With a father who was the head chef at Duba’s Restaurant, the presumption voiced by friends and strangers most often was, “I bet you eat really well at home”. Well, that’s true: we did eat really well growing up–especially on Sundays, and those were special meals (often a steak dinner). But, really, Mom did 99% of the cooking. My father, who worked six days a week–all day–would come home to shower, have dinner with the family, and then head right back to the restaurant for the dinner rush. He might cook on special occasions (Easter, Christmas, and maybe on summer vacation, but that was about it). But, oh, the meals we enjoyed the other 99% of the time!
When the first of my siblings married (Maureen), Mom created a self-published cookbook entitled We Love to Cook and We Love to Eat! and passed it around to the whole family. As the children of Polish Catholic parents we became familiar with the adage “The family that prays together stays together.” In all my years living at home there was never a dinner that we didn’t eat together as a family, and so there was an additional, unspoken lesson: “The family that eats together, stays together.” In my mind, the publishing of that cookbook was Mom’s way of simultaneously cutting the apron strings and passing on this wisdom to the new family my sister was about to form.
Since Mother’s Day is observed this Sunday, I’d like to honor our Mother by sharing one of the recipes from her cookbook. It’s simple, affordable, and absolutely delicious.
Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops
Caramelized shallots and a dark vinegar turn these chops into an extremely flavorful dish.
4 pork chops (about 2 pounds)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. olive oil
6 oz. small shallots (about 8), quartered and peeled, leaving root ends intact
2/3 C. balsamic vinegar
1.5 t. sugar
1. Pat pork dry and sprinkle with 1/2 t. of the salt and 1/4 t. of the pepper.
2. Heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
3. Cook chops along with shallots, turning chops over once and stirring shallots occasionally, until meat is browned and shallots are golden brown and tender, about five (5) minutes total.
4. Transfer meat to plate, then add vinegar, sugar and remaining salt and pepper to the shallots in the skillet.
5. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved and liquid is thickened slightly, about one (1) minute.
6. Reduce heat to moderate, then add pork and any juices to the skillet and turn two (2) or three (3) times to coast with sauce.
7. Cook three (3) minutes longer, then remove chops to a plate.
8. Increase heat on the shallot sauce and boil until thickened and syrupy, one (1) – two (2) minutes. Pour sauce over pork.