18 February 2010

Cookbook Showdown- How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

Skillet Pork Chops and Flopped Potatoes

Let me just start off saying this. I love Mark Bittman. My friend Amy turned me on to him about a year ago and I haven't looked back. It is one of two cookbooks that I keep on my kitchen counter, because I use it daily. If I can't remember how to cook something, what temp I should cook something at, if I need a different way to cook something; I turn to Mr. Bittman. You really do learn how to cook everything, plus. Plus! He's funny and reading his commentary makes every recipe just a little bit better. So without further ado, let me introduce to you the story of the most awesome pork chops ever and the potatoes that flopped.

Yes, that says Eight Ways. That's one of the other reasons I love Mark Bittman. After almost every recipe he tells you how to change it up, make it better, more exciting, not mundane. Tonight I decided to make the Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce. Yum, my belly just did a little dance.

The recipe called for four pork chops, but the package I had languishing in my freezer only had three, so we went with three. Just more yummy sauce to spoon over the top later.

Now here's where you pretend my camera battery didn't die and you see the pork chops happily simmering away in my nice black pan with some garlic and chicken stock. Makes a pretty little picture, doesn't it?

After the chops are cooked you take them out, keep them warm and work on the sauce. There's the host of characters up there. Capers are also awesome in the sauce, but I didn't realize I was out until I opened the fridge. Oh well, next time.

You see, I cheated a little. I've actually made these a couple of times before. (The first time with capers, delicious!) The Mr. was at a dinner meeting, the Little Lady was happily eating crackers for dinner and I had these pork chops that needed to be cooked. Don't hate, it's just how it happened. Doesn't that sauce look lovely?

Then you add the chops back into the sauce and let them love each other for a little bit. It's good. So good that I ate the third little fella for lunch the next day. On a sandwich. With the sauce as a spread. Whoo-boy. It was good.

The flopped potatoes. See what that Mark Bittman did again? Ten ways to do potatoes! Who doesn't need to know ten ways to make braised potatoes? For this I chose to make the Cheddar and Horseradish Braised Potatoes. Sounds divine, doesn't it?

It seems easy enough. You brown some potato chunks in a little bit of oil, cook them with some chicken stock and then add in the cheese and horseradish.

Well, somewhere between perfectly done potato chunks and creamy, silky, cheesy goodness; this recipe went all down hill for me. There was too much liquid, not nearly enough salt and I had to add heaps of extra horseradish to even taste it. I was about to throw the whole dish. I was so disappointed. I was upset that I wasted almost a whole quart of chicken stock. But then I had an epiphany.

Why not mashed them up and make them the most delicious, silky, cheesy mashed potatoes ever! So that's what I did. The Mr. was beyond words when he sat down to eat this hearty little supper. It was tasty, easy, and except for the extra liquid with the potatoes, exactly what I've come to expect from Mark Bittman.

*Just a little disclaimer. I'm not getting paid to write these "reviews". These are all cookbooks that I have in my kitchen. I am not going to post the actual recipes because I'm pretty sure that would be copyright infringement and I don't really feel like going to court today. Or any day really. If at any time I do receive a cookbook from an author or a publisher (wouldn't that be grand!) I will give you a full disclosure; and my honest opinion.

What?! You're still reading? Go out and buy this cookbook already!

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