Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cured Pork Loin Chop over Curry Spice Spätzle and Vegetables with Brandy Crème Fraîche

     Neoclassic German Cuisine! 
     Cured meat, especially pork, has its origins in Eastern Europe and Germany.  High concentrations of naturally occurring curing salts are found throughout this region.  Curing meat was once a way to ensure that there would be enough food to last through a long winter.  Many of the old meat curing traditions are now becoming a relic of the past.
     Chefs who cherish authenticity do take pride in preserving culinary traditions.  Not letting recipes fade into the past to be forgotten is important these days, because one never knows when old cooking traditions will be needed in the future.  This world never seems to be short on political unrest, economic disparity and war.  If disaster strikes some day in the future, then those who know how to cure meats and preserve food will be ahead of the game.

     Traditionally in early spring, the last of the food that was preserved for winter is cooked.  The winter supply runs out shortly after the spring harvests begin.  Planning ahead was once the only way to ensure survival, before the age of transporting food from distant places began.
     In today's world, there really is no reason to cure pork loin chops.  Fresh pork loin chops are available at a food market any day of the year.  The only reason that there is for curing pork loin chops, is to experience traditional flavors of days gone by.
     Today's recipe features an old fashioned Eastern European style cured pork loin chop.  Healthy quickly cooked fresh vegetables are often part of casual café food presentations.  Throwing a creative fancy spice flavored spätzle into the mix adds even more appeal.  Brandy crème fraîche is a tasty simple rich sauce.  This cured pork chop entrée would be perfect for a chilly spring season day.
     Flavored pastas noodles were a trendy item about 25 years ago, but few chefs created flavored spätzle recipes.  Garam masala is a mild comfortable Indian spice mixture.  In fact, many of the spices in garam masala are traditional German desert spices.  Spätzle made with a mild curry spice flavor is not a bad idea!      

     Cured Pork Loin Chop:
     This recipe yields 1 portion!  
     Morton Tender Quick is the curing salt mixture that is used in this recipe.  This is not a strong curing salt product and it is relatively safe to use.  Every curing salt product has its own formula and its own usage ratio.  
     1 Tablespoon of Morton Tender Quick is enough to cure 1 pound of pork loin cutlets or pork chops.
     Today's recipe calls for 1 lightly cured pork loin chop that weighs 8 ounces, so 1/2 tablespoon of Morton Tender quick is all that is needed.  
     About 2 to 4 hours of curing time will produce a lightly cured pork chop.  About 24 to 48 hours of curing time will produce a fully cured pork chop.
     Step 1:  Place a thick 8 ounce pork loin chop in a container.
     Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon of Morton Tender Quick over the pork chop.
     Rub the curing salt on the surface.
     Season with black pepper.
     Seal the container.
     Place the container in a refrigerator and allow the pork chop to cure for about 4 to 6 hours.  
     Step 2:  Rinse the cured pork chop under cold running water.
     Set the lightly cured pork chop on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan and let it air dry in a refrigerator. 

