Yesterday was my Mother’s Birthday and I made this dinner in her memory. I wanted it to be something she would love or something she cooked. I managed to do a bit of both. My dinner last night was so personal to me.
I wanted to please and honor my Mother’s life through food but I did not want the gesture to be artificial….. like, when someone important is coming to dinner and you need to impress them….you make the mistake of cooking something you have never tried before and you find yourself in an uncomfortable kitchen, where things go wrong and you don’t recognize your food?
At this point in my life I have accepted what I can do and just concentrated on making the best I could. So many days growing up I would sit at our table in out dining room at my spot ( we all had our own seat with our invisible names embossed on our chairs). It was a cardinal sin to sit in someone else’s place.
My mother had some signature dishes and, being her child I took her food for granted…..her brown gravy, her white sauce, her bread stuffing, her floury potatoes, her melt-in-your-mouth stew….the list goes on. She had a robust dinner on the table in the blink of an eye, and this happened every single day.
I entered adulthood thinking you could magically cook dinner for 8 in under an hour – no problem. That, I have discovered, is not the case. It takes guts and love to put something on the table in that time. My mother did not ponder over ingredients and peruse cookbooks, there was no time! She just hit the ground running, and through the sheer act of cooking dinner, day in, day out, she perfected the art of turning out delicious meals that I, and the rest of my family long for to this very day.
How sorry I am for not asking the particulars of a dish? Although, she would have been no help in recounting the method…..I would have had to have been standing there with a video recorder! She performed her tasks so naturally, and so fast it would have been difficult for her to stop to explain what she was doing. I now appreciate her efforts to please people. She wanted to fill bellies and send everyone to bed or home, satisfied.
That was a great objective, and I wish she was here tonight willing me on. I wanted to make the ubiquitous Irish staple of Bacon and Cabbage with Parsley Sauce but my less than adequate supermarket did not have ham!! Or should I say, yes, there was ham, but it was all precooked!
I wanted to boil it myself and happily skim the scum off the surface, but, I had to settle for pork chops which I decided to wrap in bacon to give it a “hammy” flavor? It was a very simple dinner to prepare but the results were sumptuous and comforting all at the same time.
We sat around the dining room table telling stories about my mother and feeling closer to her with every familiar mouthful! she would have loved the pork chop idea and praised me to no end for being so clever…as only a mother could.
You will need: 6 good-sized pork chops (bone-in), 2 – 3 lbs potatoes, 1 head savoy cabbage (2 lbs), 3/4 lb bacon strips, 2 1/2 cups milk, 5 tbs unsalted butter, 3 tbs flour, 4 tbs chopped fresh parsley, 1/2 tsp kosher, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, more pepper and salt to taste.
Preheat oven 425*
Season chops with black pepper and wrap each chop with 1 or 2 strips of bacon and place in saute pan. A snug fit is best.
Place in preheated oven and time for 20 minutes. While chops are cooking wash and slice potatoes in half, put in pot and cover with cold water and boil with lid on until cooked (a knife should be able to go through the potato easily). Drain and add 1 tbs of butter and a sprinkle of pepper and salt. Cover with a tea towel and leave on stove-top until ready to serve. Also, slice cabbage into four pieces and then cut out central core and discard. Slice cabbage and put in pot and add cold water – enough to come half-way up the cabbage. Cover and boil until very tender (20-25 minutes) Drain and add 1 tbs butter and a little pepper. When the chops have cooked for 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 400* and turn chops in pan. Cook for another 15 or so minutes. While chops are cooking make parsley sauce: Put pan on low to medium and melt 3 tbs butter. When melted add flour and whisk until smooth paste has formed. Turn heat up to medium and add milk slowly.
When milk is hot (simmering) turn heat down to low, add 1/2 tsp salt and some pepper and cook whisking occasionally for 15 minutes. Add parsley and stir. At this point the rest of the food should be ready. Put chop on plate with some potatoes and cabbage and spoon parsley sauce over potatoes and a little over cabbage. Also drizzle a little of the pan dripping from the cop onto the meat.
Note: if you want the bacon on the chops to be more crispy, when cooked, broil chops for about 3 minutes or until bacon looks crispy.