Friday, July 19, 2013

Interesting Chocolate Cookies and an Interesting Braising Liquid

July 7, 2013

Pork Loin Braised in Milk
Boiled Yellow Potatoes
Green Peas
Castle Rock 2011 Pinot Noir
Chocolate Chili Cookies

Chocolate Chili Cookies from Food Wishes

America's Test Kitchen (ATK) sent me a recipe to test: pork loin braised in milk. Having never used milk as a braising liquid I was intrigued. The recipe is straightforward, a boneless pork loin is browned then braised in milk seasoned with aromatics: onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaf, rosemary. At the end of the cooking time the milk solids have formed unattractive clumps. The recipe provides three options for dealing with them: serve as is (apparently this is the traditional option),  pureĆ© the liquid with the milk solids in a blender, or strain the sauce. I chose to strain out the milk resulting in a rather thin broth, even after reducing, that does not at all resemble milk. The pork was served with potatoes and peas with the sauce being passed at the table.

Here are some of the comments I provided in the feedback to ATK:
The sauce was very thin, though nicely flavored. We would have preferred a thicker gravy to the thin sauce which we could have used on both the meat and side dish. The meat was a little bland and this would have helped.

What is the purpose of the milk, what does it add to the recipe? I strained the milk solids off as they are not very appealing. Pureeing the sauce rather than straining might have provided a richer, thicker more flavorful sauce.
The recipe should recommend one of the three methods for producing the final sauce. I suspect that pureeing it would be the best approach but I didn't try that. Perhaps something needs to be added to thicken it.

On to dessert! I remember some cookies that Diane made, many years ago, that were surprisingly good. I remember that they were made with chocolate and a surprising ingredient, pepper. I remember that the recipe came from a Hershey's cookbook. I remember wrong. We still have the Hershey cookbook and it does not include a recipe for chocolate pepper cookies. Failing that, I did some searching and found a recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Food Wishes, for "Michele's Chocolate Chili Cookies". Not only do they include both black and cayenne pepper, but also dried currants that have been soaked in Kahula (a coffee liqueur).

These are good cookies,  more complex than most. In addition to rich chocolate flavor there is a bit of a kick from the pepper,  fruitiness from the currants, and complexity from the coffee liqueur. Diane found the texture of the currants a little off putting, partly because you can't see them unlike, say, raisins in oatmeal cookies.  They're not as sweet as many cookies but as I ate them through the week I liked them more and more. They're definitely worth trying.

The challenge is to reheat the pork without drying it out. Diane heated the sauce on the stove to a simmer, added slices of the pork, and turned the burner to low to heat the pork. This worked well, the pork was still reasonably tender.

For our second meal with the leftover pork, it was sliced thinly and warmed in the sauce. I had it as a sandwich, which was good,  and I think it would be very good served with the thin sauce like a french dip sandwich.

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