This is the best meat in the world, cooked the way my mother would do it. These great women cooks understood an important, basic technique: pan-frying meat in such a way that you can create the most delectable juices with a simple medium - water.
- 2 pork chops, 3cm thick, on the bone (see note)
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 30 g unsalted butter
- 100 ml cold water
For the spaetzle
- 100 g plain flour
- 2 pinches of salt
- 1 medium egg
- 65 ml water
- 1 tbsp butter, plus extra melted butter, to toss
For the celeriac choucroute
- 40 g duck fat
- 250 g celeriac, trimmed, cut into 1mm julienne
- 25 ml white wine vinegar
- 1.5 g finely ground juniper
- 4 g salt
- pinch of ground black pepper
For the garnish
- 150 g double-smoked Alsace bacon lardons (see note)
- 8 crispy sage leaves (see note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time: 30 minutes
The spaetzle can be made half a day in advance and crisped just before serving. The choucroute can be made half a day in advance and reheated before serving.
Season the chops with sea salt and black pepper, pressing firmly into each side.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, until foaming (see note). Don’t let the butter burn, or it will become indigestible and taste unpleasant.
Increase the heat to medium-high (see note). Place the chops in the foaming butter and cook for 4 minutes each side for medium. To test if meat is done, press gently with your index finger.
Transfer the chops to a warm plate. Add the water to the hot pan. It will sizzle and create an emulsion. Scrape base of the pan with a wooden spoon to release caramelised residue, to give taste and colour.
To make the spaetzle, mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg until incorporated. Gradually add the water and stir for 3 minutes, until a smooth paste. Chill for 30 minutes.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a simmer. Pass the dough through a large colander, pressing with a plastic scrape card or a spaetzle press, and cook for 1 minute, until they rise to surface. Drain in a colander. Season with salt and pepper, then toss with extra melted butter. Refrigerate until needed.
To make the celeriac choucroute, heat the duck fat in a large heavy-based saucepan on high. Cook the celeriac, stirring continuously, for 30 seconds. Add the vinegar, juniper, salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute, until the celeriac is almost cooked but still crunchy to bite. Transfer to a tray and chill until needed.
To prepare the spaetzle, melt the butter in a small sauté pan over a medium heat, until foaming, Add the spaetzle and cook for 2 minutes, until lightly coloured.
To prepare the celeriac choucroute, gently heat through in a small saucepan over a low heat.
Place 1 pork chop in the centre of a plate. Add the spaetzle and celeriac choucroute. Top with bacon lardons and crispy sage leaves. Pour over the pan juices and serve.
• The success of this recipe will depend on the quality of the meat you buy.
• To make bacon lardons, cut a 150g piece of bacon into 2mm cubes, then blanch and sauté in a dry frying pan for 4 minutes, until lightly caramelised.
• To make crispy sage leaves, heat oil to 180°C and deep-fry fresh leaves for 1 minute.
• The foaming butter should turn light brown and smell nutty. It is important to let it reach this stage, so that it will slowly caramelise the surface of the meat. The juices will then create deposits on the pan, which will form the base for marvellous pan juices.
• We increase the temperature of the pan before adding the pork chops because the cool meat will reduce the temperature of the surface of the frying pan.
You can easily replace the pork with any meat you like - veal, beef or lamb - but the cooking time will be slightly longer.