizzle or squeeze lemon juice over the dish and sprinkle with more mint, scallions and black pepper before serving.
2. Chicken and Mushroom Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps
The savory Korean bulgogi marinade in this recipe is made with pantry items and livens up just about anything you put it on. Here, the soy-scallion-ginger marinade is used on boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but it can also be brushed on tofu, zucchini or bell peppers for a satisfying vegetarian meal. As the meat cooks, the marinade caramelizes into a sweet-salty sticky glaze that coats the chicken. Serving the grilled chicken and vegetables in lettuce cups is a fun way to enjoy the meal. Korean condiments like kimchi and gochujang are traditional bulgogi accompaniments, but shredded cabbage, salsa or even guacamole would also work. Leftovers can be refrigerated overnight, then chopped and tossed with salad greens.
By: Kay Chun
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 40 minutes
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions (about 5 scallions)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons safflower or canola oil, plus more for greasing
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
- 2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges
- 8 ounces white button mushrooms, halved, or quartered if large
- Lettuce leaves, such as green leaf, butter lettuce or romaine
- Any combination of cooked short-grain rice, kimchi, gochujang or toasted sesame oil, for serving
1. In a large bowl, combine soy sauce, scallions, garlic, ginger, sugar, pepper and 2 tablespoons oil and mix well. Add chicken and onions and toss to evenly coat. Let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Heat a cast-iron griddle or grill pan over medium-high and lightly grease with oil. Toss mushrooms in remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Arrange half of the chicken, onions and mushrooms in a single layer. Grill until chicken is caramelized and cooked through, turning all ingredients every few minutes, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to serving plate. Repeat with remaining chicken and vegetables.
3. Serve chicken bulgogi, onions and mushrooms with lettuce leaves for wrapping. Fill lettuce cups with rice (if using), chicken and vegetables. Top with any combination of kimchi, gochujang and sesame oil. Wrap and enjoy.
3. Pasta With Fried Lemons and Chile Flakes
You probably already have a favorite pantry pasta dish that you habitually whip up when there’s nothing in the house for dinner. Next time, try this one instead. It has all the usual players – olive oil, Parmesan, flaky sea salt — along with fried lemons for brightness and chile flakes for heat. Don’t skip the step of blanching the lemon slices before frying. It may seem fussy, but it eliminates any bitterness in the lemon pith and takes only a few extra minutes. Then dry the lemon slices well before adding them to the hot oil; this helps them brown more deeply.
By: Melissa Clark
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 30 minutes
- 4 lemons
- 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
- Pinch of sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon chile flakes, more to taste
- 2/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, more to taste
- Black pepper, as needed
- 1/2 cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
- 1/3 cup parsley, coarsely chopped (optional)
- Flaky sea salt, for garnish
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Finely zest 2 of the lemons and set aside. Trim the tops and bottoms off the other 2 lemons and cut lengthwise into quarters; remove seeds. Thinly slice the quarters crosswise into triangles. Blanch the lemon pieces in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a dish towel. Blot dry.
2. In the boiling water, add pasta and cook until just barely al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat. Add the dried lemon pieces and season with a pinch each of salt and sugar. Cook until the lemons are caramelized and browned at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
4. Melt the butter with the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the chile flakes and zest of both lemons; cook until fragrant. Whisk in the reserved pasta water.
5. Toss in pasta, juice of 1 lemon, cheese, pepper and the remaining salt. Cook until pasta is well coated with sauce. Toss in the caramelized lemon and the celery leaves and parsley if using. Taste and add lemon juice if needed. Serve, topped with a drizzle of oil, more cheese if you like, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
4. Slow-Roasted Salmon With Mushroom-Leek Broth
This warming dish is inspired by Japanese ochazuke, a comforting bowl of rice with green tea poured on top. Traditionally, the meal may also be finished with grilled fish, sashimi or other toppings, but there is room for variation: You could swap out the hot tea for dashi, broth or other liquids. In this approach, the salmon is slow-roasted — which helps render some of the fat and keeps the fish meltingly tender — while a light shiitake mushroom and leek broth simmers. Divide cooked rice among bowls, spoon the salmon and vegetable broth on top, and finish with fresh ginger and a drizzle of sesame oil.
By: Sue Li
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 35 minutes
- 1 (1 1/2-pound) piece skin-on or skinless salmon
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus more for serving
- Kosher salt
- 2 medium leeks, trimmed, white and light greens cut crosswise into 1-inch rounds (about 2 cups)
- 8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, destemmed and sliced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups cooked short-grain white rice
- Fresh ginger, peeled and cut into very thin matchsticks, for serving
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place salmon on a baking sheet. Drizzle salmon with 1 tablespoon sesame oil, sprinkle with salt and roast in the oven until cooked, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove salmon from the oven and let it rest another 5 minutes.
2. While the salmon roasts, heat remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a pot over medium. Add leeks and mushrooms, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks and mushrooms are lightly golden on the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. (Don’t worry if the pan seems dry, the moisture that comes out of the mushrooms and leeks will help steam the vegetables and keep them from burning.)
3. Add chicken broth and simmer until the broth is infused with mushroom flavor and leeks are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt.
4. To serve, divide rice among bowls. Scoop salmon by the spoonful onto the rice, and ladle vegetables and broth over salmon and rice. Top with ginger and a drizzle of sesame oil.
5. Grain Frittata With Chile, Lime and Fresh Herbs
You may think of frittatas as leftovers’ idea of heaven, but is it yours? For a frittata to look forward to, throw in leftover grains: The result is something like a Spanish tortilla, pleasingly dense, but with more bounce. Add an acid, like lime, and umami, like fish sauce, which melts into an underlying savoriness when warmed. Whatever you do, don’t turn on the oven for this. Instead, stir the frittata on the stove and all but the top will set — nothing a few minutes covered can’t fix (no precarious flip!). Finally, put a salad on top. The herby one here adds pep to the substantial frittata, as does a final squeeze of lime.
By: Ali Slagle
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: About 20 minutes
- 8 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1 cup cooked farro (or wheat berries, barley, spelt or rice)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 Thai bird chile or 1/2 small jalapeño, thinly sliced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed dill, cilantro and-or mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1/4 cup water until bubbles form, then whisk in the fish sauce until combined. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the farro.
2. In an 8- or 9-inch nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and chile, and sauté until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then pour in the egg-grain mixture. Using the rubber spatula, stir the eggs to mix in the shallot and chile. Let sit undisturbed until the edges of the eggs start to bubble and cook, just a minute. Then run your spatula across the bottom of the pan to pull the eggs from the edges to the center. Create holes in the center of the frittata as well, tilting the pan as needed so wet egg runs into the empty space created by your spatula. Continue pulling and agitating the eggs until the surface is wet but mostly set when you tilt the pan, about 7 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of your pan.
4. Smooth the top of the frittata, then cover with a lid or foil and let cook until the eggs are just set, about 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, combine the herbs and scallions in a small bowl, then squeeze in enough lime to lightly moisten (about 1 tablespoon or 1/4 lime). Toss with your fingers to combine.
6. Once the frittata is cooked, loosen the sides with your rubber spatula and slide onto a serving platter. Top with herbs and scallions and serve immediately with extra lime wedges on the side.
TIP: Grains can be made 3 days in advance. No need to reheat
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