Bernard Clayton's Honey-Lemon Whole-Wheat Rolls
Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookies

Elizabeth David's Cotelettes de Porc au Cidre


I am nothing if not determined. One week I say I need to eat more meat, and the next week I am doing so. Buying pork chops...pounding chicken breasts...looking forward to the Christmas goose. My protein-deficient self raises her weak little arms in triumph! I have to say, it is awfully satisfying to hear that perfect sizzle when a piece of meat hits the hot, greased pan. And now that I am in possession of a cast-iron skillet, my fantasy of cooking like Ma and Pa in the big woods can finally come alive. Avast, salt pork!

In November, the editors of the LA Times compiled a list of their favorite cookbooks. It was lovely to see what old standbys are used by the folks with access to so many fabulous new cookbooks. Charles Perry listed Elizabeth David's French Country Cooking as his favorite, and chose to print a recipe for pork chops, David's terse instructions helpfully fleshed out by the kind and willing LA Times Test Kitchen. I love reading David's books on food, but find her recipes to be too daunting for trial in my kitchen (pedant that I am, I prefer having exact amounts listed).

I loved the dish's simplicity, and the flavor was fantastic. I used shrink-wrapped pork chops from the grocery store (I know, I disgust myself, too), but will make this again after buying good pork from the farmer's market. I halved the recipe, making only two chops, but I was still able to feed myself over the course of three meals. My only regret was halving the sauce - I could have lapped up twice as much. Soaking the plain, boiled rice on my plate, it was delicious.

Elizabeth David's Cotelettes de Porc au Cidre
Serves 4

2 tablespoons of oil
4 boneless pork chops (about 1 inch thick)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon of flour
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup hard cider (you could use regular apple cider, but not apple juice)
1/4 cup water
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 tsp capers

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat the oil in a pan and brown the chops (that you have sprinkled with salt) on each side. Take them out and add the flour to the pan. Stirring with a whisk, let the flour turn golden. When it is smooth, add the cider and the water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Put the chops back in the sauce, and add the pepper, the garlic and the rosemary. Cover the pan and put it in the oven for 30 minutes (if your pork is thinner or your oven hotter, you'll need less time - this is just a guideline). Five minutes before serving, add the capers to the sauce.