I can't say I have always wanted to cook or even found the slightest pleasure in doing so. When I was first married I knew close to nothing besides the traditional family recipes and how to microwave soup, but knowing at what temperature to cook chicken or a simple pork chop was just not something I knew offhand. Therefore, my first attempt at chicken was flash fried at the highest heat possible since I wanted dinner on the table NOW. Let's just say it wasn't all that palatable for both my husband and I. I'd like to think that over the last 16 years of being married that I have learned a thing or two and hopefully am passing something on to my daughter so she can avoid that horrific first attempt. The last 7 or 8 years has really been when I started to care about what I cooked and where the food came from. Before that with babies crying and yanking at your legs while cooking, the last thing you care about is reducing a sauce or running to the store for that strange ingredient not normally found in the pantry but boredom on a plate can change your mind quickly. I found that cookbooks weren't all that scary and could actually help you....imagine! So off I went, trying something new and finding a little pleasure in making the family happy with my efforts.
So many people today would rather pick up fast food, and I can respect that on those horribly busy evenings. I do it now and again. If more people were aware just how simple and quick a delicious meal can be, I think more of us would cook even if we only have 20 minutes to do so. I recently purchased Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution where he has asked us to make a pledge to cook at home and to pass on one of the easier recipes to encourage more people to eat at home. Passing on recipes of today is also a nod to the older generations who thought nothing of teaching others how to make a dish. Not only does it teach others an invaluable skill, but it teaches us a sense of accomplishment, a sense of community from the sharing of the recipe and down to where our food comes from. We learn what is in our food and what we don't want in there. We can eat cheeseburgers, fries and even cakes, but not the garbage you eat at the local burger joint, only the ones you make at home without all the additives and grease. Preachy? Not quite; just aware. I am happy to pass on this simple yet amazing pork dish. Using the honey as the glaze gave the moist pork a wonderful, sticky and slightly sweet taste. Easy peasy. Pass it on.
2 8-ounce pork chops, preferably free-range or organic
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 sprigs of fresh sage
applesauce, mango chutney, apricot jam, maple syrup or honey to glaze (I used honey)
To prepare your pork
Using a very sharp knife, trim the skin off the edges of each chop - you are going to turn this into crackling. Cut each strip of skin lengthways into 2 strips, so you end up with 4 strips in total. Use a sharp knife to make cuts every 1/4-inch along the fat remaining on the shops - this will help render and crisp up while cooking. Rub both sides of the chops with olive oil and season really well with salt and pepper. While you are at it, season your strips of skin. Pick the sage leaves off their stalks, toss them lightly in a little olive oil, and put to one side.
To cook your pork
Put a frying pan over a high heat and add your strips of skin. Move them about in the hot pan and remove when golden, crisp and crackling. Lay both chops flat in the pan and give them 4-5 minutes on each side, turning every minute. When they're looking golden, add a few sage leaves to the pan. Let them crisp up and cook for about 30 seconds, then remove them to a plate. Spoon a large tablespoon of applesauce (or other chosen glazing ingredient) over each chop. Keep turning the chops over so they get nicely coated. Have the confidence to cook them until almost red-golden in color and wonderfully thick and sticky. Remove the chops to a plate and let them rest for a minute or two, squeezing over a little lemon juice if you want to balance out the sweetness.
To serve your pork
Serve your chops on a plate with the crackling and the crispy sage leaves. Lovely with some dressed veggies, a fresh salad, plain rice or mashed potatoes.