     Currygewürz Spätzle Dough:
     This recipe yields enough spätzle for 3 or 4 portions!
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/2 cups of regular bread flour or all purpose flour in a mixing bowl.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Stir the dry mixture.
     Step 2:  Form a well in the center of the flour.
     Place 5 ounces of whisked egg in the well.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Stir the egg till it starts to combine with the flour.
     Start kneading till a very stiff dough is formed.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of milk or water at a time, while kneading, till a medium stiff semi sticky noodle dough is formed.  Only 1 or 2 tablespoons are needed!  
     *The dough should not be as stiff as an Italian pasta dough, but it should be fairly firm.  After pressing a finger on the dough to leave a dent, the dough should only minimally spring back and the dent should remain. 
     Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour. 
     Board Cut Spätzle Preparation:
     Step 1:  Allow the dough to reach room temperature.
     Stretch and roll a portion of the dough out, so it forms a rectangular 3 1/2" to 4" wide x 10" long rectangle that is about 1/8" to 1/4" thick.  (The thinner the dough sheet, the thinner the spätzle will be.)
     Step 2:  Gently press the dough strip onto a spätzle board or a small cutting board, so it sticks in place.  Be sure to leave 3" to 4" of bare board as a leading edge. 
     Step 3:  Heat a pot of water over medium/medium high heat.  The water should only be gently boiling.
     Follow the directions in the next step!
     Board Cut Spätzle Technique:
     Only one portion of spätzle is needed for today's pork recipe.   
     • The dough is rolled into a rectangular slab, then pressed onto a board.  The board can be about 8"x10" with a handle.  Some German chefs prefer a 14"x 20" board with no handle, that can be held with one arm and pressed against the ribs.  
     • The board is held with one arm and the other hand uses a long thin spatula spätzle knife to cut the thin strips of spätzle.  A long straight thin cake spatula can be used as a spätzle knife.
     • The board should be held close to a pot of gently boiling water, so each spätzle lands in the water as it is cut.  
     • The spätzle knife blade is placed flush on the board in front of the dough at about a 15º to 25º angle and it is dragged back over the leading edge of the dough.  After making contact with the dough, the leading edge of the dough becomes flattened.  
     • The spatula blade "knife" then cuts a thin slice of dough, while being dragged forward against the board.  The knife should always be in contact with the board, when cutting spätzle!  
     • This is done quickly and with just enough force to send the spätzle flying through the air into the pot of boiling water.  Of course, the board must be held close to the pot of water. 
     • Once the board cutting spätzle technique is mastered, the sound and feel of making spätzle will become second nature.  A good German cook can cut spätzle as fast as lightening!  
     • Start learning by making medium size spätzle.  Medium size is a forgiving size.  Small 1/8" thick spätzle are not difficult to make, after getting the feel of working the board with a spätzle knife.
     • After the spätzle float to the top of the gently boiling water and they become tender, use a pasta net to place the spätzle in a colander and drain off any excess water.
     • The boiled spätzle can be chilled until they are reheated with butter later in the recipe.

     Brandy Crème Fraîche:
     This recipe yields 1 portion!  
     In Europe, crème fraîche can be made the old fashioned way.  In America, crème fraîche must be made by mixing sour cream and cream together, so there is less chance of pathogen contamination.      
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 ounces of brandy.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Bring the brandy to a gentle boil.  Try not to flambé.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Add 3 tablespoons of sour cream.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg.
     Step 3:  Simmer and reduce, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency.
     Keep the sauce warm on a stove top.  Add milk if the sauce becomes too thick. 

     Seared Cured Pork Loin Chop:
     Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter or lard.
     Add the prepared cured pork loin chop.
     Sear the pork chop on both sides, till it becomes golden brown and fully cooked.
     Season with black pepper.
     Keep the Seared Gepökelte warm on a stove top.

     Spätzle and Vegetables:
     This recipe yields 1 serving!
     Spätzle is usually finished by sautéing it in noisette butter.  
     The vegetables should be added shortly after the spätzle starts to get some golden highlights.  Any preferred vegetable mixture can be used and the vegetables must be ready before starting to sauté.  The vegetables should be cut in a way that allows them to cook quickly, just like Chinese stir fry.  Leafy delicate vegetables, like spinach, should be added last.   
     Step 1:  Heat a seasoned or non-stick large sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Allow the butter to become a golden brown color with a light hazelnut aroma.  (Beurre Noisette)
     Add 1 portion of prepared boiled Currygewürz Spätzle, while gently shaking the pan.
     Pan fry the spätzle, till a few golden highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Add 1/5 cup of thin carrot strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of thin peeled celery strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of thin onion strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of green bell pepper strips.
     Add 1/5 cup of yellow squash strips.  (Remove the soft core.)
     Add 1/3 cup of petite broccoli florets.
     Step 3:  Sauté and toss, till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/2 cups of baby spinach leaves.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Sauté and toss till the spinach wilts.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Cured Pork Loin Chop over Curry Spice Spätzle and Vegetables with Brandy Crème Fraîche :
     Immediately place the al dente sautéed vegetables and curry spice spätzle on a plate as a bed for the pork chop.  Try to leave any excess butter in the pan.
     Spoon some of the Brandy Crème Fraîche over the center of the vegetables and spätzle, where the pork chop will be placed.
     Place the cured pork chop on the sauced currygewürz spätzle and vegetables.
     Spoon a small amount of the Brandy Crème Fraîche over the cured pork chop.
     Garnish with a few pinches of coarse chopped Italian Parsley.

     Voila!  A nice German style cured pork loin chop with mild curry spice spätzle, vegetables and a rich sauce. 

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